Gallery Artists > Howard Terpning Biography :

Howard Terpning (b. 1927)  Artworks >>

Organizations* : CAA, NAWA, OPA

Howard Terpning was born in Oak Park, Illinois. 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. Terpning’s art has won every major award in his field and he shows no sign of slowing down.

He studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art as well as 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.

During twenty-four years as a successful illustrator, his work appeared in Field & Stream, Ladies Home Journal, Time, Newsweek and Reader’s Digest. He also worked for major national advertising campaigns and for motion picture studios, (assignments included “The Guns of Navarone,” “Dr. Zhivago,” “A Man For All Seasons,” “The Sound of Music” and “Cleopatra,”) but it was a commission from Winchester Firearms that 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 himself to his Indian paintings. His accomplished technique and 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. Since that time, Terpning has served as a President and member on the Board of Directors of the Cowboy Artists of America Museum.

His paintings focus on the Native American people of the Great Plains during the nineteenth century, and have earned numerous prestigious awards including over twenty gold and silver medals from the Cowboy Artists of America. He lives with his family in Tucson, Arizona, and works in a large studio attached to his home, usually keeping a painting schedule of working all day, six days a week. His daughter, Susan Terpning, also has become a successful artist.

Reference: The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier, edited by Dr. Rick Stewart,

  • CAA = Cowboy Artists of America
  • NAWA = National Academy of Western Artists
  • OPA = Oil Painters of America
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