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Spotlight Artist Lori Murphy-Grafing

Thalo loves to promote artists and each month we spotlight a member of our community! 

This month we are pleased to have Lori Murphy-Grafing as the thalo Spotlight Artist for December.

Thalo Team: Can you give an "elevator pitch" of your work?

Lori Murphy-Grafing: Life has taken me on an indirect path toward being an “artist”. I grew up in a creative, artistic home, and I showed an aptitude for art from an early age. As an adult, art became less of a focus as I pursued a career in real estate and motherhood. I considered art a hobby, an occasional indulgence. I am now at a point where I have time and art has filled the gap nicely. I can finally focus more of my energy on developing as an artist.


TT: What is your artwork about and what do you want people to take from it?

LMG: Most of my paintings are realistic. Nature is my preferred subject. While I study, sketch and paint, I form an intimate connection and really see the beauty and complexity of a subject. I try to express that awe and wonder through my art and I hope that that is what an observer does, too.



TT: Which artists do you feel have influenced your art the most?

LMG: Kay Wall was a watercolor artist living the small, rural Iowa town where I grew up. She often painted on location, which seemed to me very cosmopolitan to me. She entered lovely paintings in the area art show. As an adult, I took a watercolor class from Kay. She was a generous, gracious instructor and I fell in love with it.  


TT: Do you have a preferred method of presentation for your artwork and why? (Examples: workshops, gallery shows, Instagram, etc.) 

LMG: I’ve shown work in small regional shows, coffee shops and MN Watercolor Society member show. I belong to a cooperative gallery and I show work in the store and at events throughout the year. I have an Instagram page and a website.


TT: Out of all of your creations (or bodies of work) which one did/do you find the most cathartic in creating?

LMG: I find the act of painting to be cathartic, a way to be truly present and commune with the subject. I need to remind myself to have fun, be experimental, not take myself too seriously, and to step out of the way so the medium can do beautiful things.


TT: When was your “Aha!” moment that led your work to where it is now?

LMG: I learn something from each painting. I am never 100% happy with a painting but I can usually find an area that is successful and try to repeat in future work.


TT: How do you promote yourself and your art?

LMG:  It is my goal to be more intentional about exposing my art to the public. I consider myself an emerging artist and the promotion of my work has been somewhat limited at this point. I have a web site on, an Instagram page, make occasional Facebook posts, and through submissions to shows, public spaces, and the gallery. I have also donated art to charitable events.


TT: Do you have any tips or advice for fellow artists based off of your experiences thus far?

LMG: Find mentors or artists that are willing to share their advice and wisdom. Be willing to accept critique of your work.


TT: What are you working on right now and why?

LMG: I have been going to a life drawing studio and to an urban sketching group. These offer invaluable practice on the art of sketching from life on location and to work quickly.


TT: What would you consider to be your "biggest achievement" with your work thus far?

LMG: I don’t know that I’ve had my “biggest achievement” yet. I do have goals that I have set for myself and hope to achieve, for example having a solo gallery show.


TT: What was your first work of art that you were proud of? Where is it now?

LMG: I received a ribbon of merit for the first watercolor that I ever entered in a show.


TT: Do you take commissions? Why or why not?

LMG: Yes, I have taken commissions.



TT: What do you do when you aren't working on artwork (hobbies, job, etc.)? 

LMG: I’ve been a fulltime real estate agent for almost 20 years and the mother of 6 wonderfully creative and active children. Painting has been a hobby. It is only recently that I have been able to devote more time to my art.


TT: What is an area in your work that you feel weak in that you want to improve upon and how are you going to get there?

LMG: Making time for art has always been a challenge for me. When time is limited, I tend to be too uptight and controlling.  It is my goal to be more playful and experimental.


TT: How do you overcome art blocks?

LMG: The best way to overcome a block is to just start painting.


TT: Where do you see your work taking you in the next 5-10 years?

LMG: In the next 5-10 years I would like to develop a more defined, personal style.


TT: If you have links for your website, Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, etc. that you would like to share, please include these addresses below.