Look Closer #4

(In my last blog post, I talked about getting caught in the rain and my power wheelchair breaking down. I wanted to let readers know that the repairs are in process. I’ve also managed to get the proper paperwork done for a new cushion for the chair. It should all be taken care of by November, but I hold out hope that they’ll at least get the chair running before then, even if it’s November before the new cushion arrives.)

This blog post is to announce the completion of the 4th painting in my Look Closer: Disability and Sensuality series. With these paintings I hope to show that a person can be in transition, in great pain, and have major body transformations but still find themselves filled with elation and sensuality.  How we express sensuality changes, but it doesn’t cease.

This one stretched my skills and challenged me in new ways. I didn’t have any idea what I was going to call it, which is unusual for me. I usually have a whole story or working title from the beginning.

This one is based on a former neighbor of mine, a young woman who had a below the knee amputation after a car wreck several years before I met her. She was a lovely and vibrant person and I enjoyed seeing the ease with which she made her way in the world.

I started with sketches, trying to capture the liveliness with in a still figure.

I’m not used to representing architecture — stairs, doors. It’s not important to me that I paint things realistically, but I wanted a basic sense of perspective in this, so I started with a grid. (I painted over a failed painting.)

But once it was all gridded and measured out, I immediately went outside the lines.

It was interesting and often frustrating working on her facial expression, what to shade, how far to stray from reality. I also changed the design of the prosthetic leg several times. There are a lot of really dynamic prostheses now. I wanted hers to both stand out and to blend in.

I also wanted to capture the light and energy of sunset — light on one side of the porch, shadow on the other. And to somehow show the energy of yearning.

Almost there

And then, after consulting several people on it, I finished it up and titled it.

She Unlocked Her Door, by Joy Murray, 20×24″ Acrylic paint and ink on stretched canvas

Although it took a long time to finish this, I enjoyed this painting and am growing to appreciate my own style more and more. I hope the wonkiness adds to the energy I’m trying to convey.

I’d hoped to have this series finished by the end of the year, but I don’t see that happening now. I think it will be next summer before they are all done, but it’s not something I want rush.

These are the first three paintings:

Ever After by Joy Murray
The Color of Air by Joy Murray
Desire Seemed to Expand by Joy Murray

What do you think?


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Flying Dream-new painting

For my next art show in November, I’m painting a series on bodies, particularly those that have been transformed by life’s challenges.

I have know several people who have had leg amputations below the knee and this painting was inspired, in a way, by them, as well as by a recent strange dream.   I was trying to fly but was caught in a current of water.

Flying Dreams by Joy Murray, 16×10″ acrylic and ink on stretched canvas

What do you think?


This blog is brought to you by the generosity of people who support me on Patreon , buy my art, and who support me in so many different ways

Cards and prints on some of my art is available on Redbubble.  

If you find a typo, let me know, and I’ll send you a postcard.



The Turtle Rider

Like magic, The Turtle Rider is ready.  I took her out into the backyard for some pictures.  She probably deserves a better pedestal but she seemed content.   The green and red boot on her leg is a turtle-shell patterned brace.  I think she’s heading to Harper’s Playground.

Thanks to my friend Lynne for the great fabric!

I signed it on the bottom, which I’ve painted in a mixture of brown and copper, so I wasn’t able to photograph it very well, but you get the idea:

The Turtle Rider will be auctioned off at the Harper’s Playground Art Auction on Friday, September 30th at Disjecta studio.  You can read more about it here on an earlier post.

Well, now that The Turtle Rider has appeared like magic, I wonder if the studio will clean itself up like magic?

My studio exploded!

Dragon Draft

I think I’ve created a pretty good design for my dragon.  The hardest part was the head and it went through several manifestations before I got one that seemed powerful but friendly.  This is a Seeing Eye Dragon who will accompany a visually impaired woman in a fabric sculpture I’m creating called “Shared Vision.”

It’s for the show A Somewhat Secret Place: Art and Disability.  The show will open on July 7th at PRESENTspace at 939 NW Glisan here in Portland, Oregon.  There is still an active Kickstarter campaign going on to help with expenses and to produce a new kind of book that will make the exhibit accessible to visually impaired art lovers.  The curator and visionary behind the show is a visually impaired artist and I think her work on this exhibit has the capacity to influence how art shows are put together in the future.  But it’s a pretty expensive process and the deadline is closing in, so we need all the help we can get. Check out the Kickstarter campaign here:


I will have three pieces in the show.  My art is almost always about the physical challenges and transformations of life.   I’m very excited about the Shared Vision piece, which I am creating specifically for this exhibit.   While making it, I sometimes take off  my glasses and just work in the blur.  I want to make this a very touchable piece.   I plan to do the title for the piece in “braille” done in french knots.

I wanted to make the service animal a dragon because it symbolizes a mythic sense of power.  I want this piece to be about the power of symbiotic relationships and how our vision is shaped not only by what we see but how we see it.

Like all my dolls and cloth sculptures, I’m starting with an idea and figuring out how to put it together.  I’ve researched how stuffed animals are made and even made a pretty awful alligator from a a pattern.  I didn’t even photograph it and I blame the pattern.  But here, at last, is a pretty good “draft” or prototype of the dragon.  This is without wings or spikes and I’ll probably fatten it up and lengthen the tail, but this is the basic pattern.  It’s going to be a combination of a Western and Eastern dragon, as well as having some canine attributes.

Enter the Draft Dragon

Her face is detailed with markers here but the visionary dragon will have beaded and embroidered eyes and a painted mouth.

Dragon Head

And these are the main fabrics I’ll be using — a pearlized gold with green contrasts.

Dragon fabric

This visionary dragon will take approximately 40 hours to construct and I’ll try to post it at various stages over the next week.  Then I’ll build her visually challenged companion.

Meanwhile, here’s the website of another artist who will be participating in the show.  I love the work of Pat Krishnamurthy who has a wonderful range of styles.  I love that she uses quilts as an inspiration and blends together fragments into singular pieces.  She has a great sense of color and story and her Archetypes for Aging series is vibrant and compelling.