Self Portrait (Ed Terpening), Oil Pastel, Ink and Fluid Acrylic
Self Portrait (Ed Terpening), Oil Pastel, Ink and Fluid Acrylic

Why art?

This is my “encore career”.  After working 35 years in technology, the tragedy of 911 and a significant health scare, I began thinking of my legacy.  Would it be developing a high tech product, or new marketing campaign?  Probably not.  Both of those careers create ephemeral results. I wanted more.  I also saw the world change, from the optimism and exciting changes in the 60’s, to the greed and paranoia of the post 911 world.  People need escapes. One of the highest complements collectors give is “I feel like I’ve been to that place, I’m taken there”.  That’s my motivation.

How I got here

The creation of art is considered “mysterious”, at least in American culture. I was struck on a trip to Chile in the ’90’s, how expressive the Latin American culture was. Walking through a park, there were children drawing with colored chalk on the sidewalk, young adults sketching, and musicians playing and singing. It seemed to me this culture was not intimidated by art. I think many people are, and that’s a shame.  There should be no mystery. Everyone has something to say, and a way to say it.  I guess this intimidation comes from the judgements others make when they see art.  No one can judge your art, but you.  It’s your trace of life.  It’s also hard work and study, not “talent”.  I’m not a fan of that word.  I guess it’s true that some people may have more of a natural tendency than others to draw, or demonstrate other skills, but it should never be an excuse not to express.  I also dislike “talent” because I think it discounts the hard work that goes into building artistic skill.

My viewpoint

"Snow Creek" (Truckee River), Oil on Canvas, 12x9k

In physics, it’s said, “for every action, there is a reaction”.  My reaction to the beauty I see in life is paint.  What and how I paint is based on an emotional connection to a subject.  I can paint the same scene dozens, hundreds of times with differing results because I’m not a camera.  I don’t paint unless I have something new to say–unless I’m focused on learning, which is actually quite often.  Like a musician who plays scales, I paint studies that have no particular meaning other than a lesson, often to connect with the physicality of paint, surface, and so on.  This also means that I have multiple personalities!  This sometimes confounds collectors, because I have more than one “style”. I’m not consistent, because the confluence of emotional reaction, scale, materials and many other factors come into play.  My art isn’t usually planned, so the result is not predictable. I admire some artists for their firm viewpoint and definitive work, but that’s not me.  One reason I believe some artists paint with a very specific viewpoint is market expectations.  I won’t allow my art to suffer at the hands of market expectations.  I hope collectors buy my art because they have a connection with an individual painting for its merit.

What I choose to paint is often tied to what I need to learn.  At times, my focus may be on finding the beauty in the most simple, mundane topic, and others–usually around the time I need a break from painting–I need a grand scene to spark that reaction.

Regardless of this statement, I hope my art connects with you. I hope I take you there.


Selected Exhibitions, Awards & Press


  • PleinAir Magazine Podcast (interviewed by founded Eric Rhoads, 1/2019 link)
  • “Theme and Variations, Plein Air Style”, May 2014, Outdoor Painter (link)
  • Terpening’s Research Reveals What Works for Artists Online, April 2014, Outdoor Painter (link)
  • Writer, PleinAir Magazine, June/July 2013: “Social Media: Bright Shiny Object or Artist’s Tool?”, by Ed Terpening
  • My Favorite Place to Paint: Ed Terpening, October, 2013, Outdoor Painter (link)
  • Trash into Treasure, November, 2013, Outdoor Painter (link)
  • Contributor, Outdoor Painter 2013: Use Social Media Smartly and Efficiently (link)
  • Speaker, 2nd Annual Plein Air Convention, Monterey (2013)
  • Contributor , American Artist Workshop, Special Issue, Professional Practices (2012 link)
  • Featured artist, 1st Annual Plein Air Convention, Las Vegas (2012)
  • Contributor, “The Complete Painter’s Handbook” (American Artist, 2012) (link)
  • Advisory Board Member, PleinAir Magazine (link)
  • American Artist’s American Landscapes (2011 calender) (link)
  • American Artist Workshop magazine, June, 2010, “Workshops as Shared Experience”, painting at the Fobes’ Timberfield (link)
  • AMERICAN ARTIST, April, 2009, 8-page cover story, “Modern Ways to Sell Traditional Art” (link)
  • “What Secret Oil Color Do You Love Most?”, Artist Daily, Steve Doherty’s Blog, 2009 (link)
  • PALO ALTO WEEKLY, Artist of Note, August, 2005
  • OUT & ABOUT magazine article, August, 2005
  • LOS ALTOS TOWN CRIER, “Terpening’s Expressive Landscapes come to Viewpoints”, August, 2005


  • HONORABLE MENTION, Vahona Plein Air, 2007
  • “MAKING A MARK” (London, UK), Best Plein Air Blog 2006
  • FIRST PLACE, San Luis Obispo Plein Air 2006
  • DIRECTOR’S CHOICE Purchase Prize, Estes Park Plein Air 2006
  • HONORABLE MENTIONS, Hidden Villa Plein Air 2006,; “Face & Figure”, Pacific Art League 2005; “Small Works”, Pacific Art League 2005
  • SOLO POSTCARD SELECTIONS: “California Dream’n” PAL ’05; “Full Spectrum: All About Color” PAL ’05
  • ARTIST OF NOTE, Palo Alto Weekly, 8/05

Selected Exhibitions

  • ArtSavesLives Salon at Cafe Triestte, 2021
  • San Francisco PRIDE exhibition, June 2020
  • Solo Show, Spark Arts, April 2019
  • Castro Seniors Community Portraits, City of San Francisco, 2019
  • Castro Trans Community Portraits, City of San Francisco, 2019
  • Pride–Stonewall 50th Anniversary Exhibition, City of San Francisco, June, 2019
  • Trans Community Portrait Exhibition, City of San Francisco, 2019
  • Harvey Milk Photo Center, January Exhibition, 2019
  • Art Saves Lives Gallery, San Francisco 2018
  • Spark Arts, San Francisco, 2018
  • Harvey Milk Photo Center, 2018
  • Art Saves Lives Gallery, San Francisco 2017
  • Spark Arts, San Francisco, 2017
  • Art Saves Lives Gallery, San Francisco, 2016
  • Awards Judge, Alameda Plein Air (2015)
  • Cafe International Group Show, San Francisco, 2015
  • Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, San Francisco, 2015
  • “Timberfield 10”, Forbes Galleries, NYC, 2011
  • San Luis Obispo Plein Air, 2011
  • Door County Plein Air Festival, 2010
  • “Twighlight on the Terrace” (Heast Castle), 2010
  • Two-man Show with Andy Balantyne, Viewpoints Gallery, 2009
  • North Tahoe Plein Air, 2009
  • San Luis Obispo Plein Air, 2009
  • SOLO SHOW: “TIMELESS”, Robert Lewis Gallery, 2007
  • Telluride Plein Air 2007
  • San Luis Obispo Plein Air (’06, FIRST PLACE-’07)
  • “Jewel by the Bay”, Frank Bette Center, ’07
  • Gold Country Plein Air Invitational, The Vault Gallery (’06-’07)
  • Solo Show, Robert Lewis Gallery (’07)
  • Vahona Plein Air, Eppherson Gallery (HONORABLE MENTION, ’07)
  • San Luis Obispo Plein Air Invitational, 2006 (FIRST PLACE)
  • Estes Park Plein Air Invitational 2006 (DIRECTOR’S CHOICE PURCHASE PRIZE)
  • “My California Views”, National Steinbeck Center/Museum (’06)
  • Autumn Colors Show, Viewpoints Gallery, Los Altos, CA (’06)
  • “Best of Plein Air Exhibition”, Laguna Plein Air Painters of America (’06)
  • Los Gatos Art Association Juried Exhibition, Los Gatos Museum (’06)
  • Peninsula Plein Air Exhibition 2006, Juried Artist
  • SOLO SHOW: “The Expessive Landscape”, Viewpoints Gallery, Los Altos, CA (’05)
  • SOLO SHOW: “The Expressive Landscape”, Viewpoints Gallery, 2005
  • Central Coast National Fine Art Competition (’04, ’05, ’06)
  • Point Reyes Plein Air Festival, Invited Artist (’05)
  • Hidden Villa Plein Air Competition (’05, HONORABLE MENTION)
  • Laguna Plein Air Painters Membership Juried Exhibition (’05)
  • Nash Gallery, “Verde Plein Air” Show (’05)
  • “Touch my heART – That’s Amore!” show at Museum of Los Gatos (’05)
  • Los Gatos Plein Air Art Festival Competition 2004 (juried artist)
  • Laguna Plein Air Painters Association “Artists Members National Juried Exhibit 2004”; “Meet the Muse”, juried figurative show, 2004
  • Viewpoints Gallery “Into Plein Air” (’04), “New Figurative Works” (’04), “Interior Passages (’04), “Rumors of Red (’05); “Carnivale” (’05); “The Color of Water” (’05); “Faces & Places” (’05); “Open Spaces” (”05).
  • Golden Oak Gallery (Saratoga, CA): “Plein Air California: Capturing the Light Within Form”, premier show ofthe Verde Artist Guild;  “Destinations of the Heart” (’04); “Sweet Dreams” (’04); “Our Precious Earth” (’04); “Waters of Life” (’05); “Coming Home” (’05).
  • Eriksen Gallery, “Small Wonders” Group Show, ’04; “Winter Scapes”, Group Show ’05
  • Pacific Art League of Palo Alto: “Splash” ’05, California Dream’n ’05 (painting selected for postcard); Full Spectrum (all about color), painting selected for postcard (’05); “Small Works”, December 2 �January 8, 2004; “Mug Shots” (portraits, 8/03); “All about Paper” (4/03); “Small Works (2005, HONORABLE MENTION); “Face & Figure” (HONORABLE MENTION).
  • California Art Club Angel Island “Paint Out” 2004
  • Silicon Valley Open Studios, ‘03,04’, ’05); Open Studios Jurried “Star” 2004.  Peninsula Open Studios (’03, ’04).
  • I (and my painting) were featured on KOCE TV’s coverage of the annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painters show (7/03)
Plein Air Magazine Article Image

American Artist Cover Story, April 2009

The Complete Painter's Handbook
American Artist Workshop Special Issue Professional Practices 2012 Cover
American Artist Workshop Magazine Summer Edition


The painting adventures of Ed Terpening