Heather A. Wallis Murphy



Heather A. Wallis Murphy is a Pacific Northwest notecard artist, wildlife biologist, field journal instructor, watercolorist and nature writer from Leavenworth, WA. She holds a B.S. from the University of Washington. She retired after a 30-year Wildlife Biology career with the U.S. Forest Service. Passionate about recording and sketching the natural world, Heather started Walleye Cards, LLC in 1997 which publishes her illustrated nature stories.  

Influenced by the early explorer-scientists of Americas West, I mix natural history notes with watercolor field observations. The blending of science and art is intriguing to me both as a wildlife biologist and as an artist-painter. 

Traveling through the wildlands across the world, I keep sketchbook memories of sights, sounds and smells, journaling, capturing the sense of place. It is enriching to learn about the uniqueness of an area through landforms, vegetation and wild things. 

I hope my artwork moves others to seek the out-of-doors, go hiking, or remember a special time, a special person, or a special place. 

What inspires you? 

Wildlife biology and ecology has long been my intriguing profession/avocation. Nature inspires me for both her solitude and her power. 

Artists inspire me. Muriel Foster (1884-1963) Scottish fisherwoman kept an illustrated diary. Emily Carr (1871-1945) Vancouver Island painter documenting Canadian forests and First Nations villages, while painting in the modernism and post-cubism styles. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), his art and science converged for me in college, balancing classes in forestry and wildlife with drawing and art. David Barker (1945) of New Zealand is a great mentor with his use of watercolor acrylic on his powerful colors of nature.  

What inspired the artworks you submitted? 

I study the intrigue of birds from the perspective as a wildlife biologist and as an artist. Each week I draw or write about a bird or a part of a bird. 

The three bird drawings/paintings were from a line-drawing study I did for North Central Washington Audubon. They needed illustrations of native species tied to this area. The White-headed Woodpecker on ponderosa pine bark is outside my home and at Sleeping Lady, favorite birding/paintings spots. The Barrows Goldeneye male was paddling on a favored White River pond, I watched him through my spotting scope; drawing and painting on site. Later I transferred to a pen and ink in my studio. The Calliope Hummingbird was at my home feeder. This species is uniquely tied to the Cascade Mountains for the short period during breeding season (April to August), it is a delight drawing this smallest bird in North America. 

The Four Feathers painting compares birds’ FLIGHT FEATHERS on the wing. I am showing two of my favorite birds (Northern Spotted Owl and Common Loon) and two commonly known birds (Northern Flicker and Red-breasted Nuthatch). I study these birds utilizing my Scientific Collection Permit as a field journal instructor.  

What art style do you most identify with?  

Nature illustration, out-of-doors painting, realism, 

What is your favorite art medium?  

Watercolor on nature journal