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Discovering Your Own Personal Style

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  • Discovering Your Own Personal Style

    Discovering Your Own Carving Style

    For myself, one of the best parts of learning anything is discovering my very own unique style.
    Woodcarving is very different from basic woodworking in that there's more of an artist quality to it. This leads to the discovery of personal style which you may or may not have considered before but everyone has one.

    Experienced carvers are more aware of personal carving style than newbies which is why they might comment about how a carving has some " carvers name" influence in it.

    Personal style is often what sets up apart from others. It's what makes our work distinguishable. It may even evolve or change over time but either way, it's our very own.

    What styles do you like?
    Who has been your biggest influence and how/why?
    Do you have a personal style and how has it evolved?

    Last edited by Spiritwolfe; 03-27-2017, 10:26 PM.

  • #2
    I don't think I have a style so much as a preferred genre. I am pretty much an engineer. So I do whimseys. Stuff that is very mechanical, both in design and in the carving process itself. Stuff that moves and makes noises. Rattles, balls-in-cages, chains, pivots, wheels, various combinations. I can do those. But I can't carve a bird, or a caricature, or a relief. I am not even tempted to try (but I sure like looking at those things that folks here carve).

    What influences me? When I show someone a simple ball in cage and they say "No, that's not possible. How did you DO that?". I get a lot of satisfaction from that.

    Some folks here carve comfort birds for people who are sick, or in the hospital, or just down in the dumps. That's a great idea. I borrowed it and have given away whimseys to folks in the hospital; they have really enjoyed "playing with that dumb thing", taking their mind off their pain or worries or boredom. I get a lot of satisfaction from that too.
    HonketyHank toot toot


    • #3
      A topic that has fascinated me for quite a few years. Basically, evolving from the WCI Forum. A few years along and I realized that I could recognize some Members' style and its influence on other woodcarvers. I often wonder do I have a style or is it as Honketyhank replied, more genre related? Can one recognize one's own carving style?

      My carving life started with the desire to carve simple painted decoys. A few Christmas ornaments began the evolution. Simple relief pieces led to Santas and caricatures. A desire to improve painting led me through a few years of relief ~ based totally on that being the preferred genre of the only real painter I knew. I was a strictly "out of the bottle" and cover the wood type painter. John Engler taught me watercolor and started me down the road to becoming at least a pretty fair painter. Opportunity knocked and I was able to take lessons from Marlen Downing. Marlen led me into realistic birds. Finally, I managed to get into one of Debbe Edwards Wildlife in Wood Seminars. Debbe expanded my love of carving birds into caving animals. I now refer to myself as a carver of Birds and Beasts. Although friends admire my carvings of mountain men, caricatures and relief scenes, and I am often asked to carve such, ~ I have too many ideas for birds and animals to spend time on anything else. I do carve and give away comfort birds. But these can be done while watching news or working during commercials of TV programs.

      My carving partner for many years, Steve DiGiacomo, referred to my "style" as Realistic Impressionism. I do try to stay as near as possible to the animal/bird, but am not bound by it. One example, my horses all have exaggerated manes ~ because I like the look. Do I have a recognizable style? I certainly do not know?


      • #4
        I Started with woodspirits on a stick. I learned about carving clubs ans found one,where I gained knowledge and skills.My job at the time had me traveling all a round the western US spending weeks in different places and I was able to visit many different carving groups. As Paul said I picked up skills and was influenced and found style in most every group. The many hours I spent in motels and Hotels gave me a lot of hours to work on what I was learning.. Over the years have had different styles and favorite carve but I always found my self back at doing canes and walking sticks and they are about all I do now. But All I know I learned from other carvers.I have always loved the generosity of the carving community when it comes to sharing knowledge and some 30yr's I have never met a carver that was not willing to be helpful or share. Even when carving was the only thing we had in common. I have gotten interested in the style and form of canes and stick done in the United Kingdom this last year. I can share the carvers and stick dressers,as they call themselves are every bit as helpful and encouraging as carvers here. If your new and wanting to learn reach out to clubs or forums like this.
        Last edited by Randy; 03-28-2017, 08:23 AM.
        We live in the land of the free because of the brave!


        • #5
          I really don't think I have a particular style, I do have subjects that I like to carve mostly such as Mountain Men, Elves, Bark Houses and Relief Carving. As for biggest influence I would have to say Mark Gargac following him on WC and I took a workshop from him in Creede, CO.


          • #6
            Love this thread, it is something I have thought about a lot. I knew when I started I would not be a classical carver, have no interest in carving a realistic piece. I also have no interest in sanding, and will only paint if the subject demands it like flowers. I fell in love with flat plane here, Gene Messer and Harley Refsal both have been huge influences and very helpful (like so many). I like the minimalism of FP, and try to use as few cuts as possible to create whatever- I got that from Harley, BTW. I want people to need their imagination when they looks at what I do- I don't want to carve a leg, or an eye, I want to suggest a leg or an eye. Since many consider flat plane to apply only to Scandinavian subjects, I call myself a folk artist and only hope that one day someone will recognize something I did as belonging to me.

            While I prefer to carve in FP style, I like to look at any and everything else too- I am in awe of many of the carvers here, I've seen realism that rivals mother nature, and impressionism that blows my mind, and another ton of carvings in between. So glad we can post pics again!
            Last edited by Buffalo Bif; 03-28-2017, 10:08 AM.
            Buffalo Bif


            • #7
              Over many years of carving, I have tried many forms of creative expression in wood, but have not searched for a style to call my own. Nor have I tried to emulate some well known carvers. The common element in my carvings seems to be challenge. I look for ideas in other media that might be done as carvings. M. C. Escher has become the primary source of such ideas because his eye-catching graphics make you wonder how he did that, and could it be done as a carving.


              • #8
                I've always been content to carve what I see in the wood. Never know what that will be.
                Without that, the carvings always fail. Disappointing but I let them go.
                Very strong influence from the art and carvings of the Pacific Northwest native community.
                I've made my own design elements (eyes, feather shapes, etc) so that my carvings can't be mistaken for native work.
                Brian T


                • #9
                  Great topic! I don't know if I would call what I have a style, but I certainly have a passion and it is for the sea. I was born on an Island (Prince Edward Island), to a sailor father and farmer mother, who's ancestors were ships masters and ship builders. They ran a shipyard, and a mercantile/trading business as well as sailing vessels of their own and mastered vessels for other owners. I joined the navy out of school and loved every minute of it. Swallowed the anchor and got into serious ship modelling and carving. If I couldn't go to sea any more, I'd bring the sea to me, in any way I could. My "art" satisfies a yearning in me, for salt water, rolling seas and the far horizon. Sailing ships were my passion for many years, but lately I have been carving much more than carving ship models. most of my subjects are sea related: ships captains, Vikings, sailors and such. I remain, ready aye ready!

                  Before they slip me over the standing part of the fore sheet, let them pipe: "Up Spirits" one more time.


                  • #10
                    I think I must be a bit boring... I don't usually carve many of "original" pieces. I usually see something I like, get a pattern, and carve it. I guess I'm not very creative... more of a duplicator. The pieces I carve, however, make me pretty happy.

                    In the movie "Outlaw Josy Wales", Lone Watie (Chief Dan George) has a line, "All I have is a piece of hard rock candy. But it's not for eatin'. It's just for lookin' through." . (the candy was red, and he liked the light)

                    My carvings are like that, they're not for anything specific, but I just like lookin' at'm.

                    I do have my favorite carvers, however... Joslyn, Cipa and Doughty to name a few.


                    • #11
                      My style is primitive...not by choice, but from lack of ability...


                      • #12
                        I enjoy posts like this very much its artists having conversation I read every one of the replies. I realized I had my style years ago I would describe it bold and chunky like good salsa. By far the greatest influence on my carving the great John Rood.


                        • #13

                          In the movie "Outlaw Josy Wales", Lone Watie (Chief Dan George) has a line, "All I have is a piece of hard rock candy. But it's not for eatin'. It's just for lookin' through." . (the candy was red, and he liked the light)

                          A good movie and old Chief Dan George was a great addition to the story. I carved a bust of him a year of so ago, in Butternut and it turned out pretty good.

                          Before they slip me over the standing part of the fore sheet, let them pipe: "Up Spirits" one more time.


                          • #14
                            I once had a member here who said they could recognize my carvings by the style but personally, I really don't see it. I'm still floundering around the woodpile.


                            • #15
                              I always thought Lone Wadie's candy was a rough garnet or similar stone. Not sure he'd have been able to keep candy in his pocket. I also suspect Jose Wales took it as payment for a horse.

                              My avatar is my interpretation of Lone Wadie as a bottle stopper.

                              Last edited by Buffalo Bif; 03-30-2017, 09:15 AM.
                              Buffalo Bif