My journey with Art started when I was very young. My Grandfather and Father were both artists. I was encouraged to always have a crayon, pencil, pen, marker, whatever, in my hand. Art and I had a bit of a love/hate relationship as I aged. At times it was my savior, it was my place to hide and drift away from what was going on around me. At other times it frustrated me. It tugged at me to pursue it, but I held myself back. Why? I still don't know. As I moved through high school, sports was my passion. Art took a backseat. But, like the perfect friend, it was always there to comfort me when I needed it.
And then life took over. Marriage, real job and a mortgage. Art was no where to be found.
It was the 1980's. Duck decoys were a "thing". I was infatuated. The colors, the shapes, the detail. I was mesmerized. I had to see these things up close and find out how they were made. So I attended a Duck Decoy Show at a local high school in Saratoga, CA. I went from table to table, studying and asking questions. The Carvers were great, patiently answered all my questions and one finally invited me to the local weekly Wood Carving Group Meeting. I couldn't wait for that Wednesday meeting to come around. When the day finally arrived I walked into the local high school gym and was greeted by a bunch of middle-aged, bearded men, who I knew were ready to pass on their carving secrets to me. I figured I would watch, get the lay of the land and then have them just anoint me with their great carving wisdom. I would walk out a master, ready to carve a beautiful mallard duck the next day. Actually, they just handed me a block of wood, a knife, pointed to a carved bear and told me to carve one just like it. That was it? This was my lesson? I shrugged, took the block of wood and knife and sat there for about an hour trying not to cut off any fingers. They would swing by, give me a pointer, smile and walk back to their tables. After an hour or so, what started as a block of ugly wood, actually had the makings of a bear. Who knew. I never finished that carving. I still have it today as a reminder of how it begin, how my love affair with carving began.
After a couple more attempts I was getting the hang of it. My third carving was my first life-sized decoy, of a pintail. It was also my first ribbon award winner.
And then my corporate career and family life took over. It had too. Art once again took a backseat.
The kids were getting older, I was done chasing corporate titles, I decided to focus back on art. Like duck decoys in the 80s, I saw work that truly inspired me to do better. To really challenge myself and see what I could achieve. I moved from ducks and birds to more realistic subject matter, like hats, shoes and clothing. The colors, the shapes, the contours, the detail, the fooling of the eye. I was sucked in.
I began with a carved hat and it took off from there.
I started to see the engagement with my art. People wanted to touch and feel, it was testing their eyes. Questioning if it's real or made of wood. I found myself in my first gallery in Vail. With each piece I learned more about my abilities to create, to solve problems and grow in complexity. Life is a journey and so is my art.
Now...I'm done with corporate. I'm proud to say I'm now a full-time artist. I'm currently renovating our 100 yr old barn to house my Workshop and Studio. We're just blocks away from the historic Downtown McKinney Square. Follow me on Instagram to track our journey.
My work can be seen in regional and national art shows. I will be back in more galleries in the coming months. Feels like now is the time to seize the opportunity and see where this journey takes me.
Some fine print...
A carving can take anywhere from 40 to 200+ hours, depending on the complexity of the subject matter. I mainly use Basswood and Tupelo. Both are traditional duck carving woods. I'll use other woods, upon request.
I complete my carvings in various ways; airbrush, acrylics, oils or wood stains. All depends on the final look I'm going for.