Born in 1912 in Gallup, New Mexico, Ben Turner was one of few native New Mexico artists to become a prominent commercial success in the first half of the twentieth century. He also was a direct descendent of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), the famous English marine painter. From a young age, Turner showed a great deal of interest in art. He enrolled at the University of Chicago and after graduation continued his studies at the Chicago Art Institute. He created a daily comic strip named "Jerry n Jake" that ran in over 48 newspapers around the Southwest. After his formal studies, Turner headed to Taos, New Mexico, where he met and studied with E.I. Couse, Ernest Blumenschein, Victor Higgins and Joseph Henry Sharp.
During World War II, Turner was a staff artist and established the 15th Air Force Staff Artists. He painted drawings on site of the battlefields in Bari, Italy and the Ploeti Fields of Romania. Their drawings were published in several magazines including Look and Life. He established studios in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico, and in Mazatlan, Mexico. Throughout most of his life he practiced a style of reacting spontaneously to his subject without preliminary drawing. Heavy brushstrokes and thick paint gave life the popularity of his adobe buildings, aspens, cottonwoods, and mountain scenes as well as floral still life arrangements.
Turner's work is in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Fine Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.