December issue of Sunshine Artist Magazine.



December issue of Sunshine Artist Magazine.
America’s Premier Art and Craft Show Magazine
Best show
2013 in
Like a
We Three Kings, Randal Spangler
Randal Spangler
By Nate Shelton
SA Editor
Waiting for Santa
Home Is Where the Magic Is
24 December 2013
hroughout their careers,
most professional artists
and craftspeople produce
original works that number in
the hundreds, thousands or
even tens of thousands. But how
many can truthfully lay claim to
creating an entire world?
Missouri artist Randal
Spangler certainly can — and a couple of young, firebreathing dragons, aka Draglings, are ready to back him
up should any questions arise on that front.
Named Dagmar and Dewey, the Draglings were
the first denizens to emerge from Spangler’s expansive
fantasy franchise, which he dubbed The Land of Ohm.
The duo made their presence felt as early as 1977 and
gained their names just a few years later.
“They sort of developed their own personality and
have taken over,” Spangler explained, “and I’ve created
this whole world around them with other characters.”
Speaking of which, another individual who factors
Treasure Quest
heavily in Spangler’s fictional universe is described
by the artist as “…kind of a professor. A wizardly-type
magical person [who’s] a little bit like Santa.” The
sage’s name just happens to be Ladnar — which is, of
course, Randal spelled backward.
Not that Ladnar is Spangler’s only presence in
Ohm. “I put myself into all of my characters, actually,”
he admitted. “They do things I like to do. They like
things I like.”
His creations are also informed by his experiences,
particularly a storybook upbringing on his parents’
farm in Kirksville, Missouri. Complete with big family
gatherings, a well-stoked fireplace and a beloved
grandfather who told stories while smoking a pipe,
that aspect of Spangler’s past has long held an
undeniable impact on his life’s work.
“It was just really an ideal childhood; …that warm,
fuzzy, happy feeling that you get at Christmastime,”
Spangler recalled. “That’s what I try to put in the artwork
— that great feeling.” (The Christmas holiday also
factors into many of his pieces, as seen in this issue.)
With that history in mind, one could argue
that Ohm’s origins stretch back far beyond the first
Dragling sketch, to when a much younger Spangler
Fireside Fairytales
Cooking by Candlelight
26 December 2013
chose his future profession. As he said, “I knew
in second grade that I wanted to be an artist.”
First, though, he served in the U.S. Navy,
where he worked as a dental assistant. He then
continued with that profession as a civilian for
about six months, at which point he “…decided
that wasn’t for me.” Instead, he enrolled in the
Kansas City Art Institute.
Said Spangler: “From there, I kind of
stumbled into the art show business. It was
better than unemployment at the time. It
worked out real well.”
Even “real well” might be a bit of an
understatement. In addition to exhibiting at
more than a thousand art fairs and Renaissance
festivals to date, Spangler has earned more
than a hundred awards, and his work has been
featured on a wide range of licensed products.
His creations have also been spotlighted at
numerous museums, art galleries, libraries
and schools, and annual sales of his prints are
robust, to say the least.
So, how does this wizard go about his craft?
As is the case with many artists, it’s all about
taking things one step at a time. “I draw things
out roughly,” said Spangler, further specifying
that he doesn’t like to refine his initial drawings
too much.
“Sometimes you draw it out in the
sketchbook, and you really get detailed and
involved, and it’s really wonderful. And then
Bedtime Stories
Curl Up
Literate Dragon
you try to put it over here on the other paper … and
it just kind of loses a little bit of that [energy].”
When he’s ready to expand on a sketch in earnest,
he breaks out some tan-colored museum board and
recreates the image. From there, he adds a watercolor
base, followed by considerable use of colored pencil
on top.
“Occasionally, I go back over it with a little more
watercolor to create more intense colors or even out
areas of color,” he said. “And because I work on tancolored paper, my final step is to go in with my whitecolored pencils or some opaque whitewash to add
my highlights.”
Upon finishing, he’s left with another masterpiece
that’s sure to please his legion of admirers. And in
his experience, there’s no better venue for selling
his creations — and meeting those fans — than art
shows, which he’s been attending for 35 years.
In fact, Spangler has done this for so long that
he remembers when exhibitors had to put together
homemade displays because no commercial options
existed. “You kind of had to build your own out of
chicken wire and 1x2s,” he said, “but it was a very
inexpensive way to get started in the business.”
Indeed, Spangler’s first-ever show only charged
him about $25 in space fees, and he was “thrilled”
with the approximate $150 he made from sales and
an award. “That got me started.”
Today, he routinely exhibits at some of the
nation’s top events, with St. James Court Art Show;
Chantilly, Virginia’s Craftsmen’s Classic Art & Craft
Festival; Villa Park, Illinois’ Autumn Festival, An Arts
& Crafts Affair; and many others on his upcoming
schedule at the time of this interview. Yet his personal
favorites are Ohio’s Boston Mills Artfest, which he’s
done for 34 years, and St. Louis’ Art Fair at Queeny
Park. “It’s an indoor show,” he quipped about the
latter, “and the older I get, the more I love indoor
He also loves his patrons and always looks
forward to interacting with them. “The main thing I
get at shows, every day, over and over and over, is
people walk in and go, ‘It makes me happy. It makes
me smile,’” he said. “And that’s a really wonderful
thing, that people are getting that out of the artwork.”
When asked about his future plans, Spangler
says he’ll largely continue as he has since the ‘70s:
creating new art, telling new stories and earning
more accolades and followers with each new piece.
“I’m always working toward various projects,” he said,
before rather tantalizingly adding, “I’d like to move my
work into books and various things, but nothing to
announce [at this time].”
In other words, it’s safe to assume that The Land
of Ohm’s residents and fans have little to worry
about with Spangler and his 2-D alter ego Ladnar
at the helm. And so long as the artist has his fellow
exhibitors and patrons, he’ll be happy.
“One of the greatest things about all this is not
only the … family of artists that you get to know and
have known for 30 years, but it’s also the customers
that come and buy from you for 20 and 30 years,” he
said. “It’s just really wonderful, all the people you get
to know.”
More of Randal Spangler’s work can be found on his
website, ❂