...is art’s gain as doctor swaps stethoscope for painter’s palette
MANY PEOPLE talk about getting a lucky break to launch a career, but for artist Liz Murray that was an actual - and painful - reality.
She was working as a doctor in the busy A&E department of the Norfolk and Norwich hospital last year when she discovered that the pain in her leg that she had suffered for weeks was, in fact, a stress fracture. A spell off work followed, during which she came to realise thatn rewarding though a career in medicine was, it was not her real love.
Her passion is for art and during her time away from work she picked up her watercolour brushes and began to develop a style which eventually led to her decision to leave the NHS.
“I used to do a lot of landscapes and seascapes on massive canvases,” said Liz. “When I broke my leg I had to paint sitting down, so I pulled out the watercolour brushes and took to painting pheasants in wellies and hats, that sort of thing.
“I shared the pictures on social media and it went mad - almost viral. Then I said to myself; ‘you know what, I’m going to do this.’”
So Liz quit the NHS and launched her own art business called LALOA - Live A Life of Art – from her home near Sandringham, specialising in art and homeware. Her trademark style is quirky, charming watercolours of country animals, pheasants in trilbies, sheep in wellies, hares in caps and scarves and it has been an especial hit, perhaps unsurprisingly, with the shooting and game community. She is now also finding a growing demand for pet portraits.
“We did a lot of shows and fairs this summer, the Royal Norfolk Show, Holkham and so on,” said Liz. “And the shooting and game people love it.” She will be taking her wares, which include cushions, fabrics, wallpapers, kitchenalia, cards and prints, to Christmas fairs around the county, but her success hasn’t been confined to these shores; the global reach of social media means that customers have come from as far away as New York.
Liz is a native of Middlesbrough and was taught to paint by her grandfather,
who would take the youngster up on the beautiful moors around their Yarm home to paint. “He was an art teacher and taught me the skills of perspective and painting from a young age,” said Liz.
“He was a realist but I played around with more contemporary styles, a bit of trial and error. But I can’t do people! I can do a dog portrait really well but not a person.”
She studied medicine in Newcastle and met and married husband Philip, also a doctor. Their first years together were a whirl of moves – eight in as many years – as they followed busy careers before landing in Norfolk in 2012. Daughter Florence, now three, is also a budding artist who looks set to follow in mum’s brushstrokes. “She’s always got a pen and paper in her hand, wherever we go,” said Liz.
Does she miss medicine? “I had a patient stop me in the street to say ‘thank you for saving my life’ and for a second I thought ‘did I do the right thing?’ But I have a better balance in my life now and I’m much happier; I know I couldn’t go back.”
I had a patient stop me in the street to say ‘thank you for saving my life’ and for a second I thought ‘did I do the right thing?’
Above: Blacknose in Wellies Left: Liz Murray and her work
Top right (left to right):
Old Spot; All About the Hats