Saturday, May 3, 2014

A sense of community in Western NY...

John Petkovsky doing it right.
ROADTRIP!!  Me and my cohorts decided to take a quick trip to the Buffalo area and visit our neighboring clubs carving show.  The yearly spring show held by the Southtowns Woodcarvers at the Elma Senior Center and is just one of the ways this club contributes to the carving hobby.  The members set up tables to display their carving prowess and just enjoy the sense of community carving shows provide. 

As I like to stress to folks in the hobby (and especially here on the blog) you need to nourish your talent through carving, study, and interaction with fellow artists (not necessarily carvers).  You can see some of the joy of the hobby in the photo for this article where a member not only displays but also carves...this incites interaction and for the carver it is a comfortable environment to carve in as many members were doing at this show.  With these demonstrations visitors get to see carving in action, gain an understanding of what is needed to enter into this form of artwork, and also find out how one would begin carving. 

You probably noticed I used the word "community" multiple times in this post.  This is for a good reason...carvers are some of the friendliest hobbyists out there.  In the Caricature Carving world this is especially true and is evident where this style of carving has a major presence (Charlotte NC show,  Renegade Woodcarvers Roundup) as the socialization usually keeps going well into the night.  As most of us in the hobby know our memberships are aging and we need to do our best to encourage others entering this hobby.  The local shows are one way to do it and Southtowns did a great job of it.  Heck I even won a carving in the raffle drawing for my collection!

So what can you do?  Its as as simple as picking up a book, practice your drawing skills,  examine and sharpen your tools, watch an instructional video,  work on that carving,  visit a show, go to an Art museum or gallery, examine the statues in your local city or town, or just talk about carving with your friends.  These type of things can only improve your abilities and increase your enjoyment. 

In today's modern world of new technology your ability to have a conversation with a fellow carver has become much simpler with "free long distance" and texting.  An example of this, was that my friend Mark Akers gave me an update on Helvie Knives' Rich Smithson's fund raiser.  Thanks to Mark I (and now you) now know that Rich is raffling off a set of his signature knives with each of the Signature artists carving a blade cover for their particular knife all placed in a handsome case.  The benefits of the raffle will be going to a charity for battered women (I believe the drawing for this raffle will be mid-summer) however for those interested I would contact Rich directly (via his website).  An example of the artists included in this series are Mark Akers, Chris Hammack, Tom Brown, Don Mertz, Gerald Sears and many more.

Let me say I appreciate all who read this blog because it is one way for me to give back to the community but also because if you are reading this I get the satisfaction of knowing someone is taking the time to enjoy this art form.

Enjoy (and of course...Carve Something!!!)


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A better ambassador...not likely

Something not seen very often...a full figure from one the best...Pete LeClair.  This figure was on display by Pete at this years Charlotte Woodcarvers show.  While the piece seems simple it is very well executed and the there is a lot we can learn from top to bottom. 
If you have never met Pete, well lets just say he has an abundance of character like the figures he carves.  I have met Pete on several occasions and have taken a class with him as well.  A better ambassador for woodcarving could not be found and us Caricature carvers can only benefit from his efforts.  A perfect example of this was the Charlotte show where everyone was a friend and he spent an abundance of his time sharing with everyone he met.  He spent the better part of two days just answering questions and giving demonstrations to anyone who passed by.  He could have ignored those around him, but that would not be Pete...he has a passion for carving that is infectious and you would be lucky to spend some time with the man and his work.  A more giving carver you will be hard pressed to find and that is why I admire the man...he truly advances the art.
Thanks Pete for all you do, we appreciate it!
Now why aren't you carving something? 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A second story for me coming out of the Charlotte show was the fact that one of the carvers I have been encouraging decided to come with me to the show. The young man has talent and being his mentor I wanted him to see that as well. My conditions for brining to the show was that he must bring some carvings to the competition and that he must participate in Tom Wolfe's whittling competition on both days. The purpose behind me stating these conditions to assist him in advancing his abilities.

Now as I have stated before I am not necessarily a prolific carver but rather one who likes to take his time, so whittling competitions will always be a challenge for me. At the end of the first day's whittling contest I finished just about mid-pack, but my friend...well...he done beat me! He did well on the second day as well however I made sure I worked a little harder than he did so as not to be beaten a second time. It was a good experience for him as he got to see what people value when judging caricature carvings (e.g. clean cuts with no shredded wheat). He was flexing his hand a lot over the next day or so but I assured him the ache was only temporary and would not last.  (The competition was to carve anything from a 2"x2"x6" block of wood in 1 hour and 30 minutes)

For those who wonder about entering a whittling competition, the experience forces a carver to carve more instinctly with bolder cuts. The lessons learned are carried over to your everyday carving which usually results in higher quality carvings in a much shorter time.

As far as the show competition goes, I had him enter his pieces in the Novice class as he has not been carving nor competing for that long...not only did he take Best of Caricature(Novice), but he also took Best of Novice! I was delighted to tell him he would took home $75 in prize money...not too shabby.

All-in-all it was a good experience for him and a little reward for me seeing one I encouraged do so well.   BTW...I cannot say enough about my fellow carvers and how welcoming they are to folks who are new to the art form,  it makes me proud to be a part of this art form.

It's a beautiful weekend...get carvin!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

On the flip side...

Business Card Holder - M. Cartledge
...well if you are known for Hillbillies, this would be your business card holder.  It's a good one by Mitchell Cartledge.  I saw my good friend at the Charlotte show (BTW....excellent show, excellent people, excellent hosts) and this was on his display table.  The man can downright carve just about anything.  His style when examined is simplistic however it is executed with precision and Mitch constantly is pushing the envelope to improve his range and methods. 
  Having said all that, this is a cool rendition.  What will yours look like?

It's cold and it's snowing (here) so why aren't you carving?  There ain't no excuse...carve something!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New office needed some character...

A. Filetti - Business card holder
New office.

With changing jobs came a new office that I needed to make my own.  I remembered in the past when I had the pleasure of carving with the renown Mr. Kaisersatt we were fortunate to be able to visit his carving lair.  I have always looked at Marv with great respect for his level of creativity, but when I saw his apartment it was interesting to see the types of things he has carved over the years which included an outstanding tape dispenser caricature.  So with my new office I decided I needed a business card holder and the picture to the left is my rendition. 

To create this carving I simply took a picture of myself in the pose for reference, the took a block of wood and outlined what I thought would be his front profile and cut it out on my bandsaw.  Once cut I just started whittling.  It is finished with acrylics, boiled linseed oil, and wax. 

The greatest challenge with the carving of this figure was of course the hands, however I just used my own as a model.

Simple carving and fun to carve.

Another year has come and gone,  and it's still a great day to be carving...what will you carve on today??


Sunday, December 29, 2013

What can you do with an hour?

One-hour carvings by R. Olsen
  On my recent trip to Dayton  I had the opportunity to finally meet Ryan Olsen who in recent years dominated the CCA competition with some awe inspiring carvings and finishes.  Ryan has since become a member of the CCA and since that time put together another really nice carving of a barbershop quartet as part of the CCA's street scene (picture can be found on this blog).

  Ryan hails from western Idaho and is a young and energetic carver who not only takes his carving hobby seriously but also, with his wife, enjoys singing opera.  This is most likely why music plays prominently in his choice of carving subjects.

  My traveling companions and myself happened to be staying at the same hotel as the CCA members and spent our evenings in the lobby both socializing with the members but also carving.  In my discussion with Ryan he mentioned a method he was currently using to improve his skills...the one-hour carving. 

  As part of this effort Ryan was basically pushing himself through what I have termed "carvers paralysis" and as such the result is astounding and attractive.  The carving shown on the left was carved using one of my large Ron Wells knives.  This resulted in a carving with large facets and deep bold cuts.  Of course, in his methods I do not believe he limits himself to a whittling knife but you can't deny the results of his efforts.  This is something worth giving a try.

  Thanks Ryan for the idea, I have since bought myself a timer and will giving this a try.

  It's another beautiful carving day...stop 'em up and get to carving!!

I hope all have had a wonderful and warm holiday filled with carving gifts.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advancing the form...

The Brawl - C. Hammack
Over the past months I had anticipated the Dayton Artistry in Wood show due to the fact that they were showcasing the Caricature Carvers of America, many of the members I have had the pleasure of learning from, carving with, or just discussing the art form.  I have been carving since the 80's (yup, I was around when dirt was born) and to my detriment until a couple of years ago I had not known about Chris Hammack and his art form.  Traveling with a couple of fellow carvers I looked forward to spending some time with like-minded carvers and learning something new.
Now if you have not had the pleasure please take the time to take a look at Mr. Hammack, the man has all around art skills (can also play the guitar and sing) and is worthy of your time.  This year Chris has taken it to another level by taking 2nd best-of-show honors at Dayton, only being eclipsed by Fred Zavadil.  (I believe he also took the Caricature category at Congress but as of this writing I am unable to confirm). 
In the last two years I have been fortunate to carve with Chris, who has recently been selected into the CCA,  and have many of his study casts.  Chris also has the rare ability of being able to carve women who actually appear feminine.  Some of this ability comes from the all around art skills and experience he possesses.
Chris also has composition abilities that elude most of us.  The carving above is truly a representation of that skill as this carving is one of those you can look at for hours all the while discovering new items while maintaining necessary proportions for all the figures (horses, skunk, dog, etc.).  His carvings also bring the humor, as he has a good wit about himself.  At Dayton, I was fortunate to spend some time playing guard dog to his display, while he was attending to other duties and it was a pleasure to observe the attendees reaction to seeing his display and discussing their observations.
All in all, Chris is worthy of your time and admiration for the skills and mentoring he brings to our art.  Chris has taken to the teaching circuit and will be traveling to many a state in the coming year.  If you get the opportunity and are serious about advancing your skills you would be well served to give him a look-see.
It's a good day to be a Caricature do something about it...research, learn, draw, sharpen, and get to carving!!