Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects


The process of carving the MOTHER and CHILD is an ongoing study every time it is carved with varying interpretations. It begins with a mental image that has developed in the memory of having seen many interpretations of the Madonna and Child of the Nativity in various artistic presentations. The two photographs above show a miniature Mother and Child in front of a block of wood and a completed carving of Mother and Child. The miniature was carved several years ago as an exercise of creative memory shaping a small block of wood using only a knife. The miniature serves as a point of reference of a mental image growing in its interpretation. A series of photographs showing various views of the completed Mother and Child begin this study. Following will be photos of the progressive stages in the carving of Mother and Child.

MC 001MC 002MC 003MC 004MC 005MC 006MC 007MC 009MC 011

The first three photos below show the beginning of carving to the basic form or modeling to open up the block of basswood six inches tall by three inches square. The knives pictured are experimental blade shapes used during this roughing out shaping process.  Photos four, five and six below show the progress of the carving taking shape  with the Mother’s face receiving detailed features. The knives pictured in each view are some that were used in this phase of the process.

mc2mc3mc4         mc5mc6                        mc7

The next series of photos are of the completed carving almost ready to receive its coloring finish. The four views of front, three quarter and back are followed by a close up of the mother’s face and the baby’s face. The baby’s face is carved in the end grain which is a challenge to carve using small slicing cuts. Because the end grain is fragile, super glue was applied after the carving process was completed to strengthen the weak areas.

mc8mc9mc10                      mc11mc12  mc13

The progressive stages is an exercise in a process the WOOD BEE CARVER calls “design by carving” in that the design develops as a byproduct of removing chips of wood in the shaping or modeling process. During this subtract-modeling process, wood is being removed with a slicing tool guided by a mental image of the carver’s developing imagination. Imagination is to form a mental image or picture something in one’s mind. Imagination is never fixed but is always growing, changing and being revised as a fluid stream of envisioning with the heart, mind and soul of the creative spirit within.

There is a certain tension of the give and take challenge between mental image and the physical exercise of shaping the wood to morph into that mental image or to come into focus with the mental image. This process is the “agony and ecstasy” of the creative process. During the “agony” stage there is a struggle with a feeling that nothing is working, that one does not know what to do next or that the process is not going anywhere other than it is turning into a mess. It is in this “agony” stage that creativity begins to work in the carver’s subconscious with creative guidance through this dark forest of doubt to come to the light of the “ecstasy” of the dawning of possibility as the design comes into focus with the mental image.

It is this “agony and ecstasy” experience that makes the “journey of carving” a serendipity of discovery and sense of creative genius coming to the surface. With that said, it also needs to be said that the “journey of the creative road map” leads only to a new uncharted territory of the next carving process where the “agony and ecstasy of the design by carving” is repeated.

Every carving project becomes a new carving project even if it is the same subject because creativity is never static, imagination never is a copy and interpretation is an ongoing process. A completed carving project is never all that the carver envisioned which leads to carving it again at a later time to give the creative process another opportunity to make improvements and variations in design for a new interpretation. The carving experience is a growing realization that “carving is more the journey than the destination,” in that the destination of a completed carving project is not the end, but rather the beginning for another journey of carving. The journey of the process of carving is why the carver does carving and the completed carving project is only a tangible memory of that journey.




This entry was posted on Sunday, December 27th, 2015 at 2:53 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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