I was born at Travis Air Force Base, California.
I grew up in a city that teaches you character…fast – Oakland, California.  Oakland proved to be an integral part of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s and 70’s.  I am the youngest of 6 children, a family of warriors, engineers and educators who actively affected the lives of African American citizens during some of the most turbulent times of change in the history of our country.

I’ve generally been interested in two areas of study most of my life.
One has been the visual arts; painting, drawing, graphic design, photography, etc.  Luckily for me, these skills and directions were nurtured through my youth both from my family and teachers.  Several summer scholarships to the California College of Arts and Crafts, also inspired me to do more.

The other interest has to do with movement and strategy; karate, dance, fencing, chess, etc.

Randall_Fighting_StanceLike many artists, I have never been singularly focused.  I draw my inspiration from many disciplines.  At age 14, after only a year at the school, I started teaching Shorin Ryu Karate under master Sid Campbell, then earned my first degree Black Belt at age 16.  I continued my studies for 35 years, ultimately earning my 5th Degree Black Belt.

During my college years, I immersed myself in studies of oil painting, figure drawing, water color, lithography and photography, while majoring in Electronics and Broadcast Engineering.

Also while in college I studied fencing under Maestro Arthur Lane.  As captain of the team, we won 1st place in team competition and I won 1st place in individual competition in California.  I’m still fencing and competing, using experience as a tool and still having fun.

I also studied Jazz dance, Afro Haitian Dance and Ballet.  In my twenties, I won a scholarship to the Oakland Ballet Academy under the Director and Founder of the Oakland Ballet, Ron Guidi.

After I graduated from college I went to work at KGO TV in San Francisco, and KTVU in Oakland as broadcast engineer until my contracts were up.  I then found a job at HP in Palo Alto working as a electronics technician.  After a couple years I moved to HP’s broadcast facilities working as a broadcast engineer.  I was back to my broadcasting roots.  A couple years later, the graphics department bought a ground breaking graphics package called the PaintBox.  They needed someone who had a strong technical background who could also step in as a graphic artist.  It was a perfect fit for me.  I made the switch to the graphics department, eventually heading it up as Art Director.   You can always count on change, and after 20 years at HP, it was time for new ventures.  I decided to become a freelance graphic designer.  I started my new business, Silver Tree Design and have never looked back.

So how do these disciplines affect my artwork?
All of these experiences have given me a broader understanding of the body and the mind, and some of the ways they can work in harmony.

Martial Arts:
Mind is what moves the body, and controls emotions.  Working out under different moods and stresses affect your movement and awareness.

You’re not working against an opponent, you’re working with a partner to blend and meld.  Striving to be graceful, making the difficult look effortless.

There are rules to follow, and work within.  I’m using strategies within strategies, sometimes planning four or five moves in advance, but still staying flexible so I can react quickly if the situation changes.

The technical aspects of working with equipment and systems, computers, planning and working out details, working with the camera, and working with materials used in the arts satisfies my practical side.

Each of the disciplines blend well with photography and the ability to pay attention to detail.   I was taught that drawing is the art of observation; and the art of observation is a strong component of photography.  You have to be aware of your emotions and have a calm mind.  With a calm mind you’re always more aware of the world around you.  If your mind is cloudy or stressed, you’re less able to take in information.

I first picked up a camera at age 16 shooting nature and sports. Through the years, I’ve taken an occasional seminar around the bay area and Yosemite.  I’ve also taken a series of classes in black and white photography and darkroom techniques.  I switched to digital photography when the cameras became affordable.  I’ve been shooting digital ever since.  I like having control of the processing of my photographs instead of sending my film off to the lab to be reinterpreted by their technicians.

The last few years I have been exploring High Dynamic Range photography, in which I take several different exposures of a scene and then combine them.  With this technique I can achieve a more painterly look, as well as capturing a great amount of detail.  I then use various Photoshop adjustments for enhancing contrast, color balance, and so on.

Since joining the Los Gatos/Saratoga camera club, I’ve learned from my fellow photographers’ lessons about composition, color harmonies, directing the eye through a photograph, and many more details than I have room to include here.  It’s been a great learning experience.

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