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.

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

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

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

Steve Eichenberger 3 alskjdl

Finished wall sculpture from “Cosmic Zoo” series

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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!

Eggs

Steve Eichenberger aluminum egg sculpture

(SOLD)

8″ x 5-1/2″

Egg sculpture made from hand-hammered aluminum with baked-on patina, ~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.

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 shaped each aluminum section to fit the contours of the wooden form (aka buck). Each one is unique, because I cut the sections freehand, with no pattern or plan. Ditto for the patina — hand applied and manipulated — never the same twice. I used hardened steel alphabet punches to hand stamp letters into the corners of each plate, to help me put all the pieces back together again after the hot patina and burnishing stages. Constructed with care to last for generations.

Steve Eichenberger aluminum egg sculpture

Steve Eichenberger aluminum egg sculpture

Steve Eichenberger aluminum egg sculpture

Steve Eichenberger aluminum egg sculpture

Steve Eichenberger aluminum egg sculpture

Rocket

Steve Eichenberger rocket

I scaled up my prototype rocket design to this 25″ x 10″ version, and did multiple patina tests to come up with this scorched re-entry look…like it’s been to the asteroid belt and back a few times! Check my Etsy store for availability.

Steve Eichenberger rocket detail

Hammer-formed aluminum, all hand-built.

Steve Eichenberger rocket detail

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

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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.