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Art exhibit will honor Father Edward Randall




Letcher County lost one of its most loved citizens last year when Father Edward Randall retired and returned to his native Massachusetts.

Father Randall came to Jenkins in 1979 to serve as priest of St. George Catholic Church in Jenkins and the church in McRoberts. In addition to his regular duties he stayed busy painting murals and sculpting religious figures for the church and grounds.

Soon after arriving he let it be known that he was interested in giving free art lessons to beginners. Soon his classes were full and there was a waiting list for new students to sign up. For nearly 25 years he started new classes each year and kept the advanced students coming back year after year so that they would be able to grow artistically. During this era there were dozens and perhaps hundreds who came to his classes from Letcher and surrounding counties and typically began by saying, “I can’t even draw a stick man”.

From the first lesson Father Randall let his students know the importance of basic drawing techniques as a precursor to actually putting paint on a canvas. Some of the terminology such as light source, perspective, proportion, horizon line and vanishing point seemed foreign at first, but soon began to make sense. Within a few weeks his students were drawing mountain, streams, lakes, trees, cabins and barns.

After a few months of basics it was time to get serious and purchase a canvas, brushes and tubes of the basic oil paints. The students learned that they could actually blend the basic colors and create dozens of new colors and hundreds of hues. New students beamed with pride the first time they mixed blue and yellow to make green.

Father Randall with his quiet, easygoing demeanor helped his students select their first picture and guided them through the whole process. Typically the students did not think their first painting was very good but with encouragement from their mentor and fellow students they were eager to finish one painting and begin another. They began to look at the whole world artistically as they searched for that special picture, object, or scene to try to capture on canvas. Many students began classes as a personal challenge or to fill a void and for many the art form became a passion as their newly acquired skills gave their life a new dimension.

Former students of Father Randall are invited to exhibit their artwork at the Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library from April 13 through April 24. Each student can bring as many as six of their paintings. The event is not a contest and all participants should be comfortable exhibiting with their peers.

Friday, April 24, will be Meet the Artist Day, so that all of the old friends can get together for a reunion and refreshments. The public can view the exhibit daily during normal library hours. Anyone who would like to sell any of their artwork is free to do so. The event will be captured with photographs and personal letter from the students to be put together in an album or portfolio and sent to Father Randall as a memento of their love and appreciation.

For additional information, call Ked Sanders at 832-4122, Bessie Shepherd at 633-9123, or Doris Adams at 632-3777.


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