After graduating from Notre Dame with an accounting degree, John C. Gawne traveled to the West for the first time. It was on this trip when he discovered the spirit of the American West that has drawn him there ever since. Gawne spent seventeen years in the business world before he was persuaded by his wife to quit his job and turn to oil painting full-time in 1992. Gawne now travels west three to four times a year to nurture the creativity that originally compelled him to paint. As a child, Gawne was encouraged to develop his artistic talents by his art teacher and family.
However, art classes were not offered in high school and his college career was focused on an accounting degree. Late, when he decided to paint for a living, he began by attending many workshops. These included the Cowboy Artists of America workshops, classes at the American Academy of Art, and also at the Palette and Chisel Academy. He is known for his realistic portrayal of Native Americans.