Mavis Murphy is devoted to painting the great southwest in all its forms and mystique.

By Emily Van Cleeve

One glance at Mavis Murphy’s beautifully executed watercolors shows that this gifted artist is in love with New Mexico. Landscapes infused with magical light found only in the Land of Enchantment captivate the viewer. Exquisitely restored adobes are celebrated, as well as old and weathered structures left to decay in juniper-dotted fields. Deserted pickup trucks show their fading colors, and gorgeous spring flowers at the height of maturity hug classic adobe walls in Santa Fe neighborhoods. Mavis Murphy is devoted to painting this southwest area as it truly is: ancient, modern and unique.

A native of England, whose formal training began at the Bradford College of Art in Yorkshire, Murphy immediately knew she was home when she came to Truchas, a classic mountain village north of Santa Fe, in 1964. She was inspired to paint the high desert of New Mexico and her brilliant watercolors reflected this newly found passion.

“Since my first visit over 35 years ago, I have discovered New Mexico from corner to corner and most places in between,” she says. “I’ve explored the Gila, been bird watching in the Guadalupe mountains, rafted the rivers and hiked may other areas. I fell in love with all the canyons and mesas, the forests and mountains, the dusty old railroad towns and adobe architecture.”

Her travels have also included the nearby states of Arizona, Texas, and Utah which offer landscapes rich in geological formations and exotic plant life. The remote canyons of Big Bend along the Texas/Mexican border are regularly featured in her exquisite paintings. Photographic images of these places offer the artist the necessary recorded information she needs for studio painting. The photographs are merely springboards for her watercolors; for the artists chooses to allow creativity to come into play as the major force behind her artwork.

Mavis Murphy’s painting studio is located in her home just south of Santa Fe. Windows overlooking her flower gardens and a nearby greenbelt offer the perfect working environment for this nature lover who occasionally stops to watch a scurrying rabbit or an approaching storm. Observing the ebb and flow of the landscape fuels her imagination and palette.

As a traditional watercolorist, Murphy’s method of painting is a direct application of pigment in thin layers of wash on archival 100% cotton rag paper. She strives for accuracy with her images but is grateful for the unexpected events that occur when the paint takes on a voice of its own. Her colorful paintings are then both realistic and emotionally charged.

Murphy enjoys viewer interaction; especially when clients delight in being in the exact location of one of her landscape paintings. She takes great pride in being able to capture the feel of a place and awaken memories and experiences connected to a particular scene.


Amphitheatre, Spring

Nature's Window

Plaza Fatima, Fall

Villanueva, Fall

Mill at La Cueva


Canyon Creek Guadalupe Mountians

Echo Amphitheatre

Tired and Retired

Galisteo Dodge

South of Santa Fe

Church at
Black Mesa

Frutas y Verduras

York Market