Interview with Pat Murray
‘Where’s the Cat?’ is a great composition
– tell us about it!
I wanted to explore the relationship between the
colours and patterns on the cat, and the rich
patterns of the Persian carpet. My mother was
mad about cats and growing up we usually had
two or three at any one time – this tortoiseshell,
Tammy, was a particular favourite we had for
many years and I painted her from memory.
You work as an illustrator - what's your
favourite type of commission?
I’ve always worked as an educational Illustrator,
mainly on books for use in schools. I love to draw
people, especially children, and make them live
and move on the page, and I also love cartoon.
Recently I worked on a book with a friend who is
a graphic designer and the end result was 'The
Dancing Dog’, which has to be my favourite.
How much time do you get to paint for
My daughter gave me a vital push three years
ago, to join Newark art group, and that was the
catalyst I needed to start painting for fun. I
appreciate being able to choose my own subject
matter and find painting totally absorbing and
enjoyable. Being a member of an art club is
fantastic: we set each other projects and in that
way you find yourself developing ideas you never
would have had. I love mixing with other artists
again – it’s like being back at art college, in that
we all inspire and influence each other.
What inspires you to paint?
My first paintings were of the buildings and
landscapes around Newark - we moved here
several years ago and I still find it inspiring. It's a
pretty market town with Georgian architecture, a
castle and a river, and there are lots of something I never thought I'd be interested in,
but I have now painted several and find it a
challenge trying to convey a sense of place and
atmosphere. More recently I’ve returned to
painting people and movement – having had a
break from this I find I’m freshly interested in
depicting the figure and movement in new ways.
Dance in all its forms is an obsession of mine:
my daughter is a professional dancer and
choreographer - one of my favourite pictures is of
her dance troupe rehearsing in a beautiful sunlit
studio in Nottingham. It contains all the
elements I love to express: movement, light and
What is your favourite medium?
At the moment it’s a set of Koh-I-Noor brilliant
watercolours which are based on intense dyes
and almost seem to glow.
How long does it take you to produce a
Probably longer than you’d think! I start with an
accurate drawing in pencil, then paint in areas of
masking fluid where I want highlights. At this
point the fun begins as I float on the colours and
watch them flow into each other. When all is dry
and the masking fluid peeled off, I work at
instilling some detail back in, but not too much
to destroy the spontaneity - it's hard to get the
balance right. I would say each painting takes
four to six hours.
Where do you work best?
Unless I’m painting en plein air, my studio is
actually the spare bedroom. There is now paint on
the carpet and frames everywhere! Our whole
house is a bit like this as my husband is an art
dealer and also an artist. This means I’m always
surrounded by original paintings so it's like living in
an art gallery with a continually changing
exhibition. It gives me the opportunity to study
other artists’ techniques and approach first hand.
Tell us about some of your recent projects?
My most recent painting is of a group of Brazilian
boys playing street football during the run-up to the
World Cup. I was looking for a strong image to use
in my first teaching demonstration, one that would
show my working methods to their best advantage.
I’ve also been experimenting with quality of line,
incorporating the technique of mono-print with pen
work and loose background colour applied with an
ink roller. Sometimes I scan the work into
Photoshop and amalgamate the different effects to
produce prints. I’ve also produced some A5 dance
cards, which are a lot of fun to work on: I spend
hours on Youtube watching dance footage, looking
for just the attitude I want. I intend to have some of
my recent dance paintings made into cards and
added to the range.
You have just joined the SAA, how did you
Most of my art group are members of the SAA, and
several enjoy the challenge of entering the
competitions, so I thought I would give it a go!
Where can you see your art taking you in
I want to tackle painting in oils – perhaps water
soluble ones would work well for me. I've done
several paintings in acrylic and enjoyed the
painterly process. In the future I think my work may
become more introspective and abstract, but I don't
think I'll ever leave the illustrator behind.
What's your favourite painting?
'Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea
Bridge’ by James Abbott McNeill Whistler
What was your biggest blunder?
Plenty! When paintings don't go right I put
them in the bath and squirt them with the
showerhead to tone down the colours. This
happened to my recent painting of the
footballers – I wasn’t happy with the
foreground figures so just washed them off
Which piece of art equipment couldn't you
My Rigger paintbrush - wonderful to
- 'The Dancing Dog', Book Cover
- 'Milonga', watercolour, 40.5 x 51cm
- 'Newark Wharf', watercolour, 38x48cm
- 'Exmoor', mixed media, 40x51cm
- 'Football Mad', watercolour, 38x48cm
- 'Mad March Hares', watercolour, 40x51cm