Emerging Artists | Kim Randleas

Faces of the West

Kim Randleas, Sustain for Me This Song, oil, 16 x 20.

Kim Randleas, Sustain for Me This Song, oil, 16 x 20.

This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

As a child, Kim Randleas never grew bored of poring over her family’s art books filled with paintings by western masters like Frederic Remington, Joseph Henry Sharp, and Grace Hudson. And if she wasn’t rummaging for charcoal pieces to draw with, she was often walking herself through watercolor-painting tutorials designed for grown-ups. Couple all this with the stories she grew up hearing about her ancestors, who were Oregon homesteaders, and it seems only natural that the creative child would grow up to become the western artist she is today. Yet, admits Randleas, “I never thought I wanted to paint western works. It just evolved. But looking back, I can see why it did. This is what’s here. This is my family’s heritage.”

Nevertheless, Randleas’ path to fine art wasn’t a direct or even self-evident one. She spent many years pursuing entrepreneurial ventures with her husband, including running a restaurant in their eastern Oregon community. When the couple sold the business several years ago, Randleas found herself suddenly yearning for a creative outlet. Her answer arrived rather providentially, recalls the artist. “One day my dad was working in his barn, and he found an old easel. He said to me, ‘I was thinking you might want to start painting again.’ That was the spark I needed—it was almost meant to be.” 

Randleas didn’t have to look far for compelling subject matter to paint. As she embarked on self-instruction in the realist style, she began photographing the ranchers and Native Americans in her hometown. “These are real people who work at hotels, they’re caregivers, they’re students,” she says. “My closest female friend married a native man, and all of their children have modeled for me. I’ve always been impressed by the way they’ve integrated their cultures and have taught their kids what it means to be a Native American living in modern times. They go to powwow dances, but they also play basketball. Painting them is a way of honoring them.”

Sunshine is a recurring element throughout Randleas’ figurative works, and the artist makes sure to fit plein-air practice into her schedule. “I keep 6-by-8-inch panels in my paint box, and I’ll just go out and be free with it,” she says. “When I paint, there’s nothing like it. Time just stands still.” —Kim Agricola

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www.kimrandleas.com

This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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