Award-winning artist Eddie Filer Jr. of Texas City is known for his spectacularly
lifelike portraits. He works in various media: charcoal and graphite pencils, pastels, and his
favorite, oil paint. “Oils allow you to move and push things around,” he explains. “It dries
slower than acrylic paint,” allowing longer working time.
Although he’s a brain rehabilitation caregiver in his day job, Filer holds a master’s
degree in art from the University of Houston – Clear Lake and has taught art at Galveston
College, Ball High School in Galveston, and Texas City High School.
Filer, 53, a Galveston native, has been a member of the nonprofit Galveston Art
League off and on for about 30 years. “It’s an opportunity to show my work,” says Filer,
referring to the 12 monthly exhibits at the league’s gallery, 2117A Postoffice St. in
downtown Galveston. Nine of those exhibits are shows with league members’ artwork on
display, and three are juried shows, with those competitions open to members and
nonmembers. Cash awards are offered in five categories as well as for Best of Show (see
www.GalvestonArtLeague.com for details). Filer’s portrait “Vincent” received the Best of
Show honor at the Galveston Art League’s Spring 2019 Juried Show.
He also competed the Texas City Art Festival (taking second place for his drawing
“Troubled Soul – The Thinker” in 2019) and recently entered a contest held by the Visual
Arts Alliance in Houston. Filer also has received a Certificate of Excellence in portrait
competition from the Portrait Society of America in 2017 and 2018. “I was among the 50
winners two years in a row. I was very fortunate that they picked me.”
Filer doesn’t exclusively paint portraits, although they comprise much of his body of
work. People may contact him to commission portraits by email at EddieFiler@yahoo.com
and through his website, www.EddieFilerArt.com; he’s also on Facebook and Instagram.
Filer talks about his art and his processes below.
Q: At what age did you discover your passion for art?
A: I’ve been drawing my whole life. But I learned I could paint through teacher L.T. Gordon
at Ball High School. I was a football player for Ball and I was cutting up in class with my
friends. He moved me to the cafeteria to see what I could do if I was by myself. I did three
acrylic paintings that showed promise, and he pushed me to the next level.
Q: Does your family encourage you?
A: Yes – my wife, my son, and my daughter.
Q: What inspires you?
A: Just coming in contact with people, talking to people. When I paint, I try to do a
narrative, tell a story. You get that by talking with them.
Q: Where do you paint?
A: I have a little studio in my house. It’s like an office, about 12 by 12 feet. … From time to
time I take my work outdoors to see what area I need to work on in natural light.
Q: Can you share a little about your process?
A: Sometimes I underpaint and sometimes I do direct painting. Sometimes I’m drawing
with a paintbrush. I’m a slow painter. I’ll have the model pose a couple of times and then I
take a couple of photographs, or sometimes I do the whole painting from photos. I use my
cellphone for photos but I do have a fancy camera. I use my cellphone a whole lot, even
with a commissioned portrait. It’s easier to use; it’s smaller. The client can look at it easily.
Sometimes I do studies first, in graphite or charcoal; sometimes I color them. If it’s an
intricate portrait, I know I must spend more time on it and give that portrait a little more
Q: Besides the Galveston Art League, do you belong to any other art organizations?
A: The Portrait Society of America. I go to their conferences every year. It’s a great learning
experience. You get to meet a lot of different artists. It’s really fantastic.
Q: How do you improve your skills?
A: Through the Portrait Society of America conferences and through trial and error,
messing up a lot. John Stovall of Galveston College taught me elements of art and principles
of design. He was an abstract artist and has been a huge influence on me. He is my mentor
to this day.
Q: Someone told me you had an exhibit in Houston a while back. Is that right?
A: Yes. It was at the Houston Museum of African American Culture – they call it HMAAC
[pronounced h-mack] – last October. They call it a museum, but it’s really more of a gallery.
I sold some things and it was a great experience. If anyone gets the opportunity, they
should go by HMAAC and see the artists’ works.
Q: Do you teach anymore?
A: I told Margo [Snider, president of the Galveston Art League] that I’d do a portrait
workshop at the Galveston Art League. And I teach privately in my home, one-on-one
lessons with students.
Q: Do you have a favorite well-known artist?
A: I like a lot of different artists. I follow some – Everett Kinstler; John Howard Sanden;
Daniel Greene; Michael Shane Neal; and Simmie Knox, who is the only African American
artist to have a presidential portrait hanging in the White House. Oh, and Dean Mitchell,
who is a renowned watercolorist.
Q: If you won $5,000 to spend on something art-related, what you purchase?
A: I’d buy more paints and canvas and some of those great red-sable brushes.
Q: What’s the most rewarding aspect of creating art?
A: For me, it’s therapeutic. It’s been a friend for a long time. I could have had one of the
worst days ever, but then I come into my studio and it cheers me up.
Q: Do you have a goal you’re striving for?
A: I’d love to retire and do art full time someday.
Q: Do you have any advice for beginning artists?
A: Art is so wide open. Just believe in what you’re doing – do “you”; don’t try to do
somebody else. Just do yourself and work hard.
--Interview by Mary Vinnedge