|Carving by A. Filetti from|
a Ryan Olsen roughout
...Not being one to follow a crowd and wanting to distinctly carve my way forward I set off to find "feminine" in my carvings. In the past I have seen many try but few succeed and started my path by taking a Gary Falin double cowboy roughout and sitting down for a session of carving and an attempt to carve a cowgirl using my visual observations and previous carvers attempt at carving the female form.
This was done while sitting in a class with the Conewago carving club in East Berlin, PA, a nice setting for the attempt, and some good observations from Mr. Jim Hiser's better half, Joan.
Having lived and been to some of the more remote regions of the West I have been exposed to cowgirls and settled on what I recalled from watching barrel racing at a local rodeo. The competitors there and the female ranch/farm workers I encountered were very slight (but powerful) women. So I carved my attempt in that fashion. The result was a little off as I was limited to working within the existing roughout that was not
designed with the female form in mind. After speaking with Joan and many other women, most were of the same opinion...she needed a little more on the top.
My next attempt at the female form was based on a Norman Rockwell drawing but that was of a child and is for another story...
While working on the Rockwell and still wanting to improve my skills in this arena, I was fortunate to have had a discussion with Dave Stetson around the topic of female, he has done well to capture the essence and I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase one of his female busts for study purposes. In my discussions with Dave he mentioned the reference material available in the form of pin-up images from the 40's as a possible reference and we discussed at length the facial structure and how it differs from the male figure. Dave was quick to point out a larger forehead exposure on women and we both agreed that the image created must appear "soft" and with the absence of lines.
Other carvers like Vicki Bishop have carved the female form, but Vicki will admit she goes more for the "gritty" female which are more present in the cowgirl arena.
Another carver who had taken on the challenge was my friend Ryan Olsen out of western Idaho. Ryan has been working it for a few years and is an amazingly quick carver (him, Dave Stetson, and Mitch Cartledge seem to share that gene). I had always enjoyed seeing his carvings and the prowess he had shown in carving. One of my all time favorite carvings is his Barbershop Quartet that appeared in the CCA street scene...just simply outstanding.
Well as luck would have it he had a class scheduled in June at the International Congress (hosted by the Affiliated Wood Carvers
...more on them in a separate article). As luck would have it my schedule allowed me to go. Prior to attending the class I did have one observation that I believed attributes to the perception of feminine when it comes to imagery and that was the bridge of the nose must be nearly absent giving the image of a "kewpie doll" nose.
I was also fortunate enough to have Rob Lucci ( local co-hort), Brian Hartman, and Phil Gentry in my class...some top-notch carvers. Ryan presented us with many choices for the female form to chose from and also study. Needless to say the class was outstanding, Ryan is an excellent instructor (teacher by trade) and allowed me to follow my own path. We had lengthy discussions along the way and agreed that capturing "feminine" in like trying to catch a slippery nightcrawler...one minute you have it, the next it is gone. Capturing the essence can be elusive but with study and working to achieve a soft form it can be achieved, but not with its frustrating moments...
On a side note we also had discussions on anatomy and motion. This figure has movement in one leg that influences the figures skeletal stance...it was an excellent discussion that allowed me to capture that movement.
What's to learn from this...well as I often instruct others, in order to carve a likeness you have to break down the "whole" into it's many parts and pay close attention to the carved facets and the shadow or lack thereof the facet creates. An example of this is to break a component(e.g. nose) into it's many components (bridge, wings, tip, nostrils) and how they need to be represented. Pay especially close attention to the "resulting planes"
generated by your cuts to ensure they are of the correct shape, size, and angle.
This is a topic worth study which can be both frustrating and rewarding but nothing worth achieving
I continue to carve (Fall is definitely carving season)...are you??
|First attempt from a Gary Falin Roughout |