Riding through Canyon Country

Teddy Draper Jr.



He is a proud son of a former US Marine Corps Navajo Code-talker, who served in the South Pacific during World War II and helped defeat the enemy by using the Navajo language in codes.

Additionally, Teddy is a renowned, award-winning artist in watercolors, oils and, especially, the difficult medium of pastels.

A dedicated mentor and coach at the Chinle Youth Athletic Club, he is delighted when his proteges thank him for getting them to college.

In addition (!),  he is also a noted, award-winning jeweler, sometimes collaborating with his jeweler wife, Ophelia Garcia.

This sun-filled piece is a glowing example of his expertise and artistry with pastels.

The iconic rock cliffs of the Navajo landscape rise above a lone horseman, making his way through the canyons they form.

The minuscule size of the human and horse beautifully indicates the scale of the imposing landscape.

The immense sky-scape of billowing clouds dwarfs even the massive cliffs. Faintly visible, a lovely lavender in the background, is a rocky mesa, – almost a mirage.

What stands out is the artist’s control of a medium that is notoriously tricky.

In lesser hands, pastel pictures often end up a blurry mass of colors; here, each element is distinct, while keeping the softness inherent in the medium.

The colors glow in coral red and sky blue, with touches of green in the scrubby trees.

This palette displays the origin of the traditional coral and turquoise of Navajo jewelry: blue for the sky (and, if lucky, water), and warm red for the land.

Warm color, a nostalgic look back at the traditional landscape of the Reservation, and –  believe it or not – a realistic depiction of the famous big sky of New Mexico, all in one small picture!

Custom matted and framed, this is like a permanent window, looking out at the beautiful desert landscape, and sky-scape, of the Navajo lands.

It is easy to display, hanging on your wall, or on a shelf easel.

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