John’s work is as diverse as the land where he grew up. As an authentic cowboy artist, his ideas come from those western Wyoming landscapes and they often express the cowboy’s place in his everyday life. His life as a cowboy and years as a big game hunting guide provide the inspiration for his work. He paints, sculpts and carves the fleeting spirit of the West.
John is a third generation native of Wyoming. He was raised and still lives on the family cattle ranch on the East Fork of the Wind River, which his grandfather established over 100 years ago. In 2007 the Finley/Duncan family received the Wyoming Centennial Farm and Ranch Award from the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office. This program honors families that have owned and operated the same farm or ranch for 100 years or more.
His formal art education began early in a one-room school on the ranch where he experienced his first two years of school before being bussed into Dubois. Further art education came from Mary Back, a well-known local art instructor, and the Dubois School System. John enrolled at Central Wyoming College after being discharged from the U.S. Army in 1969 and attended classes in art history, drawing and painting. He has furthered his education with workshops and has found much inspiration through the Susan K. Black Foundation art workshops, which he has participated in for the last sixteen years. The Susan K. Black Foundation has provided instruction and inspiration from world-renowned artists such as Robert Bateman, Greg Beecham, Joseph Bohler, Nancy Foreman, Carl Purcell, Stephen Quiller, David Rankin, John Ruthven, Laurin McCracken, Larry Wollam, John and Suzie Seery-Lester, and others. John was the featured scrimshander at the Wyoming Centennial Celebration in Cheyenne in 1990. He also demonstrated scrimshaw for the Frontier Festival at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming for 13 years.
John began exhibiting his art professionally in 1979 and has won many ribbons. His most recent awards were a third place watercolor in the Susan K. Black 2018 Artists Rendezvous and the Best of Show – Original Art Image at the 2018 Wyoming Cares Rocky Mountain Art Show and Auction. He won the Special Portrait Award at the WRVAG Annual Art Show in 2015 and a 1st Place in Professional Watercolor at the WRVAG National Miniature Show in 2015. Awards received in 2014 include a 2nd Place in the Wyoming Artists’ Association Annual Show and an Honorable Mention in the same show. 2013 awards include a 2nd Place in Professional Watercolor at the WRVAG National Miniature Show and the Grand Award Runner-Up at the Wyoming Cares Rocky Mountain Art Show and Auction. Awards received in 2012 include a 2nd Place in Acrylics at the Susan K. Black Foundation art workshop show and a 2nd Place in Professional Watercolor at the WRVAG National Show. 2011 awards include a 1st Place in Professional Watercolor at the WRVAG National Miniature Show and John’s bronze sculpture, “Back From the Past”, won a 3rd Place in Other Media at the Susan K. Black Foundation art workshop show. Awards received in 2009 include the coveted Wildlife Art Award at the WRVAG National Show, 2nd Place Acrylic WRVAG National Show, 2nd Place Acrylic Susan K. Black art workshop show and a Popular Award WRVAG National Miniature Show. He is most pleased, however, with his numerous People’s Choice and Popular Awards. His works are in many private collections from coast to coast as well as in Europe, Australia and Japan.
Much of John’s current work is available from the artist, and a sample of his work can also be seen in the WRVAG Gallery in Dubois, Wyoming.