Randal Martin of Gatlinburg, Tennesee began to discover his talents early. "My parents tell me I have been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. With the reams of old papers, art pads and illustrations they still keep, I guess it must be true," he says. "In the two dimensional realm, I enjoy all mediums: graphite, watercolor, oil, and acrylic. As an outdoor enthusiast and nature lover, I enjoy wildlife art, landscapes, and capturing both the pride and sorrow of the Native American Indian."
His first foray into three-dimensional work was carving Meerschaum pipes. He later began working with clay, creating a series of Native American bronze busts. But after carving his first bird from wood, he knew he had found his real passion. "I typically have four or five carvings going at once, and as they come to life, I can't wait to begin another," says Martin. "There has been more demand for wildfowl woodcarvings than any other form of my art. While I enjoy the reactions of those who purchase my work, I would keep on carving, whether I had buyers or not."
Martin has received many awards and commissions. The first songbird he ever carved won Best of Show and First Place at the Tennessee Valley Fair in Knoxville in 2001 and he won the Silver Brush Award at the Tullahoma Fine Arts Festival in 2002. In fact, he has received ribbons and awards for every carving he has ever entered in a competition in the years since he focused on wood as his primary artistic medium. Martin feels that his greatest honor was being selected to carve a bluebird ornament for the nation's White House Christmas tree for an 'All Creatures Great and Small' seasonal theme. He and his wife were invited to attend the unveiling at the White House.
Other notable achievements include an album cover painting for The Charlie Daniels Band "Road Dogs" album, and the cover illustration for a Merle Haggard Christmas album. He was commissioned to carve a red-tailed hawk for country music artist/TV actor Billy Ray Cyrus, and to create an original illustration of country music great Earl Scruggs' likeness on "The Earl" banjos for Gibson Bluegrass Guitars, one of which was on display for months at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville, TN.
Locally, Martin was chosen as a carving associate for The Cliff Dwellers Art Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN in 2005. In 2006 he was commissioned by the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville, TN, to carve an Ivory Billed Woodpecker as the focal point for a new interactive Visitor Center habitat.
Martin's talent has even been recognized internationally with commissions from around the globe. An intricate hummingbird carving was purchased in 2006 and presented to the vice-president of Nippon Telephone and Telegraph Company (NTT), the single largest corporation in Japan.
His work can be seen at his website, www.wood-feathers.com and purchased at Cliff Dwellers Gallery, 668 Glades Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, www.cliffdwellersgallery.com, 865-436-6921.