‘Art of a Cowboy’
Oklahoma painter ropes in new TV show on OETA
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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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.