Neil Murphy

I am a Bay Area artist and designer, but also a Kama'aina - born and raised on the island of Oahu - and the tropics continue to leave a strong mark on my work.

My painting surface is unprimed canvas spread horizontally on a flat work surface. Media include ink, acrylic washes, pastels, and experimental digital processes.

I moved to the Bay Area to attend the San Francisco Art Institute and from that base launched numerous solo painting exhibits on both coasts. Interests that frame my current artistic directions include the study of line and flat color fields, almost anything related to science, art, and technology (most recently spin-offs from neurobiology), and of course Hawaiiana - including the brilliantly colored and now-extinct tropical birds that once flew the island rainforests.

My other professional directions all feed my art. Among those are audio engineering, film sound recording and design, electronic music composition, graphic design and web development. I am the founding partner and lead designer at Ghostdog Design ( ), a boutique web design company serving primarily start-ups and biotechnology.

I live with my family, a morose but sincere dog, and two insanely dog-like cats in Burlingame, Ca. 


Artist Statement

Abstraction or a representation, the process is the same… it encourages cross-pollination between the two.

Inks and pigments behave… mostly. But water makes them mutiny and run amok. Makes them travel, bleed, blend and indulge in molecular shenanigans. My process encourages this irreverence. First I flood water and pigment across a horizontal unprimed canvas. Unpredictable, unbalanced elements appear and the painting process, a continuous realignment and rebalancing, begins.

The idea is to coax line and shape accidents into associations that no longer seem accidental. Corral colored fluids into their proper place and let them dry.

This a layer-upon-layer, wash-upon-wash (sometimes 30 or 40) partnership with water continues until disparate elements, through iterative reordering, reach a kind of equilibrium. Until the shapes, and the ideas behind them, join.

The final layer might articulate the edge of a bird’s feather against a forest background, or be little more than a last scratch that connects two separated color fields in a manner that makes perfect sense to the part of our brain that simply loves connections for their own sake. 


Website by Werner Glinka