Elaine Murphy The Artist, The Visionary

I grew up in Dublin as the daughter of a famous TV and radio personality, Mike Murphy. At the age of 4, my grandfather asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said “an artist”.

From an early age I was always doodling and sketching. At the age of 16, I was walking down a busy street with a friend in our school uniforms one day when a man came out of a hair salon and said that I would be the perfect model for the latest bob hairstyle.

It turns out he was the top hairdresser in Ireland, Aidan Fitzgerald. He later cut and colored my hair. I was then photographed by a top photographer, and that launched my modeling career.

Though I enjoyed modelling, my heart wasn’t in it, because I wanted to pursue a career in art. Much to the dismay of my model agent at the time, I decided to go to art college after high school instead of modeling full-time.

I studied both fine art and fashion illustration at the National College of Art and Design, and the Grafton Academy, both in Dublin. I then got an opportunity to work in London for my idol at the time – the famous avant garde fashion designer Zandra Rhodes. It was an amazing experience and I learnt so much from her.

While there I met Princess Diana, Paul McCartney and many other famous people and members of royalty. At the same time I illustrated for various fashion magazines in Dublin and London, including “Image”, “U”, “It” and “Woman’s Way”.

In 1988, at age 21, I had my first exhibition in Dublin, Ireland. I made the theme a 1960s inspired series of hand-painted plates for the wall. It was a sell out show, and that’s what really started my art journey and career.

I spent a summer in the States visiting my uncle who was a Catholic priest living in Bethesda, Maryland. I loved America from that first time I came here. I also loved not being known as “Mike Murphy’s daughter” here, the anonymity was very freeing to me.

I always wanted to make it on my own, not as someone’s daughter or wife. I could only stay three months at the time as I didn’t have a Green Card. I later got a Green Card and returned to America.

Throughout the 30 years I’ve lived here in several great cities, including Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Palm Desert, but my favorite place has always been Naples. My Dad bought a condo on the beach here in 1992 and my family has been coming here since then.

I grew up with a privileged lifestyle in Ireland because of my Dad’s success, but he was adamant that you have to make it on your own, and that instilled a drive and a good work ethic into me and my siblings. It would have been much easier for me to stay in Ireland where my family and I were so well known. I definitely took “The road less travelled”, and it wasn’t an easy road. But now I am so glad I took the risk and did that, because any success I’ve achieved has been on my own merit.

At age 30 I was invited to design ceramic prototypes for a company in Mexico. It was there that I started helping animals and rescuing them. I brought several rescued animals, three dogs and two cats, back to the States where they lived out their lives with me.

While living in California, I had the opportunity to work with the renowned abstract artist Jerome Gastaldi, at his fabulous studio in Laguna Beach overlooking the ocean. He inspired me so much and was a great mentor. He taught me all about abstract painting and what is involved. After that my style evolved into the combination of loose abstraction with bold, fluid lines, and that style was what became popular with galleries and collectors in the States and Europe. My paintings now hang in many private American, international and celebrity collections.

I have a jewelry line which I started 13 years ago. I originally made it for myself, but women loved it and I started doing it on a larger scale. Each piece is a handmade, one of a kind original that is ultra lightweight and comfortable to wear. My jewelry and art is available at Casanova Art &Fashion here in Naples.

I moved to Naples fulltime 11 years ago and I love it. I find it so inspiring with all the beauty around us here, and the feeling of serenity and calm that I always feel here. I enjoyed having a gallery on Shirley Street in the Naples Art District, but so much has moved online that I now have a studio at my home.

My paintings are in several galleries, including two galleries in New York, and Emillions Art here on Fifth Avenue.

My figurative abstract paintings are the most popular, but I did an automotive series for ‘Ultimate Garages” at their request a couple of years ago. Cars were a new subject matter for me and I wanted to try to capture the speed and elegance of beautiful exotic cars. Recently I exhibited some ‘Ferrari” themed paintings at a group show at Ferrari of Naples, in support of Legal Aid. My paintings, including the automotive series, have helped raise money for several charities, including The Humane Society, The Salvation Army, Legal Aid, Camelot Community Care, St. Matthew’s House, and several charities in Ireland.

I feel very strongly about my art being a vehicle to help causes and charities that I believe in, particularly animal welfare. I chose to become vegan six years ago and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I love getting commissions and working with interior designers on custom homes or offices. I’ve done several of these projects here in Naples, one of them being a commission of six large scale figurative paintings for a prominent plastic surgery center here. I worked with the interior designer on color palettes, dimensions, themes etc. and it was wonderful!

At present two huge aluminumgiclees of my paintings are being installed at Green Tree Center, each piece is on an outdoor wall.

Naples is my home now, although I love spending time back in Ireland with my family. Apart from this COVID era, they normally will make any excuse to come and visit me here in Naples! They all love coming here. I feel truly proudto be a Naples resident and look forward to seeing what the coming years bring.

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