MYRON COMPTON ~ A Carving Friend

   Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Friends

Myron Compton     Myron Compton      Myron Compton

OBSERVATION TECHNOLOGY is an adaption of the science of technology to the art of carving and related to the skill of carving. Yogi Berra coined the phrase, “You can observe a lot just by watching,” which when applied to the art of woodcarving, there is great value in making studied observations. Such is the case here with the studied observation of a carving by Myron Compton of Pekin, Indiana. I have observed some of his carvings over the years with an appreciative eye for his creative skill and interpretations through his carvings. His most recent carving of a cowpoke gave off an immediate invitation to “take a closer look” at this carving.

Myron Compton Myron Compton Myron Compton

Myron was kind enough to give permission for photographs of his cowpoke carving to be a subject of this posting as well as kind enough to “in his own words” tell a little about his journey in carving “Virgil.” In my opinion this carving depicts all that is right with a carving from which a studied observation can instill within the carver within us to “observe and learn.”

Myron Compton Myron Compton Myron Compton

Myron, in his own words, tells of his journey in the carving of “Virgil”

I’m hooked on carving these little cowboys. With each one that I carve, I try changing it up a bit. When finished I thought this carving reminded me of one of the Earp brothers. So this got the name “Virgil”.
This little guy (less the base) is about 9-1/4″ tall. I carved the body out of a block of basswood 3″ x 4″ wide x 7″ tall. The head/hat were carved from a 3″ x 3″ x 4″ tall piece of basswood. Before carving starts I bandsaw the front and side profiles. This will remove much of the waste. My idea for this carving was for the cowboy to have a side arm (revolver). For ideas, I searched Google for pictures of cowboys wearing a holster. I also have many books and magazines on western wear. It is so important to do your homework to make sure your carving is to proper proportions. For me, the homework and preparing for the carving takes as much time as the actual carving itself. When it comes to the final details, such as wrinkles, I use a carving knife. I will use a knife for at least 95% of the carving. Buttons are added using a small gouge 1/8″ or maybe 3/16″ half round (Dockyard brand). Face details for me was always the most difficult part. Practice is the most important thing when it comes to doing faces. I always try turning the head a bit; this gives the carving a little more interest. I honestly believe for a young woodcarver that he/she carve every day. Do not let a week go by without picking up a knife. My four suggestions for a new woodcarver would be to Practice-Practice-Practice-Practice. I have been doing this now for almost 20 years and I still consider every piece a practice piece. What also helps me is to study the works of other woodcarvers. So many wonderful books and study casts are available on woodcarving. Sharp tools are a must. I have about 10 knives and gouges that I sharpen every day before I start carving. I never sand a carving. To get a nice clean cut, cut with the grain NOT against the grain and use the slicing cut.
I wanted this cowboy’s hands opened as if he was about ready to go for his gun. This created a problem as to how to carve the gun because the right hand would have been in the way. I decided to carve the gun integral with the body and then carve the hands as separate pieces. The arms were carved with the body but I drilled a hole up into the arms (7/32 dia) about 3/4″ deep, almost reaching his elbow. I then carved the hands with a 7/32 dia shank 5/8 long. After the carving and painting was completed, I used 5 minute epoxy to join them together.  Be careful drilling this hole in the arms, as it could split the arm very easily. Do the drilling well before you get the arms to finished size. Then I start with a tiny drill bit and gradually go bigger until I reach the final size. Take your time on every part of your project. Doing it right is more important.
My preferred method is to carve the hands integral with the body as one piece but sometimes you have to do things different.
Consider your Woodcarving like an artist paints a picture; it’s your project so you can decide how you want to do it.
Painting the project: I thought I would try mostly black for this cowpoke. That didn’t sound too good at first but I suggested that to my wife Linda and she said go for it and that it would be good to try something different. I’m glad I did. I used black for the hat, vest, neckerchief, gun holster, belt, and his boots. White was used for the shirt and Midnight Blue for his pants. I start by painting a section at a time. If I start with the boots, I will brush on clean water. When that water has soaked in, I will then apply my thinned acrylic paint. So I’m painting a wet area with thinned down paint.
Water that paint down. A tiny bit of paint will go a long-long way.
Happy carving,
Myron Compton

Observation Technology is to take time for a “studied look” at each photo that imagines with the inner eye how this cowpoke was carved. Study each photograph again and again to observe the pose and stance of a cowpoke ready to reach for his gun; observe the sense of movement in the overall carving; observe the facial and body proportions; observe the soft and relaxing colors of the cowpoke that draws the viewer into seeing the texture of the carved facets without a garish color of distortion that sidesteps the overall view from appreciating the whole. Observe the contours of the cowpoke’s outfit noting the application of wrinkles in the right places without overworking the wrinkling effect. Wrinkles, buttons, and flair of clothing and the fit of the clothing needs to be subtle to be believable in a way that adds to the overall look. Attention to detail is not overworked being just enough to give a sense of authenticity to reality. Study the facial features along with each hand by following the planes, angles and contour of each feature. Study the hat, bandana, gun belt, holster and pistol, and boots to learn from the lessons of observation to apply to your next cowpoke carving project.

Thank you Myron for letting us see into your corner of the woodcarving world a lesson in carving a cowpoke.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 10:27 am and is filed under Carving Friends. 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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