John Clymer
1907 - 1989

 

John Clymer said that he always tried to take the viewer of his art "to an actual place and make him feel that he was really there."

Renowned for documenting the American frontier, western history and wildlife, John Ford Clymer was born in Ellensburg, Washington. Starting at the age of 13, he took a serious interest in art and enlisted in correspondence art courses. Although unsolicited, by the time he was 16 he had sold his first two illustrations to Colt Firearms Company in Hartford, Connecticut. Clymer had no formal artistic training and was amazed that an art director would purchase his illustrations. His work was clearly above average and more than suitable for publication. Ingenuity and raw talent were driving the young man into illustration as a profession. The Colt illustrations were used for advertisements, published and republished over again, to his utter delight, and this national success inspired him further to become an illustrator.

After graduating from high school, Clymer moved to Canada and worked as an illustrator for billboards and as a sign painter in Vancouver, where he took art classes in night school until he was 23. He subsequently studied at the Vancouver School of Fine Art and then later at the Ontario College of Art. As he matured, Clymer traveled throughout the Northwest and Canada to immerse himself in the environments which he loved to paint best - wildlife, mountain men, trappers, Indians and the flora inhabiting the region - it become his region.

In 1927, Clymer worked on a steamboat on the Yukon River and visited gold mines, river trading posts and logging camps. He created a visual encyclopedia of memories of changing times and scenery as the natural landscape began to evolve with encroaching civilization and man-made environments. In 1930, John Clymer attended the Wilmington Academy in Delaware, where he was strongly influenced by NC Wyeth and Wyeth's students: Gayle Hoskins, Stanley Arthurs, and Douglas Duer.

In 1932, John Clymer married and a few years later moved to Westport, Connecticut to join a growing artist colony. He studied with Harvey Dunn in Westport and later at the Grand Central School of Art in NYC. The illustrator Walt Louderback was his hero, although he was also impressed with Dean Cornwell and NC Wyeth. Clymer's illustrations were published in the Saturday Evening Post, True, Field and Stream, and American Cyanamid Company's calendars for 28 years, as well as an advertising series for the New England Life Insurance Company, amongst other commissions.

During World War II, he and his Westport friend, illustrator Tom Lovell, joined the Marines together. They were stationed in Washington D.C and spent the war painting illustrations for the Marine Corps Gazette and Leatherneck magazine. When he was discharged in 1945, Clymer rejoined the Post magazine and started painting covers once again, perhaps as many as ninety.

Clymer and his wife Doris moved in 1966 to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to further his penchant for painting local people, indigenous animals and flora, and to once again try to create a visual record of the fast changing times.