Sterling Strauser was born in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and became a painter in expressionist/impressionist styles who used heavy impasto technique. He began painting in 1926 in a near impressionist style that later evolved into an assertive Klee-loke modernism. His style softened into what one collector termed "romantic American expressionism." He was also an illustrator for "Mademoiselle" Magazine and "Unicorn-a Magazine of Poetry."
Sterling and his wife, Dorothy, discovered most of the known self-taught artists in Pennsylvania. Sterling himself painted in the evenings and weekends, when not working for the city. Near the end of his life, when he knew death was near, he did a series of self portraits, which are among the strongest works he ever created.