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Different perspectives: Ashfield artists paint together, bring own interpretations

  • Jim Murphy and Macalistair Sloan Anderson COURTESY GREGORY THORP 

  • “Early Spring in Heath” by Macalistair Sloan Anderson COURTESY GREGORY THORP 

  • “The Banks of the Deerfield” by Jim Murphy CONTRIBUTED PHOTO



Staff Writer
Friday, November 30, 2018

ASHFIELD – It’s not often that two artists get to share their works depicting the same landscape through their different perspectives — especially when their views and their ages reflect more than half a century of difference.

“Two Ashfield Painters: Seventeen Going on 70” is an exhibit of landscapes by Jim Murphy, the 71-year-old painting partner of 17-year-old Macalistair Sloan Anderson, whose works are an equal part of the show that opens Friday and continues through Jan. 30 at Elmer’s Store.

The exhibit, for which an opening reception is planned for Saturday between 2 and 4 p.m., shows the two artists’ attention to detail in representing the rural landscape of rolling hills and rugged mountains of West County.

“Landscape plays a big role in my life, both as a painter, but also as an avid runner and outdoor enthusiast,” says Anderson, an art student at Greenfield Community College, who began studying watercolor painting with Ashfield artist Walter Cudnohufsky at age 9 and decided to try his hand at oil painting three or four years ago. “Often I paint scenes that I stumble upon during my runs — sometimes I may snap a quick photo or simply try and identify what detail sparked my enthusiasm for the scene. As I grow as an artist, I am beginning to look beyond the literal depiction of the landscape and am exploring the more intimate qualities of nature.”

Anderson, who decided last year to leave Four Rivers Charter School and get his GED, says he’s recently became “intrigued by textures and tangible aspects of the landscape,” and that as he grows as an artist, “I look forward to new ways of seeing.”

Anderson, who has showed paintings before at Elmer’s and at the Greenfield Savings Bank branch, says, “It’s great to have someone to paint with; it keeps you motivated,” and he’s drawn to Murphy’s impressionistic style.

The young painter, who plans to transfer to art school, says he finds oil painting makes it freer to experiment. And, like Murphy, a trail runner who scouts out remote areas on foot to return to later “with canvas and paint to record his emotional and spiritual relationship with the natural world,” Anderson is a distance runner who’s actually able to translate the three-dimensional aspects of nature, capturing the landscape’s texture in his paintings.

“Out every morning outside, I’m feeling the ground with my feet,” he says, “I try to have that show through in my work.”

Murphy, who immersed himself in drawing as a child growing up in Norwood, hesitates to describe himself as an instructor. He found himself in the role of mentor only after Anderson’s mother, Tamara Sloan, called to say her 14-year-old son was interested in learning oil painting.

“We get together once in a while,” he says. “It’s a very informal relationship. We get together once in a while, and initially there was a bit of instruction going over the basics. But mostly, I try to stay out of the way and give a little nudge here or there. The most important thing is not to have someone pushing you around, telling you how to paint.”

In fact, when they go off painting around Ashfield together, Murphy says, “You’re not really painting with somebody, you’re painting near somebody. You’ve got the companionship, but painting is a very private thing.”

And yet, Murphy, who moved to Ashfield in 2004 and has moved back and forth between eastern and western Massachusetts, living in Heath in 1973 and then around Rockport, points back to Walter Pasko of Lanesborugh, who had guided him as a painter and had himself learned from Whately artist Maurice Kennedy, who’d been a student of Conway landscape artist W. Lester Stevens.

“It’s kind of a neat pattern, to see how that developed,” says the retired human-service worker. “And now, I’m spending some time with Mac Sloan Anderson. It’s kind of rewarding, making yourself useful to somebody.”

For more informat: www.jimmurphyfineart.com