Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ruby Blue

Ruby Blue album art

I’ve been on a bit of a Róisín Murphy kick lately, and it only recently dawned on me that the album art for Ruby Blue is, in fact, a painting. Ramalama (Bang Bang) is inspiring me this week in more ways than one.

According to Wiki, Murphy met Simon Henwood at a bar. He thought she’d make a good subject for painting, so they had sequin-themed photo shoots with Murphy’s own wardrobe. Murphy took on abstract stances, and viola, dynamic paintings happened over the course of a year. Henwood described Murphy’s character as a “disco electro pop diva with a 1940’s look”. The paintings were on display at The Hospital in London and have since been purchased by Murphy (ostensibly so her children can someday see what she used to look like).

Simon Henwood is known for his simplified paintings of teens. They end up looking posterized and vivid, but he still leaves plenty of texture and expression within planes. His style is quite evident in the portraits of Murphy. I don’t know what their first conversations would have sounded like, but I’d guess that once she knew what Henwood’s work looked like, Murphy commissioned the portraits specifically for her album art because she felt it would fit with the sounds she was putting forth on Ruby Blue. Because it was seemingly commissioned expressly for album art, I’d consider this illustration, rather than only fine art.

I rather enjoy how dynamic and eye-catching this painting is, especially in terms of Murphy’s pose and the way her expression seems to be beckoning towards the camera/audience. There’s just something phenomenal going on with the lighting and color as well. Redheads <3 Her outfit was probably the first thing that grabbed my attention. It’s kind of interesting how the only way you can tell it’s not a photo is from her skin, and even then it could’ve been manipulated. Nope. It’s gouache on paper, according to Henwood’s site.


  1. i really enjoy this. the black sequin outfit and red wavy hair go along with the jazz/pop style. it's very attractive and interesting because for a minute you wonder if it is a photo or not. some things in the painting look very realistic: the detailing in the hands, sequins, texture on the feathers, but other things look painted..especially the face.

  2. I like this image as well, i think its interesting the way the face is rendered in contrast to the futuristic almost mangaish outfit. The image is definitely very eye catching, i enjoy how it seems as almost 2 different style or aesthetics, such as traditional illustration with more modern techniques play a around with each other to create this fresh pose.