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Steve Atkinson — Ride for the Brand & Ask for the Sale

The BoldBrush Show: Episode #81

Show Notes:

Learn the magic of marketing with us here at BoldBrush!
https://www.boldbrush.com/

Get over 50% off your first year on your artist website with FASO:
https://www.FASO.com/podcast/

Order your exclusive da Vinci BoldBrush paintbrush set!
https://brushoffer.com/collections/boldbrush

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For today's episode, we sat down with Steve Atkinson, an illustrator turned fine artist with a deep-rooted love for the stories of the American West. He tells us all about his past as an illustrator and the lessons that it carried over; from the artistic techniques that help him tell stories through his work, to the discipline and business aspects that help him sell his artwork today. He also reminds us of the practical matters involved in the business of selling art, such as asking for the sale, not being afraid to promote yourself, building relationships with possible collectors, and to always network whenever possible. Finally, he tells us about his mission to pass it forward by teaching others on his YouTube channel and his awesome upcoming workshops at the Bosque Art Center in Clifton, Texas and at Tapatio Spring Hill Country Resort in Boerne, Texas.

Steve's FASO Site:
https://www.steveatkinsonstudio.com/

Steve's YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/@SteveAtkinsonFineArt

Steve's upcoming workshops
Bosque Art Center (4/19-4/20):
https://www.steveatkinsonstudio.com/workshop/36190/plein-air-workshop-in-the-texas-hill-country

Tapatio Spring Hill Country Resort (4/26-4/27):
https://www.steveatkinsonstudio.com/workshop/36191/on-location-sketching-workshop

Steve's Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/steveatkinsonstudio/

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Transcript:

Steve Atkinson: 0:00

Just you do your very best work, you stand out from the crowd. You're not afraid to you always got to ask for the sale. You know, that's another big thing with trying to make an impression and make inroads into making a living as an artist. Never be afraid to ask for the sale. And when I first started out, I never asked for the sale. You know, if you were looking at one of your pieces of art in a show and someone you were talking with someone, you can always just say you can I wrap it up, you know, I can I can come out and hang it in your in your house. I'd be happy to do that. And you would be surprised the number of times people say, Yeah, okay, let's do that.

Laura Arango Baier: 0:43

Welcome to the BoldBrush show, where we believe that fortune favors the bold brush. My name is Laura Arango Baier, and I'm your host. For those of you who are new to the podcast. We are a podcast that covers art marketing techniques, and all sorts of business tips specifically to help artists learn to better sell their work. We interview artists at all stages of their careers as well as others were in careers tied to the art world in order to hear their advice and insights. For today's episode, we sat down with Steve Atkinson, an illustrator turned fine artists with a deep rooted love for the stories of the American West. He tells us all about his past as an illustrator and the lessons that have carried over from the artistic techniques that help him tell stories through his work, to the discipline and business aspects that help him sell his artwork today. He also reminds us of the practical matters involved in the business of selling art such as asking for the sale, not being afraid to promote yourself, building relationships with possible collectors, and to always network whenever possible. Finally, he tells us about his mission to pass it forward by teaching others on his YouTube channel, and his awesome upcoming workshops at the Bosque Art Center in Clifton, Texas. And at the Bethuel Spring Hill Country resort in Bernie Texas. Welcome, Steve to the BoldBrush show. How are you today?

Steve Atkinson: 2:00

Thank you. I'm good. I'm good. How are you?

Laura Arango Baier: 2:03

I'm great. I'm great. This is I'm already having fun talking to you.

Steve Atkinson: 2:08

About where you're at.

Laura Arango Baier: 2:10

Oh, now it's a it's a maybe like, almost 9pm My time are only 20 minutes my

Steve Atkinson: 2:16

bedtime. Oh,

Laura Arango Baier: 2:18

well, not mine. Time is is a lot later than that. You know, busy minds that they tend to not not be good for sleeping.

Steve Atkinson: 2:29

Got it? Yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 2:30

yeah. So Steve, I'm very happy to have you on the show. Your work is very How can I even your work is so full of story. I think it's some of the the work that I've seen that I'm just like, Wow, I feel like I could see the entire story just unfolding in front of me just through the the colors and the characters. And you're

Steve Atkinson: 2:54

so sweet. Thank you. I appreciate that. That's really what I aim for. Good.

Laura Arango Baier: 2:59

It's, you're doing? Yeah, but before we dive into your lovely work, do you mind telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do? Sure.

Steve Atkinson: 3:11

My name is Steve Atkinson. I am a fine art painter full time. And before that, before I made the transition, I was an illustrator for about 25 years or so. The first 15 of those I was freelance while I started out at doing comps and storyboards at a at an advertising agency in Cleveland. Then I went I was hired at an illustration house, which there aren't any more of those around. But there were six to eight of us illustrating in Cleveland and they would bring in the salesman would bring in illustrations for us to do so we had to be good at a lot of different mediums. So anything from graphite to charcoal to pen and ink to airbrush to pastel watercolor, just about anything. And so I did that for a while and then started freelancing. And I did that for a number of years and then got hired on as the lead illustrator at an ad and package design company. And so I did a lot of illustrations of fruit I did kids cereal boxes, like tricks and lucky charms and Count Chocula and all of those did the illustrations for the cover and the games on the back. So I did that children's games for Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers. And then when I got married, I was up in Minnesota at this at the time and my wife and I were out on a walk happened to be fall, just the peak season of autumn and just looked around and I thought I need to learn how to paint if I'm ever going Got to do it. I need to start now I was 40 years old. And I told my wife that and she just turned to me and said, Well, can you wait until we get back home? Before you start? I said, Yeah, you can do that. So for about five years, I, I took classes I got up before I would go to work in the morning, two or three hours, I would paint. Because I knew that if I waited until I got home, I wasn't going to be mentally ready to be able to do that it'd be too exhausted. So I painted in the morning for about five years, got into a gallery or two and won some awards. And that was, I gave myself about five years in order to be able to learn what I needed to know and see if I can make the transition. That's about what it took. And so in 2008, I quit my illustration job and started painting full time. The problem was that I'm drawn to the American West, at the Southwest in particular, and I was living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, painting cowboys out of my basement. And so I knew that we needed to be living in the American West, and my wife happened to be from Tucson, Arizona. And so we started looking at maybe getting a second home. We found a place here in Prescott, because Tucson and Phoenix are too dang hot. And so we live here and we're at about 5000 feet. So we're kind of called the PI prairie here. And so we get snow. Not much. It melts off right away. So one of the happiest days of my life was the day I got to sell my snowthrower in Minnesota, and move here. So yeah, it's just it's felt like home ever since we were started looking. We had people tell us, because we considered moving to Texas. We had people tell us, you know, Texas is awfully hot. It's great for Western art. But try. Try Prescott, Arizona. So when we came out here, we fell in love with the courthouse. It has this old fashioned courthouse here. And the Phippen Museum is a Western art museum. And we knew, Okay, if the Phippen museum can flourish here. This is a good place for Western artists to live. And there's some amazing artists who live here. There's Bill Anton. There's John Coleman, Robert Peters. There's Bill Kramer, there's so many people. And so I figured it must be something in the water. And once I moved here, I realized it wasn't something in the water. You just you still have to work really hard at it. And we just love it. We we can't imagine living anywhere else. That's it. Yeah. My wife Han is my studio manager, my muse. And so we get to work together all day every day. It's it's actually been wonderful. A lot of people would say, Oh, you don't want to work with your spouse but we have we have a great time. It's so much fun. And our our cat we have a black cat named Boo. Boo the Wonder cat.

Laura Arango Baier: 8:29

So as you wander cat,

Steve Atkinson: 8:32

oh, she's just so sweet. And in she loves being around people, you know, some so many so often. Cats, they they want to be by themselves. If if there's the opportunity for her to come and there we have people come over, she'll get right up in the middle of everybody and just she loves people. That's yeah. Oh, yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 8:53

She's great. Usual and adorable. Yeah. And you know, yeah, I, I agree, you know, being able to work with your spouse, you know, alongside them and have them support you and you support them. I think that that also, you know, it's so wonderful for a relationship because you know, you have to get to know each other even even deeper and, you know, kind of like work with each other strengths and weaknesses, you know, to balance each other out to make things work. I mean, you're you're not the first person has told me that their spouse helps them out with their, with their art career. So it was

Steve Atkinson: 9:29

a great thing. We tell people that and does everything in the studio except for paint. You know, she does. She helps me with the framing. She helps me with packet packing up paintings. She does all of the bookkeeping, all of the any of the mail that comes in, she's my social director. So if someone wants to come over into the studio, she sets up a meeting or she sets up, you know, people coming over. It just couldn't share her story. thinks are my weaknesses. And her weaknesses are my strengths. So it just works out great. Oh,

Laura Arango Baier: 10:06

I hope you give her a salary that sounds like she really helps out.

Steve Atkinson: 10:13

Now she's not here. Okay, now we're okay. We share everything. And that includes, you know, whatever comes into the studio,

Laura Arango Baier: 10:22

of course. Yeah. That's so awesome. And you know, I find it interesting to how you, you mentioned that you were always drawn to the American West, right? There was always just something about it. Why exactly did it draw you in? What was it about it? Well,

Steve Atkinson: 10:41

there's a couple reasons. One is when I was growing up, there were so many Westerns on television and at the movies, it was a cultural phenomenon. And I love it. And when I was growing up, we always had Westerns on in the house. And so there was it just kind of seeps into your bones. And so many of my art heroes are Western artists, from NC Wyeth, who went out and started painting the American west as an assignment, when he was just getting started to Tom Lovell, Russell and Remington they were all illustrators, and they, they found something in the West, that that really they connected with? And I found that, you know, I've had people ask me, you know, why do you paint cowboys? Part of it is that I love the culture, I love the code of the West, you know, you ride for the brand, you, you work until the jobs done, you, your word is your bond, that whole thing. And it's still alive to this day. And the other thing is then the number of stories that you can tell when you're painting the American West, because there's 100 years or more of the cowboy and moving cattle and pioneers who went across in these rickety old wagons, and the Native American tribes that they ran into, and sometimes it worked well, and sometimes not so much. And the stories of the Native American. So I could live 10 lifetimes and still never even just scratched the surface on on the stories that you can tell. And for me, that storytelling, that's everything when it comes to art. Yes, yes. Yes.

Laura Arango Baier: 12:42

And definitely, you know, having studied illustration, having been an illustrator, you know, it definitely has, you know, that gives you a lot of the tools that go alongside storytelling, you know, like, I was, like I was looking at, I think it's creative illustration by Andrew Loomis, and he just covers like a lot of information on, you know, the narrative side of the illustration, which unfortunately, you know, normal normal painting schools, you don't really get that you just get taught the technique, you don't really get the whole full image of composition, and then how to tell the story with the key of the values, right? If you want high key versus low key versus dramatic, like, just completely different ways approached. So I actually wanted to know, making

Steve Atkinson: 13:32

a focal point, making the focal point that's, that's so much when it comes to illustration, as you very early on, learn that there there's in the story, you need to have your eye go to a certain place, and how do you how do you do that? You know, what are what are the tools whether you have your lightest light in your darkest dark, their most colorful areas where you key everything back? Or key everything higher? It's it, it I learned that all from illustration and studying those golden age of Illustrator, illustrators. So and then there they they had a course back in the 40s. The, what was it called? The fine artist, workshop, or course, and Norman Rockwell and Andrew Loomis, and all of those guys. They happen to you can send away for this for this course. And they would teach you week by week, things that you needed to know and you just had to kind of follow that and now that was way before my time, but I do happen to have those books and I've absorbed them as much as I can. So you know, fine art fine artists, I love them. But my muse has always come from that golden age of Illustrator section. And if the people who are watching maybe If you've never really checked them out, there's a lot of just look under golden age of illustration illustrators. And so you've got, obviously Norman Rockwell, you have NC Wyeth you have Howard Pyle, you have Maxfield Parrish, and these guys were all illustrating books, this is what they did, because the television wasn't there. And so this is the way that people were enticed to buy magazines or buy books, they were illustrated. And those illustrations, they were looked down on loot, they were looked down on by fine artists. But now, you know, Norman Rockwell paintings are going for millions of dollars, and every year with the heritage auctions, those paintings, and painters are becoming more and more collectible.

Laura Arango Baier: 15:52

Yeah. Yeah. And it's really interesting, too, because, you know, at the turn of the century, there was such a huge drop off in realism. Of course, the camera had taken over most of everything. So I feel like also with with illustration, they also by extension, basically saved realism from extinction, because, you know, whatever happened after, you know, it's right, throughout all of the 20th century, you know, there was so little realism that was happening, it was very much underground, or very much frowned upon, or there were even people saying that it was dead. So yeah, exactly. Yeah. So I'm thankful for illustrators, at the turn of the century for, you know, keeping that torch going. And I think I've mentioned this also, in previous episodes, how much I admire illustrators. Because it is, I feel like the things that fine art is missing is a lot of the stuff that illustration has. So I also encourage listeners to check out illustration, if they're really serious about storytelling through painting.

Steve Atkinson: 17:00

Yeah. The other thing that I would mention is that it was the other thing that illustration gave up and being an illustrator, is understanding that people are going to roast me for this, understanding that art is a business. And so if you want to make a living at art, you need to not just be excellent at your technique, especially if you're, you know, representational artists, you also need to be able to understand that there are deadlines, especially if you're in galleries, or in shows, you need to be able to get things done on time, you need to make the profit, make a little bit of a profit, otherwise, you know, where you're going to end up, like, so many artists that just can't make a living at it. And understanding Oh, the other big thing, the the big difference between illustration and fine art, is that with fine art, it really is centered on it's a relationship based way of living with illustration, you have a you know, your commercial clients come to you with, with fine art, you need to have collectors in your life, who value your work. And in order to do that, yeah, you know, they're gonna follow you because they like your work. But so many collectors really like to know, the artists that they're collecting. They and this is true in all business, people do business with people that they like. And so, having that email list is so important. Having social media is important. advertising can be important, but picking up the phone and calling people who have bought your work and staying in touch with them. So important, and something that I'm trying to get better at. Because I'm a big introvert. But luckily, I have learned that one on one, I'm, I'm really good. But talking to big crowds of people are going to shows where there's a big crowd, that's a little more daunting for me.

Laura Arango Baier: 19:20

That's That's understandable. I completely relate to that. It is definitely a lot easier to you know, have your focus on one person. I also get very overwhelmed in large groups. Um, but yeah, those are excellent, excellent, excellent points. And I think you know, especially you know, if you have a career and illustration right, or like when you did you get used to all that. Maybe not the one on one collective side, but you definitely get used to deadlines, speed, and Okay, gotta get the stuff exactly the way that the client wants it because of course, the client is the one who tells you exactly what they want versus you know, in fine art. You can come up with almost anything And and then the collectors have to come to you, you know, but you have to put yourself out there. So it's a little bit of a back and forth. Slightly different. Yeah, yeah.

Steve Atkinson: 20:10

Yeah, most definitely. And I think so often we don't understand that it really is a relationship driven kind of kind of a calling. I didn't realize that at when I first started. And I'll tell this little story. I was at a show. And a lot of times, you'll see when artists are at the show, the artists will glom together, you'll you'll see somebody that you know, who is an artist, and you go over and talk to them. And there's all these collectors that are that are there are people that you don't know, yet. And you can spend your whole time just talking to an artist or a bunch of artists that you know, and I had one time I had someone come up and insert themselves into a conversation that I was having with another artist. And they didn't know who I was. And when they found that they said, Oh, are you in the show? And I said, Yeah, absolutely. And they said, well, where's your art, and it was a show that had many different rooms of art. And I said, Oh, it's over in this room over here. And went on to talking to the person that I was talking with, my wife comes up afterwards and say, she said, Honey, you may want if someone comes up and asks where your heart is, you may want to take them over and show them. So I never made that mistake again. But it's just one of those things. That's not innate, unless you realize that you're building relationships. And it's nice to talk to the people that you know, but it's much better to go up and talk to someone maybe who's looking at your art or someone else and find out what their tastes are in art, and start that conversation where they're from had Do they have any artwork? Is it prints? Is it originals? What do they look for in a painting? I just find that if you start talking to people about what their likes are, the conversation is so easy. I mean it. People love talking about themselves. And so you just go down that road and ask them a question. And you can just nod for 10 minutes, you know, or a lot of times you'll find you have a lot in common. I have made such good friends doing that. And to this day, not just people who buy my art, but people who you just generally like He's genuinely like. So it's it's a great experience. If you look at it as this person has something to offer me. I don't know them. But I know we have things in common. We just have to figure out what they are. Yeah, so that's it. I'm off my soapbox.

Laura Arango Baier: 22:48

No, I think you should stay on the soapbox, because you might have more things to say that are really, really good to tell others. We're in interested in the business of painting and selling paintings and fine art. But before we dive into the more of the logistics, I do want to know, do you because you you know you made that transition from Illustrator into fine artist? Do you find that you pulled in certain things of illustration into your paintings? And what have some of those things been?

Steve Atkinson: 23:23

Well, when I was an illustrator, I, I I was good at doing drawings, and watercolor and airbrush, or the airbrush fell to the wayside because I started doing my illustrations in Photoshop. And I to this day, I will composite a lot of my images in Photoshop. But then I'll I will do a drawing of my proposed painting just to make sure that everything's gonna work out get the values. All right. So there's that. But I think for me, let's see, for going from being an illustrator. I had to teach myself how to do an oil painting. I never did oil painting. I was always too intimidated by it. And because that's what real artists did. And so like I said, I got up in the morning and I started painting. I'd paint for a couple of hours and on the weekend I would go out and I would paint plein air one day out of the weekend. And I decided to do that because what I'll always do is concentrate on what my weakest area is. And my weakest area was painting a light effect. And the number one way to learn how to paint a light effect in in your paintings is go out, go right to the source and all of the people that I admire as painters, whether it's Matt Smith or Bill Anton, or Scott Christensen or I'm Bill Joe Paquette bill, Joe Paquette they all painted in plein air. And that was the thing that I really admired the most about them. So I would really encourage people if you don't go out of your studio, presently, but you want to become a fine artist, and paint full time, that's going to be one of the best, fastest ways that you can make that transition. Because there's so many things that you have to learn to deal with. Some of them just right off the top of my head speed, you got to get fast, you have to paint a painting and an hour and a half, two hours at the most. If you're really pushing it, you have to deal with changing light conditions, you know, the clouds, the sun will go in and out. So you start painting this beautiful scene, and the clouds go out. How do you deal with that? Well, you've locked down your, your light effect early on, you paint the shadows in. You have to get used to dealing with wind, with bugs, with dogs coming up and investigating you with looky loos people who come up and they want to tell you that their their great aunt Mildred used to paint on sob blades, you know. And so one of the things that I do, I love talking to people, but sometimes if I'm struggling with a painting, I will put on headphones that will just go into my shirt. Just to have people think that I can't hear them. And so I'll ignore people if I'm struggling and that and undoubtedly will be the time that people will come up and want to see your painting is when it's just all going sideways. But you know what? Everyone who's ever come up to me and talk to me when I've been painting on location. They just think it's cool that you're there. They have no clue whether it's good or not. And sometimes, you know, I have made sales. When I've been there you always keep your business cards with Yeah. And try and get their name and phone number, if you can. I mean that's another part of relationship building is sometimes you never know who it is that's going to be coming up and talking talking to you. So that's another way of networking, believe it or not, if you don't have your headphones on.

Laura Arango Baier: 27:29

Yeah, that's so true. It's like Murphy's Law. It's like the moment everything's going wrong. It just goes worse and just has to come up and

Steve Atkinson: 27:37

Yeah. And it will it will the more you do it, the less it'll go wrong, but it still goes very wrong. That's true. Yes, it'll just we jokingly call it we jokingly call it painting Frisbees. Ah, so you just take and throw it away? Yes. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 27:56

Yeah. Oh, man. Maybe it's a boomerang too, because you could like you know, throw it away and take it back. And if you're painting on paper,

Steve Atkinson: 28:06

if you're painting on the edge of the Grand Canyon that can happen or on the edge of cannon to shake. I was doing a painting one time with a group out at Canada Shea and it was very windy on the edge of of the canyon. And I don't know if you've ever been out there, but it's it's all sand. So it's very windy. And I call it my sand painting. I still have it to this day where all the sand that was being blown around, got blown up onto the wet paint. And so you can you can just feel it.

Laura Arango Baier: 28:40

That's pretty cool. There. You

Steve Atkinson: 28:41

get a million stories. Yeah, it really is. Yeah, yeah. It's

Laura Arango Baier: 28:45

like recently not so recently, but in the past few years, you discovered on one of the van Gogh's paintings. There was actually a grasshopper stuck to it. Yep. Yeah, you know, a very old grasshopper is stuck to one of his paintings. So it's really nice. That's the other side of you know, painting plein air where the environment literally can sometimes interact with the work. Yeah, creates a nice,

Steve Atkinson: 29:15

I just have to mention, I just recently watched a documentary on Van Gogh on actually on Joanna. I can't remember her last name now. But she was married to tail. And tail died within six months of Vincent dying. And so she inherited all of these paintings. She had hundreds of them. She didn't know what to do with them. But she was bound and determined to make Vincent famous because they kept his tail kept talking about how Vincent was this genius. And so that was her life work. Bhangarh that was her last name, Joanna banca and she spent her the rest of her life she had only met Vincent Twice in her lifetime. She spent her life. It was her mission to make sure that Vincent became famous. And towards the end of her life. She actually ended up selling one of Vincent's paintings or his one of his sunflower paintings to the National Gallery of Art, which would have been kind of the ultimate. But nobody would have known who Vincent van Goff was, if it wasn't for Joanna. And, and she, she didn't even like Vincent that much, I think because, you know, he was he was kind of an acerbic character. Yeah. So the fact that she was willing to do that for her for her husband, Hale, and Vincent's brother at just, that's so wonderful, because the world could have been, could have lost that. Yeah. But thank goodness for Joanna. Anyway, so I just had to mention that. I didn't know about that

Laura Arango Baier: 31:03

go, Joanna. Yeah, that's how it is. And she benefited from it. Of course, she did tons of paintings. As she was, like, you know, Madison will make make something out of this. So that's

Steve Atkinson: 31:17

the thing is her her brother came to her not too long after the tail had died. And said, you have these all these paintings, sell them, you know, get rid of them. And she knew that if she sold them off like that people would never know who Vincent was. So she would loan them out to exhibits for the impressionists. And then rich collectors, because impressionism was really starting to catch on, they saw his work, and he was really admired by some of his contemporaries, some of his peers, and they started talking him up. And of course, his story. It was it's just still captivating. To this day, one of my favorite parts of Vincent Van Gough is when he was in Arles, France, and was in the yellow house and painting and he just made his breakthrough with with his technique. And of course, that's where his psychosis came up and bloomed. But anyways, I love the story of Vincent. I probably wouldn't have liked him much as a person, but as a driven person. And artists artist, just you gotta, you gotta love them.

Laura Arango Baier: 32:29

Yeah. Yeah. And you know what, his story isn't so different from today, in the sense, you know, if you want to sell your work, you have to put it out there. And that's exactly what what his sister in law did, right? She's like, Yeah, put his work out there. Like a proper, you know, cuz that's the other thing. It's like, there's the, there's this issue of a lot of artists, especially back then, right, which I believe that's where the starving artists thing came from, you know, it's a late 1800s. Where, you know, a lot of them did end up in poverty, because the no one was buying realism. So of course, it also joined in with the creation of the commercialized paint tube. So a lot more colors were available, and that's where impressionism got its wonderful array of colors. Um, but of course, you know, a lot of that had to be, oh, God, they had to really fund themselves by getting their work out there and making friends with other impressionists. I think I've heard that basis swap paintings sometimes or even like giveaway, just to have food.

Steve Atkinson: 33:37

Right next

Laura Arango Baier: 33:38

to the restaurant. Really? Hey, I'll give you this. Please feed me. Yeah.

Steve Atkinson: 33:43

quite a quite a bit. You know, it. Not only did he trade for food, and some lodging, but he also traded with a lot of other artists. So Joanna not only got a lot of his paintings, but she got a lot of other Impressionists who were just starting out. So she did, she did okay, but, you know, she didn't have to do that. No, but yeah, and, you know, it's kind of the same way to this day, just because so many artists have gone down the abstract path. And, you know, for me, I don't understand it. I would never poopoo it if someone loves it. But trying to be a representational artist in this day and age where you have to be wild and really out there. It's difficult. It's difficult to get that underneath your, you know, they to get that traction. And so one of the other things that I will say as far as this being a relationship driven career, and that is I've gotten into two of my galleries, my main galleries and actually it's Yeah, two of my main galleries, because I was in a show And the either the gallery owner came up to me afterwards and said, we'd love to represent you. Or the judge came to me afterwards and said, Would you like to meet the gallery, this gallery owner that, that, that he was in? And I said, Absolutely. And so I this was now before they had, I mean, all these books that you could do, this was a print on demand. And so I did have my portfolio as a as the hardcover book. And I sent it out to the gallery owner. And that's how I got in. Just you do your very best work, you stand out from the crowd, you're not afraid to, you always got to ask for the sale. You know, that's another big thing with trying to make an impression and make inroads into making a living as an artist. Never be afraid to ask for the sale. And when I first started out, I never asked for the sale. You know, if you were looking at one of your pieces of art in a show and someone you were talking with someone, you can always just say you can I wrap it up, you know, I can I can come out and hang it in your in your house, I'd be happy to do that. And you would be surprised the number of times people say, Yeah, okay, let's do that. And so, yeah, that's, I think that's probably one of the biggest pieces of advice. And the biggest epiphanies that I had was, people just want to be invited to make that sale. You know, and sometimes you can do it on Instagram, or you can do it on Facebook, if someone shows an interest, personal message them and say, I know that you you like this work of art I can, it's available, what do you say we we make this a done deal. So and that does work doesn't always work. But you know, even if they don't buy that one, you've made another friend, ask them if they you can put them on your newsletter, you know, and send them that and stay in contact with them people. People really appreciate that, you know,

Laura Arango Baier: 37:07

especially if they work. Yeah,

Steve Atkinson: 37:09

yeah. Yeah. I mean, if they, obviously if they're looking at someone else's work, don't go up and ask them, if you can put them on your newsletter. But if you've talked to talking to them a little bit, yeah, people, people generally will say, Yeah, okay, you know, and the ones that say no, well, you want good people that are on your, on your newsletter anyways, as far as you are people who are interested, not just one of the things that we used to do when we had the open studio here is we would have a giveaway of a print if you signed up for the newsletter. But what we found is that people were just signing up to get the print, not necessarily who are interested in in seeing your work or collecting your work. So we've stopped doing that in favor of asking people once we've talked to them if they'd be interested in getting on the newsletter.

Laura Arango Baier: 38:01

Yeah, at BoldBrush. We inspire artists to inspire the world because creating art creates magic, and the world is currently in desperate need of magic. BoldBrush provides artists with free art marketing, creativity, and business ideas and information. This show is an example. We also offer written resources, articles and a free monthly art contest open to all visual artists. We believe that fortune favors the bold brush. And if you believe that to sign up completely free at BoldBrushshow.com. That's BOLDBRUSH show.com. The BoldBrush Show is sponsored by FASO. Now more than ever, it's crucial to have a website when you're an artist, especially if you want to be a professional in your career. Thankfully, with our special link faso.com forward slash podcast, you can make that come true. And also get over 50% of your first year on your artists website. Yes, that's basically the price of 12 lattes in one year, which I think is a really great deal considering that you get sleek and beautiful website templates that are also mobile friendly e commerce print on demand in certain countries, as well as access to our marketing center that has our brand new art marketing calendar. And the art marketing calendar is something that you won't get with our competitor. The art marketing calendar gives you day by day step by step guides on what you should be doing today, right now in order to get your artwork out there and seen by the right eyes so that you can make more sales this year. So if you want to change your life and actually meet your sales school this year, then start now by going to our special link faso.com forward slash podcast. That's FASO.com/podcast. Yeah, like the you know, if you do have the opportunity to like physically talk to someone because you know, it's one thing to like, post it on the internet and be like join my newsletter versus you know, face to face, you know, making a connection with someone that that's a lot more I'd say more authentic cuz you but it does have this bit of a, like a barrier of anonymity, really, you don't really know the person on the other side of the little text box, right? Because you just get words that you can understand however you want. But with talking to someone, you get that body language, you get the rest of the 90% of the communication, which is out on via text on. So,

Steve Atkinson: 40:23

I would say that that's why it's important for people who are trying to break into the business or just people who like to do it. And for shows, you know, I've got I have a YouTube channel where I talk about one of my videos is I was a judge for a certain show. And I tell I tell people what I was looking for, as, as, as an artist, or as a judge, and what I absolutely will not award prize, too, if you know someone, well, that was, I have another video where it's, you know, 10 tips on entering art judging show. And but the other one is, I tell you go through the different paintings that won an award, and why I felt like they were deserving of it, why they stood out. So if you get a chance, find out what shows are in your area, or in your state, or even national, and go ahead and enter those shows. And if you enter them, if they're local, or in your state, go to the show, go to the opening, that's where you're going to make your connections, that's where you're going to meet collectors, that's where you're going to meet the gallery owners, you know, the people who might want to invite you to the gallery, make sure that you meet the gallery owner, thank them for having the show. And, and start that start that relationship with them. It doesn't have to be well, I can get into the gallery because of them. It's it's just cool to meet people who love art, and gallery owners definitely. love art. Yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 42:09

yeah. And, you know, I have heard from other artists who work with galleries that, you know, working with, with a gallery is very much like a marriage in a lot of ways. Because it's such a long term relationship. And it really requires a lot of communication. And a lot of, you know, back and forth understanding, nurturing, it takes a lot more work than people think. And that's also a really good reason to talk to these galleries, because maybe you have a dream Gallery, and maybe you talk to the gallerist. And you realize maybe we're not such a great fit, right. And that's okay, because there are other galleries and other ways of making a living as an artist. But if you want the gallery game, you got to play the game,

Steve Atkinson: 42:53

you do. One of the things, one of the tips that I will give out that I have realized was that if you get into a gallery, and the gallery owner says to you, well, we'll try it for a little bit, you know, send me a couple paintings, and we'll see how it goes. You probably don't want to be in that gallery. Because you're just going to be a place hanger until one of their other artists that they like better comes along, what you want, what you want is the gallery owner that says I love your work, I would love you to be in the gallery, you know, send me your work, and you're gonna sell so much more work through them. If the gallery owner or the people who are selling really love what you're doing. Because you can't hide that, and you can't fake it. You know, I've been in galleries before where, you know, it was just that trial period. And it never really worked out the best gallery experiences I've had, are the people who just really know who you are, first of all, rather than saying I'm so and so. And my work is over here. Let's go look at it. If you say I'm so and so and they say oh yeah, okay. And you know, I love your work. And you they really mean it. Those are the people that you want trying to sell your work and it's, it's worth it. Wait until you get that kind of a reaction from somebody than just saying, Okay, well, I'm gonna go into this frame shop Gallery, and we'll hope for the best. You know, that's, that's never the best way to do it. So find the people who love your work and nurture those relationships because they're not only going to sell your work, they're going to introduce you to other gallery owners that will sell your work and it's that whole relationship thing that we've been talking about. Now. Yes,

Laura Arango Baier: 44:56

it's networking. But before we dive more into networking because I do want to get into that a little. You mentioned your YouTube channel. And I think you also mentioned how you do you know, to pay homage to all of the past illustrators, you want to pay it forward by also teaching others. Can you tell us about your YouTube channel?

Steve Atkinson: 45:19

Yeah, it's funny because, you know, I've been really blessed throughout my life of having some great teachers. And so whether one of the teachers I'll call out is Joe Paquette II is a wonderful painter. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, I took my first plein air class from him. Mark Hanson is another artists who I really admire, and I have taken a workshop with him. Matt Smith, or and Scott Christensen, I've taken workshops. So I know that there's a lot of people out there who want to learn how to do art. But let's say they don't live in a place where they can take classes or it's too expensive for them. So I've decided that I'm going to do an art youtube art tutorial channel, right? Today, I do tutorials, I do demos. Occasionally, I'll do product reviews. And I try and teach people what I've been taught. Now the videos, sometimes they're a little longer than other people's videos, it seems like 10 or 15 minutes is what a lot of people will do. A lot of my videos are a half an hour, because you can't do a storytelling painting, or a nice drawing and zoom through it. You have to kind of tell them what you're thinking why you're doing what you're doing. And so they're a little more in depth than then what a lot of YouTubers will do. And I figured, well, if they want to fast forward, they can fast forward, but I'll give it to them if if they're interested. And I don't have a Patreon page, which is where you can sign up and pay a certain amount every month and get get extra things. Just because I'm busy with trying to get my, my show deadlines done, or my gallery paintings done. So I don't post nearly as often as I would like to, but I post as often as I can, and get a lot of great feedback. I love doing it. Because I hear from people who say, Thank you, you know, this was I wanted to learn how to paint clouds. And this is, this is the best tutorial that I found on that or how to do a story painting or how to do sketch booking, things like that. And so I post what I'm interested about, and I figured my audience will find me. So that's what my channel is all about Steve Atkinson fine art. You go to youtube.com forward slash, Steve Atkinson fine art, and it'll come up or just put my name and they'll come up. Yeah, so it's a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun. It Well, you know, I mean, you do video editing. But it takes a long time. It you know, doing the painting is only part of it, doing the editing and deciding what you're going to leave in what we're going to take out. And I always do a voiceover over it. Because I can't talk and paint at the same time and, and be coherent. So I do a voiceover over the top of it. And that all takes time finding the music, and there's a whole thing.

Laura Arango Baier: 48:41

Yeah, well, I mean, that goes to show it's a, you know, it's almost like a labor of love. You know, you're doing it because you want you really do want to pay it forward and you want to Yeah, you know, put the best out there for the people who care. I mean, I'm definitely one of those people who will watch 30 Actually, I will watch a six hour video. I'm not kidding. I did watch a six hour.

Steve Atkinson: 49:02

Yeah, I'm the same way but I'm painting at the same time. So I'll just put it on and in the in the background, and I'm looking up as I'm painting so I get it. Yes.

Laura Arango Baier: 49:13

By the way, do you have any works in progress? Or do you have any or any like specific things that you've been putting on or? Okay,

Steve Atkinson: 49:21

well, let me show you. Right now I'm working on finishing up the Prescott rodeo poster. This is my sixth one I've done for him. Here's one that I did a couple of months ago. I don't know if you can see it or not. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 49:37

Oh wow.

Steve Atkinson: 49:38

This was this was a couple of years ago. So what generally what happens and this is the illustrator part of it. I will do a couple of sketches for them. This is this year is the one team roping. So I have team ropers and on this one they wanted to the whole reason for doing this one is that the Prescott road Yo has both of the Cowboys when they're doing team roping come out of the same side. Whereas most of the times in rodeo, one will come out on this side, and one will come out of this side of the box. Well, they both come out of the same side. So this was the first sketch that I did for him. And they thought, well, not a lot of people are going to understand that. So let's not worry about that so much. So I did another sketch for the team roping. And this is the this is the one that they went with. And can you see that? Yeah. Okay. So this is the sketch that I did for him. This is the one that they ended up going with. And so right now, I'm working on finishing up the painting Nice. Yeah, you can see it. Yep. So this is where the type will all go. And I really wanted a moody piece that had the, you know, the sun behind and the backlit dust and everything. So that's that one. This one here. Oh, that's pretty that Native American girl that I met at the powwow. And so I thought I would put a Navajo blanket behind her, give her the nice light effect up on top. And she's not finished yet. But she's pretty close. This one here, this is called if you can see it. Okay, this one's called a hell of a place to lose a cow. And so this one has the first layer of paint on the first skin, I call it, so it has to dry. And then I'll refine it. And I'll put details and adjust settings, things like that. So and then, I'm not sure this one here, I might have to stand up for it, because it's probably too big. Let me just move it out of the way here.

Laura Arango Baier: 52:02

So wow,

Steve Atkinson: 52:04

this is I'm either going to call this one easy money. Or it's a train robbery piece, or the wrong side of the tracks. So you know, we've got, we've got the big steam engine here. And this is I always do the drawing down first. And then I will cover it with the first skin of paint. And then after that dries, then I go over it with a with a second skin and I'll adjust things. And sometimes when you're painting figures or horses, the paint will creep a little bit and so the horse will look too fat or what have you. So anyways, that's that's kind of what I'm working on right now. So we've got the engineer down here. The other thing that I'll mention about this is this is a big 440 steam engine. This is the same steam engine. Well, no, let's see, no, this is this is not a 440. This is a two to eight. Oh, I believe anyways to remember. Anyways, this, this is the nice big black steam engine. We've got the engineer who's pointing down at this guy, and this guy's telling him to stop. And then we've got we've got sparks and smoke flying up down here. So he's applied his brakes. But yeah, so that's kind of what I'm working on. Now. I've got some deadlines that I have to hurry up and things. Yeah. Busy guys finish for. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 53:46

Awesome. No, I really love how, you know, illustration, especially there's a lot of movement. You know, and I feel like that's the dynamism really helps also tell the story. I mean, even in like, the paintings from the Renaissance, right, especially the ones, you know, by Michelangelo, you know, like the Sistine Chapel is a good example. All the figures look like they're moving. And you know, that's the same thing with illustration where to tell the story, you have to have sort of like, figures that are going in one direction and maybe others in a different one. And then you can kind of surmise what's going on just from that, which is so cool.

Steve Atkinson: 54:22

Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, the great thing about that is that you want to do a painting like this that tells a story. And each, each person that's in the painting, I want them to have their own story. I want them to be a real person. You know, the, the thing that drives me crazy about a lot of Western paintings these days, is that people will take a photo of a cowboy on a horse, and they'll paint them just sitting there or you know, sitting on his horse looking at well, at least with with this one here is a hell of a place to live. was a cow. Yeah, they're sitting on their horse. But the story is, they've got to find a cow down in that valley. So, you know, and I do find that for me, I love naming the paintings as much as painting them. Because a good name for a painting, it should extend the meaning, you know, or it should help to explain a little bit of what you're seeing. And if it doesn't do that, if it's, you know, cowboy sitting on his horse, try and get excited about that, you know, so I take a long time to think about the names, one of the paintings that I did, I'll send it to you, you can post it, it's called a good way to get shot down. And it's a bunch of cowboys that are trying to stop their herd from from running, because there's a biplane that's buzzing them. And I learned the story from a world war two pilot of that, that he told me that when he was learning to be a pilot in World War Two, they, they use these airplanes as their training plains. It's a Stearman. And he said that they would just get so bored being up flying in the middle of nowhere, that if they saw a herd of cattle, they would go down and buzz the cattle until they got them all running. And I thought, well, that would be interesting if there were some cowboys there. And so one of the Cowboys is holding his rifle up. Yeah, so it's things like that. Yeah, I got another one called tall tales. That's a couple of cowboys that are riding down a creek and they look up, and one of the Cowboys is pointing up. And on the rock face, there's there are petroglyphs up there. So he realized that is called tall tales. And he realizes that they're not the first ones to tell a good story. So it's things like that, you know, you tell a little story, it's just a little vignette it has, it doesn't have to be a big thing. But for me, that's what gets me in front of the easel every day is try and try and make someone smile, you know, when they see the name and they see the painting. And it makes sense.

Laura Arango Baier: 57:20

Yes, yeah. I love that, you know, and then also, you know, the the paintings of just a cowboy sitting on his horse. Sure, I mean, that that might appeal to certain audience, but it's also really nice to have the type of audience that is, you know, they they see the title, and they see the painting like, Ah, love that. You know, that's a Yeah, that's how you know, right that those people? Yeah,

Steve Atkinson: 57:46

one of my one of my most popular paintings is a painting called The Great Race. And it's, it was done for a show down in Texas. And the person who put the show together called me and said, I need an image for the poster. You know, what can you do? And I said, Well, if it's, the show was about opening up the West and different modes of transportation. So I decided to do the first mode, the first vehicle in each mode of transportation, put them all together and have them racing across the Southwest. So there's a you know, there's an airplane, which is the Curtis Jenny, there's a couple of cowboys, there's the very first production model T. Ford are there's a chuck wagon in the stagecoach and a big 440 Steven engine. So they're all racing at the same time. And people love to look at it and kind of dissect it and decide who's going to win this race. So, you know, I just, I, I love having stories like that, you know, it really does get me going. Yes, yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 58:56

And then also, you know, keeps, keeps the viewer on the painting too, because there's so much to, again, you know, using the techniques of illustration, right, you have a way of guiding the eye and to pull them in and to keep them there, which is ideally what people want people to do. Right? What artists want people to do is like, look at the work and then

Steve Atkinson: 59:17

Yes, right. Right.

Laura Arango Baier: 59:20

Yeah. And then I actually really want to get back into a little bit of that networking side, because you're mentioning how, you know, you've been a judge in competitions, and you're also part of the APA. How has been part of like these, these groups, these associations, how has that helped you network and also get your work out there?

Steve Atkinson: 59:43

Well, you know, it's, it's funny that, that you bring that up because I've met some of my best friends going to the oil painters of America, either the Western Regional or the National shows. That's where I've made most of my connections of meeting the artists that I have I admire a lot, you know, you're in a show, where it really raises your level of what you think that you can do. And so I've met artists that are at that show that we've gotten together afterwards. And we've done photo shoots. Now we've hired cowboys and Indians to come together. And, and we all come with our own ideas for the stories. And we can set up scenes. So I've done I've done that I've met, the gallery owner for the Western Regional oil painters of America show was one of the galleries that I got into I had gotten the second place metal, and she came up to me afterward and said, we'd love to have you in the gallery, you know, let's talk and I said, Sure, you know, let's, let's talk afterwards. And so she was just excited about having me in the gallery. And to be that was a Western Regional show, but to be in a show like that, and have the gallery owner, really call you out and say, we'd love your work, we really want to represent you. That's one of the things that I get out of being with the oil painters of America, I'm not a real joining kind of person, you know, I don't join a lot of different organizations, but the oil painters of America, it's made me a better painter than I would otherwise have been. Because I know if I want to get into the national show, I have to do my very best work. And Western it, they're not just Western art, I mean, their art of all different representational genres. So a very small portion of it is Western art. And so I really have to stand out if I'm going to be in that. And I know that if I get into that show, that I've done my job, you know, and you hope that it sells doesn't always sell but, but you meet great people. Some of the other things that I love doing with that is I go to the show, and usually they have an artist that will be doing a demo. So I can I can watch them paint, I can really figure out what it is that they're doing and what maybe I can incorporate into me into my work. And the other thing is that there's there's a lot of get togethers, there's there's talks, a lot of times gallery owners will get together, and they'll talk, talk about what they're looking for in their gallery, you know, because so many artists, that's the first question they ask is, How do I get into your gallery. And so that it helps to find out from the gallery owners what they're looking for, and what will help you whether they want you to call them on the phone, because 50 times a day, they're gonna get a phone call saying, How do I get into your gallery, or if they want you to send them an email with a portfolio or send it, drop it off at the gallery, you know, it helps to learn all those different kinds of things. So but I would just say on that, call the gallery and ask them how they like to get their submissions. That's usually the best way. But the other way to get into a gallery is to have somebody who will advocate for you. So whether it's a collector who buys from that gallery, it helps to have them whisper into the gallery owners here. And another way is to have one of their artists. Talk about you to the gallery owner. A personal recommendation is one of the best ways to get noticed by a gallery. I've found that you know, having other artists say to the gallery owner, you know, this guy is really good. He's up and coming. You may want to take a chance on him and see what happens. Most artists are not territorial, when it comes to their galleries, at least I've found, you know, a lot of times, you know, you hear well, artists don't want to recommend you because that's taking work away. But your work. If you get into a gallery, it lifts other people's works up and they can get better artists in there and the better caliber artists that you can be in a gallery, the better it is for you because the collectors look at this gallery and say this is a wonderful gallery. Let's see who else is there maybe build people that I haven't heard of. So that's one of the things that I've learned from the OPA and being in some of the other art groups I was with the Western artists of America. I think they're defunct now. But I was with them for a little while. And we started our own, which was became defunct. But being in different groups, it can really help to lift your work up and make you paint better than you ever thought you could. Because you're not just going to let anything out of this studio. You know, I think Richard Smith once said, he never lets anything out at the studio, that he's not completely happy with. You know, but I've heard from other people, that there are no finished oil paintings. There's just abandoned oil paintings. So yeah, you know, it just depends on who you talk to.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:05:42

Yeah, it could be both. It could be both. I mean, you can be happy with something and just say, Yeah, I'll mess around with it later. Yeah, it's just, you

Steve Atkinson: 1:05:51

look back on it. And you say, oh, geez, I wish I had that painting back. I could do it so much better now. But at the time, it was the best you could do. Yeah. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:05:59

I mean, as long as it's not like, Oh, this is great. And then years later, you see it, and you're like, Oh, no. Yeah.

Steve Atkinson: 1:06:07

It's one of the reasons I don't do quick draws. Because the Phippen Museum here in Prescott, they have a courthouse show called Western art, show and sale. And they have a quick draw. I've done it a couple of years. But there's really nothing I can do in 45 minutes or an hour that I want out of the studio, you know, for the rest of my life. It's a quick sale. Yeah. But I'm protective of my brand. Yes.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:06:35

Oh, and speaking of brand, you actually mentioned a quote earlier, which is ride for the brand. So I wanted to know, what does that mean for you? And how do you ride for the brand in your presence? You

Steve Atkinson: 1:06:50

know, ride, riding for the brand is just a fancy way of saying that you need to promote yourself. And don't be afraid to do that every chance you get whether it's doing a demo for somebody. Now, writing for the brand could mean doing the Quick Draw. But I found that for me, and some people, they flourish on doing an hour painting. But for me, it's if you get asked to do a demo, or to do a tutorial, or to do an interview for a podcast, you always say yes, if you can always ask for the sale. Always promote yourself without being obnoxious. You can talk about yourself without, you know, boring somebody to death, and kind of watch their eyes. And if they start wandering around the room, you excuse yourself and, and move on. But this is the kind of a career that you really need to not be afraid to talk to somebody about your artwork, because it's the only way that people are going to find you. And get out there. One of the best things that I've found is having a magazine get in contact with you doing a story on you. And these, these take time, because there's a you have to do an interview a lot like this, you have to get them good quality artwork. And they'll do the story. And then they get back in touch with you to so that you review it and make sure that everything came across the way you wanted it to. So on this one, this, this was a dream come true. For me. The art of the West magazine is my favorite Western art magazine out there. And so after I did the the article, they sent me an email and said we want to put your art on the cover. And so the thing that was really cool about it is this was the first time that it was a fold up. Yeah. And this one was called lunch line. Now, this was a scene that I came across when I was up in in Colorado, the gentleman who takes care of all the horses, so doing everything that you can a year or two ago I had international artists get in touch with me and I did a tutorial on how to do a Nocturne. I had an Indian who is sitting on the back of a horse in the you know under the moonlight and everything so I think a lot of times magazines are open to especially like, like international artists that are open to artists getting in touch and saying I have this idea for a story. Here it is here's the painting, take pictures along the way. And, you know, they're always looking for good submissions. Yeah, get your name out there that way if you can. Advertising is kind of hidden myths, and I say this coming from an advertising background. But I went in, when I started doing advertising in the magazines, I found that I was disappointed because I wasn't getting people calling up and saying, I want to buy this painting. And I, that's the wrong approach. Advertising really is about getting name recognition. And so you need to be in the magazine for a year, if you can, you know, just doesn't have to be a big ad. But if you're in there, month after month, after month, people don't realize it, but they come to know your name. And if they're looking at the magazine, so, you know, that's the purpose of advertising, sometimes you can sell a painting. But a lot of times, it's just getting people to know that you exist, and maybe getting them interested enough to take a look at your website, because they liked that particular painting. And then it can lead to other sales. So advertising going into it, it's it can be a lot of money. But if you're in it for the long haul, it can it can pay off. Right? Yeah, but there's a lot of things you can do that you don't have to pay a whole lot of money for. And that's like being in the magazines, doing a tutorial for them getting on YouTube, Instagram, posting regularly. I think I've gotten one or two sales from Instagram, or Facebook, but not much. You know, it's really about you know, Instagram is more about connecting with other artists I've found, there's, it's not really a collector base thing. But you know, connecting with other artists, it can get you in a gallery, you know, if if, if you find someone who you really connect with, and they're maybe a little bit beyond where you are, and you you start talking with them, and maybe they recommend you for for getting in their gallery, or maybe they suggest the gallery that you might fit better for. So like I said, so our relationship based. Yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 1:12:12

and also another part of painting and making money is doing workshops. Do you have any upcoming workshops you'd like to promote?

Steve Atkinson: 1:12:22

Yeah, I, I do one workshop, I'm gonna probably start to do some plein air painting workshops. But right now, I've got a workshop that I'm going to be doing down in Texas in April, April, the 18th and 19th at the Bosque Arts Center. And it's a on location sketching class, because the reason that he's decided to do this as I sketch every day, it keeps my eye sharp. And if you can't see a drawing problem in your painting, you can't fix it. And so I really look forward to sketching every day at the end of painting, I eat dinner, and then I come back and I draw. So at the at these workshops, these drawing workshops, we take people out with a small sketchbook, and we teach them how to simplify the scene, how to break it down to just a few values. And the more sketching that you can do on shorter sketches, it's like learning an instrument, the more you practice for more often, for shorter periods, the longer the faster you're gonna get better. So if you sketch every day, or five days a week for half an hour a day, it's going to be so much better than sketching once or twice a week on the weekend for eight hours. And so many people want to get back into art when they're empty nesters or young kids who were just learning how to to paint. There are a lot of them are skipping over the you need to learn to draw if you're going to be representational artist before you pick up the paintbrush, and you know that's one of the things I learned when I was going to college or at taking classes at the utility A is you need to put your brush down. Pick up your pencil and your Sketch brush your sketchbook and fill up your sketchbooks. It it can be fun. You sketch the things that are because I don't go out and sketch every day I can't. So I sketch to the things that are around me. I go on on Pinterest, I've got urban sketching kind of pins that I'll do a lot of buildings and landscapes and cowboys and and I love painting sketching octopus, so I sketch a lot of octopus. They're just they're the coolest animals ever creatures ever. So you just sketch the things that you find interesting. And if you do that and Do it for let's say a month straight, you're gonna be able to look back at where you started a month ago, and you're gonna see some real progress. And imagine if you take that 15 minutes every day that you can just find know, rather than sitting in front of the TV or, or scrolling tick tock or tic tac, or whatever it's called. If you take that, that, that last time and you put it to drawing, imagine where you could be in a year. I mean, you're going to be so much better when you pick up your brush, because you don't have to struggle with getting that drawing down, right? Yeah, now you can concentrate not just on the values, but you can concentrate on the color temperatures, and the whether you want a high key or a low key painting. It just, it makes your life so much easier. And so that's why I teach this class. It's, it's like I said, it's going to be at the Bosque. I used to call it the Bosque conservatory. That's what it was called when I was competed there. But now it's the Bosque arts center.org forward slash events, so you can find it there. There was another one that I was teaching in Texas, but unfortunately, that one fell through because there was some problems with with the gallery leaking. Oh, they had to close down. But I'm also teaching this class, this workshop at the Phippen Museum. That's going to be in October. So you can go flippin art views and let me see what is it the flippin art museum.org And you can look it up there. But I love it. I love teaching people to draw. And I will tell the story that when I was first, I was about 13 I think I was going to public school in outside of Youngstown, Ohio, I went to Struthers, Ohio. And for some reason they had this summer workshop that it was we went to yellow Creek and I brought I rode my bicycle every day and sat on the edge of yellow Creek with my sketchpad and my little transistor radio. And that's where I learned to draw on location. And I thought if I could do this for living, I would be so happy. And I remember that going through high school and going through college. And so when the plein air craze started up, I realized I remembered this was what I wanted to do. And so I started plein air. And having, you know, been trained in illustration and drawing, I had that leg up. But for a lot of people who've been out of art for a long time, you need to slow down a little bit. And and you can you can draw at the same time your painting, don't I don't think that you can do that. But if you skip that step, you're going to not be real happy at first with what you're doing. And so pick up your pencil, pick up your watercolors, whatever, whatever it is that you find that works for you. And do yourself a favor. And whether you take classes or just do it on your own, there's one of my big dreams is to go to an urban sketching symposium that they have all over the world. I don't know if you've heard of urban sketching or not. But people that get together and they draw on location and they share it at the end of their day, what their drawings are. And it's this whole community of people that love the same thing, you know, and they get fulfilled by being out and drawing on the street. But I don't live in an urban area. I live in the middle of nowhere on the Edge of Nowhere, middle of nowhere, he's just add a little bit farther. But I'll go out and I'll sketch the rocks here. And let me see. I've got I've got some sketches here. I just did this the other day. This was at Watson lake. And so I went up into the into the cliffs up above Watson Lake and I sketched and so this was at Bannock in Montana, and in when I can't go I'll do sketches like this. Oh, that's lovely. So you know, this is in London. That's St. St. Paul, I think in London and then this is Clovelly. And so you know I just sketch, whatever, whatever I can, and I'm drawing all the time, I've got books filled with it. And it's so much fun to look back and say, What was I thinking? Or, you know, you're gonna have, you're gonna have times where the sketches just aren't working. And that's okay. You know, and that's part of the process is to say, okay, maybe this wasn't the best this time, but what can I do better for the next drawing? So you just, you have to love the process? And I do. I think hard. It can be, it can be, but that, like Tom Hanks says in, in A League of Their Own, it's the hard that makes a great, you know, if it was easy, everybody would do it. So, but it gets a whole lot easier, the more you practice.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:20:49

Definitely. Yeah. And it is very, very true that the drawing is extremely foundational, especially for painting, I like to say, and, obviously, I'm just making up a number, but 90% of a great painting is great drawing. I mean, there's no way around it, because you can you can have the most beautifully rendered perfect values, everything. But if a drawing is wrong, it is wrong. It doesn't you can't save it. There's no amount of perfect values, perfect rendering that will ever save a terrible drawing. Especially and

Steve Atkinson: 1:21:26

I noticed you you've got the casts behind you their scope painting. Yeah. Yeah. I'll have to talk to you afterwards. And I'm looking for the Abraham Lincoln cast. You know, just kind of the head mask. Yeah. Yeah. Well, not the death one, but just uh, I think James Gurney has a copy of it. And yeah, if you have a place where you buy casts online, let me know because I would really love that.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:21:55

Right? Yeah, I'll recommend a place after. Actually, there are quite a few that you can look at. Um, yeah. And then where can our listeners find more of your work?

Steve Atkinson: 1:22:05

Okay, well, let me see. My website is Steve Atkinson. studio.com. Just like it sounds. My one of my galleries is Illume gallery West. And I'll spell that I L L U M. e Illume. Gallery west.com and Texas treasures.com. So those are the most of the places and then of course, my YouTube channel is youtube.com forward slash, Steve Atkinson fine art. And you'll be able to find me there. Yeah. So, and drop me an email if you if you want any. I'd love to talk art or anything. Because this is such a loan. thing to do. You know, we're alone so much of the time I love sitting down and writing. So that is Steve at Steve Atkinson. studio.com. So drop me an email. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:23:03

Well, yes, so much, Steve for giving us some of your time. And back to back. Awesome advice. I am over here like I need to take notes should run up.

Steve Atkinson: 1:23:14

That's great. I can give advice. I'm not so good at taking it. But there you go.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:23:19

That's usually how it goes. No. Yeah.

Steve Atkinson: 1:23:23

Well, thank you for asking me to be on here. I appreciate it. It was a lot of fun. Yes, yep. And stay warm up there.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:23:29

I will stay cool. It will

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The BoldBrush Show. Interviews with today's finest artists and creatives. Watch here or listen on all major podcast services.