I am currently following 677 people on Instagram. I can't possibly follow any more is my mantra, but then I discover amazing artists like Bobbi McMurry and I quickly click that Follow button! When you see her work, I'm sure you'll understand why I couldn't say "no" to these amazing images.
Geri: What is your name and where do you live?
Bobbi: My name is Bobbi McMurry (aka: Sugarama) and I hate to be cold so I live in very hot and perpetually sunny Phoenix, Arizona. My very stubborn and southern grandfather used to say “the only reason people live in Phoenix, is because they know they are going to hell and they need to prepare” – hope he isn’t right!
|The Amazing Flower That Blooms in the Dead of Winter © Bobbi McMurry|
|The Seamstress © Bobbi McMurry|
Geri: How did you get your start creating mobile art?
Bobbi: It was a very happy accident! I had just gotten an iPhone when my oldest son insisted I would love Instagram because I am always excessively snapping pics when we are on vacation. I thought the whole Instagram “post it, get likes” concept seemed ridiculous, but I did want to see what my kids were posting, so I signed up.
One morning, an image appeared on my feed that had clearly been two photos merged. I probably stared at that image for more than ten minutes thinking about the possibilities I hadn’t considered. Then it was a mission, I researched until I understood how it was done, and in the process discovered the marvelous, and very extensive world of apps. As silly as it sounds, that was a complete “game-changer,” the beginning of an insatiable hunger that continues to grow.
|Jo © Bobbi McMurry|
|Step Into My Parlor © Bobbi McMurry|
Geri: Do you have a traditional photography or art background?
Bobbi: Art has always been a part of me. I LOVED to color, draw and make things. I think the first time I understood how much I loved that part of myself was when I was eight years old. I went to a friend’s house after school and while I didn’t know it, her father was a mural painter. When I entered her home, I was confronted with an enormous scenic painting that extended from the entry all the way up the staircase. My chin probably hit the floor because it was that amazing to me. I doubt that I had ever considered the extent of what could be done – I hadn’t been exposed to art up till then. It's funny how these childhood moments become etched in your mind, but that definitely sat brewing in the back of mine for years.
I have a BFA from Arizona State University. My passion was drawing and printmaking though I changed to Graphic Design just before my senior year because I panicked about supporting myself once graduated. I spent the next couple of decades as an Art Director/Graphic Designer, mostly for magazines and catalogs – worked long hours and didn’t do much of my own artwork during that time, just some occasional drawing or painting. Once I had a little more time in my life, art happily resurfaced as a priority.
One of the best aspects of mobile art is, well, its mobility! My family is on the go, and travels frequently. Packing art supplies is a much bigger effort than sticking my iPhone or iPad in my purse. These days it’s rare to find me without one of them, and if there is a minute or two, I can be found working on something.
|Theresa © Bobbi McMurry|
|Look Closely © Bobbi McMurry|
Geri: Who or what inspires you?
Bobbi: That is a really tough question. I’ve always loved the work of Abstract Impressionists, Rothko, Pollack, and Gottlieb, and the figurative work of Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, and the list, though varied, goes on and on. Essentially, I love viewing artwork, I love watching people, and am truly fascinated with plant life – in the desert, in the garden, and under the sea, and while my work is abstract, even the most non-objective pieces have elements born from reality.
I believe the experimentation of the Abstract Impressionists is not that different from what is going on today in Mobile Art. In both cases artists are looking to express themselves through experimentation and discovery, and the exponential evolution of the possibilities is mind-boggling.
Pollock purported that the journey toward making art was as important as the work of art itself. I’ve always believed that, though its never been more evident to me as it is now that I am entrenched in creating art on these slick, shiny, digital screens and the unending flow of more and more apps to work with.
|Ho Hum © Bobbi McMurry|
Geri: Your work seems to center around purely abstract or abstract portraits - how has your style evolved?
Bobbi: I’m not a photographer, I don’t like the technical aspects of knowing what f-stop to use, etc. and I don’t want to learn because that is not where the magic is – for me. I’ve spent quite a lot of time learning to draw with exacting realism, but it seems sort of pointless to labor over creating something a camera can do more quickly, and more decidedly. I suppose that’s one of the reasons why my work evolved into the abstract arena. My work explores color and composition within the realm of juxtaposed imagery to create people or environments that are fantasy oriented and/or whimsical.
My enjoyment comes to life in the process of creating; I love the flow that naturally occurs from one decision to the next. The work may be abstract, but it’s not without constant exploration and continual decision-making. I’ve created very few pieces that didn’t involve some internal battle of how to make them “work”. It usually requires me to step back for more than a little while so that I can approach it with fresh eyes, and then the solutions are almost instantaneously recognized.
Lastly, as selfish as it may sound, I’m not really trying to please anyone but myself. Life is too short and too serious, so when I’m doing my art I just want to have some fun!
|I Didn't Do Anything! © Bobbi McMurry|
Geri: What device do you use to shoot and edit your images?
Bobbi: I shoot all my photos on an iPhone, iPad or now a Samsung Galaxy. I used to carry around a camera and big lens, primarily to take pictures of my family. But, I’ve never used that to create mobile art, and actually, now that I’m into mobile art, I rarely take even family pictures with a camera. The iPhone is such a powerful camera, as is the Galaxy. Who needs a sore shoulder and camera anymore? I do all my editing on my iPad, since the Galaxy has become my primary phone.
Geri: Do you have favorite apps that you tend to use on a regular basis?
|Where's My Freaking Pick? © Bobbi McMurry|
Geri: Do you have a specific goal in mind when you work on an image, or does it evolve as your create?
Bobbi: Well, I sort of have a specific goal. That said, I enjoy a process that takes on a life of its own. For example, when I was beginning to create Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit, I knew that I wanted the viewer to make the connection between my artwork and the character in the story. Additionally, because it’s part of a series, I wanted the imagery to have a visual connection to the other images within the series.
That piece began with a photo of the cutest little French bulldog I saw at the pet store. When I took the photo, I knew he was going to become my rabbit, that he needed clothing and a pocket watch, but the composition, the palette and the subtleties are something that evolved as the piece was being created.
|Alice © Bobbi McMurry|
|Never Too Late © Bobbi McMurry|
Geri: I love your Through the Looking Glass series - how many images have you completed? Will there be more?
Bobbi: Thank you! This has been such a fun series to work on. I saw the old, animated movie as a little girl, which was (sadly) a long time ago, so I don’t have much in the way of pre-established imagery going on with the subject. I’m dying to see Tim Burton’s version – but waiting until my series in complete - otherwise I fear his brilliant imagery will influence the direction of my pieces.
I have six images complete at this time, and several floating around in my head - some of which I am in the process of gathering images. I was recently at the zoo and made sure to get shots of the flamingos – so they will show up in the series for sure, and we all know the series just wouldn’t be complete without the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat!
|Tweedledeedum © Bobbi McMurry|
|Just Call a Spade a Spade © Bobbi McMurry|
Geri: Can you share a bit about your process (workflow)?
Bobbi: I’m happy to share. The challenge is that I move in and out of apps so quickly that it isn’t an exacting, set process. I usually begin in Leonardo where I will crop, enhance colors, and maybe distort the image somehow. Then it goes into Superimpose where I can add images in a collage like fashion to “compose” the overall piece. Then it’s into Procreate, where I typically redraw most, if not all, of the image; this part usually takes the most time. I will take the image in and out of Procreate and Superimpose several times to add other elements until I’m happy with it.
Then comes the really fun part – the more exploratory part. I love opening the image in iColorama and “bombing” portions to give a sense of spontaneity. I’ll usually save several variations of those results. If I am going to add other effects like textures from Glaze for example, it’s usually at this stage. Then I start layering all the different versions in Blender, masking as needed and using different effect settings until I’m satisfied.
|Barbary Fig © Bobbi McMurry|
Geri: Have you ever exhibited your work? If not any plans to do so?
Bobbi: Last year I was thrilled to have three honorable mentions in the MPA (Mobile Photography Awards), and one shown in the Third Wave Show. Additionally, my work was included in several juried exhibitions here in Phoenix. Some of those pieces were Mobile Art, some painting, and some collage. It sounds pretty all over the board doesn’t it – well it is. I just love creating images of all kinds, but as I get a deeper understanding of what can be achieved on my iPad, I gravitate more and more in that direction. That said, I doubt I will ever stop using other mediums – they are all so wonderful. I would love to show more and find time to do what it takes to show. If you know anyone who is interested in showing my work, let me know!
|This Desert Flower © Bobbi McMurry|
Geri: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Bobbi: I would just like to thank you for noticing my work and taking the time to learn a little bit about me and share it with the community!