29 December 2010

Ring Out The Old!

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

This year's theme? A bevie I've had a bit too much of! Blessed eggnog (and a healthy dose of rum).

The origins, etymology, and the ingredients used to make the
original eggnog drink are debated. Eggnog may have originated in East Anglia, England. The "nog" part of its name may stem from the word "noggin", a Middle English term used to describe a small, carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol. The drink crossed the Atlantic to the English colonies during the 18th century. Since brandy and wine were heavily taxed, rum from the Triangular Trade with the Caribbean was a cost-effective substitute. The inexpensive liquor, coupled with plentiful farm and dairy products, helped the drink become very popular in America.

The Captain’s Nog

2/3 part Eggnog
1/3 part Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum
Sprinkle Cinnamon on top to finish. Serve in a champagne flute. Tchin tchin!

Cheers et Bonne Santé pour 2011!

20 December 2010

Last Few Paintings of 2010

Trying to cram in as many finishes before the end of the year! It's tricky, since so many people are out of the office. AND I still have to make my New Years card. I have an idea, just have to fabricate. Eggnog and Rum shall be my fuel!

06 December 2010

Nothing Says Happy Birthday like...

...an anatomical human heart made out of cake?

This was a recent commission, and truthfully... was a BLAST to make! It's frosted with buttercream, and then covered with rolled fondant. When asked to make this cake, I was only told it was for a sixteen year old's birthday party. I decided not to ask anymore questions!


01 December 2010

Wencheng, Again...

Almost done!

29 November 2010

Illustrators 53

I'm super excited to announce that Antoine Revoy and I will be included into the Society of Illustrators 53rd Annual. The collaborative illustration “The Lodge” was selected by The Society of Illustrators during the course of its illustrator competition. The original will be presented at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators in 2011. We're on cloud nine!

Too Steamy?

Creating art for juveniles can be interesting. Most times, I can pretty much instinctively know what is crossing the line. I guess with a recent assignment, my meter was off. I think I might have gotten TOO much into the story.

Here's my G rated sketch instead.
I still think the first dude is hunkier.

The Adventures of AMAZINGNESS!

Much like any other nerd out there, I've recently seen the second to last Harry Potter movie. I'm not about to say it was the most amazing piece of theatrical genius out there, but I will say it was mighty entertaining. What I WILL say is that within the movie was an animated three minute section, called "The Three Brothers". It was gorgeous and so well directed that I had to do a bit of research. Directed by Ben Hibon and created by Framestore, we learn of the story of the Three Brothers and their encounter with Death.

Sorry about the youtube poor quality clip.

Sequence supervisor at Framestore Dale Newton tells us,
"We tried a few things to get a gritty and hand-made feel. The inspiration was the way Lotte Reiniger had the childlike-ness for her animation, but we didn't necessarily want it to look like a stop-motion piece of animation. Because of the camera moves, we couldn't always split things down on twos. So we couldn't rely on any sort of technological roughing of the edges. The one thing we were keenly aware of at all times was the silhouettes which enabled us to play on a certain theatricality. The hands do so much of the talking - Death's hands for example are almost as expressive as his face is.

When we designed the characters, we tried to purposely design puppets. So we didn't give the characters, for instance, whites in their eyes. You didn't want to read them through, say, traditional blend shapes on their heads. It all had to be told throughout their entire pose. We were very conscious that the attitude of the characters at that point had to be read through their entire pose. This forced us into thinking theatrically, and we should feel like we're watching a very clever puppet show, not a traditional character-animated movie."

It's totally stunning, and in case you haven't seen "The Adventures of Prince Achmed", by Lotte Reiniger... YOU MUST. It is the oldest surviving animated feature film (two earlier ones were made in Argentina by Quirino Cristiani, but they are considered lost), and it featured a silhouette animation technique Reiniger had invented which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera. The technique she used for the camera is similar to Wayang shadow puppets (though hers were animated frame by frame, not manipulated in live action). The original prints featured color tinting. The story is based on the elements taken from the collection 1001 Arabian Nights, specifically The Story of Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Paribanou featured in Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book. With the assistance of Aladdin, the Witch of the Fiery Mountain, and a magic horse, the title character reclaims the magic lamp and conquers the African sorcerer. The culminating scene in the film is the battle between die Hexe (the witch) and die africanische Zauberer (the African sorcerer), in which those characters undergo fabulous transformations. All is well in the end: Aladdin marries Dinarsade (Achmed's sister and daughter of the Caliph); Achmed marries Pari Banu; the African sorcerer is defeated; and the foursome return to the Caliph's kingdom.

And last but not least, just a moment of extreme praise for YellowShed, the duo of Todd Hemker's and Soyeon Kim's work. I think it's on the same level of kickassitude that the previous clips have had.

GODS! All of them Gods for me to worship!

28 October 2010

October 30, 2010 at Barrington Books RI

Hey everyone!

Just wanted to announce a great children's literature event in Barrington Rhode Island, happening Saturday, October 3oth, 2010.

Here's the details:

Saturday October 30th, 2010
Barrington Books
184 County Road
Barrington, RI 02806

Guest Authors and Illustrators:
10am - 12pm
Mary Jane Begin
R.W. and Zoé Alley
Bill Harley

12 - 2pm
Alison Paul
Mark Peter Hughes
Pendred Noyce

Jamie Michalak
Kelly Murphy
Ammi-Joan Paquette

In addition to the book signing, the amazing staff at Barrington Books have assembled music, treats, and Halloween fun for the whole family. It would be a pleasure to see you there!

In addition to coming out to support a great local independent bookseller, come by to see children's book author Anika Denise each Thursday for Story Hour. In addition to her own work, she assembles a great variety of books in frequent themed splendor on her blog! I recommend you take a look!

25 October 2010

More Tang, Please!

Here are a few more images from my Tang Dynasty project. I'm really wondering what it would be like to paint on silk. In fact, I've made my mind up to give a shot at watercolors. I think they might be fun!

23 October 2010

How Much To Sketch?

Now, maybe I am being dramatic... but I think 15 sketches for one cover might be considered a good preliminary sketch round! My knowledge of turn of the century steam ships is improving greatly!

How many sketches do you make for one project? Just curious?

01 October 2010

Character Sketching

It felt so refreshing to draw from life. I have to try and schedule a full afternoon, or heck, even a full day of just going about sketching from observation. I really enjoy it. These animal studies are for a potential chapter novel. Hoping they like 'em and give me the job!

29 September 2010

Another Desert Piece

Here's the finished painting. Now, off to school! Two days a week, I have to admit, is kinda killing me. Well, I'm just the kind of person who hates leaving the house. HERMIT.

22 September 2010

Childrens Book Illustrations Exhibiton

The Brush Art Gallery & Studios in Lowell, Massachusetts will be exhibiting original artwork by renowned American children’s book author-illustrators from September 19th to October 24th, 2010. The featured award-winning illustrators are Christopher Bing, David Macaulay, Kelly Murphy, Matt Tavares and David Wiesner. Book signings and talks with the artists will be held on October 1st (Macaulay) and 2nd (Bing, Murphy and Tavares). Please visit the gallery’s event page for more information regarding the exhibition.

20 September 2010

Tang Dynasty

I recently got a project that is about Princess Wencheng. She was a lady of the imperial family in the Tang Dynasty. She became a famous historical figure of China for her marrying the chief of Tubo, a Tibetan King and bringing with her the culture of Han nationality, thus promoting the unity and integration between different ethnic groups. Princess Wencheng is the first princess of peace-making marriage in the Tang Dynasty. It was very fun researching the different costume and custom of this era of Chinese history.

The first great funfact was the importance of color. The garb of many officials in the Tang dynasty had different colors and were used to indicate their official ranks. The robes for the Emperor were yellow, a style that remained the tradition until the Qing dynasty. Generally speaking, the costumes for officials ranked as Level 3 and higher were purple, officials ranked as Level 5 wore red, officials ranked as Levels 6 and 7 wore green, and officials ranked as Levels 8 and 9 wore blue. Why was color such a focus of these costumes? On the surface, ancient people used the positions of king, minister, the nobility, and the characteristic of humility to show the dignity of the different ranks in society. But in fact, in the corresponding dimension of heaven, beings of different colors have fundamental differences—different dimensions, levels, and particles. It's believed that the various colors of the social ranks are the various manifesting forms of the different lives in our universe. Where do all the black loving goths belong nowadays?

After looking at countless images of courtly ladies, I then watched an amazing visual spectacle called "The Curse of The Golden Flower". I was able to see the lavishness of the costume and the intense color palettes that might have existed in the Tang Dynasty. It must be wonderful to have ancestry with such craftsmanship and symbolism.

14 September 2010

City of Sands

I picked up a job form a Spanish publisher to create the cover of their version of this Italian story. Did you get all that? It's super fun to be working again with international publishers, and I am always curious what different take they might have. It's also the third book in about a year that I've illustrated with Dogon, Mali, Tuareg, and desert mysticism. No complaints here, but now I want to desperately visit all of these places. Here are a few of my sketches:

07 September 2010

Unicorn's Tale Revealed!

Annnnnd, here's the fourth bookcover of the Nathaniel Fludd: Beastologist series revealed! Unicorns!! But, I think most people could have figured that out. I am DYING to know what is next!

30 August 2010

Samhain Blaze

With temperatures still in the 90s, it's hard to believe that fall is on its way. But quite often illustrators find themselves mixed up with the holidays since commissions need to be made months in advance. Summer scenes in winter, winter scenes in summer (which are the most taunting), it's a miracle I even know the current month!

This image is for my next promotional mailer. Samhain: pronounced /ˈsɑːwɪn/, /ˈsaʊ.ɪn/, or /ˈsaʊn/[1] meaning “summer’s end”, is an old Irish festival, which takes place on October 31st. With a central bonfire ablaze, the villagers would extinguished all other fires. Each family then solemnly lit its hearth from the common flame, thus bonding the families of the village together. Often two bonfires would be built side by side, and the people would walk between the fires as a ritual of purification. Masks made sure to placate those pesky evil spirits.

I can't wait for apple crisp, candy apples, apple pie... ALL THINGS APPLE!

The Unicorns Are Coming!

Book four of Nathaniel Fludd: Beastologist is passed in and ready to be born Spring of 2011. Book three will be out on shelves this October.

And, how lucky am I to be able to draw unicorns for a living?

27 August 2010

Thirsty Dance Moves

Who drank all my beer? HOLY MOLY...

THIS GUY! I have now watched this 10 times.

One might even say, he's in a virtual insanity:

06 August 2010

Dueling Banjo Pigs!

Banjo Pigs from Kelly Murphy on Vimeo.

This is a quick cut out animation I created for Dueling Banjo Pigs, a project started as a showdown between friends Guy Francis and fellow illustrator Stacy Curtis. Now, other illustrators have joined the fun with banjo pigs of their own!

Check them out at:

29 July 2010

Coming Soon!

These dudes will be movin'!

20 July 2010

Northanger Finish

A blend of line work and tonal painting. The scan I made is more on the poor side, but working mono-chromatically always makes me happy! If only I can reduce the glare on the flatbed scanner. Oh well, another battle for another day.

18 July 2010

Ask The Alchemist

Finished up the painting of the alchemist. I kept alot of the linework underneath, just to try something a bit different with my mixed media.

And let's all take a second to remember, it was these talented alchemists that gave us the invention of those fine hoppy carbonated beverages I like to call mothers milk. The rest of you call it BEER.

15 July 2010

Oh Non!

Here's my submission for the eyewitness report of the battle with the toad vs the science fair robot! Mac Burnett and Dan Santat teamed up on this amazing picture book entitled, Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed The World), and now have asked other illustrators to create their eyewitness report of the scene.

For mine... I saw it was a rebirth of a nation... one without evil robots and corrupt minded dogs! Give us freedom! Ok, looking at Delacroix kind of helped, too.

I can't wait to see what others came up with! They will be at Gallery Nucleus in August. Click here to find out more.

Eye Witness Reports!
Gallery Nucleus
210 East Main St, Alhambra CA 91801
August 14, 2010 - August 17, 2010
Opening Aug 14, 7:00PM - 11:00PM

12 July 2010

Winter In July

Something funny happens in the studio every summer. The season teasin' game begins. I typically receive work that is for winter publication... which obviously involves... WINTER SCENES. Now, this is fine and good, with it being my favorite of all seasons, but it's just plain mean to have me painting cute woodland creatures frolicking in wonderful cold snow when the daily temperature of the studio is between 95 and 105 degrees! Thank my lucky snowflakes the new apartment has a very capable A/C unit. Curses to National Grid Electric for now owning my payment for these projects.

And here's one of my favorite snow critters:

Hahaha, you mean WONDERLAND! Gets me everytime.

08 July 2010

Nate Fludd, Broceliande Style

The timing of working on Nathaniel Fludd: Beastologist 4 was impeccable. I was able to re-read the manuscript while flying to France, and not to spoil the story before it's released... but I was mere miles from where R.L. LaFevers set the story.

Ms. LaFevers has set a fire in me with Nathaniel's adventures. Because of her throughout description of the lands and cultures, I now HAVE to visit all of these places. She describes them so alluringly! As I finish up book four, I am drooling to find out what happens next!

Info about previous Nathaniel Fludd books can be found here and here.

And without further ado... a cover teaser!

26 June 2010

Referrence In Real Life

Another spot I was able to visit was the city of Carcassonne. It's a fortified french town just near the border between Spain and France. First signs of settlement in this region have been dated to about 3500 BC, but the hill site of Carsac – a Celtic place-name that has been retained at other sites in the south – became an important trading place in the 6th century BC. Carcassonne's defenses were strengthened by successive owners. In the 5th century, the Visigoth's extended the Roman defenses and for many years after Carcassonne Castle proved impenetrable to invaders.

Carcassonne France came under control of the French crown in 1247. King Louis IX (St. Louis) and his successor Philip III further strengthened the fortifications of Carcassonne Castle and built the "new town" outside the defenses. English troops laid siege to the city during the Hundred Years War, but once again in Carcassonne history, the fortifications proved impenetrable. For the next several centuries of Carcassonne history, the fortified walls were allowed to fall into disrepair. In the mid-19th century, the French government proposed demolishing the walls. A popular uproar saved Carcassonne Castle and the architect and historian Eugene Viollet-le-Duc was commissioned to restore the medieval fortifications. (Viollet-le-Duc also restored the famed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.)

To say I was flabbergasted is a bit of and understatement. The place is amazing! True enough, there are some obviously newer parts to the building and shops located inside the walls, but it's fabrication is done with historical preciseness, you can almost imagine what it was like in the 13th century... minus the leprosy, rotting meats, and lack of modern plumbing.

Boni Ashburn's two books, Hush, Little Dragon and Over At The Castle were heavily inspired by cities like this!!

17 June 2010


While I was visiting Beaune, France I went to the Hôtel-Dieu. The Hôtel-Dieu was founded on 4 August 1443, when Burgundy was ruled by Duke Philip the Good. The Hundred Years War had recently been brought to a close by the signing of the Treaty of Arras in 1435. Massacres, however, continued with marauding bands ("écorcheurs") still roaming the countryside, pillaging and destroying, provoking misery and famine. The majority of the people of Beaune were declared destitute.

Nicolas Rolin, the Duke's Chancellor, and his wife Guigone de Salins, reacted by deciding to create a hospital and refuge for the poor. The Hospices de Beaune received the first patient on 1 January 1452. Elderly, disabled and sick people, with orphans, women about to give birth and the destitute have all been uninterruptedly welcomed for treatment and refuge, from the Middle Ages until today.

Over the centuries, the hospital radiated outwards, grouping with similar establishments in the surrounding villages of Pommard, Nolay, Meursault. Many donations - farms, property, woods, works of art and of course vineyards - were made to it, by grateful families and generous benefactors. The institution is one of the best and oldest example of historical, philanthropic, and wine-producing heritage, and has become linked with the economic and cultural life of Burgundy.

Wow, NO COMMENT on the current state of the U.S. Healthcare system!

Anyways, it was very fun because it tied into one of my projects. I am to design a cover involving an alchemist mixing powders. A visit to the Hôtel-Dieu's pharamacie was amazingly handy!

06 June 2010

Le Studio Mobile

I've been puttering along on a an assortment of projects, whilst I've moved the studio to France for a month. Sounds fun, which it is... but also limiting. I finagled my way to be working on only black and white projects, since I've had difficulty finding the right aerosols and turps to work on my oils over here. So, hopefully, I can keep posting a few of the things that have crossed the ol' desk, but I think it is time to show some good ol' fashioned photos!