James Reynolds was born in a Standard Oil lease house in 1926 and raised in
Taft, California. As a boy, he spent summers at his grandmother’s Nevada City
hotel, which was situated just beyond the infamous Donner Pass and literally
above the south fork of the Yuba River, supported by stilts. In Nevada City he
experienced firsthand the remnants of the Old West and heard the stories of
Although he dabbled with drawing during grade school, Reynolds didn’t
investigate it seriously until after World War II. The trip home from China was
a long and boring one; luckily, the sailor on the bunk beside him had a
painting kit. Reynolds took to it immediately and, upon returning to America,
enrolled in the Kann Institute of Art in Beverly Hills.
Reynolds soon found work in Hollywood. For almost two decades, he sketched
storyboards and sets for most of the major studios. Finally, after a
particularly grueling assignment designing and helping to apply a body of
tattoos for the film version of The Illustrated Man, he moved to Sedona,
Arizona, and never looked back.
Today Reynolds is considered to be one of the finest artists of the Western
experience. He was a proud member of the National Academy of Western Art (NAWA)
and an active member of the Cowboy Artists of America. In 1992, for his
painting Arizona Cowboys, NAWA awarded Reynolds the Gold Award for Oil
Painting, the Nona Jean Hulsey Buyer’s Choice Award, and the Prix de West.
Reynolds’ other honors include Gold Awards from NAWA, and, from the Cowboy
Artists of America, gold medals for best oil painting, Colt Awards, and two
George Phippen Memorial Awards.