Tuesday, August 27, 2013

0 for 5

Well my carvings made it back today and I am zero for five. None of my carvings placed this year and yes it is a bit disappointing and at another stage of my life I would milk this for weeks. Maybe it's cause I am older and wiser or maybe I am just to lazy to play the game. Maybe it is because this was just one contest and this doesn't make or break my growth as a carver. One of my favorite quotes is from "A League of Their Own", no not "there's no crying in baseball" although that is a classic.

It is as follows;
"It's supposed to be hard! If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great!" 

No truer words have ever been spoken. Isn't this why we cheer for the under dog, over coming great obstacles to achieve a goal or level of success. 

So I hit a bump in the road and walked away empty handed. This is where someone always says, "what lesson can be learned from this experience", first let me say I am not a big fan of those people. I am more of a "I am happy but that doesn't mean I have rainbows coming out of my bum" type of a guy. But actually I realized there is a lesson here;
  1.  I have a wonderful wife and children that love me ribbon or not
  2.  I have carvers that I admire that are not only mentors,  but friends without ever meeting in person
  3. I woke up today casting a shadow and the Lord willing I will do so again for many mornings to come
  4. my true ribbon is from a woman who was given one of my carvings from her daughter for her birthday and I was told "she absolutely loves it", now there's a blue ribbon moment
So the lesson is simple, I love carving and cartooning and with the support of my family and some dear friends I will continue to work on transforming my, cartoons 2 carvings. Nice segue
So Lord willing and the creek don't rise I will carve again tomorrow. And as the song says from Collin Raye's CD, " His Love Remains" "I don't always get what I want I get what I need".

Carpe diem carving 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Another carvers has gone home

It was posted on the Eastern Woodland Carvers Facebook page that Tom Brown passed away on the 23rd of August. I never knew the man personally but was inspired by his carving style and in his efforts to support the carving community. You can, for those who haven't already, read about Tom Brown on the Caricature Carvers of America's members page. We can all hope that when God calls us home we will look back and know we made a difference in someone's life as Tom obviously did for many. If you want to send a memorial gift in Tom Brown's memory, send it to: EASTERN WOODLAND CARVER,S CLUB, P. O. Box 139, CONVERSE, IN 46919. I was told by someone that knew him that "Tom was the founder of this club and it's SPARK PLUG."

Please keep his family in your prayers as they adjust to their new lives without him.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Carvers competition 2013

Well the judging was done yesterday and except for a few pics I received of the best in show, no word yet on how I did. I didn't hear anything last year until the package showed up, so don't expect any different this year. I don't know if I have said but the competition was the Caricature Carvers of America's annual competition. We don't have many around here and most shows need you to be present to enter so this gives me a chance to enter a show and compete with other carvers. I will let everyone know good or bad as soon as I know something. A carver once told me; "Never expect to loose, never expect to win, but always expect to be surprised.” and this seems to be the best approach to any competition as well as life in general.

Also as you see the voting closed on the entries and the vote closed out with four votes total and the winner was AAC (army air corp) pilot with two votes. This makes me wonder if the content benefits/entertains those stopping by.

I am getting ready to begin to refocus on a possible book idea that will involve my one line or single panel cartoons, as seen in the sample shown. Here you see both the original pencil sketch as well the cartoon recreated in water color. The illustrations for the first go round at this point will be pencil sketches, at least that is my thinking for now. Possibly the sketch minus the words and then the words will either be at the back of the book or on the nest page. The idea came from many people looking at my cartoons and either laughing or not at my caption then coming up with their own.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

carving competitions

So today I thought I would touch base with the whole carving competition thing. It's heavy on my mind since I have sent off five of my carvings to an annual competition.

First a little background information, I carved for a few years in the 80's and then life got busy and I stopped for a long while. Then in 2008 for a Christmas gift my boss Eddie gave me some rough-out duck heads he had from when he was trying to learn the process of carving ducks. From what he told me he could shoot 'em just not carve 'em. Well I got out the old X-acto knives, it's what I used back then and began to carve away. This got me started again with my long lost passion. I then got a magazine or two, and in one was an article about a caricature carver and that was when it all came together. The light went off and I realized that I could learn to carve these characters and someday carve my own cartoons, my own illustrations.

So nowadays I consider myself a caricature carver in training continuing to study and learn to hone my skills, hoping to always see an improvement over the previous carving and/or consistency in my carving. I hit a mild stone last year when I entered my very first contest and got a fifth place ribbon for Durante Claus, my Christmas ornament. It was no small task as it took the encouragement from my family and a carving mentor, Mr. Akers.

This year I have entered again with five carvings that at least from my perspective are stronger carvings from what I was doing last year. So no matter how the competition comes out I know I have improved as a carver. So back to the main topic; carving competitions............

You see I am still not sure how I feel about the competitions, it ain't cheep to send these off and to have them returned postage paid of course. Then there is the worry, did I pack them careful enough that they will survive the trip? What about the pipe did I wrap enough that it will make the trip? There is a reason my nickname is Ricardo-monk-a-bond after all. Finally there is the competition itself, I was told over 200 people entered last year, so I say this completely understanding why but, you get no feedback on your carvings from the judges. You see I don't have any groups that I have found around here so far except for one an hour or so away and with my family schedule it's hard to make most if any events. So I ponder is there value to the contest. I can't be there to see the faces of the judges (it's closed judging any way) so unless I can snag a ribbon is the investment worth the cost? Well either way once I get them home safe and unbroken I will breath a sigh of relief and rethink this at that time, with a tainted view point to be sure. If I win a ribbon then maybe I will think it was worth the cost and time and if I don't, well you get the idea.

Either way remember,

Carpe diem carving

Thursday, August 15, 2013

100 post but who's counting

Well my previous post was my 100th post since beginning this blog. Not sure this is a note-able or even a milestone since after all this is just blogging, not earth shattering stuff. About the only thing note-able would be to look back at my carving style and my carving strengths and weaknesses and see what if any progress has been made. I do believe I am a stronger carver and believe that I am seeing a bit of a style emerging in my finished carvings. I still need to work on my carving style and form while in the process.

Do you have a carving style, do you approach carvings the same each time or do you rely on a magazine or video to work through the process? Reference material is always worth utilizing and many of the carvers I have come to know still to this day go back to reference material whether it be a video, book or magazine in the carving process. At least the ones that are continuing to grow as carvers will say so. One thing they don't do, they don't rely on them to get through the process, there's the difference.

Woodrow Kroll of Back to the Bible says he gets a new bible each year or two. he then at times after reading and making notes in his new bible will go back to last year or the year before and review what was marked in the previous bible. Many times it is similar and many times it is completely different due to new circumstances in his life that have changed his perspective and his walk. If this works for Gods word in our lives then it could also work in something as simple as carving. On a side note many believe in making notes in their bibles and many don't and that is for everyone to decide on their own. I to this day am not comfortable with this, for me, if this is God's word and it is then there should be a certain reverence for it even in the form of a book. After all when Moses came to the burning bush he was told to remove his sandals, he was standing on holy ground. this is just me and everyone forges his/her own path in his/her own way. I just can't write on His book, it's just not in me.

So back to carving, I try not to take my carving to serious but honestly I get caught up in it's importance too many times. I know guys who are successful carvers who never sell a single carving and some that carve and sell just enough to keep fresh wood and tools coming in. A few even get out of the red, not many. Bottom line is we all carve for the joy of carving first and then if we find a way to do something with our carvings that is icing on the cake.

Bottom line try to pick some milestones in your carving and look back at the previous months, years, whichever, and see if there is any progress being made in both the finished piece and in the carving process. Also in the variety of carvings. I was once told not to continue to carve the same subject (Santa ornaments) or sooner or later I might loose interest, not only in the subject but also with carving itself. That would be a loss for anyone who enjoys the joy of carving.

Carpe Diem carving   

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

aka Don Quixote terminado

Yes, terminado, the carving is finished. I decided to tilt his head partially to the side to give a pondering look. I also painted the basin gold and then gave it a strong finish to give it a glossy look, after all it is too be mistaken for a crown. Other then these two finishing touches not much else needed to be done. Yes it is terminado, I think I like finished better, but Don is Spanish and as they say when in Rome.

Monday, August 12, 2013

aka Don Quixote pt 2/3

It has been said that every carving tells a story and as I looked at my carving of Don Quixote I didn't think he told enough of the story to my liking. When carving a character known by millions you have to know the story in order to tell it correctly. So for one I had to do some research on the story of Don Quixote to try and see what part of the story I wanted told. At first Don didn't have a set base but after thinking about it I came up with the idea of making a shaving basin that Don thinks is a crown. I also started with Don looking straight ahead. I may turn his head ever so slightly to the side, which might give him a bit of a pondering look, something he had throughout most of his adventures. In his armor there are two indents or dings as if he has not weather the adventures as well as he had hoped. I also painted a faint bit of green paint around the dents to represent some tarnishing as if his suit of armor may not have been given the true royal treatment expected of a knight’s armor. I have come to really enjoy this carving and hey, I might have to dust off a copy of the book and give it a spin. I mean come on he’s a character. 

All that will be left to do is to paint the basin and the set his head in it's permanent position. 

To Be continued
Carpe diem carving

Sunday, August 11, 2013

skinny dude aka Don Quixote

So the skinny dude is now Don Quixote and the bust portion looks good but he no longer can go without having eyes. My worry was that I had carved the sockets too deep to allow me to carve the eyes in but that wasn't the case. I was given a link to Don Mertz’s blog in his tutorial section on carving eyes http://woodbeecarver.com/carving-eyes/carving-eyes  which helped me think it through. 

On a side note, I have found that when I stare at a problem too long I get blinded to the solution. Many times if I just step back and leave it for a time when I come back to it I see it completely different which allows me to see the solution. I am working at a new attitude with carving, in which I don’t have to finish a piece in one sitting. Also not every carving will need the full water color effect to help it stand out as a finished piece. There are very few moments in life when the decision has to be made in a split second, hardly ever with carving. especially when it comes to carving. If you cut yourself carving you know to get up and get yourself a bandage. After the bleeding stops you have time to shop for a carving glove. 

So once I stepped back, got some feedback from some good and knowledgeable friends, I began to resolve the problem. For one I finally realized in my eyes the carving wasn't complete. I think he came out quite well and I am happy to have a completed carving finally.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

"skinny dude" carving pt 2

I had just come in from outside where I had cut out a rough-out head and body for a bust carving. As I sat it down on my desk/workstation I looked at the skinny dude’s head resting on my cell phone and thought I need to finish him off. For awhile I thought I would take scrap wood from a body of a roughout and make this his body so both head and body would be thinner, matching so to speak. As I looked at the head and the regular body my mind began to think about how cool this could be.

Before I go any farther let me explain one thing. This is not a full body rough-out it is just the upper body portion as I have done in previous carvings. I will refer to it from here on out as the bust.   

So I took the head and the skinny body bust and cut out a hole to inset the neck to get a feel for the look. I then did the same with a piece of wood that would have been too small to have a base but would work for a carving that would just be for fun. I know all carving is for fun but some may be for sale some may be for a show or competition and some may never see the light of day beyond what shines in the room. Remember this head was carved from a rough-out that seemed too wide so I removed an inch off and this is what remained.

Bottom line as you see by the images, I did use the full size bust and I think it is really works.

 As you might notice from the previous pictures of the head I carved in detail in the beard after deciding that the smooth look didn't match the bust. Now there was one last issue, I carved deep sockets in the eye area not thinking that I would do much with this and now with the bust and the detail of the beard these sockets will not do.

to be continued
Carpe diem carving

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

cucumbird suprise

We planted our garden late this year and have had hardly anything worth talking about garden wise because of it, until now.  So far our garden has produced just one cucumber, but what a cucumber it is. The whole time this cucumber was growing it looked like a balloon that needed more air. You know what I mean, one of those long balloons, like the one people make balloon animals out of. Well our cucumber while it was growing looked like that. The end of it was narrow and small like it needed more air. So yesterday we picked it thinking that if we left it out any longer the bugs would begin to dine on our only cucumber of the season, at least so far, hopefully. Maybe we could have left it out a day or so longer and the bugs may have stayed away out of fear, after I picked it I realized that the end of the cucumber resembled a bird. Look for yourself.

So what does this have to do with carving? Well nothing and everything, carving like many forms of art are a representation of life. Of course it is for every carver to decide the style carving that they want to do, mine is caricature carving, since this best matches my style of illustration. No matter what style you carve always remember that this is simply a representation of life, and if it conveys the message and the image that you were going for then it is a good carving. Make no mistake I am not saying to be critical of your work and to challenge yourself to hone your skills but don’t take it too seriously or you will suck the life out of what got you interested in carving in the first place, the simple pleasure of see a block of wood become something, maybe a bird. If a cucumber can do it pulls it off then there is hope for us yet, even me. I was given the phrase Carve diem, roughly translated "Carve the day". So of course in my monkish way it didn't read well to me so I have adopted the phrase, Carpe diem carving.

When you look up the definition from the famous phrase Carpe diem it is as follows, from the World English Dictionary. Carpe diem is defined as; Enjoy the pleasures of the moment, without concern for the future, literally: seize the day! This being the case, “Carpe diem carving” should or could be define as; enjoy the pleasures of the moment carving, without concern for the future.  Literally: seize the day, carving. This is a good reminder that it is the moment, the time we carve that brings pleasure, and the rest is an afterthought. Sure most carvers like to sell their work; it’s a way of getting feedback, and a good way to restock the war chest for future carvings. But how many would continue to carve even if they never sold a single one.

Carpe diem carving

Thursday, August 1, 2013

try try........... completed

Well I mentioned that I wanted to change/modify my soldier and I did exactly that. There seemed to be a little too much wood surrounding the nose so I removed some from this area and I added some rose to his cheeks, before this he was very monotone. I tried to keep the finish down and not let the carving have too much shimmer. On some carvings I think this is a detraction from the style of carving or the way the piece is painted. Most of my ornaments have a bit of a shin to them, hoping this will add to the effect from the Christmas tree lights. I don’t think this guy will ever be hung on a tree so don’t think this will detract from its overall appearance.

I added a pipe as well. It was suggested that on another soldier the addition of a cigar. I am more prone to pipes than cigars. I took some wood shavings from this carving and soaked them in a watered down brown, reddish brown and red. I was trying to simulate when someone takes a puff on a freshly  lit pipe, sometimes you see a red glow from the burning tobacco. Not sure if this is how it came out in the end but nothing ventured nothing gained. Also if you do a search for civil war pipe, many images are of clay pipes and they have the groves or lines in the pipe bowl.

Overall I like this guy and since he doesn't have a home yet we will hang out for a while. This will give me more time to make some mental notes on the finished piece. Maybe it’s just me but I like to hold a carving and look at them in different lighting, kind of turn them around to view all sides. Hey what can I say, I am not good at finishing a carving and then moving on without reviewing and enjoying. I am still in awe of the idea that I can pull this off, and if I can’t, “don’t tell me. I don’t want to know”.