The selection of paintings by McPherson displayed here date from 1975 to 2007 and fall into five categories: early work, the cityscape series, studies for the mural cycles, the stage and steel series. A painterly language and attention to detail, a balance between depiction and formal abstraction and an interest in the varieties of light defining surfaces and creating emotional spaces are the main characteristics of his work. Sarah Hall, Curator of The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh, makes the following observations in the catalogue for their exhibition "Steel: Pittsburgh Drawings by Craig McPherson":
"While the works are 'realist' there’s also an otherworldly sense about them—a sense of the sublime; a transformation to a sort of mythic grandeur that seems to belong to another era…a combination of purity and objectivity…man is creating the awe rather than God or nature. I (also) think of pulp fiction…film noir when I look at your work. What strikes me about this is not that the images are narrative per se; it's very hard to 'read a story' from the images, but they are stage sets, or film stills, or snapshots. They have the sense of having just been left, or waiting for someone to enter…"