velocity jacky murtaugh british artistJacky Murtaugh

Adelaide, Australia

Determined, Focused and Inspired

I’m an English artist currently based in Adelaide. I’m a painter, that’s what I do! The need to create is constant. I don’t understand it; I just follow it, where ever it leads me. I trust and obey it and revel in the productivity.

Velocity – © Jacky Murtaugh

My inspiration comes from nature, combined with a love of colour and a need to find originality. I’m drawn to irregularities in shape and pattern. I purposely emphasise the odd and unusual in a quest to communicate my passion for the natural world.

My art work has seen a huge change since emigrating from England to Australia. The Australian light is so intense lighting up the landscape and delivering an infinite variety of hues. As a result I have moved away from realism and a conventional palette to a more expressive technique and a greater saturation of colour. I feel the move has triggered a transformation in my desire to realise my talent and reach for my dreams.


When did you first realize you were an artist?   

illumination jacky murtaugh artistI’ve always been passionate about art but more recently have had the opportunity to follow my dream.

Originally, when I was at school I wanted to be a fashion designer, then later when I was married and holding down a full time job I studied ‘A’ level art at night school and was envious of the young ones going on to university.

Illumination © Jacky Murtaugh

I carried on painting in my spare time and let a few opportunities pass me by. The turning point came when I emigrated to Australia in late 2008.

The Australian landscape overwhelmed me with such a startling difference to England and I found I had a new lease of life. It was a kin to being a child again and everything was adventure. I had a great urge to interpret my feelings on canvas and so I did. Slowly at first with 5 paintings in 2009, then 7 in 2010 and 28 in 2011. I started showing my work in 2010 and by 2011 I was making sales.

I am currently holding my first solo exhibition titled ‘Illuminate’, which is a great milestone for me. I think this is my first realisation that I am an artist.


Do you have a certain style?   

It’s difficult to put a label on one’s own style, especially as mine has changed so much over the years. In my earlier days I was a slave to realism but as I grow as an artist I have left those shackles behind and now have a much looser style more a kin to the impressionists. I like to let things happen by accident and strive to make the marks look unintentional, undeliberate, natural as in nature. I am fascinated with light and its effects so this style adds something to the subject matter.


jacky murtaugh artist theendWhat are your artistic mediums?   

I love using oil and acrylic paint as this best suits the effect I am trying to create. I love the intense colour of acrylic paint and the buttery consistency of oil allowing it to blend beautifully. I often use both in a painting; creating an under painting in acrylic and over layering in oil.


The End - © Jacky Murtaugh

What is your technique and process when painting?   

Using a coloured gesso for priming the canvas, I let the coloured ground come through the over painted layers of oil, which creates depth and adds a variety of hues to the colour values in the painting. I like to wipe away paint in areas to give a varied consistency of colour and texture. I often dab the wet ground making an imprint of a rag or patterned surface of bubble wrap or kitchen roll. Once dry I paint over and it leaves a striking pattern that can be fully or partially used in the painting. I sometimes drip water onto the painted area whilst wet to create a pattern or effect in the same way.


Can you let us know about your themes?    

I’ve always had a love of trees so they almost always feature somehow in my work. Their textures and patterns spark a need to create and the shadows hold a fascination for capturing the movement of radiating light. I explore form, line and colour variation of the conventional landscape whilst high-lighting inherent distortions and transformations. The subject matter comes secondary to the visual sensation caused by a blinding sunset or a dancing reflection on water. Hues often overlap, competing for dominance and giving way to extraordinary patterns and colour saturations.

Water has a magnetic effect on me and is also an excellent vehicle for achieving distortions, mirroring images and transforming in part or the whole into a myriad of patterns, fragments and colours. I guess I’m a pattern addict.


off the reef jacky murtaugh

Why do you create?

I suppose being creative is a way of expressing who you are. I do it because it something that I am good at and I want to improve. I want to push myself to see how far I can go. Being recognised as an artist has always been my dream and more than anything I am enjoying the journey.

Off the Reef © Jacky Murtaugh

Where do you receive your ideas?   

I get an enormous amount visual enjoyment from all kinds of things but mostly the natural world. This inspiration transforms itself into ideas for artworks through development of a concept or body of work. One idea generates another and so on. The more work I do to pursue these ideas the more in tune I am with my ideas


How often do you create art?    

I paint almost everyday now. At first I had to set time aside otherwise I would fill it with chores etc. Now I have got into a habit of painting daily I have become highly conscious of its absence.


chasing the shade jackymurtaugh

Do you make a living by creating art?

I’m making some sales but not enough to live off right now. I hope to be able to give up my day job eventually but may have to supplement with teaching or other associated activities as many other artists do.


Chasing the Shade © Jacky Murtaugh



What is the best artwork you ever created?  

A recent painting entitled ‘The End
The title came from a photograph that I took at a party where I the camera had moved and become blurred with the lights streaking across the picture. I have been exploring with some semi abstract works and decided to paint a fully abstract interpretation from this photo but part way in I found myself lost. I finally drew upon the teachings from a recent painting course I had been on after changing the painting several times and almost gave up with pure frustration. I managed to achieve something quite different from what I intended originally. I learned a lot from this exercise and feel good about not giving up when all I wanted to do was destroy the canvas. When I finally posted images of the artwork on Facebook and my website it got an overwhelming response. Suffice to say the painting sold before the paint had dried.


What are your top two preferred methods of online art promotion?    

I like to promote my work through different social media as well as my website but the most interactive are Facebook and Twitter. I have built up quite a fan base now and have made friends with other wonderful artists. It has also lead to being informed of new events and opportunities coming up. I have recently made friends with talented local artist Andrew Quixley which has lead to a joint exhibition being held later this year.


what lies beneath jackymurtaughWhat artists have influenced you the most?   

My main influences come from the French Impressionists - Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and other artists specific works such as Gustav Klimt’s ‘Tree of Life’ and ‘Birch Forrest’, Paul Klee’s ‘Rose Garden’, and Joseph Mallord William Turner’s ‘Norham Castle Sunrise’.

What Lies Beneath © Jacky Murtaugh

Do you have a contemporary artist to recommend?   

I have always been interested in the effects of light so it was a natural choice to research the Impressionists but Turner was a pioneering artist in terms of capturing the effects of light almost a hundred years earlier. Turners ‘Snow Storm - Steam Boat off a Harbor’s Mouth Making Signals in Shallow Water’ is the reason I paint. When I first saw this painting in London’s Tate Gallery I was blown away by the sensation the sea and spray delivered. Such a remarkable painting of the power and magnitude of the elements.


Have you ever felt like giving up painting?   

It has never occurred to me to give up painting but there have been long periods of time in my life when I never picked a brush up. Those days are behind me now and I can only see things getting better.


Where do you see your art career in 10 years?   

I am making plans to sell my work throughout Australia and beyond. I will continue to make friends and contacts within Adelaide Art Scene and eventually open my own gallery sometime in the next 5 to 10 years. Whatever happens, I will still be painting.


Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?   

My advice to aspiring artists is to practice everyday, get involved in your local arts community and learn how to block out the little voice inside your head that tells you that you are not good enough

Jacky Murtaugh


Artist Website: Jacky Murtaugh Art

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Twitter: @jackymurtaugh
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Thank-you Jacky! 

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