A while back I created a t-shirt for wood carvers through Teespring's and it is now available on Amazon. What fun, a book and now a t-shirt and hopefully soon as I just published it today, a coffee mug from this design. Until the mug makes it's way to Amazon you can find the mug onthe Teespring page.
He is now done sealant and all, though I tried a new technique and am not as happy with it as I had hoped for. I will be doing some research on different techniques in finishing carvings as I want my cowboys to have a softer look to them. This finish works great for my Christmas ornaments but not as well (in my mind) with my cowboys and other characters. Always some new process or technique to learn.
Well he's all painted up and awaiting sealant. I may dip him or I may try the spray finish to compare the two. With my carvings in butternut I always like the way dipping them in Polycrylic highlights the grain of the wood. Many are not fond of the shiny finish on these but a lot of my carvings are Christmas ornaments and I like the way they gently reflect the lights from the tree.
This gentleman is carved from the same corner block piece of butternut that I carve my ornaments from. These have become popular and most seem to like the design quality of these being that he is missing a few piece to make a full body cowboy, like arms.
So I haven't gotten much carved lately but I recently carved this cowboy. The last carving of a cowboy without a hat was because of a break, so this one was done just because. I am happy with him but will tweak a few things before I consider painting him. As you can see he was carved with the same corner block I use to carve my ornaments during the holiday season. He was also carved in butternut, my favorite wood to carve.
If a doodle gets color is it still a doodle. Years ago, much like today, I kept small pieces of paper around that I would doodle on.
"This must be distinctly understood or nothing wonderful can come of this story I am going to relate"
First and foremost, we should probably understand the difference between a doodle vs. a sketch for
To doodle is to
verb; scribble absentmindedly
noun: a rough drawing made absentmindedly
To sketch is to
verb: a rough or unfinished drawing or painting, often made to assist in making a more finished picture
noun: make a rough drawing of
Most of my early cartoons were actually born from a doodle. I spent a good portion of my early adulthood watching TV with small pieces of paper, doodling. I would work on anything from 2.5 x 5 inch to 3.5 x 7 inch pieces. Many of these I would keep some I would simply throw away and move on to the next one. I loved the whole process of seeing a blank piece of paper slowly become a cartoon of what ever. It wasn't till later in life that I had to teach myself how to sketch for a desired outcome. Because of my early beginnings, this stage did not always come easy for me.
Now to present day and a doodle from years gone by. You may notice that my youngest son back then thought this cartoon needed color. So I recently was cleaning off my desk and found this cartoon and as I was putting him away I thought maybe he was right, he might look good with some color, any excuse to play with my water color pencils works for me. it is my dream and one I will probably never full fill to one day paint or carve every single cartoon I have. This could take me way beyond my retirement years as I have not yet thrown away my pencil.
Nowadays I do some of my doodling on water color paper, usually 5 x 7 inch. This way I am ready to go straight to the paint table with my latest cartoon such as the one shown here. Of course water color paper is not made for doodling and is a bit more pricey so not as many are discarded. For the most part though still a doodle, I have a concept of theme of what I will work on, o.k. so maybe not really a doodle after all.
There is an opportunity for me in the not so distant future to do some illustration work, designing some characters with the finished product being done in water color. I didn't use to do my cartoons in water color but once I got started I got addicted to how they looked all painted up. It may just be me but the way I cartoon and then paint them seems to work well with each other, but I am biased on this topic.
So with some new illustration time I needed to replenish my water color paper supplies and before I ordered any I took some time to research the different papers out there. I knew for now I would stick with Strathmore paper as I have been happy with it thus far. I used the 140 lb. paper so the only question left was series 400 or series 500 and cold or hot press paper. I ended up buying 400 series cold press as this is what I am comfortable with but also bought some hot press 500 series to experiment and see how another paper feels.
So to get back into a rhythm I thought I would just do some quick cartoons to get the juices flowing, as always I start with a pencil sketch. From the pencil sketch I get out my light table and place the water color paper on top to transfer the design. During this time I can modify and change features in an attempt to continue to tweak the design. In this experiment, I painted them both with the same exact colors to help me see any difference between the two papers.
hot press 140 lb.
cold press 140 lb.
This was a fun experiment and even though they have different facial features and detailing it still gives me a start for defining the different way the two papers work with my painting style. Before I end this I should mention that I always finish off my painted pieces with a thin black outlining, I don't feel that they are finished without this. I use a Pilot HI-TEC 0.3 mm pen for this and am extremely happy with the results.
So recently Tony Harris and I had another opportunity to work on a joint carving together. Tony had recently seen some cowboys I had carved and said I know our next project should be. I carve a lot of my carvings in butternut and after our last project was in Butternut Tony made an order and told me our next would be as well.
Tony is an extremely talented carver and he sets up a carving beautifully, something I am still striving to learn and master. This is part of the joy of doing a joint carving. It allows you to see how another carver approaches a carving opposed to how you might.
As you can see he set up a wonderful carving and all I had to do was to carve in a face without messing it up and then paint him. This is such a fun project to do with a fellow carver, to see both carvers styles blend into one carving is awesome. And if I don't mind saying so myself I think Tony and my style end up making a fun carving in the end.
Many may have noticed the little lad on my page wishing everyone a Happy Saint Patty's day, you know the one with no arms and no feet. He was a sketch back when working on designs for characters for my book. I never explored him very far but liked the bit I had done so one evening when I had no agenda for the night I decided I would paint him up in water color. Down the road I may revisit him but for now I like the portion I did and am happy with the results.
The hillbilly in my pattern book and seen on the front cover started out the same as my Irish gent, just a quick sketch on a scrap piece of paper. Once I started gathering the ones together that I thought people might want to carve I then began completing the cartoons I thought I might want in the book.
I have a full collection of sketches of half developed characters and one day I will get back to each and every one. Many of my characters I want to see carved into wood one day and the others I want to see painted in water color. After all I still want to do a coffee table book of my life based on my cartoons and how they and I have improved over time. At least they have.
Many times as a wood carver we have a set design in mind when in the process of carving down to every last detail. Most times for me it's a simple I am going to carve a; and away I go. Sometimes we have as we are carving the carving changes, maybe we don't like the direction the carving is headed in or maybe half way through we realize we were looking or thinking it all wrong and modify where we were headed.
Sometimes it takes an act of God, or simply a clumsy carver, who mumps the drawing table and down goes the cowboy. A few times mind, just a few, this very same clumsy carver bumps the same said table numerous times or moves it while the carving is standing up and down he goes.
Well one of the times that this cowboy went down the brim of his hat broke and so the decision needed to be made. My first inkling was to carve the brim to match on both sides and so I did. You may have noticed that there are no images of this effort, yes it look so ridiculous that I wouldn't take a picture of him that way.
So now there is nothing left to do but simply remove the hat. At this point the only other question was did I have enough wood up there to do something with it, well luckily I did and now he is possibly one of my favorite carvings to date. There was a song that the main lyric was,
"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone"
I would say no truer words were spoken I had no idea what I had till the hat was gone.
Well things here are jumping lately got three carvings done recently the first was the old gent on the left then followed that up with the cowboy on the right. The third in the final picture is the unpainted cowboy on the left, he has a whole story all his own so today, let's just focus on the first two.
The gent in the top hat is a re-visited design that I thought I would tweak a little and see if I could improve upon the original. The cowboy is my second of this kind and I just wanted as the previous just to give it another go. These were both carved on a corner block piece of butternut, the same wood I utilize with the carving of my ornaments. The main difference is many of my ornaments are 4" long and these pieces are 6" long to give me more to work with for detailing. I am pleased with the design aspect of the cowboy as I feel he has enough detail to tell the story but I have left out enough to not make him an larger piece than I was hoping for. No sooner was the cowboy carved and painted he was sold to a good friend who seems determined to own all my designs in regard to my carvings.
as I say the third cowboy has a story all his own and i will share his story in the next posting.
Well after donating the pilot I had taken a break from carving to work on the finishing touches on my book. Then this past Friday I had the chance to go visit a friend of mine, Bob Soderholm at his home and bring along a friend and veteran with me who is now interested in carving. Bob and Ed spent some time discussing different aspects of carving as well as various cuts and some terminology for carving. Then they got started on Ed's 1st project with Bob. While this was going on I listened in to what was being taught and of course got out some wood and began carving. I didn't have a game plan but ended up carving a new pilot as the previous one has been transferred to c temporary duty station awaiting his permanent assignment at the end of the raffle. At first I was considering carving this one in the same design as the previous but once I got home I decided to change things up on my newest recruit. This one is a bit old school and still enjoys a cigar when the opportunity presents itself. The first image is what I got done during my time hanging out with Bob and Ed, the ones on the left shortly after having applied the paint and the third was after the sealant had been applied.
Happy with the way he ended up, I carved some bags under his eyes and decided not to dry paint his beard. I also used a different technique in painting the goggles and am happy with the results, may be my new way to paint them.
So I got the pilot all painted up and sealant applied and have to say am really happy with how he came out. he is set up to be able to be hung but also has enough wood at the end of beard that he stands alone nicely. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with him, of course two of the main options were too either put him up for sale in my shop or hang onto him till August and enter him into the CCA competition for 2017. Both seemed to have merit but then I was reminded of the 4th annual Tom Brown memorial raffle that will take place in July at Eastern Woodland Carvers Club show in Converse Indiana. What made me think of this was a wonderful in the round carving that was done by Dwayne Gosnell that will be part of the raffle. Tom Brown was known to carve a pilot or two back in the day. Here is some information that Rich Smithson owner of Helvie Knives shared with me in reference to the auction;
The woodcarving club EWCC was formed by Tom Brown and a buddy. Tom joined the Caricature Carvers of America in the 90s and grew the club. They purchased their own clubhouse and became a nonprofit organization. They support various organizations and woodcarving functions at the clubhouse. Tom passed away 5 years ago and we honor all he did for woodcarvers all over the USA in July during their woodcarving show. Tom loved to carve pilots. If you go to the CCA page the banner of carvings across the top has a Tom Brown pilot carving I think it is towards the end of the banner.
So as you can see this is a wonderful organization and a great event to donate too and so I did. If you want a chance to win this carving contact either Rich Smithson at Helvie or contact the EWCC, both links are on my "Wood Carving Links" page, third tab to the right.
I haven't posted anything in a while as life has kept me busy. Of course a portion of this may be due to my being a bit unorganized. None the less I have actually gotten a few things done in the not so distant past, two of which are the butternut carvings posted.
The first and favorite is the vintage pilot. I debated on giving him a cigar but this time I have left that out though looking at these images I still think it would have been fun. I won't do a fancy paint job on him just basic colors but I will most definitely paint him. I know many who never paint butternut due to the grain being so beautiful all its own. Trust me when I tell you that properly painting butternut can give you a better vintage look than you can get with bass wood and all the antiquing that you would need to do. I will post images of him painted and you will see how great it can look with some basic color.