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 Howard A. Terpning  (1927 - )

About: Howard A. Terpning


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Lived/Active: Arizona/New York/Illinois      Known for: Indian-frontier-genre painting, illustrations

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  AskART Artist  
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Oak Park, Illinois and receiving his art education at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art and the American Academy of Art, Howard Terpning became one of the best known and financially successful members of the Cowboy Artists of America.

He had an eight-year apprenticeship in commercial art in Chicago and then moved to New York City where he spent twenty five years as an illustrator, creating work for numerous publications including Time, Newsweek, Reader's Digest, Field and Stream and Cosmopolitan. Other clients included Gold label Cigars, Trans World Airlines (TWA) and Pendleton Woolen Mills.

In the mid-1970s, he dropped commercial work and moved to Arizona where, in 1974, he began doing his first western painting, and in 1979, was elected to the Cowboy Artists of America, an exclusive group of male painters dedicated to western genre.

His paintings focus on Native American people of the Great Plains during the nineteenth century and have earned numerous prestigious awards including about two dozen gold and silver medals from the CAA.

He lives with his family in Tucson, Arizona, and his daughter, Susan Terpning, also has become a successful artist.

He works in a large studio attached to his home and usually keeps a painting schedule of working all day, six days a week.

Sources include:
Walt Reed, The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000, p. 362

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is from Nancy Gerace who writes: "What follows is pertinent data . . . I have garnered from various reference materials, and it is all valid and verifiable."

Howard Terpning is known as, 'The Storyteller of the Native American.'  He is one of America's most respected Western artists; his work typically signifies consistent technical skill, rare sensitivity and insight.

Born in Oak Park, Illinois and educated at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the American Academy of Art, upon completion of his education, Terpning ventured his way to New York where he gained employment as a commercial illustrator.

Movie assignments included, The Guns Of Navarone, Dr. Zhivago, A Man For All Seasons, The Sound Of Music and Cleopatra.  He did cover illustrations for Time, Newsweek and The Reader's Digest, as well as numerous others.

At the height of his vocation Terpning decided to leave New York and head West, to Tucson, Arizona.  Within three years after this move, he was elected to the National Academy of Western Art and that same year,by unanimous vote, to the Cowboy Artists of America. Since that time, Terpning has served as President and member on the Board of Directors of the Cowboy Artists of America. 

Biography from Altermann Galleries & Auctioneers VI:
The color and mystery of native American cultures comprise a rich vein running through each era of western art.  George Catlin and Karl Bodmer were the first important painters to go among the western tribes;  Frederic Remington and Charles Russell created their greatest works by using Indian themes.  In the present generation, Howard Terpning enhances this distinguished art tradition.

Terpning was born in Illinois in 1927.  He studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art and the American Academy of Art.  During two dozen years as a successful illustrator, his work appeared in Field & Stream, Ladies Home Journal, and Reader’s Digest.  He also worked for major national advertising campaigns and for motion picture studios.

A commission from Winchester Firearms rekindled in Terpning a childhood interest in the early West.  He began to do extensive research, particularly on Indians, and to paint for his own satisfaction and for gallery exhibition.  In 1975, he gave up the security of commercial work and began to devote full time to his Indian paintings.  His accomplished technique and an exceptional capacity for original ideas quickly assured his reputation.

In 1977, he moved to Tucson and recognition soon followed, first at the National Academy of Western Art, and then at the annual exhibition of The Cowboy Artists of America, the two primary showcases of contemporary western art.

The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier, Dr. Rick Stewart, Hawthorne Publishing Company, 1986

Biography from Conservation Design Inc:
Quite simply, Howard Terpning is one of the most lauded painters of Western art. His awards are so numerous and he is honored with them so often, that to list them would require changing the count every few months. To name three would be to cite the highest prizes awarded to Western art: countless awards from the Cowboy Artists of America, the Hubbard Art Award for Excellence, the National Academy of Western Art’s Prix de West and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gene Autry Museum.

Why such praise? Passion, compassion, devotion and respect for his subject matter, extraordinary talent in palette and brushstroke, an exceptional ability to evoke emotion both in his paintings and from those viewing them — all this and more has made Terpning the "Storyteller of the Native American."

Born in Illinois and educated at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the American Academy of Art, he first gained attention from some powerful Time and Newsweek covers. Film fans praised his movie posters for such classics as The Sound of Music, Dr. Zhivago and the re-issue of Gone with the Wind.

But his love of the West and Native American traditions saw his transition to fine art. Terpning is a long-time member of the Cowboy Artists of America, which has presented him with Gold and Silver awards, "Best of Show" awards, and "Best Overall Show by a Single Artist" awards more than two dozen times.

His book, The Art of Howard Terpning, won the Wrangler "Outstanding Art Book" award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Howard Terpning is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
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