By Bonnie Gangelhoff
Howard Terpning has been recognized with some of western art’s highest honors, among them the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Masters of the American West’s Thomas Moran Memorial Award, both from the Autry National Center, as well as the National Academy of Western Art’s Prix de West. As a member of the Cowboy Artists of America for 22 years (now emeritus), he received 43 awards, including four for best of show. Yet the most telling of accolades for his depictions of 19th-century Plains Indians come from modern-day members of these tribes, who praise the artist for the accuracy, compassion, and insightful nature of his work.
Born: Oak Park, IL, 1927.
Resides: Tucson, AZ.
Proudest accomplishment: Raising and caring for my family. I know I have their love and respect, and you can’t ask for any more than that.
What would you have done differently in your life? I can’t think of anything. I was an illustrator for 25 years, and that’s what I wanted to do and I enjoyed it. And then I reached a point where I wanted to do fine art. So I did.
|FORCE OF NATURE HUMBLES ALL MEN, OIL, 56 X 75.|
Advice to young artists: Learn the craft and don’t worry about making a lot of money. If you do good work and work very, very hard, success will follow.
Motto you have lived by over the years: If you’re given certain skills, you owe it to yourself to cultivate those skills and make the most of it.
Biggest misconception about an artist’s life: That an artist only works when he or she is in the mood. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
How has your work changed since starting out? I don’t think my style has changed much; perhaps I dig deeper, if that’s possible. There are a million stories out there and I have so many ideas, I’d need two lifetimes to paint them all.
How has the art market changed? In the last few years it’s changed with the proliferation of auctions. I think the galleries have a harder time getting really good work now because there are so many auctions and shows.
Other interests: My family and my work.
Recent news: The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation recently gave me the General Oliver P. Smith Award for service as a combat artist in Vietnam. I’m very proud of that.
He is represented by Settlers West Galleries, Tucson, AZ; Greenwich Workshop, Seymour, CT.
Featured in “Legends of Fine Art” in December 2008