Delaware artist turns his love of painting and wildlife into a career

Steve Oliver was working for a trucking company, faced with a layoff he turned to his true passions, painting and wildlife and never turned back.

Steve was going to get laid off and decided to make a change, “I decided that twenty years had gone by doing something I was good at but I really didn’t enjoy, so I decided for the next twenty years that I would try something I liked.”

Steve has been painting for “as long as I’ve been alive, almost.” He loves the outdoors and animals, in particular. “I found a way to combine the two and make a career out of it,” Steve said.

His former career was as a service manager for a car haul trucking company. He was responsible for 300 drivers and 240 trucks. Quite a difference when compared to his new life.

Having drawn for most of his life Steve was sure he had the ability and interest to be a full-time artist, but having drive and desire sometimes isn’t enough. He had a few shows before leaving the trucking company and he was getting some good reviews. “There was kind of an acceleration of confidence as well as ability,” Steve said.

For inspiration Steve will travel to Bombay Hook, Yellowstone National Park, Alaska and all points in between. “The problem is that I come up with 30 ideas for every trip and I don’t have time to do them all,” he said.

While on a “work vacation” Steve will be up and out at first light, camera in tow. “I don’t really see any reason to stop from the time the sun goes up to the time the sun goes down,” Steve said. These working trips aren’t really work for Steve. He may photograph elk all morning, see bison in the afternoon or the occasional grizzly bear. Closer to home, Steve can hit Bombay Hook in the morning and take photographs for two or three hours.

After taking all of those pictures it’s hard to decide what to paint first. “It’s like what kind of music I want to listen to today?” Steve said. He may have as many as 20 paintings in different states of completeness, “Because I changed my mind and have gone in a different direction, I’ll get back to them sooner or later, but it’s what happens to strike me at the time.”

The beginning of those paintings is fun for Steve, “You’re starting to develop, you’re starting to figure it out; you’re laying the ground work for the whole composition, and you’re getting all charged up about it.” It’s always the middle part of paintings that artists tell me is the most difficult. “The middle 60% or 50% that almost seems like drudgery,” Steve said.

There is, however, always a light at the end of the tunnel. “Then you see, I’m almost there, I’m almost there, and it’s just a real satisfying feeling to see what you’ve done,” Steve said. Its an ‘ah-ha’ moment. “Sometimes those ah-ha moments last a long time.”

When Steve spends 10-20 hours trying to get a certain look right, “…and you actually accomplish it, it’s a pretty good feeling”.

Steve hopes people love his work of course, but also there is a deeper message he hopes you take away from the experience of viewing one of his paintings, “I want them to appreciate the diversity of the outdoors.”

You can get more information on Steve and his work on the web.


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