Goat completed


What a blast to make! I do love rivets… Got the Etsy listing posted yesterday.


33″ wide, 22″ high, 12″ deep, lightweight, hangs from single nail on wall.


The brows are made from an old aluminum baking pan that had a beautiful baked brown patina.


All the hand-hammered aluminum parts — muzzle, ears, eye surrounds, base of horns — are made from metal scavenged from “found” old bakeware.


I left much of the form open for light/shadow interplay, and so viewers can see the construction.

The Urge to Create


During yesterday’s ________ time, I figured out how to make aluminum mounts for glass goat eyes for new sculpture I’m working on.

It’s hard to describe in words the drive I have to __________. First of all, what words do I use for ________??? I haven’t been able to come up with a concise descriptive term for it…I’ll try jotting down some candidate words & phrases, as fast as they come to mind:

free sculpt

follow the energy


freedom of expression

creative outlet

self actualization

what I’m on the planet for/vocation


self image, identity, self respect, letting my inner artist out to play

play…with tools/methods/materials/concepts/combinations

expand vocabulary (of a particular medium) to the max


see what comes out/be surprised/off the wall

get lost in the *process* of making

let ideas run wild, sidelining the inner critic

suspending the cares of life for a little while, focusing all my energies in a positive/creative direction


Okay, that felt good to walk a circle around the urge and try to describe the salient aspects of it…but I can’t write all that every time I want to talk about “it” in a sentence…and I’m aware that this very act of trying to figure out words is robbing me of time I could be spending doing the actual thing I’m trying to describe, but I’m also aware of the value of putting my motivations into comprehensible form so I can better understand them and align all my inner energies in support of those goals…

I sometimes feel vaguely embarrassed/guilty about the intensity of the drive I have to indulge my inner artist. It seems to be asking for a level of priority that is impractical in relation to everyday life’s realities. It sometimes comes across as wanting to “do whatever I want” all day, every day, which is of course absurd.

It’s really not all that unusual, though; you hear it all the time from musicians, artists, dancers, actors who want to quit their day job and do ________ full time. In fact, I just saw a documentary in which a woman wanted more than anything to be a dancer, and then actually became the principal dancer in a national ballet company, but then got so tired of performing Swan Lake over and over that she quit to do her own thing: interpretive, self-expressive dance.

I deeply resonate with this as well: In an interview with British artist Nicola Hicks, the questioner asks, “How do you balance life between living, working and loving?” and she responds, “I’m completely useless at it. I never feel I’ve got the paths right. The one thing that is never allowed to suffer is the work, which is a very hard decision to make, but I’ve found that for me that’s the way it has to be. If the studio work suffers there is no hope of anything else working. So other things have to be dropped. (…) All I know is, if you let the work go you have no hope, so there are sacrifices.” (excerpt from Flowers East: Nicola Hicks, The Pale Green Press, 1996 edition, ISBN 1 873362 315)

For the past couple years (up until recently) it’s been a struggle to get *any* free studio time, for weeks/months at a stretch. I chose to let other priorities take precedence. During those stretches, I literally felt like my life was on hold…which made me feel guilty, because I really have a good life! But for better or worse, it *feels* like I’m not truly living when I’m separated from making art (unconstrained studio time, that is).

I’ve written a fair amount on this blog about the (self indulgent?) seemingly monumental struggle it’s been to rearrange my entire life just to free up a few minutes or an hour or two per day of unconstrained studio time — in the hope that someone else out there might identify with my experience, and find encouragement to keep on keeping on!

Freedom Plan is Working!

The grand plan — to build up an inventory of finished crows/ravens to free up an hour or two of studio time each day to make whatever I want to make — is working! Crow orders help provide a good ba$e, allowing me freedom to experiment with mixed media sculpture.


Recent “Grand Slam” order on Etsy, for one of every crow/raven design I make! Nice order!




See seeds of ideas for this sculpture a couple posts back. Hand hammered aluminum, one of a kind, available on Etsy (click on image)





No, it’s not a mask, just goofing around…


Nearly completed hand hammered metal sculpture to hang on wall…faux taxidermy style


New goat sculpture in process, I try to add one or two new parts each day. Note handmade copper rivets above nostrils; I can only use them where I have good hammer access to both sides, otherwise I use aluminum blind rivets.


Beginnings of new goat sculpture, three or four times as large as previous goat sculpture

It continues to amaze me just how difficult it is to carve out time to sculpt! So many competing demands…each day is like out-of-control whack-a-mole! (But at least I have lots of hammers now  ;-)

On the positive side, it’s *so* encouraging to have my reward (free sculpting time) only hours away (“if I finish these six crows/ravens, and these five errands/tasks, then I can sculpt!”) instead of months (building up inventory of around 150 finished crows/ravens) or years (whole house remodel spanning 2014/15/16). This may be about as good as it’s gonna get…we’ll see…I’ll continue to stave off outside obligations, and continue to find efficiencies in daily tasks, to scavenge as many extra minutes as I can for free sculpture time each day!

Longstanding goal reached…


This entry likely won’t mean much to anyone but me…but part of the purpose of this blog is for me to be able to look back at where I’ve been…so I want to document/celebrate this major accomplishment: Today I caught up on crows/ravens! It’s a goal I’ve fantasized about for years: to get ahead of the game by filling all my 11 inventory boxes (one for each design) with nicely burnished, ready-to-ship sculptures. Today I finished! I now have a “cushion” of around 130 finished pieces to shield me from the tyranny of the urgent.


Why is this a big deal, you may ask? Well, previously when a large crow/raven order came in, I’d have to stop whatever I was working on and spend the next several days or weeks on non-stop casting, burnishing, shipping. Often the gallery who placed the order had waited until they were completely out of one or more designs, so there would be urgency to get the order out. And whatever self-expressive project I might have been working on before the order came in was all but forgotten…momentum/energy dissipated. But NOW, I’ll be able to ship right away; and to replenish my inventory I won’t have to suspend my self-expressive work but rather can spend two or three unharried hours a day on crows/ravens, with the remainder of each day FREE to work on fresh, experimental artwork… Guilt Free!

This new system also gives me an easily definable stopping point: full boxes. Once they’re full, I can make whatever I want — all day, every day! (and did I mention, Guilt Free?)

Let’s see…this will be the free-est I’ve been since…well, for many many years…decades?!?…or maybe ever. It’s been a long struggle toward freedom, and I’ve aged (considerably) in the meantime, but I’m really looking forward to getting back a sense of play, exploration and experimentation in my work!


Back to Life!

After a year of voluntary banishment (see previous post), my inner artist is now finally re-inhabiting my corporeal body! My goal was for this to happen by April 15, so: mission accomplished. Glad I did the remodel, glad it’s over.

First fun project: figure out how to make lightweight, break-resistant goat horns from non-toxic materials, for a faux taxidermy wall sculpture. The photo shows some of my trial & error steps toward a solution:Steve Eichenberger artistNote the principal & interest bar graph…kind of a non sequiter you may think…but an online interest calculator seemed as quick a way as any to generate a logarithmic progression, which I then used to mark off the lengths of horn segments on left. That was fine for two dimensions, but how to get sweet compound curves in three dimensions? So I then messed around with stapling a paper model, thinking I might be able to make horns from three cutout pieces of sheet metal or similar, joined along their three common edges. But I wouldn’t be able to freeform / fine tune the curves if the sheet material were pre-cut…so combining the two ideas — segments + three shared edges  — led to my favorite idea so far: solid segments joined by three flexible edges (hand carved wood segments with wire struts). Whether or not I ever actually use this particular idea, the “getting there” is a perfect example of my favorite part of the process: conceptualization > exploration > experimentation > discovery!

My return to freedom won’t be like stepping through a door, but more like fording a wide stream; because I need to make more than 100 crows/ravens to replenish my exhausted inventory and for gallery orders, which will consume the majority of my energy for the next four to six weeks. But “after that”  …    (I’ve been promising myself “after that” for so long that it’s hard to believe I’ll ever arrive, but I’m clinging to the likelihood that I will…)

Hopefully I can find an hour or two for experimentation here and there even in the midst of crow-making.

Overall, I’m very aware how fortunate I am, and am living my life immersed in constant gratitude.


Where am I?

I miss me! About a year ago, Jackie and I decided to remodel our 1950’s ranch house. We got bids. They were outrageously astronomical! Several years’ worth of income! So I talked my artist self into going on sabbatical for a year so I could use my one and only corporeal body to do the remodeling myself, with the ‘carrot’ that after that, my artist self would then be free to make art for years to come — and in nicer digs.

My goal all along has been to give my body back to my artist self by tax day 2016. That deadline is approaching, and I’m optimistic I’ll make it.

(I’ve been keeping up on crow/raven orders for Etsy and for several galleries & shops, but other than that I haven’t been making *any* self-expressive, experimental work.)

I put my Etsy store on ‘vacation’ (hah! some vacation) a month or so ago to help maintain my sanity as I tackled remodeling our main bathroom. We gutted it to the studs & subfloor, removed old wiring. I cut a big hole in the exterior wall, open to the backyard, to get a one-piece fiberglass shower unit into the room…yes, it was as crazy as it sounds, but it worked…plus now we have a nice new much-bigger-than-was-there-before window where the hole was!  We did spit-baths for too long, but now the new shower is operational, I installed new floor last week, and had first flush of new toilet yesterday! Progress.

The bathroom is the last biggie on my list. Completed list items include: all new kitchen with lift-up cabinet doors, all new deck with cable railing & aluminum decking, new flooring throughout house, a dozen or so new electrical circuits, air conditioning (the house had none before), two new picture windows & new patio slider, all new plumbing clear to the street, all new roof/gutters, septic system repaired, plus many tangential projects.

When I do return to self expressive artmaking, I’m expecting it will be in sculpture, not painting. Probably mixed-media sculpture — combining what I’ve learned by working in several different media in past years/decades. I’m really looking forward to returning this ol’ body back to my artist self, and seeing what we’ll make.

New Wall Art

Faux Taxidermy, Rabbit, Hare, wall sculpture by Steve Eichenberger

SOLD via Etsy

Recent experimental new direction / playing with new (to me) materials / letting my hands just make / my inner boss demanded non-toxic (for longevity of the artist), break resistant (to reduce stress of shipping, reduce packaging materials needed for shipping, reduce cost of shipping), light weight (for ease of hanging on a regular ol’ nail), and fun to work with (to keep that capricious inner artist dude reasonably happy…high maintenance fellow, he is!).

I experimented with making boat shapes (precursors to ears) of several different materials/recipes/sculpting methods/armatures/glues and so on  until I arrived at a combination of materials and methods that resonated with me (and met my inner boss’s criteria). I didn’t know exactly what to do next, so I just “did something,” thinking it might serve as a support for something else, but I ended up liking the supposed “undersculpture” so much that I didn’t want to cover it up. So I didn’t. And I put it on Etsy, and it sold! (Thanks B.A. in Texas!) The customer says she loves it, and that it looks better in person than the photo. Even my hard-to-please inner boss had to agree that this experiment was/is a success.

I have a second wall rabbit more than half done, but the holidays are looming so I’m being a good little deferred gratificationer and making ravens, crows, and more ravens so I don’t run short of them…but if/when I get caught up sufficiently on them, I look forward to continuing my experiments with faux taxidermy sculptures.

Faux Taxidermy, Rabbit, Hare, wall sculpture by Steve Eichenberger

140506psykopaint copy

Above is the sketch that made me want to make a sculpture of it. I’m old enough to be amazed by the pageant of digital tech — it seemed like magic to draw this with just a fingertip on a touchscreen Chromebook! This was the first project where I did all digital (rather than pencil on paper) conceptualizing. Kind of sad in some ways, but liberating and fun in others.

Jackie’s Holiday Show…with a little of Steve thrown in around the edges

Nov 30/Dec 1, and Dec 7/8, 10 to 4, at our tile studio in Tualatin, OR, map here.

If you want the fancy dancy official email invitation we sent out last night, ask me and I’ll forward it to you.

90% of the show will consist of ceramic sculpture and paintings by my favorite artist, Jackie Hurlbert (in fact I like her so well I’ve lived with her since 1993).

I’ll have a “seconds sale” of my cast crows/ravens (first quality sold only through galleries), and a ragtag lot of ceramic masks, maybe some portrait paintings, and hundreds of tile overruns, nice seconds, and glaze experiments for you to clink through.

Hope to see you there!

Steve Eichenberger crows ravens

Steve Eichenberger crows ravens

Steve Eichenberger crows/ravens

Steve Eichenberger crows/ravens

Jackie Hurlbert artist

Jackie Hurlbert artist

tiles laid out for studio sale

tiles laid out for studio sale

Nice Turnout for my Portrait Presentation to OSA

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Whew! Everything went swimmingly for my presentation yesterday. I appreciated the overflow crowd in OSA’s main hall. I gave a whirlwind overview of how to develop your inner artist, develop artistic skill, market your work, sell your work, and use positive energy generated from that cycle to spin the next cycle…circling back with renewed confidence and enthusiasm to further developing artistic skills. I did a demo (under the slant mirror on the stage so people could see) of laying out a limited palette of colors, mixing flesh tones, & mixing “black.” Then I did a quick painting demo of roughing-in, from photo reference I took a few months ago. I enjoyed the process more than I thought I might, and look forward to similar opportunities that might come along in the future.

June 14 Presentation — You’re Invited!!!

I’ll be giving a one hour Portrait Painting demo and slide presentation at the Oregon Society of Artists, 2185 SW Park Place, Portland, on June 14 at 11 a.m. Free parking. I think they’ll have a potluck afterward.

You don’t have to be an OSA member to attend. As far as I can remember, this will be the first time I’ve had to speak in front of a crowd since 1977! At that rate, my next presentation will be when I’m 93, so you’d better come to this one.

Here’s the blurb from the OSA newsletter: (link will only work for this month, otherwise check the archives)

Anniversary Portrait

SOLD via Etsy

I worked on this anniversary portrait at the show, getting it about 90% done by Sunday. It was fun to be able to ask passersby and other OSA members for critique and recommendations. It’s for an Etsy commission; I sent my customer a digital image of it for approval last week and he said, “You are a genius!  I love it!  It is amazing!  I am so grateful to you.  I will pay for it tonight.  No changes necessary.  Thank you!!!!!” Music to my ears…very encouraging. I hope his wife likes it as well as he does, or better. It’s acrylic on a 16 x 26 hardwood panel, from customer supplied old snapshot:

Show went very well!

All the hard work preparing for the show was worth it! I had a great time painting for five days in a row, it was like a painting retreat. I received lots of positive comments, and many people said they would contact me for future commissions. I’m in communication with two prospects from the show who I think will follow through with commissions. I also got invited back by the show manager to be a demo artist at the Fall Home & Garden Show, Oct. 4-7, 2012 at the Expo Center. I’d like to be positioned with the Oregon Society of Artists again.

My booth (above) at the Spring Home & Garden Show about a week ago. As a designated “demo artist” I painted much of the time between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. except for breaks.

I finished up a painting of one of my grandsons while at the show:

…thanks to Joel Bock Photography for permission to use one of his photos as reference. It was fun to work on Espen’s characteristic crooked little half grin.

I’m mostly recovered / caught up / unpacked from the show…and MORE than ready to dive back into painting.

Come see me Feb 22-26 @ Portland Home & Garden Show!

Yes it’s been awhile since my last post, but I’ve been getting a LOT done on the painting front! (including making frames, above)

Portland Home & Garden Show Feb 22-26 @ the Expo Center

Most importantly, I was invited by the Oregon Society of Artists to be one of their “anchor artists” at the Portland Home & Garden Show, next week: Feb 22-26! I’ve done shows for sculpture before, but this will be my debut with my “new” medium: portrait painting. I hope my banner and business cards arrive before Feb 22…and I finish making frames on time…and figure out how to light my booth…etc etc x etc.  At least paintings will be a hell of a lot easier to transport than ceramic sculpture!

I will be demonstrating painting for five days straight! I also plan to set up for doing mini photo shoots of willing passersby — head/shoulders shots for portrait painting reference. So come visit me and get your mug shot😉

The show is at the Expo Center near Jantzen Beach, Feb 22-26, 11-8 Wed Thur Fri, 10-8 Sat, 11-6 Sun, costs $10 to get in, but check around for discounts. There are three giant halls, the northernmost of which is staged with fully landscaped gardens, decks, fountains, koi ponds and so on. Around the entire perimeter of the garden room will be welders, sculptors and painters demonstrating their various crafts. I spoke with the show coordinator who has been fine tuning the ambience of this room of the show for the past dozen years. He loves art, and wants this giant indoor garden room to be one where show attendees will want to just hang out, relax, and enjoy themselves rather than scurrying to “do the show.” The OSA prez says the same thing — to just have fun like we do at the OSA center. Several OSA members will be demonstrating painting along the west wall of Building C, plus promoting the club and recruiting new members. Membership is just $30 per year.

Hope you can drop by for a chat! Bring a favorite hat/scarf/whatever for your mini photo shoot!

I’ve also been painting more portraits, including a commission from Texas, but am literally too busy to post the photos! Will do so after the show.

Okay, I’d better get back to building frames!

Rosey again, different pose

Practice portrait of Rosey by Steve Eichenberger, acrylic on corrugated cardboard bicycle carton, 9-1/4 x 13.

I enjoyed the process on this one, which is part of my goal in keeping things loose: to have fun painting!

( 1/5 addendum: I e-mailed a high resolution jpg of this to Rosey, who is currently in NYC, and she replied: “Hey Steve!! This is awesome. I look simultaneously angry and proud. I love it. The loose style captures something really great. I showed this painting to my sister, and some friends — everyone has been so impressed! My sister said, ‘Whoahhh…that’s so badass!'”)

Practice Painting

Portrait by Steve Eichenberger, acrylic on acid free paper, 14 x 17. SOLD

Another piece in my continuing effort to practice keeping things loose. I even crumpled up the paper before beginning, to make it less “precious” (which came back to haunt me after I finished the piece and decided to adhere it to a foamcore backing, but it turned out okay).

The background is pretty wild; I got a new set of palette knives and used one of them to pile on the paint.

The hair is just roughed in, but I decided it works with the background so resisted refining it.

DPW Challenge

Portrait by Steve Eichenberger, acrylic on corrugated cardboard, 12.5 x 24.

Done in response to this week’s DPW challenge to emulate an artist we admire. This is my second exercise in as many days to experiment with the look and feel of some of Egon Schiele’s 500+ works.

Thanks to friend/neighbor/photographer Willy Paul for permission to use a photo he took of his wife, Kris, for me to use as painting reference. Achieving a likeness was not my focus, but rather to experiment with the broad white accenting strokes, black outlining, unfinished areas and so on that Schiele often uses.

Portrait of Rosey

Painted portrait by Steve Eichenberger, acrylic on panel, 17 x 22. Click on photo above for close-up (may need to click again on the next screen to get full size).

I may continue to fine tune this painting, but I’ve been working on it for so long I wanted to post it at this near-complete stage for a sense of progress! This was a challenging project for me, I learned a lot from doing it. I took other, easier-to-paint photos of Rosey as well, but there was something about the overall composition and expression that made me want to paint this one, so I went for it. The receding angle of the hand was a challenge, as well as the wonderfully curly hair. It’s always daunting to face such things, I just have to dive in and paint *something*…and then keep revising that something to look gradually better and better until some part of me says “OK” (or sometimes “Uncle!”).

I couldn’t get rid of all the distracting reflections on the glossy background when taking the above photo with the point and shoot camera I normally use for blog shots. May have to break down and actually set up our photo room with strobes, diffusers etc. to get a better shot.

90% complete, working from photos I took of R.D. a few weeks ago in my studio.

Marc Anthony acrylic portrait

Acrylic portrait of Marc Anthony by Steve Eichenberger, on 15-3/4 x 19-1/2 panel, using another photo by Damon Winter as reference (below, and previous entry).

I experimented with glazing this time: brown tinted glaze on yellow background and face (except for eyes); yellow tinted glaze on shirt.

Matt Damon practice portrait

Matt Damon practice portrait by Steve Eichenberger
acrylic on panel, 14 x 20-3/4

Reference photo from magazine cover (Fast Company, July/August 2011 issue) used by kind permission of New York Times photographer Damon Winter.

Yes, unfortunately it’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to post anything… Travel, moving our handmade tile studio (again!), and other art related busy-ness has required all my waking hours for the past couple of months. As far as I know there are no further crises looming, but in these strange times — who knows?!? Better paint while I can.

“R” portrait

Acrylic portrait on panel by Steve Eichenberger, 11-5/8 x 14-3/8 SOLD

I completed this portrait in a homestead farmhouse in Nebraska while on a road trip through several beautiful Western states last month. When I returned home, I e-mailed the above photo of it to the subject, who is an artist friend in Seattle; here’s what he had to say about it: “OK I am really speechless, or was, but now have more to say.  That is really, really cool – almost Van Gogh-like in the colors and contrasts.  I  am thrilled to see this as I have never had a painting done of me and to tell you the truth would not trust many artists to do a painting of me as I am pretty shy about having pictures, images of me taken.  Fantastic work!  Can I show off your work to people? … I’ll be following your blog.”

I took the above reference photo in my studio with natural north light, positioning the subject to get just the right amount of light on his right eye.

Portrait Commission

Custom portrait commission, approx. 16 x 22 acrylic on panel by Steve Eichenberger.

This was fun to do because it was a surprise commission for the recipient (the subject). I hear he was honored.

The symbology has to do with his middle name, which connotes strength and deep-rootedness. A large underpainted root system (not evident in the photo) can be seen in the dark lower section when viewing the original if you know it’s there, further supporting the symbology of C’s middle name.

White Bird Gallery Show through May

Several of my ceramic sculptures, and a collection of my cast crows/ravens are in the “Animal Instincts” group show at

White Bird Gallery

Left: “Quiet Solitude Under a Canopy of Stars”; right: “Gratitude 2”; center top: a collection of my cast crows/ravens. Paintings by Anne John of Vancouver, Washington. Several other artists also submitted rabbit themed art for this “Animal Instincts” show…unplanned.

The show runs through May 31.


April 29, 30 & May 1 it was Spring Unveiling Weekend for the Cannon Beach Gallery Group, and they featured one of my sculptures, “Gratitude 3” (which is in the White Bird Gallery show, in the front window), on the cover of their brochure:

The “unveiling” of the new show at White Bird Gallery was at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 30. There were scheduled unveilings at over a dozen venues throughout Cannon Beach, visit CBGalleryGroup.com for details (scroll all the way down for White Bird’s announcement).

Custom Portrait Commission

Local Portrait Commission

by Steve Eichenberger

Acrylic on panel

16 x 22

He’s about a year older now than when the photo was taken.

Reference photo provided by client.

(Thanks C. for your OK to post this on my blog.)

Pet Portrait

Acrylic painting on panel, by Steve Eichenberger

“First Day at the Dog Park” SOLD

approx 13 x 26

(keep clicking on photo for close-up)

Based on a photo I took the other day at Luscher Farms dog park in Lake Oswego. He looks like a little bear.

Positive Step!

Started this one yesterday, finished tonight…well, I might still work on the background, but I think the face is done. And I am pleased with the step toward looseness it represents in my experimentation!

I had a color experiment in mind too; I saw in a color mixing book the wonderful neutral greens that result from mixing ultramarine blue and yellow ochre, so started with them. I don’t usually like or use greens, so this was a good learning experience for me in that regard too.

In the slideshow below, the first one (the one that’s different from all the rest) is actually a completely different painting. I was struggling to get a likeness, painting out and re-painting various features, when I realized I wasn’t having fun. So I set it aside and started over using bolder color, less deliberation, and choppier strokes with almost no blending. Definitely more fun! Adjusting position/size etc of features was much easier as the entire image was freer, looser, more fluid.

It’s hard to quantify how well I did on the likeness…but for such an impressionistic rendition I’m OK with it.

I don’t like the background, may work on it some more later…or not…also want to keep moving forward to see what comes out next!

I scrounged some bicycle cartons today from a bike shop near my studio, so I have plenty of “canvasses” to work on. I’m motivated to make as many paintings as I can before April 1 when I open my studio for First Friday Artwalk. I don’t expect a big crowd, but it’s a nice motivation nonetheless.

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My thanks to Bill Wadman at http://www.365portraits.com/ for permission to use his photo as practice reference.

Keep clicking through several screens on the above image to zoom in close to see the brush strokes (the final click should show a magnifying glass cursor).

Big & Small

This was a challenge for me because of its size — about 3 feet wide. I wasn’t attempting a likeness, just trying to get proportions reasonably in the ballpark since I was working far larger than I’ve ever done before.

This one taught me I don’t like working small! Face is only about 2-1/2″ tall. I used teeny tiny brushes. Not that happy with the likeness either, although for having just recently started trying to do likenesses I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.

My thanks to Bill Wadman at http://www.365portraits.com/ for permission to use his photo as practice reference.

Lyle Lovett

Acrylic painting of Lyle Lovett by Steve Eichenberger (click on image for close-up view)

Painted freehand looking at various photos from the web (below).

Thank you to Lyle’s management office for giving me the go-ahead to paint his likeness.

on 8×13 corrugated cardboard

It helped to have various angles and lighting to discern shapes and decide what characteristics seemed most important for a likeness.

I did a preliminary study which took longer than this one, but I don’t like it as well as this one so I’m not posting it. But it did teach me that doing a study first is beneficial; I basically had the features memorized, including what to “watch out for” the second time around.

Portrait Practice

Lifesize portrait, acrylic on 34 x 42 cardboard, freehand from photo reference.

Photo credit: Bill Wadman, 365portraits.com. Used by permission.

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First two slides: Practicing achieving a likeness. Not sure my “corrections” are better…maybe overcorrected. Will try again tomorrow, maybe split the difference.

My thanks to Bill Wadman at http://www.365portraits.com/ for permission to use his photo as practice reference.

3/6 update: I’m painting entirely freehand, just looking at the photo for reference…no enlarging, no grids. But I was curious which iteration I’ve done so far was more accurate, so I put everything in the computer and did some overlays. My conclusion is that I did indeed overcorrect. I’ll keep tweaking today. I think some good learning is going on.

3/6 evening: I did paint out and re-do a third time, splitting the difference, and I think it helped. May add a few final highlights and/or dark accents tomorrow. It’s my largest painting so far; lifesize figure on a 34 w x 42 h piece of corrugated cardboard that was throwing around the Watershed.

Literature about portraiture says a typical newbie mistake is to make all the features too large. In comparing my painting to the original photo I think I was too careful on this count; I made the features too small rather than too large, which in my opinion makes the subject look more mature. To me, iterations 1 and 2 look the right age for the subject, but they look perkier, more open than she does in the photo, as pointed out by a friend who came in my studio during iteration 2. I think I captured her more inward, slightly guarded expression in iteration 3, but in so doing aged her a few years vs iterations 1 and 2. Interesting how such seemingly minor adjustments have unforeseen effects…effects I can use on purpose in the future. (3/7 addendum: an artist friend had the opposite opinion about apparent age: he thought my portrait looked younger than the subject. Jackie thought the painting and photo look the same age. My first lessons in how subjective evaluating my work will be…)

One thing I liked right away about this subject is her sweeping jawline and the way it presents in the pose; my extra attention to this feature resulted in a bit of an exaggeration of that sweep, which I’ll chalk up to artist’s license.

More practicing on cardboard

To test myself to see if I could produce a likeness. 1 hour sketch.

Unfinished. Can’t decide what to put under his head. Someone suggested making him a dandelion’s head😉

Very fast sketch.

Quick sketch.

Quick sketch in box. My intention was to do the eye sockets in complete shadow, but I see from the photo I didn’t resist putting in some detail.