BOPs! … "Beacons of Positivity"

14.5″ – 18″ tall x 4″ – 5″ in diameter

Introducing a new mixed media series, “Beacons of Positivity” or BOPs for short. I’ve been developing it over the past several months and as usual have enjoyed working on the behind the scenes *process* aspects every bit as much as how they’re turning out aesthetically. One reason I’m making them is to have freedom to play with more vibrant colors than I could get by with on the more representational sculptures I’ve been making for the Cosmic Zoo Series, for example. Finished BOPs look simple, but I utilize about ten different (non-toxic) materials in their construction, and spent countless hours developing “secret recipes” and quirky methods that help make making them fun for me as the maker.

They’re available in my Recent Work section, with the following description that tells a bit more about the “why”:

BOPs are a new series of “Beacons of Positivity,” handmade by mixed media artist Steve Eichenberger. They are fun, colorful, non-fragile decor items for your mantel, shrine, niche, ledge, windowsill, shelf or table—plus they do double duty as cosmic energy appliances!

Now, I tend to be a fact-based kind of guy…but experience has proven to me that we can access literally infinite potential energy from the cosmos around us—and I’ve conceived my BOPs to draw in, concentrate, and re-radiate that free, abundant positivity wherever they are placed.

I make them individually from scratch, so each one is unique; I couldn’t make two identical to save myself! They may appear fragile, but they’re not…from initial concept onward, I’ve constructed them with durability in mind, to withstand minor household oopsies…as well as the inevitable jousts, jostles & jolts of shipping. If needed, clean gently with damp cloth. Not intended for outdoor exposure (but it’s your choice if you’re okay with them weathering). Hollow but sturdy, with graduated walls that are thicker toward the base to optimize balance…nice heft overall: not too heavy, not too light (approx. 1.5 – 2 lbs). They feel good.

Decades ago when art became a major focus of my life, I had no idea how revelatory a tool it would turn out to be—a vehicle for unexpected insights, an illuminator of mysteries, an explorer of vast inner realms—life enhancements that can’t be adequately communicated with words. BOPs are one physical manifestation of such inner experience, and it’s my hope they will serve as a catalyst for others to realize and utilize the limitless positive energy surrounding us at all times…literally as much energy as we can imagine!

“Wizard of Spacetime”

Cosmic Zoo Series: “Wizard of Spacetime”

19″h x 14″w x 10″d

Handbuilt ceramic, hammer formed aluminum, 23K gold leaf, mixed media—archival, one of a kind. Easy wall mounting bracket included.

(Check Recent Work section for availability.)

Has to do with my musings about fellow extraterrestrials (perhaps even doppelgängers) throughout the infinite vastness of spacetime who similarly imagine me imagining them. What if one of them figured out how to burst in from another dimension for a chat?

New Mixed Media Pieces

Click on any photo below to enlarge it.

In my perpetual struggle to find time to do art I *want* to do, the past few months have represented a welcome positive turn! I’ve had great fun combining several different media to make things. The relatively recent addition of hammer formed aluminum to my bag of tricks has made it possible to do things that would have been too fragile (or else too thick/heavy) in ceramic. A craigslist ad for old growth fir lumber that was destined for a landfill spurred me to go rescue some of it and turn it into corbel pedestals for several wall pieces. I ran several experiments with marrying materials, and came up with methods for strong modeling and joins, with non-toxic components.

How to patina the unfinished sculptures was by far my most daunting challenge! But my insecurity led me to research color (yet again) and commit more brain effort to grasping the Munsell system for quantifying color—it’s sticking this time and has really helped demystify color for me! I still have a hard time *visualizing* color in my mind, but once I’ve determined what color I want, I feel much more confident I can mix it.

I think using Instagram (I started an account a little over a year ago) may be helping my brain with visualization…flashing thousands of images briefly as I scroll through the daily feed seems to be fostering some new neural capabilities. Fingers crossed, as it’s been a frustrating shortcoming as an artist to have difficulty visualizing color! Fortunately, I can quite easily visualize *how* to make things…and I’m grateful for that and enjoy the process of making very much.

Art at the Cave Show, Feb 1st – 22nd

If you haven’t yet discovered it, you’ll love Art at the Cave Gallery—a beautiful independent gallery in downtown Vancouver, Washington.

I hope you can come see several of my new mixed media sculptures in their February invitational group show titled “Aqueous” — with Artists’ reception Friday, February 1st, 6-9 p.m. — continuing till February 22nd

Gallery hours are 10 to 4, Tuesday through Saturday

108 E Evergreen Blvd
Vancouver, WA 98660

360.314.6506

Photo credit: The Columbian newspaper, 2017. The little room in the center houses multi-media exhibits.

DaVinci Resolve Beginner video

 

After shooting all the still photos for my newest egg sculpture, I goofed around with shooting some video using my old MotoX phone. All the footage came out way too dark, and with jumpy random frames (I guess from autofocus trying to do its thing). I didn’t think it was salvageable. But by using a powerful video editing application called DaVinci Resolve I was able to improve the lighting & contrast, and remove individual jumpy frames, to the point that I was able to use the footage to make the above video. It also allowed me to compress the music duration from 66 seconds to just under 60 seconds (for Instagram’s one minute limit) without changing the pitch.

Yes my little video is far from perfect, but I enjoyed the process, and am reasonably happy with the way it turned out—considering my lack of experience and equipment!

I appreciate that the makers of DaVinci Resolve, Blackmagic Design, offer a free version of it online that does everything 99.9% of us would ever conceivably need to do…in their words: “Revolutionary tools for editing, visual effects, motion graphics, color correction and audio post production, all in a single application!”

I also appreciate the YouTube music library where musicians post music for others to use for video soundtracks. That’s where I discovered Kevin MacLeod’s short composition that was just what I was looking for:

Comfortable Mystery 3 – Film Noire by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100536

Artist: http://incompetech.com/

I tried to coordinate the video editing with the phrasing of the music where possible.

It helped to watch some DaVinci Resolve tutorials on YouTube and/or query Google to find answers to specific questions along the way. Hint: use .mp4 format for posting to Instagram! It’s different than the .mov format for YouTube.

From Across the Eons and Parsecs…

IMG_9191

Ceramic and mixed media wall sculpture available for purchase here.

1350h 1080w 3

Handbuilt, one-of-a-kind ceramic sculpture with riveted hammer-formed aluminum and various other mixed media.

24″h x 10″w x 9″ d

Easy/secure wall mount with included bracket…it’s not heavy.

This timeless personage is the most recent addition to my “Cosmic Zoo Series,” intended to celebrate the ubiquitous arising of intelligent civilizations throughout time and space—infinitely in all directions, and infinitely backward and forward in time.

I could write pages about it, but basically I have this zany idea that there’s been a perpetually running Cosmic Art Show since, well, forever, where extraterrestrial artists create art to enter into the show. No, I’ve never heard of this notion before, but if I thought it up, then countless others have thought/are thinking/will think of it too, wherever they are in spacetime. I’m honored to join them.
1350h 1080w 1
This piece brings together many different media I’ve been developing for exactly this purpose…to have a “toolbox” of various light but strong, non-toxic, earth-friendly materials/methods that complement each other stylistically as well as structurally…and that are fun to work with!

I can’t put every last bit of motivation for this piece into words…the infinite power of imagination…the uniformity of ideas across space and time…my own personal identification with the phenomenon of self-aware-intelligence rather than with the biology or AI that happens to host it…well-wishing across the eons and parsecs to all other artists participating in this show…hope for each others’ civilizations to survive and thrive in peace, upon a foundation of gratitude for the privilege of existence, and embracing the mystery that any of us are here at all!1350h 1080w 2

New Egg

 

IMG_8433

(SOLD)

Dimensions: 8″ tall x 5-1/2″ diameter.

One of a kind, self-balancing egg sculpture made from hand-hammered aluminum with baked-on patina, fastened securely to an internal substructure with ~300 rivets. It’s alive! It can keep its balance due to “shake weights” I put inside…by shaking it gently to adjust the internal weights, you can get it to stand upright by itself on any flat surface, as seen in the photos. The internal weights also help it to stay put so it won’t roll around, and add to its character because of the sound made by the shaking. It would make a great rhythm instrument for a marimba band or similar 😉
IMG_8484
This is one of the most challenging art objects I’ve ever made! First I made a full size version in wood, to which I carefully shape each aluminum section to fit the contours of the wooden form (aka buck). Each egg I make is definitely a one of a kind, because I cut the dozen or so sections freehand with no pattern—never the same twice. Ditto for the patina — hand applied and manipulated. I use hardened steel alphabet punches to hand stamp letters into the corners of each section, to help me put all the pieces back together again after the hot patina and burnishing stages…plus they look cool.
IMG_8475
Crafted with care to last for many generations — I use heavy gauge (.040) aircraft grade aluminum for the shell.

This egg may not be sentient, but it still seems very much alive — in its motions, in its ability to hold a pose, and the sounds it makes when shaken.

I think it’s pretty safe to say you’ll never find anything else like it! Jewelry for the home. Or take it with you when you rocket to your new home on Mars.

IMG_8472

Review: Clip Studio Paint Pro / Manga Studio vs. Artrage 5 vs. Sketchbook Pro

For 2018 I resolved to draw every day. I’ve missed some days, but am definitely drawing a lot more, and enjoying the process. This sketch is a step along that path, a step that may represent a fork in the path actually, toward digital media rather than pencil on paper:

Steve Eichenberger, artist

(Would you have known it was drawn using a stylus instead of on paper if I hadn’t said anything?)

It’s frankensteined together from three separate sketches: one for each eye, and one for nose/mouth:

180325 face play annotated

I found it more relaxing — more right brain less left brain — to do it that way. I didn’t set out with the intention of compositing them together…or any intention, really, I was just trying to figure out how to use new software (Clip Studio Paint, aka Manga Studio, Mac desktop version, using Intuous4 PTK-440 Wacom tablet), settle on what resolution to use, try out the various pencil tools, and so on. It was fun! I feel a little sad that I enjoyed it more than conventional pencil on paper, but I’m also excited by the fresh possibilities of going digital.

What I liked:
— natural/realistic look and feel of the various pencil tools
— ability to undo
— ability to place various parts on different layers
— darken/lighten individual strokes, a section, or entire drawing easily (using vector layers)
— clean erasing
— ability to zoom in for detailing
— can work large without smudging from hand on paper
— ability to reposition/resize without erasing then re-drawing (one of the things that was off-putting when I used to paint portraits; if a perfectly good eye was a smidge out of place, there was no choice but to paint it out and re-do it!)
— more relaxing since everything I did was an “experiment” which wouldn’t mess up what I’d done so far if I decided I didn’t like it
— can handle high resolution drawing/painting for gallery quality prints up to 17 x 22 (biggest we can print ourselves)
— can rotate the drawing this way and that (for easier cross-hatching, for example)
— no scanning or photography required; lossless full resolution, ready to print

I also downloaded and tested ArtRage 5 and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, but ultimately chose Clip Studio Paint for its depth of features…such as finer control of taper on both ends of strokes, and amazing vector capabilities, without it looking like vector work:

180327 100 percent nose

Most importantly, Clip Studio can keep up with rapid sketching at high resolution without lagging. Lagginess was a deal breaker for me on both ArtRage and Sketchbook — I did testing with all three on a 3300 x 4200 pixel canvas size (11″ x 14″ at 300 dpi resolution). Overall, Clip Studio just feels more professional to me…the other two seem stripped down by comparison. I may change my mind, or discover something better, but for now I’m just happy 😉

Addendum: I just watched, and recommend, this excellent review/tutorial on Clip Studio Paint (aka Manga Studio) by an artist who has been working digitally for 20 years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xhvr1JUEwdo&ab_channel=ReubenLara

 

Working at the “Speed of Life”

I use a to-do list (Google Keep) where you can drag list items up or down the list in order of priority. When I scan down the list, I often see something (i.e., “update blog”) that I really need/want to do, so I drag it up to the top. But then I continue to drag other items (get groceries to eat, do taxes, fulfill crow/raven orders) above it until it is so far down it looks impossible to ever get to it. Right now as I type this, it’s first thing on a Sunday morning and I’m purposely not looking to see where “update blog” falls on my to-do list while I try to steal enough time to jot these quick notes! (An analogy of trying to stack a couple dozen croquet balls onto a dinner plate springs to mind when thinking  of prioritizing my to-do list…)

A LOT has been happening since my last entry…I’ve been crazy busy, but have gotten a lot done! (I’ve come to the conclusion that if I weren’t this busy, I’d probably just keep adding more things until I was!)

My last entry was in early November 2017. From then through mid January was frantic crow/raven production & sales…definitely a new record! The Real Mother Goose Gallery’s downtown location has for years topped my crow/raven sales chart, but they had to close that location (city closed the building for year-long repairs) and don’t plan to re-open it, so they had a huge sale — and it was a challenge to keep up with the demand for my crows/ravens…one last blast.

I also revamped this entire site, steveeichenberger.com, with a new look, much more content, and upgraded my plan to include basic e-commerce capability (see “Available Work“).

A major reason I haven’t written here for awhile is because I finally took the plunge and opened an Instagram account in November. I begrudge the extra time it takes to post to it, especially since they do not allow you to post from a desktop computer, forcing me to dink with my phone (grr) to upload photos, type descriptions, and type in hashtags. Bleh. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I’ve found it inspiring to follow other artists’ IG feeds…a virtually endless flow of curated (by me) artwork…more than I have time to look at. A DIY art magazine. It inspires me to up my game.

The sculpture in my last post is already finished and sold. I also sold a couple rockets, and a couple or three “Murder of Crows” 11-piece collections.

Time is yelling at me…so I’m going to just upload a bunch of photos and get back to the top to-do for today: casting crows/ravens. I’m trying to fill up my crow boxes (a “should”) so I can feel okay about taking time to “play” with drawing…digital and/or traditional…because a new venue, Boys Fort in downtown Portland, has racks of small posters/quotes/maps etc where I can place some 2D work if I want…a nice opportunity! Now to claw out some time to do so…

Jasper

“Jasper” (sold)

32 b sq

Completed a bigger size rocket, 32″

Eichenberger rocket 6911

To show size of 32″ version compared to the two previous sizes

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 11.28.42 AM

Larger fuselage was a challenge, but I like challenges…chosen ones, anyway!

IMG_6748 copy 2

Pencil sketch on scratch paper (result of resolution to “draw more” in 2018)

Steve Eichenberger 3 alskjdl

Finished wall sculpture from “Cosmic Zoo” series

Steve Eichenberger 180223c

Another finished wall sculpture from my “Cosmic Zoo” series…I could write several more paragraphs explaining the series (to do with time, space and infinity), but time’s up for today!