Monday, October 18, 2010

James Neil Boyle: "BSWCA"

Recently my friend Daniel Zalkus sent me a scan he made from an old 1960s issue of the Saturday Evening Post. The art, by (James) Neil Boyle, is terrific! Daniel wondered if I knew anything about this artist.


As it happens, I know just a little - Boyle is listed in Walt Reed's "Illustrator in America, 1860-2000" and I had posted what I knew (not much) about Neil Boyle way back in January, 2006.

But shortly after my reply, Daniel sent a second message - surprise, surprise - he found a Neil Boyle website, complete with a gallery of Boyle's work, a biography and a photo of the artist!

I've been setting aside all the Neil Boyle artwork I've stumbled across hoping that the day would come when I had more information to present it with, and it seems that day has come. Below, two pieces by Boyle from the May 1964 issue of Cosmopolitan.


So why the acronym, "BSWCA" in the title of today's post? Seems Neil Boyle had a sense of humour as well as a flair for illustration.


From the bio on his website:

"When Neil first became interested in being a "fine artist" he noticed that the others all had some sort of initials after their signatures. So he made up his own. BSWCA is an acronym for Big Shot West Coast Artist."


This week, a look at some gems by this very talented "Big Shot West Coast Artist", James Neil Boyle.

* Many thanks to Daniel Zalkus for sharing the scan at the top of today's post - and for his detective work in locating Boyle's website!

* My James Neil Boyle Flickr set


  1. Leif-

    I could be wrong, but in the two pieces that you posted above do you see similarities to Harvey Schmidts work?

    He was another illustrator who worked during that time. Unfortunately I don't know much about him either.

  2. Daniel; I actually have an article from American Artist on Schmidt so I have seen a few examples of his work and I see what you mean. Actually, I can even see some connection in Boyle's style to Marvin Friedman's stuff... even to Robert Weaver! I think Boyle and many others were exploring a new direction here and in his case, its perhaps a little more ( I almost hate to use the term "commercial" but... ) "commercial" - looking than it is in some others.

  3. There's a huge collection of Neil's paintings at Molly Malone's Pub on 6th and Fairfax here in Los Angeles. It's worth a visit.

  4. Really? I wish I'd known that a year ago when i was in L.A. for the Reubens. But still, that's great to hear - thanks Walter :^)

  5. Leif- Great post, Mr. Boyle also taught at Fred Fixler's California Art Institute in Los Angles (Calabasas/Thousand Oaks) later in his career. I know my teacher Jeff Watts studied with him, I don't know about any of the other Fixler students i.e. Glen Orbik, Morgan Weistling, Greg Pro etc.

  6. "The difference between illustration and fine art - is a frame." - Neil Boyle.

    I had the great good fortune to take a couple of workshops with Neil when he taught at Scottsdale and Los Angeles. He was the one of the greatest characters I ever met, and one of the most fearless painters - and teachers - I ever saw.
    Neil was a genius at composition - for one demonstration he seemed to select a couple of reference photos at random, and in a half hour composed a multi-figure barroom scene, which he then painted in an afternoon - alternating fantastic insights into drawing and painting with hysterical anecdotes from his career the whole time. It was fantastic. There is a terrific series of videos on youtube of another demonstration by Neil, including his pithy comments on both illustration and fine art from a man who had long and successful careers at both.

  7. Interesting - thanks for the additional info, E.M. :^)

  8. Wow, thanks Steven - the contributions from commenters today is blowing my mind. Wonderful!

  9. Ha! I love the BSWCA. I don't know much about Mr. Boyle, but that acronym would endear me to him even if I didn't enjoy looking at his work so much.

    I work with some many credentialed professionals I feel I might need something akin to it.

    Thanks so much for the post.

  10. Here are some videos of Neil painting with comments.

  11. Leif-

    Does that mean a post about Harvey Schmidt might not be far behind?

  12. I have two large original oil paintings by James Neil Boyle signed with BSWCA. Western motif. My boss is looking to sell them. THey are valued at approx $5000 + each. Do you know how to find an interested buyer? Price is negotiable.

  13. Anonymous12:47 AM

    Glad to find this blog. I knew the artist very well--he was my dad. Best dad ever. Best artist ever. Cracks me up you saying his work is--gasp--a little "commercial." He'd have no problem with that. Spent many years as a commercial illustrator.

    1. Your dad was my teacher in Calabasas and Westlake. I loved him so.
      I have a couple of his paintings and a portrait he painted of me when the model didn't show up. (I posed with
      Neil will always be in my heart.

  14. Anonymous2:20 PM

    I have two of his portraits that capture the feeling of the person. He was a very talented artist; as in fine artist.

  15. I was fortunate to have met Neil, and sttudied with him at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. He came up during the summer of 1984 to conduct aa workshop. We asked him then what the acronym,"BSWCA" met, and with chuckle he said "Bull Shit Western Cownoy Artist".

  16. Thanks for gathering this info, and for the link to the website. I'm not sure if this is the same artist or not ( his style is the same ) but I hunted for Neil Boyle after seeing his illustrations for the Island at the Top of the World record inserts :

    He has a great style!

  17. I have two original signed oil paintings by Neil Boyle if you are interested let me know if you would like to see them as I am going to be advertising them for sale soon.