Self-taught, Navajo Artist Specializing in Western, Southwestern and American Indian Fine Art
Randy was born in a hogan near Steamboat, Arizona by the Balakai Mesa on the Navajo Reservation in 1951, to the Black Streaked Wood People Clan for the Red Bottoms People Clan. His father left his mother just before his birth and when he was two weeks old, his mother abandoned him. His grandmother came to visit and found him alone, crying, wet and hungry; she took him home. Randy was raised on his maternal grandparents' sheep ranch, in the home of his birth. He was working like a man by the young age of seven, out on the land with the horses and tending sheep. He also hauled wood and water with horse and wagon since there was no electricity or running water. This complete familiarity, love, and respect of Mother Earth and the American Indian people shows in each piece Randy creates.
Randy's grandfather was a strict parent. He was a leader in the community and respected by the local people. He wanted Randy to become an attorney so he could help the Navajo people in their dealings with the white man, but Randy wanted to be an artist. In the evenings, after all had worked a long day, Randy's uncle would lie on the floor and sleep while Randy, using a ball-point pen, drew pictures on his stomach, chest and back. At the age of seven, Randy was sent to a local boarding school, where he was required to learn English the hard and fast way. Art class was his favorite; his teachers often found him drawing horses in all of his classes, and then he was in trouble once again.
At the age of 14, Randy was sent to an Indian boarding high school in Brigham City, Utah. He returned home every summer and worked on the family ranch. Randy could see and draw everything three-dimensional from a very young age. His art teacher in school let Randy sit in the back of class to paint or draw special projects, while she taught everyone else the basics of art. As a freshman in high school, Randy was honored with the award of Outstanding Art Student of the Year. He was the first freshman at the school to receive this honor. He was one of five students selected from his school to go to Washington D.C. to paint various art projects in the Bureau of Indian Affairs' building. While at high school, he found a book of Charles Russell's art and fell in love with his art. Randy knew then that he wanted to be a realistic western artist, like his newfound ideal. Later, he discovered the works of Bill Owen on the cover of Western Horseman magazine and was so amazed by his beautiful colors and technique that he set a goal of becoming as great of an artist as Bill, whom he believes is the best of the cowboy western artists. Randy's high school teachers believed he had a great future and wanted him to continue his art education in college. Instead, he and his high-school girlfriend started a family and were married before he had the opportunity to further his education.
Being unable to support his family as an artist, at the age of 21 Randy accepted a job in Mississippi as a welder apprentice. Welding became his vocation and financial support for his family. As a construction welder he traveled to where the work was and studied the land in his ever-current location all over the western U.S. Randy often had to take jobs away from home, which caused stress on his family. Due to a very troubled marriage, not having the support at home, and feeling as though he was not accomplishing his dream in life, Randy took a wrong turn to alcohol. Except for his grandmother, his childhood family environment was surrounded by those abusing alcohol. He drank consistently for 9 years, the last 4 of which became a living hell. He finally hit bottom and spent several months homeless on the streets in a border town in New Mexico and in Phoenix, Arizona. He turned to God for help and was given a second chance at life. He and his wife divorced; he completely gave up alcohol. Randy's belief in the Lord, the AA and many people along the way has helped him to find the courage and strength to stay sober for over 20 years and he has been able to work toward his goal of being a great western artist.
Randy and his second wife, Coleen, have a home just outside of Tucson in Marana, Arizona. After 30 years Randy has finally been able to leave his welding job and paint full-time, pushing himself to fulfill his dreams, with the help and support of Coleen. He paints the memories and feelings of his life, from his heart and mind. Every year Randy goes to the Balakai Mesa, where it will always be home, to paint for several weeks and catch up with family and friends. His grandparents have passed on; Randy misses his grandmother who was the only mother figure in his life. The peace that he has now found in his life shines through in all of his beautiful works of art.
Randy's outstanding pencil sketches and sculptures come naturally for him. He finds oil painting more of a challenge and enjoys working with the colors. He still loves to paint horses but also enjoys painting a variety of subjects. He always wanted a daughter of his own, but never had one, so he paints the precious, Navajo girls. It is very important to him to make the American Indians look like real Indians instead of the features of white or Hispanic people dressed in native clothing. The colors, the land and people, all seem to be alive with each new painting.
Improvement through the years can be seen in this self-taught artist. Since Randy never had the privilege of being trained at art school, he had to practice and study on his own. Randy loves color and art literally pours from his heart and mind. He is a kind and caring man who paints only peaceful and happy scenes. All of his paintings look so real and lifelike that you feel you are actually there. Randy hopes to reach his goal and be recognized among the great western artists.