Born in Oak Park, Illinois, and educated at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art and the American Academy of Art, Terpning went the apprentice route to work his way to New York and big-time commercial illustration. Movie assignments included The Guns of Navarone, Dr. Zhivago, A Man for All Seasons, The Sound of Music and Cleopatra. He did covers for Time, Newsweek, The Reader's Digest and other magazines. But those who knew his work best told him it deserved to be in museums, not magazines.
So he headed west, for Tucson, and like those a century before him, he blazed a new trail to success. Just three years after that move, in 1979, he was elected to the National Academy of Western Art, and the same year, by unanimous vote, to the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America.
In 1980, Howard was awarded the National Academy's Gold Medal for his outstanding exhibition in oil, and the same year at the Cowboy Artists of America's 15th Annual Exhibition, he took four major prizes: The Men's Arts Council award; The Colt Award, and two Silver Awards, one for oil and one for drawing.
Terpning sums it up best: "It never occurred to me to make a living doing fine art paintings... I started as an illustrator and it took a lot of time to realize that I really could earn a living painting the kind of pictures I want to paint most."
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