By Todd Wilkinson
Howard Terpning, the American Realist, describes his own identity as: “First, last and always, I am a storyteller.”
At this moment, he is engulfed on four sides by wall-to-wall pictures that speak no words. Most are Terpening's own originals that one day may inhabit museums alongside the works of some of his heroes: Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Howard Pyle (1853-1911), and N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945). He, after all, knew their descendents and protegees.
For now, though, and with a perplexing glance in his soft eyes as the issue of his pop celebrity is mentioned, Terpning, a graceful octogenarian, leans closer across the sofa, looks as if he’s about to make a wise crack and shares the explanation again.
"I tell stories with paint."
Modestly, it spills into the dry air of his Arizona hacienda and dissipates in front of paintings measuring 8 feet across, their narratives spanning centuries of time. “People ask me what kind of painter I am and how I’d like to be remembered,” he says. “It seems to be a rather odd thing to inquire about since I’m still here. The simplest answer I can give, though it may not be the one they’re after, is that I like to tell stories.”
This breathtaking understatement, insufficient to appease those who ridicule Realism, comes from a man who is clustered among the greatest living narrative painters in the United States. In 2011, Terpning's large oil, Among The...
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Post Date:February 9th, 2011
'A story by Todd Wilkinson about the legendary American painter Howard Terpning.