|Born in 1940 in Carrollton, Missouri, Ron
moved with his family to the San Fernando Valley that same year. He is one
of seven brothers, one being his Identical twin. An interest in art runs
throughout the family. From early on Ron knew he wanted to be an artist.
At the age of seven or eight he could always be found drawing or making
heads and faces out of clay.
By the time he was ten years old, he knew
he liked to create in both two and three-dimensions. He drew all the time.
At the age of 14 he applied to a famous artist correspondence course and
completed the work with top grades throughout. However, upon completion
of the course, he received a letter that said he was very artistic, but
unfortunately he was too young to pursue it.
During his high school years, Ron found
that in the public schools no one taught the techniques of art. Students
were put in a class and told to draw something and the work would simply
be graded. Ron felt keenly the lack of direction and, accordingly he lacked
the self-confidence to pursue his interest in art.
Upon graduating from High School he attended
College courses in Woodland Hills, California where he took classes in art
but found the same situation existing. There were no instructions in techniques
- the very concepts that Ron was looking for.
Out of school, he began his full time job
as a big rig brake mechanic. After 2 years of that he went to work for a
major sprinkler manufacturer as a draftsman for a couple of years. In 1962
he began his construction career which would become his main stay work for
the next 40 years.
He advanced from an apprentice position
in an air conditioning job to a part ownership and their general sales manager
within the first 3 years. In 1965, in association with his landscape architect
brother, he began his own construction company called WoodScape. He specialized
in out-door decorative woodwork along with tenant improvement projects in
malls. In 1972 he secured a contract to complete the interior finish on
2400 apartment units for a California based apartment builder with a project
in Alexandria, Virginia. He continued on with the interior finish for the
next 15 years, then began specializing in stair building for the next 10
At 28 years old, Ron decided to pursue
vocal and guitar for an outlet for his artistic talents. He concentrated
on folk and country-folk music for the next fifteen years during which time
he wrote 12 country/folk songs and recorded them onto a CD album.
It was not until 1983, at the age of 43,
when he enrolled in a class on color theory in order to gain a better understanding
of his color blindness. The class turned out to be an introductory three-dimensional
art class at Sierra College in Rockland, California.
Once again, there was no direction, he
was just given some wax and told to make something. There, he made his first
sculpture in nine hours. He finished it at home and brought it back the
following Thursday. It was called "The Whittler", and modeled
in wax because it was the material at hand.
The inspiration for the piece came to him
while he was relaxing at his home in the High Sierra mountains in Auburn,
California. The instructor was highly impressed and told him he could sell
them for a great deal of money. He said "You can do them in bronze
if you can figure that all out".
"The Whittler" sat on his desk
for a year at which time he got an out-of-town contract job in construction.
He took "The Whittler" to the motel he was staying at, and asked
the manager if he could leave his wax in her refrigerator as it was so hot
outside he was afraid it might melt.
The manager asked him what he was going
to do with it. He answered he'd probably sell it when he figured out how
to cast it in bronze. She asked, "How much" and he answered, "Six
hundred dollars, I guess". She said, "I'll take one". Ron
knew her quite well and was reluctant to agree to it because he was yet
unsure just how to complete it. She insisted however that he accept her
money and Ron promised that he would figure out how to cast the sculpture.|
The following weekend he did his second piece, the "Singin' Cowboy".
He wanted to challenge himself by seeing if he could accomplish a likeness
and chose to create it in the form of a self-portrait. Again, he did it
in nine hours time after which he took it back to the motel and the bar
next door where he had a beer. There he set it on the bar and left to go
to the men's room. When he returned, one of the patrons had broken the piece
while looking at it. The man apologized saying he thought it was ebony and
he had wanted a closer look. He asked how much Ron wanted for a copy because
he liked it so much, he wanted to purchase one.
With the bartender encouraging Ron to sell
it, The patron wrote a check for $550.00 and said. "Bring it to me
when you are done." Ron was very encouraged with the fact that he had
sold copies of his first two pieces. The man subsequently bought a total
of 4 other pieces.
Ron's third piece, the "Gold Panner",
came to him on a trip to Christian Brothers Foundry, near Sutter's Mill
where gold was discovered. His fourth piece, "Jus' One More",
depicted a drunk cowboy leaning against a light post searching his pockets
for money for another drink. All of Ron's inspirations stemmed from his
In 1989, he was diagnosed with major median
nerve damage in both arms due to the constant heavy work of construction.
After six surgeries that year, his doctor warned that he should cease any
physical activity including his art or face the eminent possibility of losing
the use of his hands.
Ron decided to study computers along with
his art to enhance his work abilities. He successfully completed those efforts
and earned an A+ certification in computer repair and a Certified Netware
It was at this point in time that Ron took
on the pseudonym "RoDean". It came from a need to have a unique
name on the internet. He chose to remove the "n" in Ron and put
his first and last name together. It was short, easy to remember, and had
a ring to it. All of his songs and art are now signed and copyrighted under
In 1990 he decided he would continue on
in night school classes with art. He attended life-drawing classes at Chabot
College in Livermore California. There he finally found a teacher who would
help him with techniques in his drawing. Learning light and shadows was
helpful to him with his color blindness. Working mostly with charcoal. What
he accomplished there inspired him to continue His studies.
He decided to take the sculpture pieces
that he had to an art show at Wente Brothers Winery in Livermore California.
At the show he met a man who wanted to commission Ron to create a sculpture
piece of his father who was a printer. Ron met the father, accepted and
completed his first commission. He entered it into the 1991 Alameda County
Fair where he won "Best of Show" - and, at the same time, received
a very large boost in his confidence.
It was his seventh piece and when he went to collect the prize, the woman
at the counter complimented him on the win. She said it was most unusual
to win best of show on his first ever entry. She said it qualified him to
enter the "Best of Shows" show at the 1992 California State Fair
in Sacramento where he won Second Place Best of show.
At that point He decided, he would study
in ernst to be an artist. At the end of 1990 he began his pursuit to learn
the sculpting and casting process start to finish. From then through 1994
he attended sculpture classes at Mission College in Santa Clara, California.
During this period he conquered the art of mold making.
In 1995, after moving to the North San
Diego area, he began studying in evening classes at Palomar College in San
Marcos, California. He learned sculpture as he went along. His shift to
relief art came from a desire to do a portrait of his aging parents. Working
from his sketches he was able to translate the images into relief form.
He found that he had a real inclination to relief - that he could work much
faster in that direction - which was the inspiration for his subsequent
relief wall art. He then completed two pieces in relief - "Sweatin
Iron" and "A Catch at the Creek".
In 2002 He culminated his last 2 of 40
years in construction with a 300-house tract and finally a twin 25-story
condominium project as the quality control administrator overseeing the
work of 300 employees.
He did a medallion of Louis Armstrong,
the size of a silver dollar and decided that it would look really fine on
a wall and about fifteen inches tall. He then completed additional pieces
of Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder. However, along with
the success of his artwork came the problems associated with the business
of art. The bureaucracy and the questions and answers make him impatient
with trying to move ahead.
In the future Ron is hoping to conquer
the legality aspects of marketing his work. He hopes to accomplish an historical
value of what he is doing and hopes the subjects he chooses will realize
their value and endorse his work. In creating these works he believes he
is honoring their achievements and hopes to be able to continue offering
longevity to their accomplishments for generations to come. He also hopes
to portray that respect within his own work, and feels his abilities are
a true gift that should be shared with the public.
He identifies with the artists and feels
they are a piece of art themselves. The driving force behind the musician
relief's was that he, also, was a musician playing for the public and performing
in bars with his brother and a small group. They played country western
and folk music every weekend in the early eighties.
Ron is extremely happy with what he has
been able to accomplish with his relief work. He is confident that he can
achieve any likeness. He says, "It is a wonderful feeling to be able,
in my later life, to offer my artistic rendition of the nostalgic great
musical artists of the past and present".
2000 Ron Wheeler Dean - All Rights Reserved
No reproductions without