Q&A: Artist Heather L. Murphy

I am so excited to share this next Q&A with you. I discovered Heather’s beautiful, soulful artwork a few months ago, and I connected deeply with her work. Since then, she has become such an inspiration and also a sweet, encouraging friend. I love her use of color and intriguing bits + pieces of vintage paper and ephemera.

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When did you begin creating collages? How did you get started?

For me, it started out about seven years ago when I started making my own collaged journal covers. That opened a whole new creative world of ideas for me. I was unsatisfied in my job, but didn’t know what next steps to take. I began working with a life coach, and one of my assignments was to create a collage three times a week before going to work. I did this for a few months, and I started to feel like my job was somehow being phased out, and the artist in me was taking up more space in my life. Soon after, I was able to leave my job (this is another story in itself) to pursue other creative endeavors.

What advice would you offer others who are interested in creating a more artful life?

To listen to that voice—your inner artist—and create! Even if it is just for 5 minutes, it is a demonstration to the life you want to create. Reach out to other creative souls that you admire and be open to inspiration in surprising places. I take pictures and make notes of things that inspire me all of the time.

When you first began creating art, how did you get your art out into the world, so it could be seen and enjoyed by others?

When I first started out, I made cards and journals, and this sweet woman would sell them at her café. And soon after, I had my first art show with my collaged postcards. Soon after that, I started sharing my work on Flickr, and as my work expanded, I opened an Etsy store and started showing my work at other local cafés and retail spaces.

How would you describe your style?

Abstract landscapes that emphasize color and use of meaningful images and words to create stories.

What do you like most about collage?

I love the challenge of taking random bits of paper, images, colors, paints, etc. to create a story that turns out to be not random at all. I especially love using ephemera; there is something so meaningful about a handwritten letter and photos from another time. The simple act of cutting and pasting for me is like a meditation; it calms me and fills me up in a way that nothing else can. 

What are your must-have collage supplies?

Golden Gel Medium, old brushes for gluing, any kind of paint, scissors – my mom gave me this old pair of scissors ages ago and I love them. They are caked with paint and tape, all the more endearing!

Describe your creative process.

Most of the time, I start out layering papers and paint to start a background and keep playing until I am happy with the “landscape.” Sometimes, I stay focused on one piece at a time, and other times, I work on several pieces at a time. I have found that when I try to plan too much, I usually end up frustrated, so I try to go with the flow. However, before I begin, I like to have an idea of what colors I want to play with or a photo I want to center the piece around. Some of my favorite pieces have been when I work fast without thinking too much, when I really let go. Honestly, a lot of times, I go through this process, and then I will paint all over it and start over again, but that’s just part of the fun!

What has been the most challenging part of your journey into artmaking?

I think for me it is that I used to think I should feel inspired 24 hours a day and want to create ALL of the time. I was putting way too much pressure on myself. Finally, I learned that I needed to fill myself back up by doing other things like walks and picture taking. It took a while to trust that process. I think it’s important to find what works for you and to not compare yourself to others.

What/who inspires you?

Chrisine Mason Miller, Andrea Scher, Sabrina Ward Harrison, Andy Goldsworthy, May Sarton, Anne Lamott, Keri Smith, birds, walks – love getting lost in the woods, nature, being in the country, doing cartwheels, roadtrips

Share three random facts about yourself. :)

I am a runner, and I totally believe it contributes to my art.

I am an absolute dog lover, but I am fearful of standard poodles—cannot even explain it.

I won a spelling bee in the 5th grade.

{Visit Heather}

Web site

Flickr

Blog

Etsy

Thank you for sharing your art and story with us, Heather!

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