Piano teacher gets Splendido resident into painting - The Explorer: Active Living

Piano teacher gets Splendido resident into painting

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Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 4:00 am | Updated: 9:13 am, Wed Jan 23, 2013.

Splendido resident Jerry Murray was taught how to oil paint by his childhood piano teacher.

When he was a young boy, growing up in Chicago, a woman stopped by the house and convinced Murray’s mother that he and his siblings should take piano lessons.

“After three or four lessons she went to my mother and said, ‘Jerry doesn’t have an ear for music, but I notice he is always drawing and showing me pictures.’”

Being an artist herself, she offered to teach Murray how to oil paint and did so for about a year.

He then went on a hiatus from painting and only did two paintings in a 55-year span.

Not leaving his artistic and creative mind to rest, Murray was given his first camera, a Brownie, for Easter at the age of 7. Having an eye for composition, he began taking pictures and soon selling prints of his photos by the age of 15.

“I had this thing for wanting to capture things,” Murray said about what attracted him photography.

A photograph that sticks out in his mind that exemplified this was one he took early on. 

He went to the rehearsal for a Sacrament of Confirmation at a Catholic church and knew the exact moment he wanted to photograph and saw where he had to be in order to get the photograph he wanted.

Come the day for the ceremony, Murray said he arrived to the church at least an hour early to insure he would get the seat he wanted so he could capture the moment he wanted to, which was when the Cardinal gave the confirmation to a young boy with his grandfather in the background.

“That photograph is still one of the finest photographs I have ever taken,” he said.

As his photography career began to take off, he started working alongside professional photographers and eventually opened and ran a photography studio for about 10 years.

Then, in 1962, Murray sold his studio and moved to Phoenix where his career of a photographer took a backseat to getting into the investment banking business.

After a few years in Phoenix, he moved to California to work for a stock exchange company.

While living in California, Murray picked up a paintbrush to paint one of the two paintings he painted during his 55-year hiatus.

“When I had my office in California, one day I wanted something on a wall,” Murray recalled. “So I did a landscape of the Carmel area, out in Point Lobos looking back at the beach.”

Now, years later, that painting can be found in one of his granddaughter’s school classrooms where she teaches in New Orleans. 

After retiring, Murray has rekindled his interest in both photography and painting. Sometimes he does Plein Air oil paintings, while other times he paints versions of photos that he has taken along his travels he has done with his wife over the years.

Dozens of his paintings fill the walls of his house and the art gallery at Splendido, while others are on the walls of his family’s homes.

But no one he doesn’t know has any of his paintings, because he doesn’t sell any of his work. Murray feels that if he sells his work, then he will feel he has to create and paint. Right now, he is simply happy painting what he wants, rather than what he feels he has to paint. 

For more examples of Murray’s work, go to www.FJMurray.com.

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