090519: Low Tide, Maine

This is what it must have looked like 400 or 500 million years ago, I think – maybe around the time when some little creatures began to check out the other side of the shoreline and moved onto land. The geology of the area hits at about that same time. Even seaweed goes back that far and perhaps longer.

No surprise then that the experience of being there should resonate with me. After all, most of the fossils I have dug up and photographed over the years are from roughly that same deep time period (give or take a hundred million yers or so!).

My camera has pretty much been sitting on the shelf since my last post 9 or 10 months ago. No surprise again that Maine would shake something loose for me. The coastal rocks are a joy to behold, far more colorful than one might suspect. Even though I walk this same stretch of shoreline every year I am always happily rewarded with new discoveries.

It’s for these reasons (and many others) that Cindy and I always look forward to our annual visit. And arriving home last week has us already talking about the next one!


It might just be seaweed, but even seaweed has its own beauty.


I brought a few of my favorite “home grown” fossils with me. I figured the fossils and rocks might be “chronological” cousins and might provide me a fresh approach to two long favorite subjects.




My time away from the blog has not been idle. All of my studio time has been spent painting. The two had become too difficult for me to work simultaneously and required more singular devotion. During that time, as  my excess acrylic paints would dry in their respective bowls, I would find ways to peel that dried paint out and toss the leftovers into a pile. Random colors and fragments seemed to meld together to create something new.

So I brought some of them with me to Maine also, wondering how my own colors might blend with the rocks. Two examples here are part of a larger project , more of which might show up here again in the future.

And here are two of my latest paintings in progress. Both are roughly 5′- 5.5′

I hope this new post will beget more. If that happens I imagine that the visual focus might widen as my initial fascination with fossils has led me to so many other aspects of nature –  from deepest time to the present. If any of this is not “your cup of tea” please let me know and I will remove you from my mailing list. For the rest of you, thank you for your time. I hope to post again soon.

I’ll leave you with an image of an arriving storm a few weeks ago in Maine.                  (Even storms are gorgeous up there!)

Thanks for the visit.

092216: Goodbye Summer


Thanks to the world of moss and lichen some otherwise bland looking fossils take on a whole new appearance. Today’s opening image shows a shard of coarse sandstone filled with broken pieces of brachiopods, coral, and other denizens of that inland sea that covered this area 387 million ears ago. Moss has grown thick on parts of the rocks while some strange little (I believe) lichen appear like some bright blue pinheads.


This extreme close-up gives a better sense of them. If anyone can confirm just what they are I would be grateful to hear back.


Here are several more images of the moss creeping up on some soon to be covered marine invertebrates.








Those images got me back into my routine. I haven’t had much time for fresh shooting lately, being sidetracked with other matters. So I continued aiming the camera at other fossils nearby and found my groove again. Here is what was near at hand.












Goodbye to Summer and all that goes with it, including butterflies.


I’ll close with these two variations on circles! Above is a nest within a nest. The large one came from a visit last Autumn to Paradox Lake in the Adirondacks. The small one, found by Cindy this Summer, we believe to have come from a ruby-throated hummingbird.

And below – the  second piece of my Galileo series. The first one, which was posted a month ago, is currently on view through this weekend at the Woodstock Artist Assn. and Museum (WAAM).


Thanks for the visit.

0310: A Curious Cabinet


I discovered months ago that many of my regular viewers have a thing for mushrooms (you know who you are!). Today’s post is one you might find particularly interesting. The opening image, above, is a cabinet that runs from desktop to ceiling, one of many that line the walls of a small room in the Botany Section of the Florence Museum of Natural History. And, yes, it is filled with mushrooms – or rather – a beautiful collection of mushroom sculptures from the 1800s.


Every door that was opened to me in the museum last month gave way to fascinating objects of all sorts. This one, though, caught me completely by surprise.


I was visiting with Dr. Chiara Nepi, Section Head of the Botany Department. Dr. Nepi had allowed me to photograph in her areas on my last visit. She was most kind and generous to me at that time and so a visit this trip to say hello was very much in order. As the visit was wrapping up I mentioned about my experience with my neighbor’s mushroom farm. “Have you seen our collection of mushrooms?” she asked. No, I was not aware but more than happy to take a look.


Within moments, the door to this room opens. And, once again, I’m dumbfounded by what I see!


Turns out the Museum has this collection of amazing models (more than 200, I believe) made in the 1800s by the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Barla, a curious and interesting scholar, naturalist, and botanist. His models became appreciated by both researchers and enthusiasts and were in such high demand that he began manufacturing them in the 1850s.


These are just a few of the pieces in the collection, which was donated to the museum over a period of years.






So, I thank Dr. Nepi once again for the opportunity to play with these little gems!




I also managed to have a few moments with another interesting, small collection – this time belonging to the Ornithology Department. Birds’ nests and birds’ eggs.


Prepping these images for today’s post seems particularly appropriate on a day like today. Back home now after traveling. Early Spring. The sky is filled with long, long “V”s of honkers heading north – like trains lined up one behind the other, waiting for their turn to head home.


Birds are everywhere – probably checking out the best location for a new nest!


Thanks for the visit.


0827: Chazy Reef Revisited


On our recent trip to Maine, Cindy and I stopped first in Vermont to visit friends on Isle La Motte, a beautiful island near the top of Lake Champlain. We were first drawn to the island a few years ago when we sought out the world famous, 480 million year old Chazy Fossil Reef. That visit, which resulted in a show of my Chazy Reef fossil images, also began several friendships that grow warmly with each passing year.


So it was time for a visit. Dinner with friends, old and new; a visit to a terrific exhibit “A Walk Through Time” at the Goodsell Ridge Preserveand,of course, another chance to photograph some of the oldest fossils I’ve ever had the opportunity to encounter.


The Preserve, one half of the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust, is an 81 acre reef site with a Visitor’s Center and Museum. Also, there sits a newly revived and revitalized barn that will soon formally open and serve as a nature center. It’s an old beauty brought back to life by the skilled hands, strong commitment and deep love of the local folks. They are as much a treasure as is the actual reef. For it is only due to their efforts that this world-important science site remains preserved as a National Natural Landmark.


The formal dedication and opening of the Goodsell Barn is set for September 19. I have been asked to produce a show for that opening. It is an honor and a pleasure to take part in the event. I’ll have more information on the show and related events soon. In the meantime, this is a selection of images, all taken at Chazy Reef, that I am busy printing and prepping for the show.











And now, on to Maine.


A few more images taken of the rock walls – those that are assaulted every day by the ocean tides.


It seems like every day I was drawn to these rocks…


…and every evening to our favorite place at sunset.


We’re already planning for our trip next year! Thank you Eric and Betty!



Once darkness fell we had company! They were no problem. They hid in the dark and didn’t eat much!


Thanks for the visit.

0320: Trilobites

img_5543_01_lr_10Two recent media items brought this post on. It’s seldom for one to ever hear the word “trilobite” – unless your work (or play) bumps up against some parallel lines of interest. I knew nothing about them until I began finding fossil parts of trilobites and photographing them. The lead image today is that of a trilobite pygidium (the hind of three parts) that Cindy found one summer while we were exploring near Ithaca.

MurphyArt3The New York Times ran a terrific story recently all about trilobites. Brief enough but a great introduction to a strange and fascinating world – this one over three hundred million years ago. The article, When Trilobites Ruled the World, is accompanied by a chart that shows some of the wide variations of this marine invertebrate species (some 20,000).

Devonian New York 3881In the second episode of Cosmos, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson takes time to explain the trilobite and its role in the evolution of life. He referred, in particular, to the eyes – trilobites were some of the earliest creatures to have developed eyes. It meant, among many other things, that they no longer needed to bump into their food to survive. Now they could see it! It may sound a bit silly to dwell on but that’s about as basic as it gets and pretty fascinating as well. The picture above shows one of the first trilobite eyes I ever found – cracked open a large piece of coarse sandstone and there it was. And I must admit it made my day.

img_5686_01_lr_10So, with trilobites on my mind, I picked through my libraries and came up with a variety of my trilobite images. The ones I found are all the above images – rough and fresh out of the ground. These remaining images are from several collections.


From the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History



From The Paleontological Research Institution










From The Paris Museum of Comparative Anatomy


Last, I wanted to remind my friends that my work remains hanging at the BAU Gallery in Beacon, NY for two more weeks. We had a fine opening and the gallery looks great.  IMG_2676_01_LR_10

In Gallery One we have a members group show Tasty. Seen along with my flamingo and my ice cream cone are sculpture by Tom Holmes (left), Erica Leigh Caginalp (center) and Herman Roggeman (right).

IMG_2662_01_LR_10Sculptor David Link and I are also in Gallery 2 this month. As the two new members we were allowed this introduction. The shows run through April 8.

And today is the first day of Spring!!!


IMG_4454_01a_LR_10Daily rain has kept me from being out in the field lately. Fortunately, I have a backlog of raw images to last a long time.

IMG_1601_01_LR_12I dropped into my photo libraries looking for overlooked images – overlooked because they didn’t fit my mood at the time, or were left behind by newer, more pressing shootings, or merely forgotten. Honestly, it was the latter in most cases.

IMG_2404_01_LR_10So today I present a mix of local, totally ordinary fossils – all found just down the road from my studio.

IMG_2418_01_LR_10Nothing earth-shattering. Perhaps that is what is so appealing about this selection.

IMG_1497_01_LR_10Each fossil has a unique charm and, coupled with their age and history, they have stories to share.






IMG_1613_01_LR_10Thank you as always for visiting this site. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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040413 – A Couple of Rocks

IMG_9227_01_LR_12I was all prepared to visit the WayBack Machine once again as I am still caught up in digitizing early work of mine – images that I had all but forgotten about. But then the sun came out and I remembered a large fossil rock I had brought back from last week’s foray in the woods. It was covered with brachiopods. I knew that they ran throughout the rock and that any attempt to chop it up would only result in more combinations of fossils being exposed.

It did not disappoint. These first six images came from that one rock.

IMG_9172_01_LR_10 IMG_9206_01_LR_10 IMG_9177_01_LR_10 IMG_9209_01_LR_10 IMG_9220_01_LR_10


The second rock is one I borrowed from my friend, Ann. This piece of coral probably came from this area but she wasn’t sure. Either way, it seemed to be a near-endless source for exploring. Here are just a few.

IMG_9270_01_LR_12 IMG_9327_01_LR_10 IMG_9281_01_LR_10 IMG_9311_01_LR_10


A recent trip to Glens Falls resulted in this last selection. Cindy and I paid a visit to the Hyde Collection. I had always heard that it was a real gem of a museum – and it was. The interior was beautiful but, true to form, I chose instead to turn my camera to the grounds out behind the museum. Must have been the rocks…

IMG_8625_01_LR_10 _MG_2032_01_LR_12 _MG_2050_01_LR_10 _MG_2041_01_LR_10

These last two are images of the paper mill down the hill (and the original source of the fortune that eventually created the museum).

_MG_2030_01_LR_12 _MG_2058_01_LR_12

Thank 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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Winter’s Bounty

_MG_1923_01_LR_15For me, “Winter’s bounty” translates into a rich backlog of unprocessed images left over from a very busy Summer. And now, finally, with snow on the ground and outdoor temperatures uncomfortable, I can revisit images that I simply didn’t have the opportunity or time to process.

IMG_4828_01_LR_12One fine example is my last visit (back in August) to the Museum of the Earth and the collection of the Paleontological Research Institution. At the time I had managed to post nine or ten images from that trip – just the ones that jumped out at me. But, as you can see from today’s selection of images, there was so much more – and there are more still to come in future posts.









IMG_5307_01_LR_12Should you ever find yourself in the Ithaca area drop by the Museum of the Earth. There is much to see – fine fossils, great exhibits, and events for the entire family.

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

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Drained of Color

darkskyWinter has set in. And with that comes the temporary loss of color.


Sometimes it’s like someone is messing with the local saturation slider.


Sometimes it’s a small splash of color amidst the dreary.


And other times it’s just a delicate hint of color.



I’ve been on something of a “desaturation” kick lately. More specifically, black & white has really captured my attention ever since my trip to Paris. While the contemporary art scene was dreadful, the photo galleries had great work. And much of it was black & white. I don’t know if that’s what got me to rethink things or if Paris just particularly looks great in black & white. Whatever it was seems to have stayed with me.

IMG_5544_01a_LR_10Here are a group of fossil images from a recent trip to Ithaca that suggested black and white.






I’ve been spending time printing for an upcoming show. The print below is one of three that will be in the show, entitled “Visitors, Visitations, Visions,” opening on January 26 at the GCCA Gallery on Main Street in Catskill. I’ll have more about it next week.

_MG_1829_02_LR_10Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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