Dr. Lief Erickson Sr. by Richard Arfsten
This is an example of a commission where the subject had passed away and there were only some very small snapshots for reference. None were appropriate since they were all straight on shots with an exaggerated "say cheese" smile.
Dr. Erickson was 85 when he died but his family wanted him to look 50 as the bust was to be their childhood memory. He had four sons so I got them all together and asked them who had his eyes, his nose, mouth, etc. I took pictures and measurements of the sons and made a composite. They wanted a particular look.
Each time I returned to show them the progress there was a critique by about a dozen people who would tell me the look was still not quite right. Try adjusting this or that. I would leave the piece there and they would make notes in a notebook when they had a chance to come and look at it. Eventually one of them started to tear up when he looked at it and said "that is my dad." Then I knew I had hit a home run.
This process was extremely difficult and time consuming. I gave them a price on the foundry costs. The modeling time was on a time-per-hour basis in addition. It is impossible to know how long it will take to get the approval of four sons, a daughter, a wife and four former employees.
In the end, they were very pleased with the work. Something like this can cost between $15,000 to $20,000. I had a bronze and three copies in concrete made. The concrete pieces were put in several outdoor spaces. They put different pairs of his glasses on them and talk to him when they pass by. He is still watching over his family and they love the pieces.