Meet Lee Murphy. When she’s not wearing her wifey hat for Peter or mummy hat for her three cherubs including Indigo (14), Finn (12) and Bridie (8), she’s also an architect, artist and painter and owner/operator of Lee Murphy Design. Wow! Lee is also the creative behind our cover illustration. What a woman!


Tell us about your business/current role?

I’m into art. I like to be diverse and am keen to crack into the wonderful and illusive art world. I take on any commission. Some days I’m painting murals, others illustrating editorials. I do portraits, landscapes, botanical themes and pets in lifelike or more comic styles and I’m always looking for the next art competition to enter. Currently I’m working on getting a body of work together for my solo exhibition at the Currumbin RSL in February. I’m excitedly nervous!

2014 McElhone Mania (1)How did art come into your life?

Art is a lifelong passion and in the last two years I felt I simply had no choice but to pursue it full time. I was always taught to get a career first and paint in my spare time, so it’s been a real mind flip, producing artwork as a career. It feels too decadently good to be true and sometimes too personal. There’s no security and I never know what will come next – but something new and fun always does! It is so scary but so rewarding.

What’s your business background?

Having worked as an architect for years, art has always been my escape and hobby. Then came my three kids and working at my husband’s dental surgery and for a while I dabbled with trying to do the lot with architectural jobs on the side but found there was never enough time left to really delve into my art. I feel like it is now my time to really see where this passion can go!

Who are your mentors?

Renowned Australian artist Wendy Sharpe was one of my university art teachers and I learnt so much from her and thrived on her colour, energy and enthusiasm. I love art by Klimt, Lucien Freud, Manet and the wit and humour of the Surrealists and find studying these artists work gives me so much inspiration. Personally, I rely on friends and family for encouragement and have found a whole new community of mentors through Instagram and Facebook.


Tell us about a typical day in your life?

I wish I could lie here and say to you how I’m up and productive at the crack of dawn! Instead my day starts with just the first part “I could to lie here”… in bed! I’m not a morning person. Nor is my husband. Nor my kids. Nor even my dog! I work well under pressure and my days usually start under the pressure that we’re going to be late because we cut our timing so fine. There are hairbrushes, clothes, brekkie and
dog food flying. There are anxious voices, lost socks, missing piano books galore. Somehow it always gets done and my kids somehow get to school on time and we all somehow manage to keep our sense of humour. When I get back home, I need my relaxing cup of tea before I slink into my art studio and start to breath.

Who cooks and cleans at your house?

That’d be me. My husband is a great cook but just doesn’t get home in time so it’s me and my 10 standard dishes with the occasional attempt at some culinary delight! I’m not a clean freak but I like things tidy. If I’m in a really creative and productive phase, my house suffers and looks neglected and when I’m in an artistic rut, the house looks immaculate. So either way there’s a win and loss element. I thank God I have my art studio – it’s essential for getting into an artistic mind frame and not looking at the washing basket piling up!

What would you do if you had 10 minutes free for yourself?

What a shame 10 mins is not long enough to run a bath! It’s not even long enough to get into my book. I guess, in all honesty, it’d be a few moments to have a cup of tea and call a friend or check out what my Instagram and Facebook friends are up to.


What do you do for childcare?

My number one commitment is to my kids and I’m so lucky that, as an artist, I can usually be flexible to take the kids to and from school and to all their other activities. My kids are such home bodies and they used to loath day care and after school care. I think now that I’m flexible, they’d never let me go back to an eight-hour day job, even if I wanted to!

Do they do extracurricular activities?

Lee and kids, indigo 15, Bridie 8 & Finn 12I find the choices for extracurricular activities totally overwhelming. Even though I think my kids do a lot, (piano, tennis, ballet, netball, AFL, touch footy and Oz Tag) I still worry they are somehow missing out. I would love them to do karate and surfing and skateboarding and gymnastics and drama and all these wonderful things that weren’t available when I was growing up. But my kids look forward to days when they have nothing on and can just come home and relax. Besides, with three kids who all have different passions, it’d be a logistical nightmare getting them to any more activities. I’ll admit I also like days we have nothing on too!

What do you do for fun as a family?

We look forward to ‘Fun Fridays’ where we order take away and watch a movie together. Otherwise my husband made a golf putting green down the side of the house and has a running competition for ‘Oh Hairy One’ (a rabbit trophy) or a game of ping pong. We do a lot of staying at home fun.


Tell us about your dream date night?

Date night?! What’s that? No seriously, I really think dating your partner is vital to a relationship yet, being so time poor, my husband and I spend more time working out where and when we should go on a date than actually dating. Luckily we both enjoy a good glass of wine and our cosy couch and something good on the telly.

Fave Gold Coast hangs?

I thank God every day that I live in Burleigh. Burleigh has so many things I love and cherish about the Gold Coast. I adore the walk over the headland to Tallebudgera Creek. I love the restaurants and hip bars that keep popping up and, of course, the beach. It makes it very hard to appreciate a beach holiday elsewhere. I think we are living in paradise. I’m truly blessed.

Favourite family eat out style/location?

Japanese, of course. We love it but I can’t say it’s relaxing. I think grabbing dishes as they idle past, negotiating chop sticks and experimenting with ginger and wasabi all add to the crazy experience. It’s chaos, but we all love it even though my 12-year- old son can now eat the sum of the rest of us!


Where do you go on a girls’ night out?

I am so, so lucky to have a great bunch of girlfriends. These girls are hilarious, mad and will try anything! No matter what we do, it’ll be fun. We all love food, dancing and music and ‘using our words’ (as we like to call it, although there are sometimes so many words to get out, that conversation is just one big pile of overlapping mess). A night out might be a concert, dinner, a movie or a show, always with the potential for dancing on tables by the end of the night – if we’re lucky.

Best beauty tips for mums?

I’m so glad you asked me this because quite honestly, NO ONE EVER DOES!! Not that I don’t have tips nor that I don’t know how to doll myself up. It’s just that for 99 per cent of the time I just can’t be bothered trying! My tip is to keep it natural and play it down. Then when you go out – let it rip! Bring out the lippy, apply that mascara, do your hair! I never tire of the thrill of shocking people when they see my
transformation. It makes me feel marvellous!

Favourite place to shop?

I hate shopping. There! I said it. “Let go shopping” appeals to me about as much as getting a colonoscopy. Although leave me in an art supplies store and I’ll start to salivate with all the products I would LOVE to try.


Must have parenting tip or tool?

Yoga. Exercise. These are a must! They massively help to keep me calm, centred and release any tension and bad vibes. In daily life I try to be pretty easy going. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I make my kids responsible for their beds, their lunches and their school bags and I don’t worry too much if they do a poor job of it as I think giving them some self autonomy will make them strong adults who won’t expect someone else to mollycoddle them. My 8-year- old daughter once just packed frozen white bread for lunch. I was quietly horrified, but so be it.

Tips to finding the right balance and that juggling act?

Yes, can you give me any? Every day is a new juggle. I just try to be flexible within boundaries. I’m trying to discipline my painting time with a regular routine to free up my spare time. Otherwise it’s all one big jumble. I am finding this one hard and I’m still adjusting.

How do you stay motivated?

Do what you love. I go through creative blocks but at the end of the day I know I’ll get through it and return to the easel because it’s just what I love. I find affirmation so encouraging and motivating and also setting myself goals and deadlines helps. They scare me but they also flick a switch in my head that gets me moving again.



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