Walking through Frisco artist Milessa Murphy Stewart’s house is like walking through a private gallery.
Her works—watercolors, oil paintings and murals, adorn the walls of her house. Along with her signature, many of the pieces feature the phrase “Dei gratia”—by God’s grace—the inclusion of which was inspired by one of her best friends who taught art.
“She told me that she believed art was learned until she met me, and then she said there was no doubt in her mind that God had blessed me with that,” Stewart said. “When she told me that, it was really significant, and that’s when I decided I was going to do something to honor that.”
Each year, Stewart decides which project she wants to focus on. Some of her projects include “Dreamscapes,” which she said captured her daydreams. In 2016, she focused her time and attention on capturing the feeling and the passion behind the public art sculptures spread throughout Frisco for MMS Project 52.
“Many people, and including myself, don’t have an appreciation for sculpture,” Stewart said. “We pass by them on interstates and tollways all the time. So in order to enlighten the public on that type of art and stretch my appreciation for it as well, I decided to do this project.”
In her work, Stewart tends toward an impressionist style. She said she looks to painters Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet for inspiration.
“I’m kind of really drawn to [the impressionist]period,” she said. “I really wish I was born during that time so I could have painted with them.”
Like the original impressionists, Stewart likes to mix her colors through her brush strokes on the canvases instead of on a palette. She paints portraiture, landscapes and abstracts either in her office or en plein aire, which means painting outdoors. One of her experiences painting en plein aire was in Monet’s water gardens in 2015.
Stewart participates in groups that help connect and support local artists. She is a member of the Texas Visual Arts Association, The Visual Arts Guild of Frisco and The Cooperative Venue for Creatives.
In 2016, Stewart was diagnosed with degenerative bone disease and has had to have surgery on both hands. Even having her hands in casts has not prevented her from working. She figured out a way to place the brush inside the end of her right hand’s cast and to use her left hand to help stabilize the brush as she worked.
“You just can’t squash an artist,” she said. “You just eventually—you just get there.”
To see more of Milessa Murphy Stewart’s art, visit www.milessa.com.
Artist as a youth
Milessa Murphy Stewart had an interest in art from a young age. At 8 years old, Stewart submitted an application to an art school that she saw advertised on television. She was accepted to the school.
“They didn’t know how old I was because I lied about my age,” Stewart said.
When she told her mother, Stewart was told, “Well, you’re gonna have to wait until you grow up,” Stewart said.
During her 30 years as an artist, Stewart has trained with renowned artists, including Zoltan Szabo, Carl Dalio, Linda Doll and Warren Taylor.