Category Archives: Plein Air

Sketching With Bill Sawczuk; Crushing on Rob Kingwill

By Bill Sawczuk

“I don’t need a sketch to paint.”  
 
“Sketching is too time consuming.” 
 
“I don’t like pencil work.” 
 
And the real reason:
“I don’t wish to spend the time practicing to sketch.”  

 

These are reasons artists chafe against sketching, as cited by plein air painter Bill Sawczuk. In this post, I’m letting Bill do the talking. A consummate professional, he’s always thinking of composition, technique and hard work. In his mind, the definition of sketching–and its importance in the artistic process–is largely misunderstood.

Sawczuk says that the resistance to pencil work stems from the fact that many artists tend to take a pencil sketch too far.

“They labor at technique and finish. The feeling of spontaneity and freshness is gone, and an overworked sketch is the result,” explains Sawczuk. “Look at the sketches that Sorolla did of people sitting in restaurants in New York and Chicago. They were very quickly done, but they capture the attitude and character of those people.”

Bill Sawczuk is quick on the oil sketch draw. No evidence of coffee stains!

As Sawczuk is predominantly a plein air oil painter, he often uses oil as a sketching medium to do a quick study on 8-weight museum quality paper board.

“The big advantage of this material is its ability to soak in the oil paint, which allows you to keep painting on a relatively dry surface. I completed this oil sketch (above) in one hour, and it could have been quicker if I hadn’t dipped my brush in my coffee,” says the artist.

Bill Sawczuk, Conte Figure Sketch

Many world-renowned artists executed highly descriptive yet simple renderings of buildings around the globe using a pencil, Sawczuk tells us. A pencil, he says, is a handy tool, easily obtained, easily carried, and quick to use with plenty of practice.

Photo of Bill Sawczuk by Tammy Christel

“Carry a nice soft pencil and sketch pad with you…no eraser! Using an eraser might cause you to over-correct, negating the time-saving benefits of a quick sketch. Your subject might be anything, but your purpose is learning. If you are drawing from a live model, take advantage of your chance to quick sketch, and see how quickly you improve.”

Sawczuk’s ability to capture the heart of Jackson Hole’s Western culture and wildlife is unmatched. His dynamic portrait of a bull moose sold like lightning at the Art Association’s recent “Whodunnit” fundraiser sale. The painting’s power and surety, its “moose essence,” made it jump off the wall. Sawczuk was also recently featured in the prestigious Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine in that publication’s article on figure drawing, “Go Figure.”

A member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters group, Bill Sawczuk is also represented at Trio Fine Art in Jackson Hole. You know he’ll be out and painting up a storm this summer!  www.triofineart.com

Rob Kingwill for Nike

I’m old. And that’s why, when the coolest of the cool snowboarding – art crowd talk to me, it’s HUGE! The other evening I ran into Rob Kingwill at a friend’s birthday party, and I have to say about this young man: he ALWAYS smiles and says hello, he’s always positive, he’s “clear,” and he’s good to his parents.

We talked for a while. Really, Rob talked and I listened, because I’m not close to his arts group here. He creates for the joy of it; he’s not weighted with angst, but he’s also, I think, hungry and ready for more exposure in the Jackson Hole art scene. For his genre to be taken “seriously.”
To be considered….fine art?  Take a look!

AVALON7 SNOWBOARDING AND FLYFISHING FACEMASKS

It’s certainly sought after. It’s as disciplined as any other form of art. Understand the snowboard culture and you understand the art.  I think a few more pop-up shows for Kingwill and his colleagues are in order, don’t you? There are some pretty sweet sponsors we could hit up!  Check out his company on Facebook:  AVALON7.

Thanks for the talk, Rob. I learned a lot. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rob-kingwill-ab8487b/

 

Hats Off! It’s “Whodunnit” Number 10!

I know Whodunnit!

What’s so special and enduring about the Art Association’s annual “Whodunnit?” fundraiser? One participating artist, Borbay, immediately piped up with his take on the exhibition:

“Despite being a full-time artist in Manhattan for seven years, I never established a meaningful relationship with an art organization. That changed completely when I moved to Victor, connected with Shari Brownfield, Todd Hanna, Chas Marsh, Mark Nowlin and The Art Association of Jackson Hole. They hosted my first show out West in the Summer of 2016, and since, I’ve witnessed the incredible impact they have made on our community. When the wonderful Jill Callahan mentioned the Whodunnit show, I was happy to contribute. I’m excited to see who ends up with my piece, and, from what I’ve heard, it’s one helluva party!”

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Kathryn Mapes Turner Meets Winter 2017

Kathryn Mapes Turner, “Dance,” 48 x 48″.

Kathryn Mapes Turner, of Trio Fine Art, grew up in Grand Teton National Park on her family’s Triangle X Ranch. She’s arguably experienced just about everything a Jackson Hole winter can throw out there.

But, says the artist, there is winter…and there is THIS winter. With little sun, high winds, frigid temperatures and hundreds of inches of snowfall, even this valley veteran turned to accessing her imagination in lieu of accessing 15-foot high snow berms.

“Winters are always magical,” says Turner. “A typical winter brings peace and solitude; it’s a time to scale back, explore internal creative impulses, and ‘save up’ for summer when once again I’ll be able to respond to the sublime stimulation and inspiration of painting out in the field.”

“It’s all made me think back on my anthropology studies. We explored how the arts flourished in communities that had their basic needs met as opposed to communities that didn’t.”

Endlessly fascinating are the transformations snow and ice bring. Winter turns the outdoors into a dream world, simplifying landscapes, paring it down to essentials. But this winter, Turner admits her soul was not buoyed by her favorite winter activity, skiing.

Kathryn Mapes Turner, “Teton Sunrise.”

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Over the Rooftops; Letscher Lands at Tayloe Piggott

Bobbi Miller, “Over the Rooftop,” 6×6″ oil

Moran, Wyoming lies 30 miles north of the Town of Jackson. Last month Moran received almost 40 inches of snow, 10 inches above normal. Jackson has received almost the same amount, but Moran’s isolated location lends itself to days of being no other place than Moran.

It’s a singularly beautiful, remote and a Grand Teton National Park gateway. If you are a plein air painter, Moran offers an infinite number of beautiful locations and constant inspiration.

A Moran resident, Teton Plein Air Painter Bobbi Miller this winter has left her in awe of the Park’s forefathers who battled intense winter conditions without any of the modern conveniences we enjoy today. Confined to painting indoors this winter, Miller’s painting style has veered towards abstraction; quick work and impressions of landscape are intriguing.

“I must admit to putting those foot warmers in my boots when DRIVING to Dubois, Wyoming recently,” Miller confesses. Dubois lies approximately 75 miles east of Moran, and to get there one must travel over the spectacular but potentially very dangerous Togwotee Pass.

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What Has Winter Wrought?

Kathy Wipfler  “Deep Winter – Jackson Hole”   7 x 11″   field study

“Greg McHuron was known to wrestle sheets of plywood through various Ice Ages just so he could stand on them without sinking into the frozen depths. But Greg was part Woolly Mammoth.” ~ Plein air painter Erin C. O’Connor 

This Jackson Hole winter!  Folks have mentioned a craving to chew their legs off. But if you’re an artist the show goes on, and being shut in or facing stupendously challenging weather conditions often leads to improvisation, new creative themes and awakenings of a different sort.

I contacted some legendary badass women artists and asked them how winter has affected their work. This post, we hear from  Kathy Wipfler, Kay Stratman and Erin C. O’Connor.

KATHY WIPFLER

Plein air painter Kathy Wipfler is a true veteran of painting outdoors. Solid and sensible, her practices spring from a lifetime of ranching and hard outdoor work. A long-time member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters, she knows a thing or two.

“Having painted on location here in every season for 36 years, I have a few tricks of the trade to stay as warm as possible. Painting a small format is one of them,” writes Wipfler. “Standing on Blue Board keeps the cold from my feet just a little longer than standing directly on the snow, and having the right boots is important. Painting sunlit snow is a passion, but there have been limited sunlit days so far this winter.”

Wipfler says another challenge is simply finding an accessible turnout to set up her easel and park. “Parking on the road’s shoulder is not so smart. I’ve spent time and effort shoveling out spaces whenever it’s feasible.”

Wipfler’s “Deep Winter – Jackson Hole,” pictured above, is so painterly I can almost feel the artist’s rich brushstrokes simply by looking. They convey the weight of this winter, its frigid cold, and a sense of muffled winter beauty. Wipfler’s snowdrifts are a pillow upon which the mountain rests.

Read more about Kathy Wipfler in this Jackson Hole Art Blog post, “Kathy Wipfler & the Boys!” 

KAY STRATMAN

Kay Stratman’s new abstract works are charged with color.

Kay Stratman is experimenting with her “alter studio ego.”

Stratman’s “Natural Abstractions,” comprised of watercolor and wax works, focus on what the artist describes as “amazingly colorful natural occurances that scream for exploration/exploitation/ abstraction.”

Stratman’s work (which she says has always favored essence over traditional form) is focused on subjects ranging from Yellowstone’s brilliant hot springs to “the mysteries of stellar nebula or northern lights.”

“People are familiar with watercolor as a medium and perhaps even encaustic wax,” writes Stratman. “But I combine both media in my work to present an interesting dichotomy. Watercolor and wax shouldn’t even be able to mix, should they? However, each medium becomes obvious upon close inspection, and the view from farther away brings the suggested subject matter to light.  The pieces themselves are splash and poured watercolors on rice paper, infused with encaustic wax (molten beeswax) that makes the paper translucent, allowing me to fuse layers together to create depth of color.”

Erin C. O’Connor – “El Gato Negro.”

Erin C. O’Connor 

“I know an artist who used to work for the phone company; he swiped one of those tents that they put over utility boxes so they can work in inclement weather; now he uses it to paint outside. At 17 below zero, I’d need the tent, the Enormo-Heat-Blaster, and the heated brush handles,” reveals painter Erin C. O’Connor.

I imagine O’Connor’s “Uppity Chick” smile.

Erin C. O’Connor in her studio.

During winter months O’Connor focuses on studio work and brings unfinished “warmer months” paintings to completion. At this time last year O’Connor was in Nicaragua, and she’s “finding welcome refuge in re-exploring those scenes.”

“It all plays back to me like a tape recording ~ the warmth, the humidity, the lyrical conversations, the people I met, all the things I learned,” she says. “Color upon color upon color. This has been my antidote to grey. This has been my rebellion to the cold.”

O’Connor updates her website during winter months, and she’s just been named as the newest member of the Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painters Board of Directors. When Plein Air for the Park ” gorgeously unfolds in July, it’s because we’ve thoroughly scrutinized the acrobatics well before summer.”

Next post, we’ll hear from a few more of Jackson’s ultra-talented women artists! All strive to be the best that they can be. Transcending fads and trends, they are wicked strong rungs on Jackson’s art history ladder, and their art endures.

In national art news, it was announced earlier this month that the NEA is in dire straits. Our new administration is strongly considering budget cuts that could eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts. If executed, this spells disaster for art interests across the country. Such a step even stands to cancel important exhibitions like SFMOMA’s Matisse-Diebenkorn show.  Read a little about this impending legislation here