John Clymer, renowned for his historic and artistic contribution in documenting the American Frontier, was born in Ellensburg Washington in 1907. Clymer was fascinated by art at an early age, and began taking art correspondence courses in art during high school. At the age of sixteen, he sold two drawings to the Colt Firearms Company and made his debut as a professional artist. After high school, Clymer moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where he worked as an illustrator by day and took night classes at the Vancouver School of Art. During his year in Canada, Clymer became a top illustrator for several leading Canadian magazines.
In 1932, Clymer married his high school sweetheart Doris, who would conduct the crucial historical research for his later paintings. The Clymers moved to Westport, Connecticut, a thriving colony for young artists where Clymer learned from American illustration legends like N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945) and Harvey Dunn (1884-1952). Clymer’s illustrations appeared in Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and American Magazine. During his career as an illustrator, he created over 80 covers for the Saturday Evening Post.
Like many successful illustrators, Clymer longed to devote his time to easel painting, and in 1964 committed himself to painting the wildlife and history of the American West. That same year, New York’s Grand Central Art Galleries hosted his successful one-man wildlife art exhibition. In 1970, Clymer moved with Doris to Teton Village, Wyoming where he spent winters in his studio and summers traveling to research and sketch historical sites. He received many honors including the National Academy of Western Art’s 1976 Prix de West Award and the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s Rungius Medal in 1988. In 1991, his hometown established the Clymer Museum which owns 80 of his Saturday Evening Post covers. Upon Clymer’s death, his family generously donated the contents of his studio to the NMWA.