GOOD SHEPHERD ~ A Carving Journey

   Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects

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This photographic journey is of two interpretations of the Good Shepherd. The first series of photographs is the first one carved. The beginning basswood block was nine inches tall, three inches wide and two inches deep. Five HELVIE Knives were used in the carving of each Good Shepherd. Knives used were Signature Series # 10 ~ Hornet Bee, #13 ~ Bumble Bee, # 14 ~ Wasp Bee, #16 ~ Side Winder Bee, and # 17 ~ Side Winder II Bee. (See postings about the use of Side Winder knives December 16   and January 3.)

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A carving friend commissioned the WOOD BEE CARVER to carve two Good Shepherd figures. This Good Shepherd subject was a new carving project which requires research studying a variety of images of the subject along with developing a mental image to guide the imaginary carving process. A suitable two dimensional Good Shepherd image was chosen as the basis for the visual comparison during the carving process. Of course when using a two dimensional image the carver relies upon the inner eye of the creative process to see a three dimensional image so that a carving in the round could be realized. This transition from two dimensional to three dimension is best learned in the trial and error experience of earlier carving projects that fall into the category of the practice, practice, practice motif. Building upon that experience allows the creative imagination to make the subtle transitions of design during the carving process. Such a process is to “design by carving” which allows the design to adapt and grow in the tension between the imagined design and the design developing while wood is being shaped in the carving process.

The “design by carving” is worked out while carving the first Good Shepherd which will guide the further development of the design while carving the second Good Shepherd. In other words, the carver learns from the first carving of the subject which in turn guides or tutors the carver while carving the second Good Shepherd. While both carvings look the same in regards to the pose and drapery of the clothing yet there are subtle differences when one is compared with the other. A visual study of the photographs may highlight some of these design innovations.   Each carving is complete in and of itself and each carving stands on its own merits and yet together one can observe each one’s unique characteristics.

These second series of photographs are of the second Good Shepherd carved a couple of weeks later after the first one.

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Every carving one does is a practice carving that also becomes a learning carving experience. Lessons learned in carving the first carving will guide in carving the second carving of the same subject. While all that is true, yet, the second is not necessarily a carbon copy of the first nor are the same methods repeated because each carving of the same subject will be carved with its own personality. The second carving of the subject, being a practice and learning piece, will create its own lessons. This means then that when a third carving of the same subject is carved it will benefit from the lessons learned in the first two practice and learning experiences with the end result being an unique carving in and of itself even though it will be similar to the first two Good Shepherds.

In some ways the carving of the first subject is easier in the process of learning while doing. Carving the second subject creates a tension of trying too hard to “copy” the first one rather than allowing the second one to develop on its own. With the second carving there is a tendency to try to remember the precise cuts used on the first one which at times slows down the creative process. But in the end it all works out, as it does in most cases, which is a part of the agony and ecstasy of the carving experience.

Every carving a carver creates is always an interpretation of the artist and carver. The interpretations of the Good Shepherd were the transition between a two dimensional artist rendition of the image of the Good Shepherd into a three dimensional carving in the round. During this transition the folds and drapery of the clothing were interpreted to fit the action of the carving knife shaping the wood to look similar to the two dimensional image. Interpretation was also applied to the carving of the face of the Good Shepherd to have a face unique in itself without looking exactly like the two dimensional model or any conceived mental image of what the Good Shepherd should look like.

This interpretation of the face of the Good Shepherd carvings is like the story of the child in school drawing a picture. The teacher asked the student what he was drawing and he explained that it was a picture of God. The teacher said that no one knows what God looks like. The student said with confidence, “They will when I finish the drawing.”

Now that is what “interpretation” means. Any carving any carver creates is always an “interpretation” of what the carver and artist sees in their creativity. Lesson learned from this is to always have the freedom to carve one’s interpretation rather than being handcuffed by trying to duplicate another’s interpretation and being critical of oneself for not carving an exact duplicate. In other words, each carver should develop and then accept their own style in carving as their unique interpretation as an artist. Even while taking instructions from others we are to learn what we can in order to carve our own style rather than trying to be a clone of the instructor. Carve your own style while learning by doing the practice and learning carving experiences of the journey of becoming a better carver the more one carves.


This entry was posted on Monday, January 19th, 2015 at 3:15 pm and is filed under Carving Projects. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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