Monday, December 31, 2012

A simple ornament...

2012 Holiday Ornament
As we have done in previous years our department at my work held it's annual holiday fundraising auction for charity.  Not sure how many items might come up for bid I decided to see if I could come up with a quick ornament for the auction.  The word 'quick' and 'I' are usually not said in the same sentence when it comes to carvings as I am not a prolific carver and for me to produce something takes a good while.  Fortunately I was able to complete this in an evening.  (My friends would have this done in two hours compared to my five).
The carving is in the round (it is carved on the backside as well) with a relief kind of feel to it. It was based on a simple drawing I saw and modified.  Ensuring good clean cuts allowed me to keep the carving natural.  I hope you enjoy.

I hope all of you have had a safe and joyous holiday. 

Note:  The recent senseless killing and wounding of our local firefighters, one of which was my wife's coworker, have cast a shadow on these holidays.  Life is precious and our world will truly miss these fine gentlemen.  May God bless Tomasc and Mike's family and we pray for a speedy recovery for those hospitalized.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A friend's request...

Da Grump #1
   I was surprised the other day by a request from a friend I made while at the Renegade in the spring.  A friend had crafted his toolbox in such a way that he could collect corner carvings from friends and instructors and attach them to his box.  A pretty interesting idea.  Well I was flattered when I received a note from him requesting a carving for his box.
  Now as you can tell from this blog my job has taken over quite a bit of my free time leaving me little time for carving.  This though was one request I could not pass up. 
  I have noticed over time as I developed my style that I tend to not do many smiling carvings as I find the neutral or grumpy expressions to be more expressive.  This is not to say I won't carve a happy or smiling figure its just that these offer something different, maybe its just another level of detail.  Either way I have found these to be attractive and as I am one to take what the wood offers me these just keep cropping up.  As such I decided to give a name to these original carvings and will refer to them as "Da Grumps".  My friend will be receiving the first of these.
  I had brought this one to my recent club meeting and passed it around for others to view and found it passed the litmus test by obtaining the chuckles and grins I like to see.  If you are a carver I urge you to try these expressive types as it can be magical when you can sell the expressions throughout the whole face.  I look forward to producing many more.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Just got back...

  Another adventure in Caricature Carving...I was fortunate enough to attend the 2012 Spring Renegade Woodcarvers Roundup in Lebanon, TN.  What a great week in a very affordable location.
  To give you some background, the Roundup is held in the Spring and Fall.  The cost for 5 days of Woodcarving is $200 plus the cost of Roughouts or other items you purchase.  The purchase price gets you instruction from 5 well known carvers in the world of Caricature Carving.  You spend one day with each and they offer a good variety of Roughouts to choose from. The class day runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an hour break for lunch and the first four days include some type of evening event where you can participate or just continue carving.  This event is hosted by Steve Brown who along with some volunteers put together an enjoyable week.  Besides Steve this years instructors included Gary Falin (CCA), Mitchell Cartledge (CCA), Mark Akers (Award winning Santa Carver), and Chris Hammack (CCA) .
  The weeks attendees came from as far away as Alaska and California.  The week also had a visit from Helvie Knives (Rich Smithson) who stopped by to showcase some of his wares as well.  As for the accommodations each member was given the opportunity to stay at a local motel for $32 a night, the hotel included the typical continental breakfast for a motel and they did not mind at all when we returned late in the evening to continue to make chips.  The late night discussions at the hotel included a demonstration of golf ball carving by Dale Kirkpatrick.  Dale also makes one fine tool tote!! (see trusted links)
  As for the carving location it was located at the Veteran's Hall on the County Fairgrounds.  The grounds itself are worth the trip as they have ~ 30 old log homes and buildings of interest to stroll through during a break.  The registration is limited to 60 participants which works well for this location. 
For those flying I found the Nashville Airport very nice and it was only a 20 minute drive to the hotel.

All-in-all a great week with an excellent return on your investment. Great job Steve!!  For more information go to Steve's website (link listed in respected links).

...alright enough computer's time to carve...  WHITTLE-ON DUDE!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Finding inspiration in everyday opportunities...

  Somtimes hard work pays off as I was recently sent to Spain as part of my job.  My hotel was located in the city center of Madrid.  While my journey included long days of work I was able to squeeze in a few hours playing tourist.  Having traveled quite a bit with my siblings and also having been guided by my resourceful parents I have learned not to take time for granted and did some planning prior to my departure.
  Every time I travel I am always seeking inspriation or a piece of knowledge that will advance my art skills and in turn allow me to improve my woodcarving abilities.  Having grown up outside Chicago where typical field trips as a kid were to the exciting museums that can be found there to this day I became hooked and usually do not pass up the opportunity to visit a museum when arriving at a city.  In the case of Madrid my choice was to visit the Museo Nacional del Prado museum or simply called the Prado museum.  With my limited knowledge of the Spanish language, a simple translation book and a map provided by my hotel I set out on foot for a 4 hour adventure.  Once I arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find out that for this particular day admission was free and that is a good thing as the dollar does not buy you many Euros these days. I spent
almost 4 hours in the museum looking at a couple hundred paintings but was struck not by the many brightly colored works but rather by Francisco de Goya's el negro (black) paintings.
  The picture above is "Two old men eating".  As you can see the tones are very dark, thus the paintings aforemention classification.  While the brush strokes are not well refined the images are quite deep and expressive.  I stood about 15 ft. away and was amazed at how he was able to express so much with such
simplistic strokes.  Seeing these paintings was like finding a needle in a haystack as most of the other paintings in the museum while of excellent quality seemed repetitive and the "el negro" paintings were something completely different and made you just want to sit and study.
   While the rest of the week was filled with meetings and socializing with my global colleagues on the last day I did have a few hours of daylight left and decided on one last adventure.  The day of course was not ideal as the temperatures were around 50 with a stiff wind making it feel much colder.  I had to make a choice either go to another art museum or take a walk to a very large park in the center of the city.  I decided on the latter and the need to take some pictures.   Now you have to understand that most Spaniards consider Madrid to be quite modern as its buildings are not that old but everywhere you turn there are sculptures and within the sculptures are images worth recording and studying like the picture shown below.

  I can only hope I get to see more.  I will definitely plan to take more time if the future allows another trip as there is so much to see and do. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Building Character

  As I continue my development and establish what I hope is my carving identity I continue to study all variables to the human form and continue to work on expression and flow.  The carving at the left is a study bust done in this process.  For this bust I wanted to push my envelope by working on hair, eyebrows, head proportions, and expression. 
  Along the way I have studied with many a carver as well as study carvings looking for something I have missed.  For those who are new to Caricature Carving,  you will find that your style will be a composite of all who have influenced you along the way.  Eventually you will settle on how you would like to do it and you will find that after a while most carvers will be able to identify your work just by examining a carving. 
  As most of you know a carving is made up of several cuts that combined as a whole create the composite.  A good example of this is the use of triangle cuts at the corners of the mouth.  Good use of these cuts make the mouth more believable and realistic.  When creating carvings I strive to make all the components believable.  I have found that if I examine a carving I can easily be distracted from the carvings composition by something that "ain't just right".  When this occurs the I am unable to focus on the message.  This can turn a humorous composition to just an okay piece.  In the case of the carving above I am satisfied with the overall look however when it comes to expression the eyes are the centerpiece and on this carving they appear devoid of emotion, that was not what I was going for.  This is something to work on...