Jef, living in Decauter, Georgia, was best known to many as a Tolkien artist, and was a selected artist at the upcoming Dragon Con in Atlanta. He leaves behind family and friends who know him as more than his work and will miss him dearly.
Jef was scheduled to help the Tolkien track of programming at Dragon Con this year, as he has many others, and will be missed and remembered. He was active year round in a Facebook group dedicated to the convention, where he posted his art weekly. He put his effort where his passion was and it will be hard not to notice that he hasn’t posted each Tolkien Tuesday.
Jef had a deep spiritual connection with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and credited the professor and his writings with his conversion to Catholicism. Besides leaving his mark in Tolkien fandom, he was involved as a writer and artist in religious publications and websites. He also wrote his own stories and poems.
Murray received a note of tribute from fellow artist and friend Ted Naismith, noting his passing and explaining that the pair kept in contact via email despite different viewpoints of the world. He said in part:
“I’m proud to call Jef a friend, fellow artist, scholar and colleague, and deeply mourn his loss. My deepest condolences to Lorraine and Jef’s family and close friends. He was a very lively and dedicated voice and talent in our community, and he leaves an impressive legacy. I’m truly saddened that he has left us, it’s simply too soon! I’d like to think he is now free to roam the width and breadth of Middle-earth and Valinor with his canvases and songs.”
Tolkien scholar Constance Wagner, who got to know Jeff at Dragon Con also spoke of her sadness at his passing:
“He has gone Into the West to paint forever with starlight. I will miss his wit and kindness and sense of fun. I will miss his talent. But mostly, I will miss him. Namarie, Jef. Elen sila lumenn’ omentielvo.”
The Tolkien Society knew Jef and his works well. He often contributed to its publications Amon Hen and Mallorn. It published a notice of his death, expressing sadness at his passing.
It is interesting to note, that he graduated from Georgia Tech with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering according to this obituary.
TheOneRing.net wishes our deepest condolences to those hurt by the loss of Jef, yet we honor his works and his passion and his life.
Some of Jef’s creations are posted below but to see a full compliment of his works, visit his official website.
He also left behind his own words about himself:
“Although it’s thought good form to speak about oneself in a “Biography” section, I’m always embarrassed that I’ll either say too much and sound pompous or too little and sound elusive. I intend neither, so beg your pardon in advance if I strike the wrong balance.
I’ve sketched and painted natural and mythological wildlife and landscapes since my childhood years in the north Georgia hills. I suspect I’m best known for my illustrations from Inklings-themed publications, although I’m very grateful that my work has also been published in many other books and journals.
I love the writings of G. K. Chesterton (see my artist’s statement), and a good deal of my work explores the connection between myth/fairy tales and Christian thought. I am Artist-in-Residence for the St. Austin Review (StAR).
My illustrations of whimsical tales and poems and my stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications worldwide, including Amon Hen, Mallorn, Silver Leaves, the St. Austin Review (StAR), the Georgia Bulletin, and Integrated Catholic Life. My most recent book illustrations appear in Seer: A Wizard’s Journal.
Lorraine and I reside in Decatur, Georgia with hamster-in-residence Ignatius, and up to 60,000 honeybees.”