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John F Clymer: Artist, Illustrator

Sergeant John Ford Clymer: Combat Artist, American Illustrator and Artist

There are always those among us who ooze artistic talent.  They are the ones who listen to and follow their inner creative voice close enough to actually heed it by simply doing and choosing a path that allows them to do what they love as a career.   Unique to this American artist, more famous for his body of artistic art in nature and the American West, it's refreshing to know that he gave us a prolific body of work that not everyone knows, but perhaps most of us have seen throughout our lifetime without even realizing who the artist was and why he was an important American artist.  This is the case of John Ford Clymer, a contemporary of Norman Rockwell, who garnered more of the glory when it came to being a household name. John Ford Clymer also deserves to be a household name in art as one of the greatest prolific American illustrators and artists of all time.

Staying true to your art takes courage.  For those of you who are not familiar with John Ford Clymer, like Norman Rockwell, he too started out as a cover illustrator/artist with the Saturday Evening Post  from 1942 thru 1962.   If you had lived during those times, you would have seen his work while reading the U.S. Marine Corps magazine, Leatherneck, along with being exposed to his art on many patriotic government posters.  Generations of Americans also grew up seeing his work as an illustrator for such magazines as: The American, Colliers, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Liberty, Redbook, and Women's Day.   Before that  he was also a popular illustrator in Canadian magazines, such as: Mcleans and Western Home.  You'll also find his work on the covers of : Romance, Blue Book, Argosy, and Adventure Illustrated.  In later life, his art was even featured Book, Argosy, and Adventure Illustrated. 

In later life, his art was even featured on limited edition collector plates.  However, John Ford Clymer bravely walked away from that long and successful career as a popular illustrator and claimed his place as a master American artist.

John Ford Clymer's paintings seldom come up for sale, but when they do they are sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

John Ford Clymer's paintings seldom come up for sale, but when they do they are sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

John Clymer wasn't just an illustrator and later Western artist .  Although you can see over fifty of his paintings at The Spirit of America -- Clymer Museum and Gallery in his home town of Ellensburg, Washington, you'll also find them at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, The Zelma Basha Salmeri Gallery of Western American and American Indian Art in Chandler, Arizona, Cody Whitney's Gallery of Western Art, in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Sheridan, Wyoming, and in the homes of private art collectors and other museums around the world.  One of the lessor touted places you'll find his paintings is at the the National Museum of Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia.  It's there that you'll find that besides being one of the greatest American illustrators and artists, more known for his nature and western art -- he was also a combat and military artist extraordinary.  


Documenting lesser known events in history was part of John Ford Clymer's genius.  This painting is of a battle at sea during the War of 1812 depicting when the U.S.S. Wasp captured the H.M.S. Reindeer on June 28, 1814.

Documenting lesser known events in history was part of John Ford Clymer's genius.  This painting is of a battle at sea during the War of 1812 depicting when the U.S.S. Wasp captured the H.M.S. Reindeer on June 28, 1814.

As an artist, one of his greatest desires was to be absolutely historically correct when painting a scene from history.  He wanted his art to contribute to history and deliberately chose to paint lesser known historical events.  The above painting is his depiction of the War of 1812 battle between the U.S.S. Wasp and the H.M.S. Reindeer, which was a huge victory for the American Navy -- who only actually had eighteen ships, compared to Britain's nearly six hundred ship strong navy.

I wanted to do this (document history) because no one else had.
— John F. Clymer

In art, combat art (aka military art, battle field art, marine art, or war art) is one of the oldest types of art.  Long before Medieval times, or the modern invention of cameras, such art was often the sole means available to mankind to record the history of battles, destined to be long forgotten without this ever lasting means of communicating what happened.  Clymer was a nationally significant author meticulously re-invented true history that had been carefully researched, making it real and come alive on canvas.  He is considered an impressionist who re-invented realism true to history as he understood it.  His heroism in the art world also extended to his approach to the promotion of his art -- he wasn't one to self-promote, believing his art should stand alone for how its audience perceived it.  Unpretentious, genuine, and real John Ford Clymer is an American artist to remember.


John Ford Clymer