Art professor Bill Murphy may have retired from teaching, but he did not retire from art-making. During the summer of 2019, he mounted a show of his recent works in the Union gallery.
The show included a couple of self-portraits. One of them, “Self-Portrait, Summer,” an atypically color-rich piece for Murphy, is in acrylic paint.
“I do self-portraits often enough,” Murphy says, “probably average one or two a year. … Last summer, I started painting more, and I decided I wanted to try something straight on, painting from life.”
He limited his color choices to the black, white, red, and yellow ochre of the Zorn palette, named for the Swedish artist who popularized it, Anders Zorn.
“From those four colors, you can get a great variation of color,” Murphy says. “I played around with it last year, to paint portraits, flesh tones.”
Murphy also dipped into old imagery to create something new, with his etching “The Nightboat.” He first drew this scene for a commission in the late 1980s. It shows one of the Staten Island ferry boats in the Kennedy class, all of which are scheduled to be retired next year. In this version, Murphy used lines to create a tonal image with deep blacks and gradations of light.