(WBIR-GATLINBURG) The arts and crafts trail in Gatlinburg winds along Glades Road. It's a place where you'll find weavers and carvers and painters and more.
A new life-size creation that's revved up some interest there.
His old truck may have inspired the shape of his latest project. But Paul Murray isn't exactly sure where the idea came from.
"I just got it in my head a couple weeks ago that I wanted to build a truck out of straw," Paul Murray.
And build a truck out of straw he did. He's a traditional artist who had never worked with straw. He says he made the truck without glue and without a supporting frame.
"People are asking, they're thinking it's a real truck because it's off the ground. I've got elves from Santa. He gave me 17 elves, they're under there all day long. Seriously, at night they take off and in the morning they come back," he said with a smile.
People come back to see it who passed it while driving along Glades Road in Gatlinburg.
"A lot of people the first time they see it they just think, wow, this is pretty neat," he said.
His real art is inside the Paul Murray Gallery. His specialty is paintings and drawings of real people in Appalachia.
"I think a lot of the people came to this area and fell in love with the mountains. It wasn't the mountains for me. It was the people. There is just something so kind about them and so different," he said.
His pictures are not portraits.
"It's not just the face. There has to be a soul. There has to be a connection there. I have to feel good about that person and that person has to feel good about me," he said.
Paul Murray seeks his subjects where they live, chasing down leads and knocking on doors. He roughs out a pencil sketch on location, then brings it back to his studio to work and work and work on it.
"I draw and draw and draw and draw and erase and erase just to get the right line," he said.
He paints pictures of children, but he's really drawn to older people. He has a particular favorite.
"She was 99 when I painted her. Aunt Emily from Berea, Kentucky. I've done several of her. Aunt Emily is probably one of my favorites," he said.
As for this painter's detour into straw sculpture...
"It was a lot of fun. I'll never do it again, though. It took too much time."
Paul and his wife split their time between Gatlinburg and Canada, where he grew up.