"It's the best gift we've ever given him." A painting commission for Harvard's winningest football coach
Guest post by Deirdre M. Folley
What Christmas gift to get for the winningest football coach in Harvard college history? What if that man is your dad, marking his 25th season and having just enjoyed an exciting win against the prime rival (Yale) at no other location than Fenway park?
This question is what led Molly Murphy to get in touch with us and inquire about commissioning John to produce a painting for her father. The timeline was tight, as Christmas was only a matter of weeks away. But I knew that John - a dedicated football fan - would absolutely love to take this painting on. We decided he could squeeze it into his studio schedule before the holiday.
Molly provided John with an inspiration photo and some other resources (including this video which gives a flavor of that gameday). She and her siblings were requesting a painting that would capture the drama of the football game at Fenway park as well as the details of their father, Coach Tim Murphy, working from the sidelines with his players around him. They decided on a custom size that would fit handsomely above a mantlepiece.
John provided Molly a concept sketch (above) for her approval, and then it was full steam ahead on the canvas.
John on his creative process:
"I was really excited by this commission, both as a football fan and as an artist. I loved the pictures from the game and the great accomplishment that it represented, but as I was thinking through the composition I knew I wanted to have the painting be more dramatic and more active than any of the photos that I had access to. I altered the perspective and composition to give more of that epic and immersive feel that I was looking for. There is nothing quite like being at a football game live and going to college games with my father has been a very special part of my life since childhood. I wanted this painting to embody that excitement and energy."
Although time was tight, John worked quickly to complete the painting and had it framed and ready to hang, available for pick-up, just before the family went away to celebrate Christmas together.
Early in the new year, I had a chance to talk to Molly about how the gift had gone over. She had these kind words to share about the experience:
I was absolutely blown away by my experience working with John and Deirdre. The whole process was so easy, it was so pleasant to communicate with them, and the sketches were so helpful... John's work is just stunning and I couldn't have imagined it going better, from start to finish.
My dad doesn't get emotional easily, but he was so moved when we presented the painting to him on Christmas morning. He could not believe it. It's the best gift we've ever given him.
We would definitely reach out again on another occasion. I think that this is such a meaningful purchase and overall it was an amazing experience!
What a thoughtful gift idea on the part of Molly and her siblings! It was clear to us that they love their dad and are extremely proud of him.
We’re so delighted that Coach Murphy was pleased with his Christmas morning surprise and that he is currently enjoying the painting in his office. John had a fantastic time with this commission and was honored to have a part in celebrating and commemorating a great moment in college sports.
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Hello there, I'm John H. Folley, an oil painter in the Boston School tradition. Thanks for visiting the Beauty Advocacy Blog, where it's my job to help you become a more discerning art appreciator.
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