Perhaps it was his training to be a U.S. Navy corpsman in World War II that eventually led Don Stivers to a career painting military events. After four decades as a professional, his works have appeared on the covers of Reader’s Digest, Field & Stream, and Time Magazine, as well as the covers for James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small series of books. He has done portraits of Federal judges for private collections and the portraits of such men as Charles DeGaulle, John Connally and Admiral Elmo Zumwalt for the covers of Time. Following a natural inclination towards American History as a subject for fine art, Don, in 1978, began a series of paintings on the Westward Expansion of the United States. In 1984, he began painting Civil War subjects. With the help of professional historians and driven by his own desire to know the most intricate visual details of the subjects he portrays, he has created some of the most remarkable military art of this century. More than any other contemporary military artist, Don Stivers’ popularity has grown on both a national and international scale at an unprecedented rate. His prolific production of paintings encoinpassing military themes includes events both historically significant for the nation and momentous for the individuals involved in each: Lee at Gettysburg, for example, during the only council of war he held during that watershed battle; the joyous welcome received by the Union Armies to Washington after Appomattox; the last horsemounted cavalry charge in American military history. Don Stivers sees events in war which, though personal in nature, reflect upon the vast macrocosm of war. However it is the people, not just detail that make his work live. He seems to capture a thought or emotion that makes the observer feel that he has witnessed the event.
Stivers’ originals hang in the collections of .the U.S. Cavalry Museum, Fort Riley, Kansas, Fort Bliss Museum, El Paso Texas, Allied Museum, Berlin Germany, The Quartermaster Museum, Fort Lee, Virginia, the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the Headquarters of the 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. He has received commissions from the U.S. Command and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 11th Armored Cavalry Regiments, the 5th Corps Artillery, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and the 1st Cavalry Division. His prints are on display at the Pentagon and in literally thousands of private collections around the world.
Regardless of the subject he chooses, Don Stivers’ future paintings will reveal the legacies of the United States Military: the officer’s tactical masterstroke, the individual soldier’s act of heroism, the homebound woman’s steadfastness. The themes of war, as portrayed through the art of Don Stivers, are the enduring themes of all humanity.