Tag Archives: Snowboarding

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/


The View From From Here


Travis Walker, Abbie Miller, Tony Birkholz, Kelly Halpin and Todd Williams (who divides his time between NYC and Jackson Hole) presented their work and perspectives at March 27th’s Culture Front, hosted by Meg Daly. The evening was fascinating not only because of the art we viewed, but because of the ensuing conversation.

The evening’s topic was interpreting the West. How did  young contemporary Jackson artists experience what it is to live here? How are their observations and emotions materializing in their art? I, in my relatively elder-generation way, expected context—a discussion and comparisons. I wondered how the artists made the leap from absorbing Western representational history to transmitting in a contemporary manner. After Walker, Miller, Birkholz, Halpin and Williams made their presentations, Q&A commenced.

“I’d like the artists to talk about the West,” said one audience member.

westI remember thinking the same thing, but I recognize that “talking about the West,” for this generation entails a different vernacular. As all new art generations do. Culture Front’s format is liquid; discussions can and do “fan out.” In more formal settings a presentation’s format is set, the program specific. Two different flows, both enriching.

Abbie Miller’s art is greatly influenced by her east coast and mid-western art schools; her talk focused on those early projects. Perhaps her most “Western” art product is her giant red vinyl piece, “Squeezed Arch,” which resembles Utah’s desert landscape. But Abbie’s roots here run deep; she is a product of our West.

For some, the West is a little short on milk and honey. It can be frightening and unexpected; buffalo are slaughtered, forests succumb to fire and invasive insects, wolves are shot and moose run over. Wildlife collides with mankind, people plummet from the peaks. Ultimately, this place is indescribably beautiful. Our involvement and caring about injustices and environmental imbalance is part of that. The West is “free” in spirit–we come here to throw off  the shackles from our early lives, from the city, from wherever. We have unmatched space, but overcoming the inevitable struggle to survive is difficult. We’re trying everything we can think of. Three local artists with arts day jobs have opened their own space elsewhere in order to bring messages from non-Western cultural centers to Jackson Hole. Artists share space and split up again.

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