Born in Stirling, Scotland, Heather McAlpine moved to London to study art, achieving a BA (First Class Hons) from East London University 1993 and an MA from the Royal College of Art in 1995. In 1999, she emigrated to Vancouver, Canada, where her paintings were inspired by the wild coastline of the Pacific North West and the Rocky Mountains, with their aquamarine glacial lakes, tree lines, horizons and lake and sea reflections, all of which informed her work.
Having moved back to the UK in 2015, McAlpine chose to live in the artistic community of St Ives. There, she was drawn to the rugged beauty of the Cornish coastline, which continues to inspire her paintings; wild swimming has become a paritcularly vital source of inspiration.

Colour and process are the two fundamental aspects of McAlpine's work. Colour is intuitive and celebratory, starting with a saturated coloured ground, this creates an atmosphere and through the use of layers and a constant reworking of the painted surface, a personal vocabulary of marks develop, using brushes, print rollers, squeegees, any tool that enables her to create and reveal atmospheric layers, a lyrical and fluid atmosphere develops evoking an emotional response in the viewer and memories of seascape/landscape.

Wild swimming has given McAlpine a new perspective. Having immersed herself in the unique colours of the St Ives beaches, she then immerses herself in the painting process back in her studio. She likes to work on many canvases at the same time, using acrylic paint to build up layers quickly and capture a sense of energy and movement of the sea. In McAlpine's work, painterly lines and marks serve as metaphors of energy, movement and growth, exploring the relationship between colour and the vitality of the natural world.