‘Art of a Cow­boy’

Ok­la­homa painter ropes in new TV show on OETA

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - Brandy McDon­nell bm­c­don­nell@ ok­la­homan.com

Ok­la­homa painter Steve Boaldin ropes in new TV show on OETA.

ED­MOND — ith a light hand, Steve Boaldin daubs more color on a golden-hued paint­ing, fill­ing in the sun­lit grass at the feet of five horses bear­ing their riders home after a hard day’s work.

“I was born and raised on a ranch, so it was just nat­u­rally some­thing that al­ways, when I thought about draw­ing or paint­ing, that’s what I wanted to paint,” Boaldin said from his home stu­dio in Ed­mond. “So, it was some­thing that was just a drive in me to do.”

Al­ready cap­tured on can­vas and framed for dis­play, the sun­set scene soon will be seen on TV, too.

After years of re-cre­at­ing the cow­boy way with paints and pa­per, the re­spected Western artist now is work­ing in a new medium: tele­vi­sion. Boaldin is the host, pro­ducer and star of “Art of aCow­boy,” a new se­ries pre­mier­ing Sept. 7 on OETA.

“Steve is one of many who ap­proach us through­out the year with an idea for a pro­gram... and it is a good pro­gram. It shows the spirit of the West and the peo­ple who oc­cupy it,” said Bill Perry, vice pres­i­dent of con­tent pro­duc­tion for the Ok­la­homa Ed­u­ca­tional Tele­vi­sion Author­ity.

“There are pro­grams about painters, and there are pro­grams about the Western life­style. And it’s sim­ply a bril­liant merger of the two, I think.”

Cow­boy artist

Raised on a ranch near Elkhart, Kansas, just over the state line from the Ok­la­homa Pan­han­dle, Boaldin can’t re­call the first time he rode a horse or drew a pic­ture of one. He started too young in both vo­ca­tions.

But he has clearmem­o­ries of sad­dling his first horse at age 5 and of study­ing art un­der Western artist, art teacher and gal­lerist Dord Fitz, who trav­eled fre­quently in the Ok­la­homa-Texas-Kansas

area teach­ing classes. Start­ing when he was 18, Boaldin took lessons with Fitz for five years, even mov­ing to Amar­illo, Texas, to be closer to his teacher’s home base. Nat­u­rally, Boaldin worked in the stock­yards and feed­lots when he wasn’t work­ing on paint­ing tech­niques.

As a long­time graphic de­signer and il­lus­tra­tor at The Ok­la­homan— he worked two 12-year stints at the news­pa­per, sep­a­rated by a four-year pe­riod at Mardel, where he started it­sart de­part­ment —Boaldin got to try his hand at draw­ing a va­ri­ety of sub­jects, from Ok­la­homa City Thun­der star Rus­sell West­brook to a deck of fish-themed play­ing cards. But his affin­ity for cow­boys al­ways was ap­par­ent. “That was more school­ing, and that helped a whole lot. I think ev­ery­thing we do pre­pares us for the next step,” said Boaldin, who has been pur­su­ing his art full time since leav­ing The Ok­la­homan last fall. “To get to do some­thing that you’ve al­ways wanted to do for a long time is just amaz­ing. It’s just tim­ing. … I believe it’s God tim­ing, re­ally.”

Tele­vi­sion host

It was more for­tu­nate tim­ing that Boaldin met lo­cal pub­li­cist Saraa Kami last au­tumn at an open­ing re­cep­tion for one of his art shows. He said she was the one who saw a tele­vi­sion show in the idea he had for find­ing more ma­te­rial for his paint­ings.

“About two springs ago ata gallery in Pawhuska, there was a pa­tron that came in and re­ally liked my art, and I found out that they had a big ranch here in Ok­la­homa. So, I thought, ‘Well, I might as well check and see if they wouldn’t mind if I came out and took some pho­tos of them work­ing cat­tle.’ And, sure, they in­vited me and I went and I did that and re­ally en­joyed it: Got up at 3 o’clock in morn­ing and drove there, got there by 6, met these guys out in the mid­dle of nowhere —just about got lost sev­eral times —and I spent the whole day with them tak­ing pic­tures. … And it was a long day, went all night up un­til late at night, got back home about mid­night,” he said.

“Well, on my drive home, this idea came to me, that I would just love to do this: to go to ranches all across the United States and take pic­tures so that for one thing I’d have ma­te­rial I could paint from, and the other idea was … that I could tell the sto­ries of the peo­ple on these ranches at the same time.”

Range rov­ing

Within five days of Kami sug­gest­ing he turn his idea into a TV se­ries, Boaldin said he was back in Elkhart — where his younger brother, Thon, runs the fam­ily ranch — with a cam­era crew in tow. Although he never imag­ined him­self work­ing in tele­vi­sion, Boaldin has jumped into the process of film­ing footage, seek­ing spon­sors and ar­rang­ing close cap­tion­ing. “There’s been a big learn­ing curve for this,” he said. “You have to re­ally bite the bul­let and get in there.”

From Perry’s per­spec­tive, Boaldin is “well above the curve of most peo­ple who have started to do a TV show.” After the first episode runs sev­eral times in Septem­ber on OETA and sis­ter sta­tion OKLA, Perry said he plans on pre­mier­ing new in­stall­ments of “Art of a Cow­boy” in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber and then re­sum­ing monthly in­stall­ments of the se­ries after the new year. “He’s very tal­ented in both ar­eas, near as I can tell. … I can look at his art and know that he’s a good artist,” Perry said. “And he gets into it him­self. It’s not all about Steve go­ing to play cow­boy. He’s ap­par­ently got ex­pe­ri­ence at it and does a great job of im­mers­ing you as an out­sider into their world. And he doc­u­ments it so well.”

For his show’s premiere episode, Boaldin trav­eled to McLean, Texas, to meet Ronnie Fer­gu­son and his fam­ily on the Cross 3 Ranch, where he roped calves on cam­era for the first time, attended a ser­vice of the lo­cal cow­boy church where Fer­gu­son is the preacher and witnessed an empty sad­dle cer­e­mony in mem­ory of a cow­boy killed in a wild­fire there ear­lier this year. Along with footage of his ranch ad­ven­tures, the episode fea­tures Boaldin back in his home stu­dio cre­at­ing paint­ings based on the trip.

His show’s second in­stall­ment will fea­ture his older brother, Mark, work­ing cat­tle in a snow­storm on his ranch be­tween Dodge City and Gar­den City, Kansas, while the third episode will take view­ers to the 9,000acre Boaldin fam­ily spread near Elkhart. This week, the fledg­ling TV host is trav­el­ing to Amar­illo, Texas, for film­ing at the Ad­e­quan Se­lect Amer­i­can Quar­ter Horse As­so­ci­a­tion World Cham­pi­onship Show.

“Then, I’m up at 5, 6, 7 o’clock every morn­ing and I’m in here go­ing, just be­cause I en­joy what I do,” Boaldin said from his stu­dio. “Ev­ery­body al­ways asks me ‘Why in the heck do you paint so many cow­boys?’ And it’s just be­cause of my roots, and that’s what I’m in­ter­ested in. And that to me makes a good paint­ing.”

The 2017 Foot­ball Pre­view is in­side to­day’s pa­per.


Cow­boy artist Steve Boaldin is seen Aug. 11 with some of his art­work at his home stu­dio in Ed­mond.

A cow­boy paint­ing by Steve Boaldin is dis­played in his home stu­dio in Ed­mond.

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