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My paintings are a product of working with the light from above and the earth that grounds us. As the angle of light changes in relation to the viewer, so too does the art. The work started as a multitude of studies on small panels and canvases. Using only Ivory Black oil paint, I became enamored with the amount of definition and imagery that I could pull out with simple brush strokes. Larger works required larger brushes that were not available, so I made my own. This process changed the work dramatically and opened up a new world into the work for me to explore. 


Ivory Black is one of the oldest pigments, one that appears in some of humanity's earliest mark-making. This pigment, still used today, has a lineage going back into our pre-history and our relationship with the earth itself.


Ruminating on this connection to the earth, I have started making my own paint using raw earth as a pigment. Made using an acrylic binder, I source the earth from locations with a significant history for myself and our culture. To date, I have sourced pigment from India, Brazil, and locations in the United States, to name just a few.


My black paintings are about light and its relationship to the viewer. My earth paintings directly connect our history with the earth and are about form, shadow, and the presence of the material.

-James Austin Murray

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