Details add to any carving. Feathers are tough to carve but worth the practice. Some simple hair ties, and a head dress, along with those feathers, can make a carving really pop! I am considering not cutting in pupils. What do you think?
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 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.
This guy has been a blast to carve. I, again, tried to slightly turn the head. I have worked on the nose more since the last pic. I cut down the bridge. It was looking a little bulky. I still have to figure out adding the feathers, without enough room for the whole feather, thus completing the headdress. I might enter this one in the Bedford Arts Contest in September. I entered last year and my Green man won the Purchase Award. The Bedford arts council bought the carving.
Seems little, but I am working on turning the head some like Alec Lacasse and I worked on during my last class with him. It adds some life. It is better than the straight ahead stare. It has been a little hot in the shop, but I am carving in the morn or evening. I have more pics on my instagram @natewoodsculpting.