Whimsical designs, specially-themed Adirondack chairs, growth charts, fingerprint trees for weddings and showers, signs, wooden step stools, and one-of-a-kind custom paintings by a young artist named Tiffany Murray are becoming well-known in the Northeast Kingdom.
Word of mouth and social media have so far been all Tiffany has needed to keep busy filling the orders that come in for her work.
Tiffany has always had an interest in art.
“My favorite thing when I was little was Scotch® tape and paper,” she says.“You could give me that and I would play for hours.”
A creative imagination led to constructing little musical instruments with paper and building forts with tape and blankets.
Tiffany attended St. Johnsbury Academy where she took every art class she could schedule. Larry Golden was her art teacher. In her senior year, he convinced her to participate in a Veteran’s Day contest sponsored by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary #793 entitled“Young American Creative Patriotic Art Awards.” She created a painting of Mount Rushmore in the background with herself and two other students from her art class in the foreground. She was surprised when she learned that she had won the contest and $100.
Tiffany looks back on the event and laughs as she says,“I was never late for school, but that morning I was. In assembly, they announced the winner and I wasn’t even there to hear it.”
Although she wanted to attend an art college in Maine, Tiffany decided to attend Lyndon State College. LSC did not have an art degree, but she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a minor in business.
While working at various restaurants in the area, Tiffany made gifts for her family and close friends. Occasionally, she painted a portrait from a photo although she readily admits that portraits are not her favorite things to do.
It wasn’t until March 2013 that she started to get back into painting and really pursue it. Tiffany made a wall hanging for her daughter, Aubriella. It was on pink canvas with two owls in a tree and the words,“You are Loved.”
“I took a picture of it and posted it on Facebook and immediately there were 10 people asking me to make one for their kids,” she said. It was the first painting she ever sold, and business has evolved since then. Her husband, Jon, says,“Every kid should have one of these. Wouldn’t it be nice if all kids were told that they were loved?” It is a very popular item for parents.
In June 2014, son Conlin was born and Tiffany became a stay-at-home mom. Life has been very busy in the last year with a husband who is an animal nutritionist and in the cow podiatry business, Aubriella’s schedule of a seven-year old, and renovating their home. Somehow, Tiffany has still found time to pursue her passion for painting.
Tiffany participated in her first craft fair at the Elks Club in St. Johnsbury during the holiday season in December 2014. She allowed herself a month to prepare for it. She would like to do more craft fairs this upcoming year and give herself more time to provide a good inventory of items.
Tiffany orders her canvases from craft stores. Each comes as a plain white canvas and then, if it is a special item order, she paints it depending on what color the customer would like. She uses wood from hardware stores for growth charts. She also uses barn boards when she is able to get them.
One of Tiffany’s most eye-catching designs features Adirondack chairs, both rocking and four-legged, with special themes and the names of the children painted on the chairs. She started making them for baby shower gifts for her friends. She has sold about 30 chairs and is now stocking up on them for summer as so many people are interested in buying them.
Jon helps with the artwork in his own way, too. If Tiffany is stuck for an idea for a project, such as a construction theme, he will come up with some good suggestions. Occasionally she will get a chair that has a small crack in the wood and then Jon helps by fixing the chair.
“I am not a carpenter,” Tiffany says with a laugh. Jon cuts boards if she needs one a certain size. Last summer she made a“photo booth” for a wedding. The plywood was about eight feet tall and Jon cut it down to seven feet, rounded the edges, and cut out two circles. She then painted around the first circle showing a groom in a tuxedo. Then she painted around the second circle showing a bride in her wedding gown. The wedding photographer took pictures of the bride and groom sticking their heads through the holes in the plywood and it became a form of photo booth. Then any of the guests who wanted their picture taken did the same.
Another popular item is a leaf tree for weddings. Tiffany paints a tree and bare branches on canvas but does not paint the leaves. The bride’s and groom’s names are painted at the bottom as well as the date of their wedding. Guests put their fingerprints on the tree with green paint and someone writes their names. After a while, the tree becomes filled with all the green finger prints. Not only do the bride and groom have a keepsake from their wedding but it is also a beautiful canvas to hang in their home.
What inspires Tiffany? She replies,“My kids. Children’s items are the things I like painting the most. I don’t like saying no to people when they ask me to do something that is not my style of painting, but I really prefer to focus on things for children that I do free hand.”
Aubriella has watched her mother paint and sometimes joins her and they paint together. Aubriella likes painting owls. It is a project they can do together and spend time with each other.
“Being a Mom is the most amazing thing I have ever experienced,” Tiffany adds.“My little girl and my little man are my life. They are my heart. I am very blessed to have the most amazing husband who is truly my better half.”
When asked if she is an optimistic person, she replies,“I hope I have a positive personality.” She seems happy, positive, and content in her life and that reflects in her work.
Along with their already busy year, they have purchased a dairy farm about 40 minutes away. This is Jon’s dream and she is supportive of him.
When does Tiffany find time to paint? It is mostly during Conlin’s nap time or at night. She also likes cooking and gardening, and she is looking forward to the completion of the remodeling on their house so that she can do some decorating. She already has some great ideas.