Connecticut based artist Sean Murtha brings his experience and sensibilities as a plein air landscape painter to his naturalist paintings of birds, imbuing them with a sense of being part of their environment — a feeling sometimes lacking in wildlife painting where too often the landscape is simply a backdrop for the animal subject.
Ironically, Murtha knows something about providing backgrounds for naturalist subjects from his role in painting murals and diorama backgrounds for museums like the American Museum of Natural History in NY, and the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT.
His work as an illustrator extends to paleo art and other natural history subjects. His affinity for both dinosaurs and birds is unsurprising, as birds are essentially the living branch of the dinosaur family tree. To all of his subjects, Murtha brings a knowledge of the light, color and textures of the natural world gleaned from the practice of plein air painting.
I particularly enjoy the way many of his studies of birds are almost indistinguishable from landscape paintings, in which birds — however accurately observed — just happen to be part of the landscape.
Murtha grew up on Long Island near Long Island Sound, and now lives in Connecticut, where he views the sound from the other side. Many of his paintings reflect the sound and its changing character in the light of different seasons and weather.
His sensitivity to atmosphere and its effect on light gives his paintings a refined sense of color, contributing to the immediacy and immersive feeling of the natural world that he evokes.
In addition to his regular gallery representation (linked below), Murtha’s work will be on display at the mark Gruber Gallery in New Paltz, NY, in a group exhibit titled “Birds and Art” that runs until May 23, 2015.