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Edward Eyth continues to grab attention and enthrall his audience in the second part of his interview. He addresses the difficulties of being a perfectionist and the numerous inspirations for his sculptural works.
Toonari Post (TP): When you first started did you ever hit any bumps in your art process? What were they and how did you overcome them?
Edward Eyth (EE): I had plenty of bumps, most of them self-imposed. Procrastination, self-doubt, merciless self-criticism, and a capacity to only see the faults and shortcomings in my work. I think maybe those qualities come from a perfectionist mentality, and can drive an artist to excel, but they can also make the process an unpleasant one. The art critic Robert Hughes said: “The greater the artist, the greater the doubt.
Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” I’m not sure I’ll ever fully “overcome” those traits, and if Hughes is right then it’s best to embrace them anyway. Besides, if you reject your own inner critic, then you’re being critical of your own self-criticism, which takes it to a whole other level of disorder. I think criticism of any type has benefits and is more valuable than abundant praise, which can lead to complacency. I’ve managed to supply myself with a balance of both lately.
TP: Who or what are your inspirations and why?
EE: I’ve always been inspired by the body and people in general. To understand and represent the human figure accurately, with all its complexities, is not easy. Rendering the variety of surface features, physiological complexities, diversity of facial features, a bone at the surface that disappears under softer tissue masses, it requires a lot of study and practice. But when it’s done well and with artistic expressiveness, it can be powerful.
There are sculptures of epic events like the Pieta, which are breathtaking in technique and emotion, and there are also sculptures of everyday events that are evocative. That’s one of the things I find most engaging about great sculpture. It can extract from life a single moment and hold it up for the world to see.
There may be nothing sensational or historical about that moment; it doesn’t have to be descending angels, epic adventure, or events of grand historical magnitude. There are so many fleeting moments of beauty and grace in our everyday experience. By capturing one of those moments, and bringing it to the attention of the viewer, an artist can illuminate it as remarkable and give permanence to one transient instant that would otherwise be lost.
As for whom I find inspiring . . . the list is long. So many of the old masters. For sculptors it would be Carpeaux, Houdon, Bernini . . . painters, that’s an even longer list. There is art out there that just pulls you in, engages you in a way that can leave a lasting impression. That’s the art I find inspiring.
For contemporary artists I’d have to say Richard MacDonald tops my list. He creates figurative works that are unparalleled in beauty, quality and anatomical accuracy. I own several of his pieces and he’s a dear friend, though I’d still feel the same about his work if he weren’t.
But from a practical standpoint, nothing inspires me more than a deadline. When your reputation is on the line and you have a limited time to accomplish what you’re intending to? There’s where the real inspiration happens. Amazing how limited time (or often budget) can breed ingenuity & promote inspiration.
TP: What is your favorite subject to draw and why?
EE: Recently I’ve been fixated on human faces. The options for features and expression are so vast; I could draw faces for the rest of my life and still be intrigued. It’s interesting how just a slight change in the angle of an eyebrow, or turn of the corner of the mouth can completely change the expression.
I particularly enjoy trying to capture candid expressions on people I see. Moments when someone is between thoughts or so lost in thought they’re unaware of themselves. Those are the expressions and instants that are fleeting and challenging to portray with accuracy.
TP: If there was any art medium that you wish you could master, what would it be and why?
EE: I mentioned painting, which I’d love to spend time pursuing. And music has always been a creative interest. There are so many similarities between the creation of music and visual art. A sculpture can engage a viewer for as long as they’re willing to stand there and experience the piece. Music can be more of a voyage, with a narrative that has a beginning and an end. Both can provide an emotional journey when done well.
There are great musicians and visual artists who say they do their best works when they “step aside,” and let the creativity “flow through them.” I’ve always been fascinated by that view; that great art can originate from some source other than (and possibly greater than) the artist them self.
I’ve never studied music or achieved any level of proficiency but I still like to sit down at a piano/keyboard and dabble, sometimes composing melodies and songs. It can be relaxing and creative at the same time.
There are so many creative outlets but I’ve come to the conclusion that life offers a finite number of things you can develop expertise with, and while all artistic pursuits tend to feed one and other, it seems mastery can only come from a dedicated approach to the medium you choose.
TP: What is your life like outside of your art?
EE: Truth is, I like to teach, and I find that very rewarding and a great way to express appreciation for all those who instructed or encouraged me through the years. I love new technologies and materials, and enjoy great design (which can have a profound impact on the success and appeal of a product).
I’m fascinated by how the Internet and social media are changing the nature of our culture and seem to be revitalizing the democratic process. I’m blessed to be married to the woman of my dreams and have two outstanding sons that I’m perpetually thankful for. And I like walks on the beach and asparagus. That’s all I got.
TP: What are your goals in life?
EE: In order of importance, that would be: to be a fantastic husband and father, create art that connects with or inspires others, leave a positive life legacy . . . walk on the beach and eat asparagus.