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Michele Ann Murtaugh

Updated: Mar 9, 2020

‘Artists can effect change, enhance a mood, increase awareness and most importantly, bring beauty into the world.'

Michele Ann Murtaugh was born in Arizona, and is now based in California. She explores narratives involving the human figure, with an emphasis on the female form. Michele Ann Murtaugh’s detailed paintings can appear at once playful and colourful, whilst also revealing vunerability, power, dualities and power. The space the figures hold is greatly considered.

Dinner Party Part 2: The Red Door, Oil on linen, 72 x 36 inches

Where is your current studio?

My studio is a room in my house. The plus side is, I can paint in my bathrobe. The downside is, I paint in my bathrobe.

What would be your dream studio?

I dream of a studio with big enough wall space to hold a canvas the size that I really want to paint on.

Do you prefer to work in silence or does certain music inspire you?

I listen to Rolling Stones, Elton John and David Bowie. Those are my friends in the studio and pretty much the only ones invited in.

Studio life can lead to isolation, how do you address this/ keep a balance?

I can easily become isolated because I like it even though most people consider me an extrovert. I currently don’t have a recipe on how to find balance. When I do take time out of the studio, I am just thinking about all the paintings I could be doing.

Shouldering the Bones of Our Bearer,Oil on linen,40x30

Describe a moment you had an epiphany concerning your creative life?

It started with a list I had made called “What do I want to be when I grow up.” I wrote down 10 things; ballerina, writer, painter, guitar player, etc.. Now, the trick was, I actually had to do each of this things. Imagine me at the age of 26 taking a ballet class…. Exactly! I did take the class as well as guitar lessons, writing classes - you get the idea. This took a span of about 4 years when I came to the last thing on the list which was painting. I sat in my tiny 600 square foot apartment with my little $12 paint set, a paper bag and went to work. Every stroke sent chills to every part of my body. The smell of the paint was intoxicating as was the idea of what I could do with it. I knew, this was to be


How has your style evolved and what contributed to the changes?

My style took a very quick right turn in 2018. I had been afraid to share my stories, the ones closest to me, for fear that I would be judged, misinterpreted or worse deemed as cliche. Two things occurred simultaneously. The first is I had taken a couple of workshops with Dirk Dzmirsky and Eloy Morales so my technique evolved. Secondly, I said fuck it! And now I’m telling my stories.

A Cautionary Tale, Oil on linen, 48x36 inches

Describe an obstacle you have faced and how did you overcome it.

My biggest obstacle is myself. I was very self-deprecating almost to the point of painting paralysis. I’ve overcome this by not overthinking things and when negative thoughts creep in, I call them out as the gateway to mediocrity and being that that is my greatest fear, I push past the thoughts and get to work straight away.

Nature versus nurture: do you believe you have inherited abilities from creative parents, do you have creative siblings? Can you identify environmental factors or influences which led to your choices or directions?

I never know how to answer this because I think both of my parents are creatives who never let themselves create. I believe I just had the audacity to indulge and never accepted any other way of living.

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