Len Murrell is joining forces with Hilary Dancer and Cicelie Fry for their ‘From City To Sea’ exhibition at The Frame in November. Being a local artist, but with a focus on the sea, it is interesting to learn what has influenced him in his career, why he enjoys commissions, and just exactly what he has planned for the collaborative exhibition.
When did you start painting and what motivates you?
I guess it was the early 1990’s when I started off in earnest. I recall by chance calling into an OAG Exhibition that was being held in the village hall in North Warnborough and was impressed with what I saw; the seeds were sown! As to motivation, I’ve always had a creative streak in me, up until then my focus had been woodworking/furniture making, so it led on from there.
How would you describe your style?
Very conventional, sometimes a little impressionistic, but never strayed into an abstract phase!
What do you consider to be the best painting you’ve ever done?
Difficult to say, I switched medium some ten years ago from watercolour to oils, I’ve had most success in oils in terms of sales. I usually excel when the subject matter includes marine objects of some nature. I admire the works of a specific marine artist – Charles Dixon (1872-1934); he has influenced my method and choice of subject material.
Do you find certain paper, paints or brushes make a big difference to how you paint?
Yes, in particular with oils, having experimented with a variety of supports I find my best work is achieved on canvas boards or gesso primed boards. I use a mix of bristle brushes for the majority of the work, and fine-tune with smaller synthetic or sable brushes. On occasion I will use a pallet knife. I find oils a very ‘forgiving’ medium to work with.
What has painting given back to you?
Certainly not huge financial rewards! I find it gives me a great deal of satisfaction and a sense of achievement. Meeting with a like-minded folks has been very rewarding, and I have formed some lasting relationships through painting. When working on commissions, I enjoy the challenge and the interaction with the client to achieve a satisfactory outcome.
What inspires your work?
I’ve always been drawn to marine subjects, be it harbours, boats rivers etc. Having served some years in the Royal Navy, I have carried a strong nautical influence in to my civilian life! I do address landscapes on occasion, I find these provide a ‘rest’ from my main interest, but it’s not long before I head back to the marine environment.
What are you currently working on?
Each year I have a one-man exhibition in Chichester (usually in September), I’m currently preparing works for that. The location, being coastal, provides an ideal opportunity for my subject material.
What can we expect from the “From City to Sea’ exhibition in which you feature?
The focus, and you can probably guess, will be on the marine environment. The aim is to provide a mix of seascape and coastal subjects. However this year I have completed three commissions via The Frame that have addressed landscapes of local scenes, and my plan is to include one or two pieces that hopefully will provide added value to the exhibition – we shall see!