Ian Murphy

Artist Ian Murphy creates drawings, paintings, prints and mixed-media pieces inspired by architecture and different textures. As well as using his sketchbook to draw and think about his ideas, he makes large-scale work and uses lots of materials to create distressed surfaces that he paints and draws over the top of.

Ian Murphy Drawing - Venetian Scroll - Mixed Media
Venetian Scroll. Oil paint, mixed media & Graphite on paper
75cm x 75cm
Ian Murphy Painting - Heading East - Mixed Media
Heading East. Oil and mixed media on paper
41cm x 41cm

Ian Murphy is a British artist who travels the world to capture exquisite vistas and explore different architectural styles. After studying Fine Art and Art & Design at A-Level, Ian Murphy studied at university in Sheffield and gained his degree in Fine Art, Painting and Printmaking.

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Ian Murphy often uses different types of papers to create layers in his backgrounds. What papers can you see in the pieces above? Why do you think this is? What effect do the layers of paper in the background have on the work?

If you look very carefully at Ian Murphy’s paintings, you will notice a lot of subtle, pastel colours on top of rich layers of textures. The use of a rough surface adds to the ‘aged’ effect, and gives us an impression of the location that inspired the artwork. It is very clear what the subject is, but sometimes Ian Murphy’s use of colour could be described as abstract. Although the colours have been exaggerated, the paintings still look realistic because of the artist’s use of tone. The very dark shadows next to the very light areas help to make the paintings look 3D.

What do you think Ian Murphy has used in the background of his paintings above? What materials, apart from the paint, have created the textures?

Ian Murphy - Wuzhan the fading light - mixed media drawing
Wuzhen, The Fading Light. Graphite and collage on paper

I have shared lessons and plans for a GCSE Art Landscape Project here – enjoy!

In his drawings, artist Ian Murphy is trying to capture a mood or atmosphere with his use of dark tones and gestural mark-making techniques. The soft, light grey tones in the water above have been created by rubbing into the graphite and removing it from the paper. This ‘fading’ reflects the title of the work. What other mark-making techniques can you see in his drawings?

What materials will you need to make artwork like Ian Murphy?

Here are the materials I recommend to make artwork like Ian Murphy. I generally suggest paying for quality products which will last longer and give you a better finish. Particularly with oil paints and brushes.


Ian Murphy - Emperor's Dragon II - Graphite - Drawing
The Emperor’s Dragon II. Graphite, mixed media on paper
114 x 58 cm approx
Ian Murphy - Vigilant and Proud - mixed media drawing
Vigilant and Proud. Graphite & mixed media on paper
110cm x 94cm
Ian Murphy - Three Kings in the Chasm - drawing graphite
Three Kings in the Chasm. Graphite & collage on paper
160 x 110cm approx

Click here if you would like to see different landscape artists!

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Ian Murphy has recently started to put excellent tutorial videos on his YouTube channel, I’ve found them really useful in lessons.

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What do you think of Ian Murphy’s artwork? How could you describe it? Let me know in the comments! If you have found any of these resources useful please share this site on your networks / socials – thanks! 🙂

DOWNLOAD this page below, for free, as an Artist Research handout to use in your lesson. It includes all of the facts and images, and has questions for students to answer.

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