Navajo artist Elwyn Shorthair was born in Shiprock, New Mexico. He has been painting since preschool and his father’s sketchbook inspired him to start drawing. Between 2007 and 2010, Shorthair studied studio arts at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Portrait painting has always fascinated Shorthair. He especially enjoys rendering the details in portraits of elders. He also uses horned toads as a subject often. In the Diné culture, the horned toad represents the “chei”, or grandfather. It furthermore embodies the importance of storytelling and teaching, as well as symbolizing protection and a shield. Shorthair’s favorite part of a painting is drawing the eyes of his subjects. He enjoys honoring the Native American people in his art. He currently splits his time between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Coppermine, Arizona.