“When I was 14 or 15, my school offered an on-location drawing class in the summer,” says Arizona-based artist Steve Atkinson. “I’d get up early in the morning and go down to Yellow Creek with my little sketch pad and transistor radio, and I can remember just thinking to myself, ‘If I could do this for a living, it would be Heaven,'” he recalls of that class.
If the teenage Atkinson could see himself now, he would likely agree that his life has been Heaven. His paintings have earned him many honors, the latest being the People’s Choice Award at the Phippen Museum of Western Art’s Annual Western Art Show last year, and he will be the featured artist at the museum’s Hold Your Horses invitational exhibit and sale from July 8 through September 24.
Atkinson grew up in a suburb of Youngstown, Ohio, watching Western movies and falling in love with the American values they championed. “It gets in your blood,” he says. “There was always something attractive about the cowboy and the code of the West, about riding for the brand and your word being your bond. All these things were so American, and they just make you proud to live in this country.”
Read the full article in the May/June 2023 issue.
The Great Race
32″ by 50″
“I did this oil painting for a show in Texas about the opening up of the American West. So I came up with the idea of a race between the first vehicle of each type that helped to make it more accessible. Of course, there are horses, a chuck wagon, a stagecoach, a 440 steam engine, a Ford Model T pickup truck, and a Curtis Jenny airplane. I leave it up to the viewer to decide who’s going to win this race.”
30″ by 40″
“This is a scene of controlled chaos that I experienced at a local ranch. As the cows were being roped to be tended to and doctored, someone opened the gate just enough to have one of the cattle dogs burst through at a full run. Nothing more could get done until that rascal was gathered up and removed. The dog is the only one who’s having a ball!”