As a young man growing up in Oklahoma and Texas, artist Randy Groden picked turnips, milked cows and rode fences. He even got up the courage to ride a bull, not once, but twice. "I was thrown, but it didn''''t hurt that bad," Groden says with a smile.
A million caricature drawings and an untold number of paintings later, Groden has made his mark in the world of art, even flirting with that highly coveted realm of international fame. After living and working out of his 21-story Turtle Creek penthouse with a view of the Dallas skyline then to a 14-room bordello complete with long staircase and wooden floors, he now occupies the archetypal artist''''s studio.
Walking into his studio is like stepping back to a more romantic time when an artist''''s studio was their sanctuary. Oriental carpets are strategically placed, with comfortable furniture adorned with colorful cloths and pillows. An easel displays a work in progress; he sometimes works on as many as ten different paintings in various stages of completion. There are paint tubes, pastels and paintbrushes every where. A cigar lover, the sweet smell hangs heavily in the air adding to the ambiance of his workplace. A dark wood bookcase that occupies one wall of his deep maroon painted studio is stuffed to overflowing with tomes on art, cigars and other miscellaneous subjects as well as mementos from his life.
The studio is mood setting, as well as inspirational and few people besides Groden and a few select models see inside these hallowed walls. It is a perfect arrangement for Groden as he creates life on canvas, painting the rich and famous as well as those that are only "stars" to the loved ones that commission Groden.On another wall of the studio, there is testimonial, if you will, of a career that is dotted with rubbing elbows with a plethora of popular people. A drawing by artist by Peter Max, done especially for Groden and caricatures of musician/singer Leon Redbone occupy space. There are framed autographs from George Burns, Claudia Schiffer, Mickey Rooney and Ivana Trump. A table bears a large array of silk tulips, a gift from Tiny Tim and his then- fiancée , Miss Dixie.
David R. Groden, Sr. made his debut on December 7, 1955. Born in Tulsa, Okla., he started drawing and painting as a young child. At age six, he won a painting competition with a watercolor of a lion. Although Groden has studied in Fine Art Schools and universities around the country, he is predominately self-taught. He has read and studied the works of the great Masters, and claims a major influence from Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, Lautrec, Homer and Wyeth.With inspiration from artists such as these, it is of little surprise that nudes occupy a big part in his works. Groden renders his love for the female body onto the canvas exceptionally well. Never pornographic, the images reflect passion and seductiveness as well as innocence. But he is just as at ease painting the younger side, as evidenced in his portrait of a young Chelsea Clinton.
As part of a fund-raiser for Ballet Arkansas in 1991, Groden was commissioned to capture the images of numerous dancers in the troupe of which Chelsea was a member. Hillary Clinton later had the painting framed and presented it to her husband for his birthday. Groden proudly includes a thank-you letter from Mrs. Clinton in his press materials. Over the years Groden has painted many important people. One was a portrait of prominent New Orleans Gallery owner Kurt E. Schon , Groden is proud to say only one other artist was allowed to paint Mr. Schon and that was Norman Rockwell.Coined by Dallas Morning New Society Columnist Alan Peppard as the artist-about-town Groden could be found at the right places.Sitting in restaurants and dark nightclubs, Groden constantly sketched images of people on napkins. It got him in many interesting situations around the world."I''''ve met many people by sketching them from my table," says Groden. No longer known as the guy who does caricatures, Groden has built quite a reputation by painting large murals of many subjects in private homes as well as many public buildings is a premiere painter of the female figure.
Lovers of Groden''''s art can only hope that what ever the inspiration, he will continue creating his beautiful work. Fans such as Ivana, Claudia, Kenny Rogers and Bo Diddly, and of course, President and Mrs. Clinton.
From the age of nine, I have been in love with the female figure," Groden says. "I think they are the most beautiful creatures on earth. Every aspect of the female species excites me from the soft, undulating curves and sensuous facial features to the flowing silky hair.