By Craig Stocks / Photography by Craig Stocks
When you first meet Peoria artist Steve Boyd there’s no doubt about his outlook on life. His paintings are big, and the ideas and images in the paintings are big. Even the colors are big and bold. His motto for life says it all – LIVBIG.
Steve was born in Peoria and moved to Morton during 5th grade. He struggled with school and was eventually diagnosed as being dyslexic, which made reading very difficult. Once properly diagnosed, Steve said he was able to “stumble my way through high school.“ But he excelled in the art class that was introduced during his junior year. “My only way to relate to the world is visually,” Steve said, “so that’s why I do art.”
After high school, Steve studied art at both Illinois Central College and at Illinois State University, and was preparing to attend the Kansas City Art Institute. But each time he started to really focus on his art life’s responsibilities would get in the way. Over the years, he worked in law enforcement, drove a truck for the Peoria Journal Star and taught martial arts. He left the martial arts when he tired of seeing people get hurt and he now operates Boyd’s Place II massage therapy business where he can focus on helping people heal.
Steve’s life changing moment came from a near death experience. He experienced scenes and colors like he’d never seen before. More importantly, he began to feel an understanding that he needed to bring art back into his life. When his wife Tammy told him, “If it’s not now, it’s never,” he decided it was time to jump in. “I guess I’m kind of a poster child for “It’s never too late,”” Steve said.
Steve does both colored pencil pieces and acrylic paintings, but the two mediums come from two distinctly different places. The pencil pieces are illustrative and represent Steve’s meticulous side. His paintings, on the other hand, represent his free spirit side. “If I let my wild side go too far, I’ll lose touch with what I need to be doing,” he said. “I need both sides to stay balanced between my “want to’s” and my “have to’s.””
The images in Steve’s acrylic paintings mostly come from his dreams. He’ll wake up and “sit straight up in bed” with a new image. Once the images are in his head, they stay there, fully formed, until he gets them out onto the canvas. As he describes it, “I can’t get it out of my head until I sign my name to the piece. Once I can look at the image on canvas, then I don’t need it in my head.”
While Steve paints to get the image out onto the canvas, he’s also very interested in the response from the audience. His goal is to create an emotional response from the viewer. He explains, “I work with figures in my paintings because they create an emotional response. What we look at every day and respond to on a soul level is another individual. This is where people resonate; this is where people respond.” When people say, “Oh, I’ve got it; I can relate to that,” then he knows he’s succeeded.
If you want to “get it” too, you can see Steve’s work at the Studios on Sheridan. Also, be sure to check out the CIAO First Friday events at the Studios on Sheridan and other locations in the Peoria area.