John P. Cowan was born in Bristol, Tennessee, in 1920. A graduate of Pratt Institute in New York, Cowan worked a number of years with advertising agencies in Houston and Dallas as a freelance illustrator, designer, and art director. In 1961, he left the field of illustration and advertising to devote himself full time to sporting art. His paintings have appeared as cover art and illustrations in such magazines as Fortune, Life, Look, Esquire, Sports Afield, Outdoor Life, and other national publications. He has been awarded two silver medals by the Houston Artists Guild, was named Texas State Artist by the Texas Legislature in 1978-1979, and was chosen Artist of the Year by Ducks Unlimited in 1977.
Cowan’s especially crisp and sparkling watercolors make a point of engaging man and wilderness. His artwork exemplifies his love for both hunting and fishing. He has been known to say: "If I had just one day to live, I think I’d spend it fishing."