Putting this knowledge base to use – part 3

Doris, I pushed the carving until I was afraid I was going to crack the left and right edges off! I must say that it really makes a difference. As I cut deeper into the wood, suddenly, I liked what I saw … the carving kinda told me to stop. I stepped back and looked at the piece and decided that the wood knew more than I did. I sanded the carving even though I generally like the tool marks, this speaks more to me in a flowing smoothness.

Doris, I hope I got the child and the mother looking at each other. I believe that this is a product of a lot of elements. The posture of the mother’s body, their head tilt, the flow of the veil, and the subtle change in the roundness of the heads (the face area has less curvature.) Did I get close?

Many areas of the carving were pushed deeper, but the area that showed me the most improvement was the arm that supports the child. Mark said that everything is relational (paraphrased, sorry) in a relief. And that the different parts of the body should be at some related depth from each other. I know that sounds confusing, but when I pushed the end of the arm area deeper into the wood, the child’s form seemed to be better defined and the flow of the robe over the right knee seemed more natural.

Ok, I feel pretty good about this, but I still am very open to suggestions.
If you compare this to Mark’s sculpture, does it appear to be a miniature imitation? (imitation is a sincere form of flattery;-)) The relative position of the carving parts can be seen here.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Doug
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 22:28:22

    Doris and Mark, I must apologize for the inference that I’m trying to compare my carving ability to yours. That was not the intent, rather to see if the carving is proportional to Mark’s original. If it wasn’t for this site, I’d still be floundering trying to get started.


    • dorisfiebig
      Dec 13, 2010 @ 22:54:36

      hey doug, when carving from a original as close as you do, its natural that you compare,,, how else could you see if you achieve what you wish… i cannot speak for mark though, as it is his carving…
      i for one am happy to experience someone really takes our efforts in all the articles we wrote and assembled, and runs with them… my wish for you is, that this carving gives you confidence, that you soon, try your very own ideas. this way your carving ablilities will grow fastest… why i believe that ? since, first of all, that is how i learn carving, and carving is about solving the problems that occur along the way…
      you experienced now that taking the courage and carve deeper if it not looks as you wish brings the effect you want. it gets more depth, you get more control over the shapes, all falls into place… yes, your mother looks to her child now too, as you learned it is due to many things that work togehter, its not “doing here the right cut, and it looks perfect” but a many many cuts which together form the harmony, the vision you are after… carving has no recipy, ,,, every carving is unique, you need solve new problems, and i hope our articles show this too,,, i believe, in this particular problem your emotion was involved, and that is how (in my opinion) carving works. let your feeling guide you, be brave and cut deeper if it not looks right, everything can be corrected, and the reward is wonderful when you finally arive at the shape you are seeking… and, i believe to read from your lines, that you were guided by your own cuts, once you started you could see faintly it goes correct, and then go on, and ever so slightly adjusting in each next cut… that is how carving goes, look, see, and do…
      i like your carving, i am looking forward to see it in a beautiful finish…


  2. Mark
    Dec 15, 2010 @ 04:43:49

    Nice job Doug! Isn’t it just amazing how shifting just one line, or modifying it slightly, making it go off in just a slightly different direction changes a carving so much. The way a veil hangs, an arm suggest holding something, carving it just ever so little deeper reveals a more complete and harmonious piece.
    This is what I was suggesting to you. It’s not a simple matter of ratios. It’s an expression of lines. The lines tell the story of what they represent, where they go and what they do. In a piece like this there is no other supporting cast to get in the way. It’s essentially pure line.
    In art you can learn to do what are called contour drawings. A few simple lines can suggest so much. An entire person. Most people want to add all the details thinking this will complete a drawing or carving. Details won’t!
    If the essential lines aren’t in the correct location lending balance to a piece, all the details in the world won’t help make it a good drawing or carving.
    At a show I watched an artist do quick ( 30 seconds or less) sketches of people walking around . I could identify almost all the people I had seen during the day looking through his sketch book. And all they were, were profiles of the person standing, looking at something, the way a woman held her purse over her shoulder and it was basically just as if you drew a line around a persons profile of their entire body. You could identify their type of dress, hairstyle, a fold in their pants leg etc. and know exactly what you were looking at. Nothing filled in, just a line representing their outline and he did it while barely looking at the paper. It was amazing.
    With such a solid base to work from, any detail could be added. Now if these lines weren’t correct,such as an arm looking like it came out of someones back, or ears on top of their heads,,, would adding details help make it a better drawing?
    That’s why a piece such as this is a good study. There is nothing to confuse you because there is so little essentially to look at.
    Most Ohhhh and AHHHH with details without seldom seeing the flaws or basic structure of a piece. Most don’t know how to look let alone know what they’re looking at. To my eye, a piece makes it or breaks it based on the overall balance and story the piece is telling you. It has to be learned. Or you’ll waste a lot of time detailing a carving that is fundamentally unsound.
    And you know what? Somehow people will, when they finally see it,, recognize it. That’s why so many will say, ” I don’t know how to do it, but I know it when I see it”
    The carvings themselves “relax” when they are right. All tension is released. It looks fluid, harmonious. Nothing appears to struggle against or within itself.
    They just go AHHHH. Nothing to add, nothing to take away.


  3. Doug
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 20:27:53

    Thank you both for the encouraging words and the education. Your teaching methods are quite profound. Both of you teach by asking questions – the student learns more through the exploration of the question rather than being told what to do.

    It’s amazing how the removal of a small amount of wood impacts the overall flow of a carving. I haven’t commented in the last few days as I was letting all this soak in. As you state, Doris, carving deeper into the wood does provide greater insight into the forms. Subtle changes to a curve, the ever present ‘S’ and straight lines guiding the eye are becoming easier to ‘see.’ I am still studying this carving. Every time I pick it up something new about the ‘flow’ comes to light. I’ll get to the point where I trust what I see, Mark. The next project will show improvement!

    I’ve tried to put a finish on this carving, but this luan is like a sponge. I usually use danish oil or tung oil as a finish followed by a wax coating. This stuff just keeps on soaking up the finish. Maybe after a few hundred more applications, I’ll finally get the grain sealed. I stained it because the wood is so white and it showed all the stop cuts I over shot!

    I want to start planning my next project and learn to apply what this project and you have taught me.


    • dorisfiebig
      Dec 16, 2010 @ 22:35:38

      hi doug, good to hear from you… yes, you are right, we do not give recipies,,, since there are none,,, but we encourage to explore, since we believe that is the way to go.. and, you yourself experienced it positively 🙂 …
      i dont have so much finish experience, but yes, staining makes visible all the over shot stopcuts… lol … i had this too in a bas relief carving, and since i hated it, i recarved the whole background … i usually apply a very thin coat of matte varnish and wipe immediately off most of it , to prevent the finishing soak into too much. the varnish closes some of the pores, and when wiped off quickly no feel of varnish is left on the wood, but the pores are somewhat more closed, preventing stain or color or other soak in too much… in any case, i make a test piece for every carving where i want apply a new (=not tried by me) method…this helps to avoid desasters
      yes good to hear you are making plans for the next 🙂


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