Steve Atkinson Artist Focus
Western Art Collector Magazine May, 2023
When Steve Atkinson moved to Prescott, AZ in 2009, it was a life changing event. At that time, he had been painting western art for many years while living in Minnesota, but knew he needed to live in the American Southwest. It had been his dream since he was a child watching movies with stories of the rugged men and women who were drawn there to live their lives in a land that was wild and untamed. These people deserve to have their stories told and preserved. So Atkinson, along with his wife Ann, left a successful career as an illustrator and took the leap of faith that this was what he was called to do and to trust everything would fall into place. He chose right. Prescott is a town filled with history and the high desert is something that has to be seen to be appreciated. Portraying the cowboy from 150 years ago until today gives him so much opportunity to tell those stories. Cattle ranches abound there and the cowboy is alive and well, thank you very much! These stories are an unending source of inspiration for Steve and he says, “I’d have to live three lifetimes to be able to even scratch the surface.”
He gets his ideas from visiting ranches and talking with their cowboys and from the stories he reads. Recently he completed an assignment of 6 book covers for the Ralph Compton Trail series. When not in his studio, you can find him outside painting the landscape and studying the light. “I find that when I paint on location I always come away a better painter, having learned something new. Something I could never have learned in my studio. You can’t help but to grow as an artist, so I make time to get out there. I don’t sell these paintings since the information gathered from them is immeasurable.
One thing that sets Atkinson apart is his love of doing commissions for his collectors. “Many artists shy away from painting scenes they didn’t come up with themselves. But I love bringing someone’s vision to life for them. To me there’s nothing better than to deliver a commission and see their eyes light up because this is a place or image that means something to them. It’s as good as being Santa on Christmas morning!”