Friday, July 19, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 20

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on February 5th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 49

Alice Murphy's striking sketches of horses reveal her lifelong passion


A pair of wild dark eyes peeks out from behind a whisp of hair. The eyes have a light within them, almost as if they recognize you, an utter impossibility for a piece of art.

Alice Murphy learned to ride horses growing up in Hampshire, England. Now she is an artist specializing in capturing them in oil pencil sketches. Her work is part of New Perspectives, an exhibit at Gallery Los Olivos, which runs through Feb. 28.

The drawing is the work of Alice Murphy, a sketch artist who is a new member of Gallery Los Olivos. It demonstrates the artist’s unique ability to seize upon the mysterious connections humans have with horses.

“I just love trying to capture that in my art,” Murphy said. “They are such important animals in my life; I really want to do them justice.”

Murphy’s work is part of a new exhibit at Gallery Los Olivos, which features the newest members of the gallery. New Perspectives, which runs through Feb. 28, gives audiences a chance to get to know Murphy and other artists including Jo-Neal G. Boic, Carrie Givens, Michelle Knecht, George Rose, and Renee Kelleher.

Drawing horses has been a part of Murphy’s world since she was a young child, growing up in Hampshire, England. It was there that her mother gifted her with her first pony, launching a love affair with the animals as well as the art of capturing them on paper.

“I’ve always loved it, since I was a child,” Murphy said. “When I was a little girl I used to lay on my bedroom floor and draw horses in my sketch pad. I just was obsessed with horses and drawing them.”

But art wasn’t necessarily in her sights as a career growing up. While she studied art seriously as a teenager and at college for two years, she drifted away from drawing into another career path.

She said she came back to art periodically but never seriously, only as a hobby when she felt like creating a piece of art. But in 2016, something changed.

“I had my second child and he was about a year old,” Murphy said. “I just suddenly got the urge one day to paint. I started off that day, dusted off a canvas and just went crazy.”

From there, she didn’t stop. She kept painting on a daily basis, but Murphy said she found she was struggling to find her identity as an artist. She enjoyed painting, but didn’t see it as the medium that best matched her creative intuition.

It was when she tried sketching in pencil in 2017 that something sparked.

“The first time I used a pencil, it was like it was part of my hand,” Murphy said. “It just came to me so naturally. I thought to myself, this is my favorite medium.”

Alice Murphy’s captivating portraits of horses are part of Gallery Los Olivos’ current show, which highlights the newest members of the gallery.

Oil pencils are her go-to medium, favored for their longevity and ability to blend. Murphy’s blazing talents go beyond drawing horses; she is adept at drawing people, animals, and landscapes. But it’s horses that draw the most creative energy out of her. She said her passion for horses and riding comes through in her drawings, and one look at her body of work proves she has tapped into something special.

Horses are a unique animal in that they reflect so much personality in their body and face. True horse lovers know that each animal is wildly distinct; a glint in the eye from one has an entirely different meaning than a flick of a tail or a wild shake of the head.

New voices
Gallery Los Olivos features New Perspectives, a show highlighting new members of the gallery which runs through Feb. 28. The gallery is located at 2920 Grand Ave., Los Olivos. For more information, call (805) 688-7517.

The sketches Murphy creates get to the heart of the connection people innately feel with the massive and gorgeous animals. She has an eye for picking out a moment in a horse’s gaze or countenance and freezing it for closer inspection. There is endless movement in her work; everything feels light and fluid, a constant sweeping motion that carries the eye from one part of the piece to the next.

Murphy said horses are extremely soulful with so many different aspects. They posses a contradiction that shines in a work of art; they are physically powerful and intimidating yet soft and vulnerable up close.

“They are such beautiful creatures to me,” Murphy said. “I just find them so inspiring and so enjoyable to create in art form. I love doing other animals, but the horses are definitely my favorite.”

Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose is just horsing around. Contact her at

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