While it's winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, the sun is shining and the birds are singing all day and all night long on the other side of the globe. And that is where we find this little ray of sunshine, Cecelia Murphy, with her unique joyful floral vibes.

We had a chat with the San Francisco-based artists to get her low down on the city by the bay and what makes her tick. You can see more of Cecelia at @ceceliaclaire, or my website, www.ceceliaclaire.com

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Thanks for being one of our first ever US guests on the blog!

So excited to be here! I have a huge style crush on Kip&Co and I'm thrilled we can now order from the US! I'd been scheming how to get a velvet duvet smuggled to the States somehow.

You’re a San Franciscan artist - what were you in your previous life? 

Funny you should ask! I am also a translator of foreign languages, like Swedish, German, Italian, and a few more. Since it's all remote, it allows me to keep my art practice very active and build my brand as I branch out in design.

A career in translating has allowed me to do a lot of solo travel and living abroad, in places in Berlin, Lisbon and Cape Town. I always had a sketchbook with me, and this is how my current practice started: just by observing my surroundings in drawings, and then of course I had to learn to paint to add color!

Can you describe your style?

I like to think that my work is lush and a little bit unusual. From brush pen drawings to watercolors to digital prints for textiles, one thing that ties my work together is that it's very place-based and anchored "the now", so to speak. Everything starts with a hand drawing, on location, usually things I've spotted on walks, like an amazing house or a crazy flower. I'm much more likely to do a plein air, alla prima on the sidewalk, than to get a photo and paint from the comfort of my desk. I find this ends up in better artwork, but it also results in some very funny/awkward moments: the view has to be just right to make the composition work, so I'm sometimes hunched with my sketchbook behind parked cars or at the very edge of someone's private garden. Borderline eccentric behavior, but it's all for the sake of art!

 

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What’s been your career highlight?

I'm really just getting started with this "second career", but this year has brought some fun opportunities for me to get my work out there.

I did a big floral window mural at a local art store, and I filmed some online classes about editing your watercolors and making repeat prints with CreativeBug at their studio in San Francisco. And I'm chatting with another designer I really admire about doing a surface design collab. I'm having so much fun exploring.

Best bit of advice you got along the way?

Just start, and meet yourself where you are. Take a sketchbook everywhere. I watched my mom, who is a very talented working artist and illustrator, get back into making art after years of a different career by committing to just spend an hour drawing details or her daily life: a cup of coffee, a pair of shoes, a pet, a waiting room. I remembered and did the same when I moved to Berlin in 2011.  As Picasso (I think) said: "Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working." Start with a simple daily sketch practice and big things can blossom from that as you get more ideas and more in touch with your visual side.

We love your strong floral aesthetic, is that a very conscious theme or do you dream and doodle of flowers all day long?

Thank you! I really am obsessed with flowers. This part of California (like Australia I'm sure) has such a huge variety of beautiful plant life. I don't always do florals but they are the best way to reconnect to my visual, artist self with their repeating forms and mesmerizing color. I don't seem to get bored of plants and flowers and I always want to draw them as a way of documenting and bearing witness to their beauty!

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Lots of our readers are based in Australia, what are your three hot tips for visitors (or locals who need to freshen up their weekend plans) for SF?

First of all, the best time to visit is probably in the fall or spring, since the summer here is strangely foggy and cool due to a coastal weather effect.

Don't miss

For flower enthusiasts: Golden Gate Park and the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers

For great shopping: boutiques in Hayes Valley

Take the ferry across the bay to Berkeley and check out the University of California at Berkeley botanical gardens, and if you're feeling very fancy stay at the Claremont Hotel up in the hills surrounded by palm trees and look out across the bay!

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