It is often said about artists that they are “gifted”. This is true some, but every artist will tell you they also have worked very hard, studied, and put in much time and effort to hone their artistic skill. To be a better carver there are some things one has to be willing to do to move on to the next level. I want to share with you eight things that have helped me to keep moving forward, improve, and enjoy woodcarving more than ever. I hope these help you out.
- Have the right tools and keep them sharp.
2. Invest the time. You won’t improve your carving if you don’t carve. It takes time and it’s a great time. You have to carve almost every day.
3. You have to be a self-learner. No one is going to push you to be a woodcarver. Be motivated to learn on your own.
4. Invest in books- Order or borrow, but read them and do the projects step by step. I have been mentored by Vic Hood, Jeff Phares, Harold Enloe, Terry Kramer, and John Burke, through their books, as well as many others.
5. Take a class in some way. I have had classes with Alec Lacasse, live and online. I have been part of online woodcarving classes, with Chris Pye, Ian Norbury, and Alec Lacasse. I have bought DVD’s from Mark Gargac, Gene Webb, and Ron Adamson. It’s costs money, but its still cheaper than golf, and it is worth every penny if you want to improve. Every carver has something to impart to you. There are also a lot of free Youtube lessons available.
6. Go to some woodcarving shows – I really got excited about carving when I went to my first woodcarving show in Saline Michigan and watched Floyd Rhadigan, carve caricatures. Wow was I excited. I talked to Vic Hood at a show in Archobold, OH, and looked at his amazing work and I wanted to do that. I talked to Don Mertz at a show and he said “You can do this.” It is motivating to go to shows, talk to carvers and see their art.
7. Carve with Others- We have a small club I started a few years ago. There are woodcarving groups and clubs within driving distance of you. You will learn, stay encouraged and meet some great people. The woodcarving community is so great.
8. Don’t get discouraged and quit. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. I’ve carved a lot of things that weren’t great, but every project adds value to you as a carver because you are learning. Don’t give up or quit when discouraged. Get online, and order a book or watching something for that inspiration to keep at it.
Enjoy the journey. I have been carving for 12 years, a lot the last 3. Just enjoy the process of learning, of a project, and the successes. Remember, anything worth-while takes preparation and time. It is also very fun. Woodcarving has been a gift to my life. It is peace and therapy to me. Enjoy every minute of it. I remember the man that got me into carving, Marty Eddinger. He said, “you love talking and reading about carving more than actually carving.” I took that to heart and go my hands on a chisel and knife to get at it. Enjoy this incredible art form. Be creative, be free, work hard, learn, expand, and grow as a woodcarver.
Keep carving friends! -Nate Elarton