LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Three artists from southwest Oklahoma got to put their skills on full display during a mural painting contest at the Oklahoma State Fair.
Twenty people from across the state were chosen to compete in the contest, including Shailah Red Elk of Lawton, Stephen Saupitty from Apache, and Dr. Bob Palmer from Walters.
Stephen Saupitty and Shailah Red Elk are no stranger to painting murals.
"Thirteen months ago I picked up a spray can for the first time and did a mural in Temple. I just got tired of seeing the wall being ugly and I wanted to do it,” Saupitty said.
"About 4 years ago I started doing it for friends and it became a job. Then large-scale things started happening for me. I did a business here in town and it just went on from there,” Red Elk said.
Both were alerted to a live mural painting contest being put on at the Oklahoma State Fair and decided to submit some of their work in hopes of being selected to compete. Only twenty people, including both Saupitty, Red Elk and Palmer received that good news.
"I was ecstatic, I really was. That’s when the nerves started hitting me, I’m like oh my goodness,” Saupitty said. "It was kind of pressure. It was awesome,” Red Elk said.
On Saturday, all of the artists showed up at the fairgrounds ready to create a masterpiece. Every artist had the same job - create a mural of anything they wanted on a blank 8-foot by 12-foot canvas. Saupitty created a piece based on his Native American heritage.
"I grew up two different ways you could say. I grew up in a regular world and a traditional world. So, I knew about powwows and dancing and our tradition and our language. But I also worked on a farm and went to school and learned all the stuff I needed to do just to succeed in life. I just put all of that into one,” Saupitty said.
Red Elk actually did the same, choosing to paint a Native American woman that she had never even met.
"I was scrolling through Instagram and saw this native woman that I didn’t know who she was, and she was just beautiful. Traditionally, a lot of artists will paint a thinner subject native wise. So, a lot of thicker, curvier girls don’t get the attention they deserve. So, I really just wanted to put someone up that normally doesn’t get put up,” Red Elk said.
Both artists said it was a great experience as a whole, but said it was a little bit weird to be painting while strangers were gathering around them and taking pictures of their unfinished product.
7NEWS reached out to Dr. Bob Palmer, who is originally from Walters, but did not receive a response before the story aired.