0501: Back to the Quarry


A few days of dry sunny weather, and an accommodating schedule, allowed me time for repeated visits to the neighboring quarry. A new owner has plans for it. But until then I have full access. And I hope to take full advantage of the remaining opportunity.

IMG_1111_01_LR_10The density of fossils in one section of the quarry is a sight to behold. No hunting or searching here. Seems like every rock is full of fossils. Brachiopods primarily, but also cephalopods, gastropods, bivalves, and others. All are Devonian invertebrates.


I’ll keep this brief. Two carloads of rocks await. I hope you enjoy these. There will be more to come.












Last week’s road trip to Virginia – down through the Blue Ridge – no fossils this trip – Here is a selection of images – an interesting mix for such a short trip.



Pembroke, Va.



Railroad Tunnel, Gainesville, Va.



Cast Iron Toy, Lexington, Va.



Safe, Lexington, Va.



Advertisement, Lexington, Va.



Blue Ridge Parkway, Roanoke, Va.



Peeling Bark, Peaks of Otter, Va.



Mountain Lake Lodge (sans lake), Pembroke, Va.



Peaks of Otter Lake, Va.



The trip began with Mom and a visit for Easter. This was taken at a nearby restaurant the day before. Yes, you can tell she has had experience dealing with me and my camera! We had a wonderful visit.

0220: Acceptance

_MG_4696_01_LR_10My thanks to a few of my friends (you know who you are) who have, at various times over the past month, suggested that I may be a tad too cranky (downright surly, even) in my reactions to the winter we are currently experiencing! The fact that I hear the same crankiness in choruses at large is no excuse. Complaining about the weather may just be the silliest and most futile of efforts, unless, of course, one is referring to the climate changes that are affecting the entire globe. For today, though, it’s more about the mundane realities like shoveling, drying wet socks, etc.

_MG_4709_01_LR_10So, instead of complaining, I decided to “live in the moment” a bit more (never a bad tack) and appreciate the surroundings – just a minor shift in perspective. And that brought the camera out and that led to a walk down to Kaaterskill Creek. And that led to these two different views of the creek and the traces of a passing animal.

IMG_6064_01_LR_12And a drive to get my morning coffee led to this hill of moguls? erratic golf ball dimples? Rather, it’s a pile of tires covered in snow.

IMG_6146_01_LR_12Last, but not least, a stop down the road for these two views of a neighbor’s shed.



Late in the afternoon a few days ago, on one of those “too cold to be outside” days, hard sunlight raked across part of the studio. It gave me a wonderful opportunity for some creative play – simple fun with shadows.

IMG_6085_01_LR_12The first two – plastic water bottles against a bowed background. And the third – parts from an old film projector.

IMG_6071_01_LR_12  _______________

Hopefully, if the snow melts this week, I’ll be back with some fossil images. I have bags full of crinoid pieces begging for their moment in the spotlight! Until then, I’ll leave you with some snowless images from Rome.

IMG_4899_01_LR_12Borghese Gardens


IMG_4811_01_LR_10Gardener’s Shed


IMG_4782_01_LR_10Roman Bath House Ruins


IMG_4779_01_LR_10Courtyard with Early Artifacts


IMG_4761_01_LR_10Ancient Roman Wall


IMG_4758_01_LR_12Street Shrine


IMG_4771_01_LR_10Flower Vendor


Thank you for the visit.

1031: The Best Autumn

IMG_5452_01_LR_10“This was the best Autumn ever!” That’s what I have heard from all my friends.We missed the best part of it while away. That said, it’s still a beautiful place to return to – this Hudson Valley. Each time of year has its special moments. And this special moment (above), during a hike last weekend, captured it for me, in all its natural randomness.


IMG_1933_01_LR_12The weather has been great for a visit to the neighborhood quarry. Since my last visit some major new areas have been exposed and, while I am pretty familiar with the fossils to be found here, it is still and always a treat to find so much in one small place.

IMG_5386_01_LR_12Brachiopods looking like gold nuggets pouring out of the rock




IMG_5510_01_LR_10All of the fossil images above (and many more) came from one rather large rock that I carried back to my studio. Originally it was roughly 2’x1’x8″ . The larger rock (that this was once part of) sits on a large pile awaiting my next visit.


IMG_1932_01_LR_10Last week’s trip to Isle La Motte to pick up my recent show provided me with another view of Autumn, 2013.

IMG_5373_01_LR_12Fisk Quarry – Those two white,chalky spots on the wall (high center) are massive Ordovician stromatoporoids. And below are one of the many gastropods to be found there. All with the crisp scent of crushed apples underfoot!


As I continue to edit my Italian images let me share these with you. The first three are from the Roman Baths of Caracalla. Massive structures and facilities that boggle the mind – especially when considering the date of origin – app. 212 A.D.


_MG_4255_01_LR_12Mosaic tile flooring (from the upper floors)


IMG_5209_01_LR_10And finally, a few random street scenes.



Thanks for visiting.

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0808: As Summer Races Along

IMG_2128_01_LR_10Corn every night from Story’s and an occasional ice cream from Circle W are two of the many things that make this time of year so special around here.

IMG_1257_01_LR_10It has been a very busy time for me in the studio lately. And I am happy to say that it’s getting even busier. So I’ll keep this pretty brief.


IMG_1372_01_LR_10Last chance to see the Small Town Parade Show at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory  (SPAF). The show has been extended through this weekend, August 10-11. All of us involved are most grateful for the response we received from the community at large. It was a great project for the eleven of us. Drop by if you can. Several of us should be around. including Rivka Katvan, seen below at the opening with her work.


My main focus at the moment is my (rapidly approaching) show in Vermont. We hang the show next Thursday on Isle La Motte, as lovely a site for a show as any I have ever found. On this island sits the Chazy Fossil Reef, formed 480 million years ago. It’s a fascinating place, much of which has been saved thanks to the hard work of Linda Fitch and her associates. Their efforts led to the establishment of the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust, the organization that looks after things up there.


The show is a collection of images I made from our visit over a year ago. The gastropod above is one of twenty five pieces that will be exhibited. I’ll try to have more on the show before we leave on Wednesday. In the meantime, I have a stack of prints and frames to attend to!

The opening will be held on Sunday afternoon, August 18 from 1-5 PM at Fisk Farm.

Fisk Farm is located directly north of the Fisk Quarry Preserve

3849 West Shore Road
Isle La Motte, VT 05463

I’ve been working on a number of gastropod images, so wouldn’t I start seeing them wherever I go – the other day in Woodstock, the wet sidewalk seemed to be weighing in!


On another note, a stroll in Hudson the other day yielded this pair of color pieces.

IMG_2162_01_LR_10I moved to the left for this next one.

IMG_2161_01_LR_12It was the “ow” that caught my attention. It was speaking to me. The stroll was catching up with me – a herniated disc introduced itself while on my recent artists’ residency at Platte Clove – and it seems to want to hang around for a while. Despite it, that time spent up there was magical. And two of the images from that stay will be part of a show at the end of the month at the Catskill Center in Arkville. I’ll have more on that upon my return from Vermont. Here are the two that were chosen:


IMG_1796a_01_LR_10Back to the framing for me. Thanks for your time today.

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0801- Rocks and Trees


Whenever I need a break from the computer, one of my favorite places to “reboot and recharge” is Kaaterskill Creek. It passes within a stone’s throw from my studio (every day is beautiful around here!). The creek has been a subject for artists for the past two centuries from Thomas Cole to the present. No surprise, then, that the creek can revive and refresh body, mind and soul. Yesterday was a bonus day. The local heron was paying a visit at the same time.


A couple of brief notes:

This coming Tuesday, August 6 at 6 PM, I will be speaking at the Saugerties Public Library. The talk will be about what else – Art and Fossils. I’ll try to make it loose and informal. So if you are in the area stop in. I’ll have samples of my work and some of the fossils I have collected.

Something else I must share – my good friends at the Museum of Natural History in Florence have just announced my September show (I still get goosebumps!) This is posted on their website:



I’m just back from my stay atop Platte Clove. I want to thank the Catskill Center once again for their Artist-in-Residency Program (AIR). It was an honor to be allowed to spend time there and I am most grateful. I have a few early images to share today.


The cabin sits directly above Plattekill Falls, a 60 ft. tall beauty whose sounds of rushing, crashing water are a constant (and not unwelcome) companion. I was particularly struck by the creative energy the cabin seemed to engender. Perhaps it was the residue left by the many, talented artists who preceded me. I found myself absorbed creatively in a much different way. I couldn’t sit still! Everything I looked at or even thought about triggered lists of visual possibilities. And I was open to the fresh and new. I wish I could figure out how to bottle that up!


I went up there expecting to photograph rocks. But I was certainly open to whatever “spoke” to me. It’s always a mistake, it seems, to be in new and different surroundings and focus too narrowly. You miss all else that the situation is offering. This time, for whatever reason (and I am sure there are many lurking about), the trees decided to speak up.







The other thing that really struck me was the moss (images to come). And it seems I carried thoughts about it back to my studio. Upon my return, the first thing I noticed, in my rockpiles, was fresh moss on fossils, many of which I had only recently cracked open. So, after 385 million years hidden away, these fossils now have yet another weathering event to experience.










Thank you as always for visiting this site. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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0606 – …Continued

IMG_0999_01_LR_12Last week’s subjects are back again thanks to the volume of workable images each produced (kinda hard to miss with subject matter like this!). And since much of my time lately has been taken up with printing and framing for upcoming shows, I decided to dip into those deep wells for this week’s images.

The two sites are the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, CT, and a huge antique store outside Cooperstown, NY, named Wood Bull Antiques. What they both have in common is that they are repositories of “old” things. One is filled with cultural detritus and/or antique treasures (depending on one’s perspective). The other houses the “story of life” stuff – in this case hundreds of millions of years old “stuff.”

IMG_0079_01_LR_12From the Peabody’s collection of crinoids.


You might remember this next crinoid from last week. This is another angle, one of many many different versions. Shifting the light source and changing angles and focus provided me with too many good options.


IMG_0947_01_LR_10A tabernacle and a birdhouse on equal footing


IMG_9979_01_LR_10 IMG_0931_01_LR_10 IMG_0209_01_LR_10 IMG_1014_01_LR_10_______________

Here are the last four for today.

IMG_9963_01_LR_10 IMG_0982_01a_LR_10 IMG_0152_01_LR_10 IMG_0961_01_LR_12Thank you as always for visiting this site. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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0516 – Spring Has Arrived

_MG_2181_01_LR_10Strawberries are on the way. This strawberry field at Story Farms, here in Catskill, will soon be the site of an annual Spring ritual – little kids out with Mom and Dad picking their own – childhood memories that run through generations. Jim and Irene and their operation are local treasures.

Cindy and I took advantage of a beautiful Sunday afternoon and drove up the mountain, with a couple of destinations in mind. First was the Platte Clove cabin I will be spending time in this July, courtesy of the Platte Clove Artists in Residency Program. After a brief tour of the cabin we hiked down to the base of Plattekill Falls, one of twenty or so falls that run the length of the Clove.

_MG_2176_01_LR_12The cabin is situated just above to the right of the top of the falls. Six days and nights – yes, I am excited!

From there a short ride over to the Mountaintop Arboretum, with its sculpted gardens and a grand view of the Catskill peaks. But it was the small pond that caught our attention.

IMG_9733_01_LR_10Floating just under the surface, seemingly everywhere, looking like pearls suspended in diaphanous  sacs, were clusters of salamander eggs. And it continues to amaze me to watch nature do what it does. I marvel at it.


IMG_0785_01_LR_10More images here from a sandstone I picked up recently, mostly brachiopods. As ordinary as they seem to be, it should be noted that brachiopods first appeared on the scene during the Cambrian Period (540 to 485 million years ago). Even more amazing is that a small number of brachiopod descendants still exist today.

IMG_0729_01_LR_12Various extinctions have occurred throughout time. I read recently that, “…for complex organisms, the average lifespan of a species is only about four million years – roughly about where we are now.” (that from A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson)

IMG_0761_01_LR_12I also read the other day in the New York Times a story that got way too little attention given its import. Entitled Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears, it states:

The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years…

…The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.

IMG_0744_01_LR_10I always thought that collective self-awareness was a logical step forward in evolution. Now I sometimes find myself wondering if we aren’t just one of the many species this planet has seen many times before with a limited lifespan.


Global climate change is real. Let your representatives in D.C. know that effective measures can still have a positive effect.Click on the link below for phone numbers:


_MG_2222_01_LR_12Thank you as always for visiting this site. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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0502 – Old Business and New

IMG_9756_01_LR_12 I was finally able to gather together links to two recent events I have referenced recently. The first is a link to the terrific profile that Mik Horowitz did for the Hudson Valley Almanac. Peering into Deep Time is the title of the article. The full version (PDF with original layout) can be found by clicking on Deep Time in the Nav Bar above. The web version can be found here.

Also, the recent radio interview I did with Ann Cooper is currently archived at WGXC Radio. The full 45 minute interview can be found HERE.


More good news arrived late yesterday. I was informed that I was chosen for the Platte Clove Artists in Residency Program. This is a program sponsored by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development. Since 1969, The Catskill Center  has worked to protect the natural resources of the Catskills and promote the economy for communities throughout the Catskill Park, Catskill Mountains and the entire Catskill Region.

Regarding the program, their website states:

The Catskill Center also offers the Platte Clove Artists-in-Residence program – the only one in the country situated in the historic area where the first American school of landscape was initiated in 1825 (The Hudson River School of Painting) by Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, Thomas Doughty, Frederic Edwin Church and others who searched the Frederic Church,Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain Region for untainted wilderness.The Platte Clove cabin sits where mountain and valley meet, providing a tranquil and rustic workplace and retreat for artists working in a variety of disciplines in the living landscape where American art began.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to post some images from a project I did a couple of years ago tying the artists of the Hudson River School to the early geologists who together hiked Platte Clove.

IMG_2701_01b IMG_2734_01a IMG_2745_01b IMG_3123_01b IMG_3137_01b

The above images are from the Thomas Cole House and are part of a collection that belonged to Cole himself. While Platte Clove, as far as I know, has no fossils it does have rock formations and landscape that those early explorers captured in their drawings and paintings. More from my project (with respect to those painters):


IMG_3802_01b Seven days in the cabin atop the Clove. I can’t wait. My great thanks to the Conservancy.



One last note – The Hungry for Music silent auction is scheduled for 4 PM – 7PM on Saturday at Opus 40 in Saugerties. Come out to bid on this print of mine and work by 30 artists – all for a great cause.


 Thank you as always for visiting this site. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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0425 – Read All About It

img_5543_01_lr_10-1Regular readers of this blog probably remember this trilobite image, the result of a visit last Summer to Ithaca. Well, I’m happy to say that it now graces the front page of the Almanac section of this week’s Woodstock Times. It accompanies a two page profile about me written by Mikhail Horowitz. The article clearly shows not only how wonderful a writer Mik is, but also just how well he understands this “fossil” thing! Thank you, Mik, for such a thoughtful and perceptive article. (As of this writing, the article had yet to post. It will probably show up tomorrow (Fri.) and is already on the newspaper racks.)


IMG_9475_01_LR_10Prints of the images above and below will be auctioned off on Saturday, May 4, at Opus 40 in Saugerties,NY. Hungry For Music is the non-profit organization behind this fund raiser, the goal of which is “Providing the gift of music to underserved children with a hunger to play.” Thirty area artists (myself included) are donating art for a silent auction with the money raised going to the purchase of musical instruments for those children.


Musical Visions: Instruments Altered by Artists.

4-7 PM Saturday, May 4 at OPUS 40.

Come for the auction, the food, and the music

A most worthy cause in my book.


And now time for some fossils. One of the first things I realized once the good weather arrived was how remiss I was last Fall regarding leaf clean-up. So the other day I got out the blower and uncovered the many mounds of fossil-laden rocks I have created all around my little cabin studio in the woods.

IMG_9641_01_LR_12Different light, different moods make these once used subjects fresh all over again. The above cephalopod mold is more than 7″ long and 3″ wide. And the following image is an impression of a very large brachiopod (not local, but instead dragged here from up north during the last Ice Age).

IMG_9587_01_LR_10The remainder are various brachiopods, all local, all found within a few miles of my studio.

IMG_9650_01_LR_10 IMG_9671_01_LR_12 IMG_9663_01_LR_10 IMG_9574_01_LR_12And finally, this glyphic image, the result of the cracked rock cutting across a brachiopod, seems like it just escaped a cave wall at Lascaux.

IMG_9659_01_LR_10Thank you as always for visiting this site. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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022813 – A Break in the Weather

IMG_8517_01_LR_12Eastern Escarpment of the Catskills

It’s “Cabin Fever” time of year. My wonderful cabin studio in the woods begins to feel oppressively small. Every snowfall is hoped to be the last and Spring can’t get here soon enough. So it was a pleasure to have a good weather day earlier in the week. A few small patches of snow but dry ground and mild temperatures. And I took advantage of it before it could change.

I grabbed my bag and headed to a favorite spot – a nearby quarry full of fossils that also possesses a grand view of the eastern escarpment of the Catskills. I spent a good part of the afternoon up there, reacquainting myself with a routine made dormant by the season. Hiking through the hills, digging and getting dirt under my fingernails, filling my bag full of fossil rocks to take back to the studio – soon “cabin fever” became a distant memory.


These are some of the pieces I carried back.











The remaining images are what I found when I had arrived at the top of the quarry. The only other recent visitor was a deer who left some old tracks. Fossil laden rocks floated on and around the melting snow.














And little bits of vibrant color poked through. I do look forward to Spring.


Thank you as always for visiting this site. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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