At the end of a long dirt road leading from Hwy 390 to the banks of the Snake River is the Rocking H Barn of the Huyler family, surrounded by cottonwoods, pines, and a sense of timelessness. A neighbor to the Rocking H, Andrea, rides a horse in the arena while dogs run around, barking excitedly. It’s serene yet full of life – I immediately fall in love with the barn.
I get out of my car and meet Trio artist Bill Sawczuk, who is dressed in full western apparel and at least twice my size. It does not take long for Bill to start giving me a lesson on the architecture of the barn, explaining things like the functions of the various doors and how they used to raise hay up into the hayloft in the “old days.” After the brief but thorough lesson, Bill starts setting up his painting equipment while I explore the barn a little more. As I step into the barn itself I can almost sense all of the memories that have been made here over the years. A rainbow of horseback riding ribbons, all won by the now over ninetyyear-old owner, Jack Huyler, stream from the ceiling. Some even date back to the 1950s. However, these are not all of the awards Jack has won; a small room on the left is filled with trophies of all shapes and sizes. I decide that this barn is one of the most magical places I have ever seen.
By the time I emerge from the barn, Bill already has most of it sketched onto his canvas and is starting to apply a reddish brown color to all aspects of the composition. Bill explains that the harmony of his paintings comes from finding a color that is seen in every part of what he is painting. The accuracy of his sketch without any measuring is uncanny – Bill clearly knows what he is doing. Between sips of coffee (despite the warm weather) Bill tells to me how before he was an artist, he was an architect, and an engineer before that. When I ask Bill what made him consider becoming an artist, Bill replies, “I was ready to do something I loved”.
Less than two hours later, Bill’s masterpiece is almost complete. Although the original color of reddish brown I saw on the canvas at first is almost gone, Bill was spot on about it creating harmony through a common color. I am so glad that Bill is one of the artists I get to work with, not only because he makes me laugh but also because I learned so much just in this one outing.