Posted by: woodbeecarver   in BEE Buzz, Tutorials



Study each of the photographs displayed in this posting to make the comparison between a natural (monochrome) finish of one colored carving with a multi colored (poly-chrome) painted carving side by side.



“Texture is color” is a term to emphasize that the texture on the surface of a carving with its tool facets created by the cutting edge of the knife along with the shaping of the various surfaces of the carving is a “color” all its own.  Once a carving is completed the carver decides what kind of finish, natural, stained or painted is to be applied for the enhancement of the overall appearance and appeal of the visual and artistic effect of the carving.


The variety of photographs in this study provide a visual evaluation of comparison between a natural (monochrome) finish and a colored (poly-chrome) finish of two similar carvings in style and pose in order to “see” what the viewer is seeing when looking at a particular carving. Both were carved the same way with the same faceted tool marks and basic shape of the surface of the form. The comparison will consider that when looking at a colored or painted carving, the eyes see the colors more than the surface of the carving.  On the other hand, when looking at a natural finish the eyes see the texture of the surface of the carving that amplify the qualities of the carving as being a carving (Texture is Color).  The colored or painted finish tends to camouflage the carved surface by overemphasizing the color.  When choosing what kind of finish, the question asked is, ‘what effect does the artist want to evoke and emphasize?’


There is no hard and fast rule to dictate which to choose as in the end it becomes the opinion and choice of the artist to make an interpretation. The only right way is if it works for the artist while at the same time others may have a different opinion than the artist based upon their own personal preference. Often the judgement is made based upon the viewers taste rather than envisioning what the artist saw that led to the choice of finish.  Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder while acknowledging that each beholder eyes beauty from their own window of perspective.

Caricature carver Marv Kaisersatt prefers to apply no finish to the completed carving allowing the naked wood to speak for itself by allowing the “texture,” design and form of the carving to speak for itself.  Other artists choose a natural finish of either an oil, or lacquer, or varnish or wax as a finishing medium.  And other artists choose to use a variety of colors with stain or paint (acrylic or oil) to dress up the carving.

“Putty and paint can make the devil into a saint,” is an old saying that can apply to the painting of a carving.  Painting can save a bad carving and can also spoil a good carving and sometimes painting a bad carving remains a bad carving.  Painting a carving as well as the carving process is learning by trial and error of practicing the skill and craft of both endeavors.  Practice to learn the painting technique as an every growing and improving process of amplifying the art. Each finishing procedure, natural or painted, stand on their own merits as each has qualities worthy of choosing which and when to apply.

The WOOD BEE CARVER uses both the natural stain finish of Raw Sienna artist oil paint mixed with Boiled Linseed Oil on some carvings to emphasize “Texture is Color” and a variety of colors of artist oil paint thinned with Boiled Linseed Oil on other carvings. Once dried the oil finish receives a brushed-on application of the brushing lacquer Deft. (see “Painting Softly” under the listing in BEE HIVE).  Another natural finish sometimes used is Howard Feed-N-Wax.  The choice of an oil finish or wax finish is the effect that these mediums have in giving a depth, definition and softness to the surface of a wood carving.

Most carvers realize after completing a carving that one could have done a better job and that is why carvers continue to carve in order to sharpen one’s skill, one’s imagination and one’s ability to “see” knowing that the more one carves the better one carves. The same concept applies to the choice of finish that is applied to completed carvings.  While painted carvings are appealing to the eye, yet a natural finish that highlights the texture adds a color of its own. Whichever finish is chosen it is always based upon the interpretation of the artist and viewers of the art only ease drop on the artist’s interpretation.  Carve and paint boldly.






This entry was posted on Saturday, June 24th, 2017 at 9:04 am and is filed under BEE Buzz, Tutorials. 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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