The son of artistically inclined parents, Sean Murtha was encouraged at a young age to draw and paint. He studied painting at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, graduating with a BFA in 1990. His early influences were Eric Sloane, N.C. Wyeth, Charles R. Knight, and later the painters of the Hudson River School and the American Impressionists, especially Willard Metcalf. Later, as wildlife became increasingly his focus, he was strongly influenced by Francis Lee Jaques, Robert Bateman, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Bruno Liljefors, Lars Jonsson and others.
In 1996, he joined the staff of the American Museum of Natural History, where he worked in the exhibition department. There he gained experience painting murals and background paintings for dioramas, a specialty that introduced him to artists such as James Perry Wilson and Fred Scherer. In 2007, Sean began working at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, and he continues to create dioramas there and for other museums on a freelance basis to this day.
His field and studio work focuses on the birds and landscape of the Long Island Sound and its environs. Having spent most of his life on either side of the sound, he is well acquainted with its moods and its wildlife. His practice puts great importance on sketching and painting “in the field”, using these studies as the basis for studio work. He lives with his wife, Deirdre, and sons Brendan and Graham, in Norwalk, CT.