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.

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

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

 

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

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

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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.

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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!

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.

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)

Looks kinda like…

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And it appears I’m off on yet another side trip…indulging a recurring fascination with trying to do likenesses of people. I check in every ten or twenty years to see if I can do it yet. No clear idea of why, or what I’ll do with the results if I do…but it seems like a good skill to have in my toolbox.

‘Obsession’ show write-up

Nice write-up by Teri Sund about the ‘Obsession’ show:

Steve Eichenberger refers to himself as ‘sculptor,’ yet that term seems limited in describing his artistic accomplishments. Perhaps the titles builder, engineer, architect and alchemist all contribute to the understanding of what is involved in the creation of each work of art. For Eichenberger, who works primarily in clay, the finished piece is the end result of a long developed process of “how to.” His obsession lies within the challenge to do what appears to be the impossible. While his imagery is strong, direct and uniquely profound, for Eichenberger it is not the crux of his drive and/or passion as an artist. His obsession lies in deciphering what needs to be developed to achieve the monumental sculpture he is known for.

That being said, Eichenberger’s imagery cannot be taken lightly. When discussing his work, he states, “Sculpture is my attempt to combine desirable and/or necessary attributes for navigating our post–911 world into symbolic form. It’s a messy business trying to decide what’s ‘right’! For example, gentleness sounds good, but too much of it and tyrants will rule. Heroism sounds good, but what if the saved aren’t worthy of the hero’s sacrifice?” These are considerations of Eichenberger’s as he utilizes the three dimensional realm to convey the complex question of what it means to be human. He incorporates such things as massive musculature, impossible balance, direct meaningful gaze, the tension of posture, animal analogy, as well as scale to reflect the delicate battle of balance within mankind, as an individual or a society. “I don’t mind looking strange to others as I struggle to concoct the optimum balance of attributes to ethically deal with today’s out-of-balance world. The privilege of being alive is so enormous that I don’t mind putting enormous effort into appreciating it, observing it, and reflecting on it…and I use sculpture to do so.”

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And here’s the statement I wrote for the ‘Obsession’ show:

Artists’ Statement:

Steve Eichenberger

A person who is obsessed may well not consider themselves to be. This has been the case for me. I’ve simply been going along with what appeared in my sketchbook, trying to stay out of the way. And rabbit ears kept showing up. On everything.

The obsession’s first project was the physical challenge of keeping tall ears from falling down in the wet clay stage. I propped and skewered and accepted whatever motley shapes I could get to stand up. The familiar inner response of “that’s cool, but you can do better” compelled me to keep trying again, and again, to form the perfect pair of hare’s ears. By “perfect” I don’t mean anatomically correct, but rather a vivid, insistent inner vision I was compelled to replicate in reality.

I was/am mesmerized by the long slow curves, the tapering of the thickness of the clay, the ear shape’s inherent structural integrity, the volume enclosed, the interaction of negative space between the ears, the flow of line from nose to eartip.

Dozens of iterations later, after developing better armatures and refining sculpting techniques, I have come much closer to matching that inner ideal of form/shape…and the obsession is vindicated as I draw my fingers along fired curves.

Just as romance can be diminished by over-analyzing, an obsession can dry up when exposed to light and air by rational critique. Is it even possible to purposely generate an obsession? wouldn’t it then be a “pursuit”? I experience strong right and left brain influences simultaneously. Too often this means my left brain heckles the right brain into submission. So I value a good obsession once in awhile. The trick is to look the other way and let it play out.

RiverSea show Nov 6, Mtn views, new Raven birth

I’ll be in a three person show at RiverSea Gallery in Astoria, opening Nov 6 with a reception from 5 to 8. I took four of my large sculptures to be in the show. Jackie will have lots of work in it too. We’ll be interviewed on a local radio station, live, about the show on Friday afternoon the 5th.

New Raven sculpture completed for my line of cast ravens/crows available through galleries.

Mt Hood from my new studio location on Milwaukie Ave.

False color rendition of Mt St Helens looking to the north from my new sculpture studio location. If it weren’t for a willow tree precisely placed to block the exact outline of her, I’d be able to see Mt St Helens out my window as I work. I only have to go a few paces to get this view though.

Time Keeps on Slipping…Into the Future…

Just completed our first full week of full production in our new studio spaces and it went very well! There are still many minor things I need/want to do — hang more shelves and lights, organize my own space now that I’ve organized everyone else’s, remove and replace the door so it opens out instead of into our space in the big room — but lots of work is getting done, the wire racks are filling up with work that will eventually go to galleries or tile dealers, we fired three kiln loads of work.

I started this blog for discussing/showing my large scale ceramic sculptures, but I think it may be a few weeks before I can get back to sculpting my large signature works. In the meantime, I need to give some attention to my line of cast crows/ravens (worked on new molds yesterday and today), and maybe make some letters/numerals, and fun tiles like grasshoppers or whatever…to sell through galleries.

Now that the move is mostly completed, I hope to now have time to get back to regular exercise — to stoke my energy engines. And maybe even do one or two hours a week of non-work related activities!

I like my new studio. Now I need me “back” so I have somebody to work in it. All in good time……….

In other news, I’ve accepted an invitation to be in a three person show at RiverSea Gallery in Astoria next month. It’s with Jackie, and Shannon Richardson (painter).

Belated photo of my booth space at Art in the Pearl a month ago:

IT’S A BOY!

I’ve birthed a new studio! At least that’s what it’s felt like…lots of PUSHING to get everything installed and ready for us and our assistants to work productively/efficiently at 5040 SE Milwaukie in Portland.

BAM was a success!

My first-ever show  — was a success! Thanks to the customers who supported me with purchases, I can now justify continuing to sculpt my self-expressive works! This is huge! This show was truly a career changer. I’m already planning to apply to more shows in 2011.

Thanks, T., M. & H. for everything.

Meanwhile, it’s only 37 days till the Art in the Pearl show, so it’s back out to Studio G for me. If I push it, and if the weather stays warm to dry out the clay quickly, I might be able to get one or two new pieces done in time to show them. I’m definitely feeling motivated after the validation my work received at BAM — it will be such a relief to have more positive energy, less fear of failure to fight against.

Gratitude.

“Aristophanes”

I’ve decided what to name the larger of the two hare sculptures I’m working on:

“Aristophanes”

Big name for a big sculpture.

He seems ‘aristocratic’ to me, which triggered the name. It is derived from the Greek words aristos, meaning ‘best,’ and phanes, meaning ‘appearing.’ (My choice has nothing to do with the 5th century B.C.E. Greek playwright of the same name.)

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Finished assembling bisqued Reprieve.

(Photos on Feb 2 post)

More hollowing out of Aristophanes, upper torso.