A popular woodcarving genre in faces is the carving of Green men. Green men were in many cathedrals in Europe before the 15th century. Historians are not sure why churches had them carved or sculpted there. Maybe a sign of new life in Christ? No one is completely sure. This one has 31 leaves. They are fun to carve as you can be very creative and the layout reveals itself to me as I go. I will enter this in an art show for competition in November if they still have it. Then it will be for sale.
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
I sure enjoyed the class with Alec Lacasse carving a green man online the other day. A few tricks and tips made it an amazing day. Just watching Alec carve was a great treat. Here is the greenman I did.
With the corona virus keeping us home more than normal I am out in the shop carving more than ever before. I am trying to push myself and not carve just what I am familiar with. I did sell a carving through Instagram, so I ordered more Bark to keep me stocked to carve. Thank you for the amazing bark from Western Canada Cottonwood Bark. I will be carving more today. I have a few new pics. My daughter is a photographer and took some wonderful shots. I will post them below.
I am also looking forward to classes online with an amazing carver Alec Lacasse. Alec is one of my instructors and a personal friend. Here is a free lesson Alec Posted, then go to his sight to sign up for his class information (Click here) If you can ever carve and learn from Alec, you will be blessed, as I have. He is a great teacher.
Again, carving brings me peace. During these times we need the peace of God. Here are some recent pics. (Thanks again Abby of Storylines Creative)
A Medieval Dragon in Cherry wood. I love carving realistic faces but am stretching out.
Some final Touches
This is a prince of a distant land. His headpeice and the details symbolizes his royalty. I am not done with him yet, and yes I made this all up, but it’s my art :).
I put 3 carvings in the art show this year. I dropped them off today. I have been working on them on and off for the last few months, the last several months for the chief. The piece I call “Four Face” was carved out of cottonwood bark gifted to me from the great carver Alec Lacasse . He has been a great help to me, as teacher, coach, and friend. I’ll let you know if a nab a ribbon or not.
I’m not quite done with this guy. I have been avoiding him because I have not detailed ears much. A carver messaged me on instagram encouraging me to do ears. I did them and now I know I can do full busts with ears. They are tricky and I have more practice to go to perfect them. Butternut is a trick wood, as the grain chips. I love the look. I’ll be finishing this and will post the final pics.
This guys was fun. I loved the way his hair ended up. I did not plan it this way but some times things are revealed and work out as the art progress.
The carving on the left was one of my better faces especially the nose and below the mouth. He is a pretty stern looking dude.
My next project I tried to carve from picture of this actor. I have had the pic awhile and always looked at it. I finally decided to give it a try. My son says I should do it like 5 times and see the improvement and the observations I would gain. I may. I see many things I missed as I study it. But it was still an enjoyable project nonetheless. I am getting low on bark so need to put an order in for the winter carving. I may have more time as no yard work and I won’t be able to walk or ride mountain bike. Carving on .
I am not sure if I will put this on my Etsy store. Here is a link to that. Click here