Pamela Murphy's process could be described as thorough, old school, or even over-the-top. She does not cut-corners and creates paintings that are built up over days, weeks and months. Murphy begins by applying gesso and several layers of oil paint to an unstretched canvas, allowing it to dry before soaking the canvas in water for days to weeks. By softening the paint she is able to scrape or sand away sections of paint to create the effect of a time-pocked surface. These background paintings are stored away in her studio until she becomes inspired to paint representational elements (people, animals, architecture) over the top of them. For her figures, Murphy draws inspiration from strangers found in vintage photos, imbuing her work with a nostalgic sentiment. She pick figures from her photo collection and then goes about the process of painting their likeness onto one of her prepared canvases, still unstretched so that she can make the final cropping decision once the painting is complete. She begins with a rough charcoal drawing, followed by a tighter drawing, followed by a value painting in white before adding color through translucent layers of glazes. Finally she stretches her canvas across quarter round that is flipped around so that the surface has rounded edges and sets them into her own custom built frames. In addition to her own projects, Murphy creates commissions using photos provided by the client.
Pamela Murphy received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in Painting from Visva Bharati University in India. She had also been awarded a Fullbright Grant to study Persian and Indian miniature painting in Pakistan. Currently she lives and paints on a 10-acre farm in northeastern Wisconsin where she raises bees, chickens, ducks and goats. The barn has become her studio.