August 2015 Artist of the Month – Robin Murray

Congratulations to our August Artist of the Month, Robin Murray! He was a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Annual Art Competition! His painting Lonesome George is below. Keep scrolling to read more about the artist’s process and when his best ideas come to him!

Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan ~ www.natureartists.com/robin_murray

Artist of the Month - Lonesome George by Robin Murray

Lonesome George (egg tempera, 15.5×40) by Robin Murray

My siblings and I were home schooled and I never received a formal education in art. I think it all started with my mom; when I was a toddler she would tape a piece of paper to the dining room table, give me some paints and let me go from there. I must have liked it because two decades later I’m still painting!

My choice in medium depends on the subject and style I’m looking for in each painting, but my favorites are oil, egg tempera and acrylic. This particular piece was done for “Artist For Conservation,” an outstanding group of artists that I’m proud to be a part of. We focus on preservation of our natural habitats and it’s inhabitants. When I heard the story of a Galapagos Island Tortoise named Lonesome George, I knew I wanted to paint him.

Before his death, Lonesome George, Galapagos Island Giant Tortoise thought to be over 100 years old, was labeled the “rarest creature on earth” and was the sole remaining Pinta Island Tortoise. In light of the vast amount of time and research invested in attempts to save his kind, his death on June 24, 2012 most likely marked the end to his subspecies, and is now believed to have become completely extinct.

Most of my art is conceived in bed while trying to fall asleep. I’ll finally be drifting off when suddenly an idea strikes me. I jump out of bed, scaring my wife as I crash through the dark trying to find a pencil and paper to get the idea down before the image slips from my mind. The entire composition for Lonesome George was done in my undies in about five minutes.

While working on this painting, the sloping shapes of his long neck and curved shell reminded me of an old Ceiba tree with its grand sprawling roots connecting it with the earth. Both have lifespans of potentially hundreds of years, but as seen with Lonesome George, the very real fact is that these age old species can be wiped out in less time than their own lifespan.

I typically start with an idea, which moves to sketching the composition, then I go out and photograph the subjects to use for reference. I used to use a rather high key palette, but more recently I think of color like salt: just a little can do the trick.

I need to thank my wife Bryanna for putting up with me. I currently have a 12.5×8.5 painting hogging up our entire living room, and with the restricted time I have to paint, it’s been there awhile.

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