“I’m trying to capture the last flicker of light of the past, the character and depth of the people of yesterday. I don’t know what an artist’s job is exactly. I do know I’m trying to capture something that is almost lost – fading fast.”
~ Paul Murray
We had rented a cabin in the "Arts & Crafts" region of Gatlinburg, thinking it would be an interesting place to anchor and because we don't enjoy the tourist-ie sections. And we were not disappointed.
It is sad that many of those 100 craftsmen are no longer there and the shops are empty. Many of the crafts characteristic of this area are now a lost art as they have not been passed down. But, we did find many galleries and shops that were delightful.
The artist I am sharing with you today is not a local although you would not know it to see his art or to talk to him. He is Canadian and spends six months of the year here. Paul has become completely enmeshed in the Appalachian/rural folk culture and his art is an extension of that love.
On our first drive around the area on Sunday, we saw this old barn and I knew this was a place where I had to return. I later learned that there have been several wrecks in this curve because of trying to take a picture. I can understand why and I wasn't driving.
Before we went back the next day, I did a little research on Paul. What a fascinating story!
At the age of 10, Paul didn’t find it hard to skip school and walk 12 miles to visit his old hermit friends Joey and his siblings. Even at this young age, Paul was already displaying his work at local art shows, where his paintings and commissions sold.
At age 13, he quit school and dedicated himself to preserving these rare people. When Paul wasn’t on his friend’s homestead learning to make tools by hand and live off the land; he was in the library learning the techniques of the masters. Some of those he studied were Rembrandt, Wyeth and Rockwell. His works still reflect the techniques of these masters.
|An unfinished work of Joseph|
"Most artists work in one medium only, but Paul has various mediums; pencil, pastel, egg tempera, oil and watercolor. He read all that he could on the elusive and eclectic mountain people of Appalachia. He had been visiting theses areas, since an early age and the mountains and its people intrigued him deeply. Here he recognized the unique purity of such deep isolation, the hard struggle to survive, the pride and hundreds of years of knowledge kept alive in this hard place."
Paul Murray began publishing his paintings and did solo exhibitions at age 16. His accomplishments to date are the publishing of his book in 1989, “Mirrored Souls – A study of Paul Murray’s art”. It is a compilation of original paintings and stories of Paul's intimate friendships with old-timers in the Appalachia and other primitive farmers.
Hubby so enjoyed scanning the book and thought about buying it until we learned that it sales for around $500. We are hoping that our name will be drawn next year for a free copy.
When we told Paul and his wife Kati-Jane that we are from Louisiana, they gave us several of his signed children's pieces to be donated for fund raisers for the Baton Rouge flood victims. I'm still in awe of their generosity and in the process of trying to get information on fund raisers. Both of them continually give back to the community. His donations to many charities have helped raise more than a million dollars.
"Portraiture is among the hardest achievements for an artist and typically not a prolific one. Paul Murray complicates this by his study of history and of an intimacy with the people he paints. His commitment to each picture to tell the truth of the person’s life and his strive for perfection, causes intense involvement in each painting. Many pictures don’t make the final stages. Those few paintings that do make it to the frame are sold each year in his fall (Oct., Nov.) exhibits in his hometown area of Essex County and where his heart is, in Gatlinburg, TN." (paulmurray.com)
Now, let me share pictures of our visit that help tell the story of Paul Murray's art.
I was thrilled when one of their cats, Paul's favorite, let me love on her. Now that is a fat cat!
There are framed originals of Daniel who was the family’s horse trader and trainer and passed away when Paul was still in his early teens. There is Joseph, one of Paul's favorite old souls and seen above with his mule; there is Joey (above) and Bachelor John. There are also Red and Wilma, the storytellers.
And of course, there is Aunt Emily, everyone's favorite grandmother with lined face and veined hands, with crystal blue eyes that could see deep into one's soul.
Hubby took the below picture of the barn and "Lil Miss" and we both think it is one of the best of the whole trip.
We liked it so well that I had it mounted it on a large canvas and surprised him with it when we got home.
Hubby and I treasure the time we spent with Paul and Kati-Jane at the Paul Murray Studio. Thank you for making our trip so memorable.These are just a few pics that continue telling the story of this amazing place I wouldn't have missed for anything.
Kati-Jane is also on Pinterest showing many of Paul's works: Paul Murray on Pinterest
And, you might especially enjoy this short video.