Born in Fayette, Alabama, Chumbley — the middle of three children — was raised in Columbus and Warner Robins, Georgia. Despite an extremely difficult childhood, James Randall persevered; eventually graduating from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. It was here he studied art and psychology — discovering and exploring his love of beauty and the difficulties and struggles often associated with achieving it.
After college, the artist wanted to live in California but moved to Atlanta, Georgia — biggest city closest to home — out of family obligations. Wasting little time, he began making a name for himself in the city’s eclectic, yet welcoming, art world. It was at this time he began to explore another outlet for his creativity. It started with poems about his difficult past experiences and short stories about life in general, eventually becoming an obsession to document his multi-faceted life including the abuse and violence of his childhood using a new medium — the written word in his first book, “In the Arms of Adam: a diary of men.” It was later followed by two more books, “Before the Last Dance” and “Alabama Snow.”
"I hope I’ve helped people through my writing as well as my art. I find writing is very much like painting with words. Art has always been an escape for me even as a young child. I would hide away in a closet or a corner with paper and crayons drawing places to run away from the yelling and screaming that echoed off the walls of our house that was never a home, as well as from my father’s brutality."
For many years, after moving to Atlanta, Chumbley has been involved as an activist and remains effective within several AIDS, Youth, Homeless, Equal Rights, and Mental Health Service Organizations — donating his art which encompasses contemporary landscapes, abstracts, and nudes using the media of oils, acrylics, wax, varnish, and photography. The artist is best known for his large mixed media abstract paintings often incorporating ideograms and symbols into his work. His paintings harken back to the era of abstract expressionism with his broad painterly brushwork and naïve l'art brut drawing style. His work has been in several galleries and is in many impressive private and corporate collections across the country and abroad.
In July 2013, the artist and writer moved to the Palm Springs area of California. Making the move after thirty-two years, James Randall remains dedicated to his art and writing, and continues to be generous with his work donating it to many of those worthwhile charitable organizations when asked. Chumbley states, “Donating my work to help others gives my life a true purpose.” James Randall tries to live by three rules: Love more than you’re loved; give more than you take; and leave it better than you found it. "All that is good inside of me, comes from my mother," states the artist and writer.
In 2016, he moved to the foothills in Desert Hot Springs where he lives in an iconic Mid-Century home. He says, "California suits me." James Randall is presently completing his fourth book project, and spends his time between the desert, Los Angeles, and Laguna Beach.