He studied at the Massachusetts College of Art and Boston University, with teachers Cyrus Dallin, Ernest L. Major, Richard Andrews, Charles H. Richert and Otis Philbrick. McMurtry was a part of art education in the school systems of Yarmouth, Dennis, Brewster, Cambridge, and Wethersfield, Connecticut; also the Massachusetts College of Art, and Harvard and Tufts universities.He worked as an illustrator for MacMillan Publishing, the U.S. Airforce and Tufts University. McMurtry is the recipient of the Valley Forge Freedom Foundations Award. His work is represented in collections in the U.S. and abroad.
He is listed in the Who's Who in American Education and the Who's Who in the East.