Meet The Artist: Dick Eaton

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By Dennis McNabb, Active Media Contributing Writer

What is the mark of a true artist? At what point along an artist’s journey do we consider them masters of their craft versus a student or hobbyist? Ironically, it’s often the most authentic of artists who will afford themselves the least amount of credit for their accomplishments. Case in point, Lake Oswego artist and overall renaissance man, Richard (Dick) Eaton. Although he’s been honing his craft for nearly twenty years now, he sincerely feels like it’s only his most recent work of the last year or so that has reached a level matching his passion.

Dick is one of the most genuine people you could meet. This is a man committed, whether it’s through his art or his work as an executive leadership coach, to living with authenticity. It takes constant vigilance and practice, but he is absolutely doing what he was put on this earth to do. Modest and unassuming, inquisitive and insightful; he’s a spiritual man, and the process of creating art, for him, is a key aspect to his spiritual journey. In many ways, it is how he discovers and defines himself. This is the power of art in its truest form. It’s an expression of self; a way of sharing our unique view of the world with others.

Dick has always embraced his creative side. As a young man, his initial forays were concentrated more in the realm of ceramics. He worked on mastering those skills through high school and college, but stepped away from it when he became a parent. Like for so many of us, getting married, having a family, and having a full-time job often necessarily takes precedence over creative endeavors. It wasn’t long though, before he began to notice the void that left in his life. He was grateful to be a husband and father, and to this day, he maintains that his (full grown) kids are his highest priority and greatest achievement in life, but he couldn’t deny his growing discontent over the loss of a creative outlet.

That was when he discovered an advertisement for a painting class led by none other than Michael Dowling (a renown artist, professor at Boston University, and a man who has helped thousands heal through art with his non-profit Medicine Wheel Productions). Dick was skeptical at first. He’d never worked with paints prior to taking the class, but he fell in love with the process, and simultaneously developed a long-term friendship with Michael besides. Ultimately, Dick studied under Michael for a full ten years, carving out time from his busy schedule every Wednesday from 10-2. That was his island oasis; his meditative and creative escape.

Still, Dick feels like his skill level is only just beginning to match his degree of passion, and this is where some of that authenticity really shines through. For the average, if untrained eye, his paintings are absolutely beautiful, expressive, impressionistic; I would hang any of them on my wall and display them proudly. But for Dick, as is the case with so many artists constantly striving to achieve perfection (or close to it), it has taken all these years of dedicated practice to reach the point where he actually likes his pieces more often than not.

His work is primarily of the Plein Air style (French meaning “outdoors”) which was popularized in the 19th Century and focuses on open air, outdoor subjects painted in the outdoors. Often they feature gorgeous, sweeping landscapes that transport you to another place. Far more challenging in many ways than studio work, Plein Air requires dedication to a communal relationship with nature. Weather, wildlife, quick-drying acrylic paints, and an ever-changing source of light provide constant hurdles to contend with, but Dick welcomes that challenge.

It has all been a part of his journey, his transformation, his transcendence. The form requires a certain relinquishment of control; since you’re under a constant time crunch, you have to learn to express yourself in the moment, then let it go and move on – something he’s really struggled with over the years. In fact, his old mentor Michael often told him, “don’t tame your paintings!” and he feels like he is finally starting to fully realize that philosophy.

Recently, Dick had his first piece shown at a commercial gallery in Oregon. It was the 8th Annual Living Mark Exhibition at Verum Ultimum Art Gallery in Portland, and his painting was chosen from hundreds of submissions as one of only 30 pieces displayed for the exhibit. He has also shown several pieces for the gallery at the Lake Oswego Arts Council, as well as the Oregon Society of Artists and has been awarded multiple times, including Best in Show in 2019!

Perhaps the best way to sum up Dick as an artist is to share a story about a woman who purchased one of his paintings: He was at George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego along the Willamette River, working on one of his plein air paintings of the landscape there, when a procession of people walked by. One of them was a woman who stopped to admire his work. She was so moved by it, and their conversation, that she divulged why the whole group was there. It was for her daughter’s baptism, and she wished to purchase his painting to commemorate the occasion. She now owns that painting. Out of all the stories of Dick’s work and the accolades he’s received at this exhibit or that, this poignant tale of human connection is one that resonates the most with him. This is why he does what he does.

Dick is an incredibly accomplished artist, and you should absolutely seek out his work, but more importantly, he is an incredibly accomplished man. Painting is his hobby, his meditation, but he does all of this while simultaneously running his own company, Leapfrog Innovations. He coaches top executives (incidentally, if you check out his Linked-In account:, you will see that he is amazing at that as well), and he has a genuine and profound interest in people. He’s one of those guys that you could spend the whole afternoon with, enjoying his warmth, camaraderie, and insight, and then go home feeling like a better person. We certainly need more people like Dick in this world!

You can find more examples of Dick’s work on Instagram: @dickeaton