The caricature carvings of a Viking and an Indian began as a line drawing by artist friend Don Stephenson (a.k.a. the Idea Monster) who comes up with the neatest ideas for carving projects. The first two photographs above show the carving subject surrounding the drawing of each subject. The next two photographs are of a Viking and an Indian with a quarter to depict their miniature size of three inches tall.
Line drawings and photographs present a two dimensional image while carving is done in three dimensional. Two dimensional is a “flat” surface and three dimensional is an “in the round” surface. So when a carving begins with a two dimensional image from a drawing or photograph a transformation in the carver’s mental image of converting the “flat” image into an “in the round” image becomes a part of the creative process. This creative process allows for the “in the round” carving to become a fresh interpretation of the original “flat” image of the two dimensional image. It is this creative process that becomes the fun part of “design by carving” as the “flat” image and mental image are blended into an innovative interpretation of the original idea.
The Viking photos below begin with four views of completed carvings of two Vikings that have received the monochrome finish of raw sienna artist oil paint mixed with boiled linseed oil. The next four photographs show four views of the progressive steps of carving a Viking. Study these progressive steps in a mental exercise like connecting the dots and reading between the lines to envision the carving cuts to reach the completed carving. The next three photographs begin with a top view of the progressive steps noticing how the center lines guide the shaping process. The next two photos show the use of a cut out template the size of the beginning block of basswood framing the completed carving to help visualize the negative space around the completed carving and what was carved away to reveal the negative space.
Make a framing template using card stock like an index card or poster board to draw a rectangle and a square the size of the block from which a carving will be carved. Cut out the inside of the rectangle and square. Or a framing template can be made by laying a carving on the card stock and mark a rectangle around the full length and width of the carving to represent the block size from which the carving began. Stand the carving on its base or feet on the card stock and mark a square around the base. Cut out the inside of the rectangle and square to then use as a frame template around the carving to see the negative space that was removed around the carving.
The Indian photos below are a repeat of the same process used with the Viking photos above and are to be used to visually study each photo while imagining with a mental exercise the carving process.
Carving “in the round” three dimensionally is a creative interpretation of using a two dimensional “flat” image. Every carving is a learning experience and the more one carves the transformation from a “flat” image into an “in the round” image, the better the carver becomes at using this process over and over again. Why do this way is to recognize that there are so many “flat” images inviting the carver to carve “in the round” interpretations. Once learned this approach liberates the creativity of the carver to carve almost any subject. “The more one carves the better one carves,” so “carve to become a better carver.” Remember: “Would be carvers would be carvers if they would carve wood.”