Tag Archives: Oil Painting

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!


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/


Clymer Museum Hosts Kathy Wipfler

"Sun Patch" Oil Kathy Wipfler

This is the first of two posts about Kathy Wipfler’s upcoming solo exhibition and the practices, history and special knowledge inspiring Wipfler’s work.

By her own admission Kathy Wipfler is a solitary sort, and she’s built a solid core of dedicated collectors. Her masterful painting “Lower Falls of the Yellowstone” hangs beside works by Moran and Bierstadt at the BBHC’s Whitney Gallery of Western Art. Recently she hit the road and headed to John Clymer’s hometown of Ellensberg, Washington. There, the John Clymer Museum is mounting a solo show for Wipfler in June, 2013. As no Clymer Museum artists knew Clymer, and Wipfler did, the museum’s curator invited her to do an exhibition. “Art of the West” is doing a piece Wiplfer’s studio for their September/October issue–great timing for the Fall Arts Festival and Wipfler’s fall gallery events in Cody, Wyoming.

“The Clymer has a lot of John’s early work, his illustrations,” says Wipfler. “It has pictures of John’s and many descriptions written in his words–and the words of other artist friends about John. He was a such a gentleman. I visited him in his studio in Teton Village. Nobody ever had anything crummy to say about John. And of course when he lived here, he was on his own. He was not doing his illustrations anymore, he was researching Western history with his wife Doris. I had great respect for what he was doing.”

If she was going to be in a show at John’s museum, then Wipfler should paint the country where he grew up. Wipfler drove out to see it and make studies; the Clymer has given Wipfler a generous 18 months to prepare. The region is beautiful country, marked by its position east of the Cascade Range. The area’s surrounding Kittitas Valley  is known round the world for its prodigious hay production.

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Fresh Works at Heather James; Murie Hosts National Geographic’s Joel Sartore

Isn’t this just so lush?

Heather James Fine Art has some new works in they’d like you to see. This Spring-like, exuberant abstract oil-on-canvas entitled Revised and Expanded, is by contemporary artist John Millei (b. 1958). He’s a Los Angeles painter, a native to that city. His work, often whimsical, caught my eye, and I did a little lookin’ around.

Millei’s paintings are expansive; this work measures 36 x 42 inches. Writer Donald Kuspit, in writing about Millei’s “Maritime” series of works—painted some five to ten years after this work—described the artist’s canvases as “enormous, magnificent paintings, mural-like in their panoramic scope and imposing scale, and executed in what can only be called a grand Abstract-Expressionistic manner.”

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Kathryn Mapes Turner’s Romantic Light

“Ultimately, my work springs from direct experience. And so much of my experience is rooted in nature. Or, rather, the place where nature and spirituality converge. I’ve been around the world, and Jackson Hole is my home. My paintings are profoundly affected by a life-long connection to its beauty.” ~ Kathryn Mapes Turner

Jackson Hole, Wyoming –  Jackson artist Kathryn Mapes Turner’s new show, By the Light of the Sun, will be on exhibit at Trio Fine Art September 7-24, 2011. An artist’s reception takes place September 8th 2011 (Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival Opening Day), 5-8:00 pm. Turner will talk about her inspirations at 6:30 pm. The public is invited to attend this free event. Turner will be available at Trio Fine Art for the length of the exhibition. By the Light of the Sun showcases Turner’s newest collection of spectacular regional landscapes; this season, Turner’s muses are Jackson Hole’s signature aspen and cottonwood trees. Enchanted by cottonwoods’ forms and the aspen’s delicate colors, Turner explores the spaces these trees occupy, as well as the relational space between them.

Having grown up on her family’s ranch, in the middle of Grand Teton National Park, Turner recognizes sublime natural beauty. Resplendent mountains, sparkling waters and a profusion of wildlife informed her. The first girl born into a ranching family in 60 years, she experienced mountain seasons as they turned from icy, monochromatic winters to summers exploding with wildflowers, azure skies and silvery sage. Working with the land every day, Turner developed a powerful initiative and aesthetic. The need to use her hands, a powerful work ethic and a deep love for nature’s wonders converged.

Kathryn Turner became an artist. But despite nature’s pervasiveness, it’s possible Turner’s biggest influence was a store-bought poster.

“Over my bed was a poster of Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring.” I think about how someone had used paints, brushes and canvas to create something so moving, I gazed at it every day.” Turner believes that if she is going to create anything material, she must do it to the very best of her ability.

Executing such work is a huge responsibility. As she works, Turner stays in contact with her own powerful sense of spirituality. “Whatever the concept of God or “oneness” is, that is where beauty, truth and goodness originate,” Turner says. “I want those to be the source of my work. In that sense my paintings come from another place, and not from me.”

Turner also views herself–and other artists–as part of art history’s continuum. With every painting, she strives to transmit a collective idea of sublime universal beauty. “We are a service industry,” says the artist. “I am positioned on an eternal timeline of artists, making contributions to the world. I feel I have a great opportunity and privilege by participating in the movement; it’s an incredible honor.”

It’s almost impossible not to compare Turner’s recent, tempestuous portraits of the Tetons to the paintings of the 19th century British Romanticist William Turner. Romanticism has been described as a movement so varied, it is difficult to define. A romantic herself, Kathryn Turner paints from the heart. Steering away from a collective tendency to render the Tetons inpainterly, dense layers of bright colors Turner recently painted the Grand Teton and its neighboring summits as dark and looming. These Tetons are primordial. Sweeping towards the heavens, their silhouettes are smoky and golden. Brushwork is less visible, and a holy luminosity prevails.

Contemporary Western artists often argue that the Tetons have been painted so often, any new portrayals are redundant. Turner’s recent panoramas prove that theory wrong.

“If I avoid painting the Tetons for fear of their being trite, it would be dishonest,” Turner says. “I’ve grown up with them, have always been near them, always been taken with them. How can one not be? The mountains are our central force. You can’t deny them. I need to address them in my work; I have a deep relationship with them.”

And, like the Romanticists, Turner changes up her painting style, moving on once she’s explored a subject. For her, pushing the envelope swells experience, and Turner points out that throughout art’s history, art changes. It has to, in order to remain interesting and significant. She never knows how a show will take shape, and that’s how exciting work happens.

Turner’s paintings are as much about materials as they are subject and soul. Textures and paint behavior are intriguing. Working with paint is an end in itself. As she talks about paint, she brings out a small oil of a sun splashed window box, spilling over with roses, painted in Italy.

“Transparency versus opaqueness. Thinness and thickness, bright versus dull. Oil paints give all of that, I’m in love with manipulating paint,” Turner emotes. The glazes, the scumbling—sometimes it’s about brushstrokes, sometimes it’s about drawing. Negative and positive spaces. It’s like playing in a sandbox, the possibilities are endless!”

When a painting is complete, it’s time to let it go.

“Letting go of a painting is like letting go of a child; you have to let it out into the world. The story of Pygmalion is largely about not being able to let go. If you try too hard to controla process, it won’t flow. The paintings need to do their work in the world. Preparing work for the gallery is great because it gives me a deadline. The paintings I have the hardest time parting with are the ones most important to release. I had a teacher tell me never to call myself an artist. To call myself a painter. ‘You are a painter,’ she said. ‘Others can decide if what you make is truly art!’ So that is it. I am supposed to show up, do my best, and create from the heart.”