Lawrence Murphy was born in Denver CO and studied in Cleveland at the Cleveland Institute of Art, then at the Academie Julien in Paris, and in New York with Frederic Bridgman. He moved to Los Angeles in 1915, where he became a beloved instructor at The Chouinard Art School from 1926-1947. His work was considered modern and daring but he had no interest in preserving or selling it, and would repeatedly tack paintings on the wall of his studio until it was completely covered in layers upon layers of work. When works began to fall to the ground due to this overhanging he would simply walk on them. He exhibited at the California Art Club in 1915.