Lee C. Herbst was born in 1963 about 100 miles west of Chicago in a small farming community. His love of art originated from his mother who was an illustrator and cartoonist and it was her encouragement that persuaded him to pick up a pencil and draw. His natural talents became evident early on as he developed a passion for drawing wildlife and his drawings were snatched up by family and friends as quick as he could produce them, never keeping any for himself.
He continued to draw wildlife for many years, occasionally dabbling in landscape or still life, but never straying far from God’s amazing, living creations. He experimented with various media such as water color, acrylics, and pastels, but found that dealing with color was difficult for him. It was not long after this experimentation that he discovered that he was partially color blind and decided to limit himself to the black and white world of graphite and charcoal.
After a few years away from art, his wife, Teresa, encouraged him to pick up where he left off. One day in 2005, looking through the myriad of items in a local art supply store, Lee discovered a kit that claimed to teach how to paint portraits with charcoal. He had never attempted portraits in the past as he was unsure that his skill level was sufficient to do the human subject justice, however, he was intrigued and purchased a copy.
He quickly went through the lessons and found that painting in charcoal came natural to him. His first portrait with this technique was one of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) from a photo contained in the lesson book. Click here to see this portrait. He fell in love with the technique and over time he has modified the process to fit his own style of painting. He firmly believes that painting in charcoal brings out the raw essence of life and spirit, stating that “charcoal allows me to strip away the distraction of color and reveal the raw truth hidden underneath. It is not just the form I try to capture, but the life and spirit within; the essence that God placed in each one of us and permeates all things.” Today he paints exclusively in charcoal, producing portraits, both human and animal, wildlife, and spiritually themed original art.
Other than his art, Lee is passionate about God, his family, and nature in general. He enjoys spending time with his wife and four children, tasting new and exciting foods, especially spicy dishes, writing, reading, watching movies, playing games, and crosswords. He runs and trains for marathons to keep himself healthy and has a desire to become a novelist sometime in the future.