Monday, April 30, 2012

Motivated to be motivated

Yes it is true I have decided to be motivated because not all motivation is a deep burning desire. To quote “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle
So if he really was that wise which would make this true then to achieve a certain level of skill in anything is not done solely by talent but honing that talent. Thus my motivation is simple I am a descent cartoonist and an ok carver, but I don’t want to be descent or ok. I want to know how good I can be. Not to sell anything or to get my illustration in print but simply to know, how good can I be. I also want to put myself out there to find out how motivated I am.

So here is the simple process that I currently use. I have some practice sticks in two sizes, 1’ blocks roughly and 1 ½ blocks roughly, bass blocks. I am going to go through all my blocks and practice carving, doing different characters and each time trying to either improve or try a new style or technique. Hopefully by the end of the day I will begin to see the carver that I can be and begin the process of craving my own style, from my own cartoons. For now I will continue freehand carving, no pattern except a rough idea in my head. Here is a sample of a carving based on a style where you start with a block and cut away pieces instead of doing a rough cut, hope you enjoy.

p.s. I don't have a wide array of paints because typically I work in water color for my illustrations, so I will be working on the painting process as well. With the limited colors it will force a little creativeness on my part.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A look back

 To give a better understanding from whence I came I wanted to share a few of my old carvings, some in balsa some I would get a bit more creative. This one is an Indian carving based on a painting I had seen years before. I have always loved the Wild West. As a child one of my favorite toys was the Marx Johnny West series which included Geronimo.  Also growing up in Nebraska and spending time on my grandpa’s farm didn’t hurt. Either way here is my Indian ghost carving. This was again carved out of balsa with an X-acto.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My first attempt

This was my first attempt at carving one of my cartoons into wood. If you read the previous blog you will remember that the wood I carved with back then was balsa. The one similarity I now relate to my time carving with balsa was at times with a sharp X-acto blade you could still get burrs on attempting detailed cuts. You get the same in bass wood with a dull knife. With either situation you can scrap some of the fuzziness away but you never get a truly clean cut which shows on the surface of the carvings. 

On a side note but related to the previous paragraph, I have ordered a Smith's TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening Stones System that should be here sometime today. I don’t have a lot of fancy tools nor do I have an elaborate sharpening system. My hope is that I can master the art of knife sharpening and that I will see a difference in my carving with properly sharpened tools. A lot of what I will need to learn will be patients. I like to take on a task, get it done and move on. So I have taken a lot of short cuts (no pun intended) in my carvings. I will elaborate more on that later.

So here is the character in cartoon and also how it turned out free hand carving in balsa. I say free hand carved because I didn’t think to draw a pattern on the wood. I didn’t know about the rough cut concept, after all this was in the 80’s. There was no internet back then. I just glanced at the picture and started carving. The results are obvious, but still this is one of my cherished carvings, it is the first time for me to ever carve one of my cartoons. This is the purpose of this blog and my focus for my carvings. Turning cartoons into carvings.  That’s my story an I’m stickin to it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Back in the day

 Back in the day I carved in balsa because I was told this was a good wood to carve in, and for a beginner it probably was. I was also doing cartoons on water color paper with water color markers around that same time. I had come up with this crazy idea, "what do the elves do in the off season"? So I started cartooning some ideas on a typical day in the life of an elf. I will share some of these old cartoons in the upcoming days but the reason I mention it is this would be one of the first cartoons I would try to carve, in balsa, with an X-acto knife. Yes a lot of my whittlings back then were done either with an X-acto knife or pocket knife or a mixture of both. Back then as today there were not many carvers in the area that I knew so it was truly trial by error and there were many errors along the way. I am still trying to break some of those bad habits today, but that is for another time. So for your viewing pleasure, one or two of the elves during an average day. They don’t sing and make toys all the time. Really you didn't know that, huh, learn something new every day.

Yes it is true they bowl. They even have a league and why not they already have matching vest.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You found me

 So you found me and I wasn’t even hiding. Thanks for stopping by, in the next few weeks, months and beyond I will share with you my experiences in carving, cartooning and the connection between the two, and there is a connection. I have always cartooned, ever since I was a young child. Most kids read the Sunday funnies, I drew them. Advertisements anything that caught my eye I would draw.
 Then one day with a stick in one hand and my pockets knife in the other I made my first cut, the rest as they say is history, but not all history is complete. This will be like reading a book. The difference though is that we are right in the middle of the book, beginning a new chapter, a key chapter in deed.
For years I have dabbled in cartooning and carving. In the upcoming pages of this chapter you will read about a cartoonist and carver that will be putting effort into improving on each skill and then connecting the 2. In the future I want my carving to improve and my skill set to increase beyond where it is today. After that I will focus on converting my cartoons 2 carvings. So stop by and join in the conversation, it should get interesting.