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When I start a new carving, my pulse races in anticipation. I study the wood block for a long time before cutting into it with knives and other tools. Achieving a great result requires reading the wood. If you examine it carefully, the bird or "wild thing" inside the wood will guide you. It will tell you how to express the voice, energy and personality of the piece long before it comes to life. It takes many hours to finish each sculpture, but it's a trip that keeps me coming back.
As a child, I loved to draw, but gradually my creativity was put on the shelf when I went to college and out in the world. I graduated with a Masters in business from Appalachian State University, then entered the military where I flew gunships in Viet Nam. After the military, I went to work for two of the largest advertising agencies in the world. Despite the highly charged creative atmosphere of advertising, I still had personal creative urges that were unfulfilled.
One faithful day, 30 years ago, my mother-in-law gave me an old wooden duck decoy she had purchased at a yard sale. It was worn and scratched and generally beat up, but I saw, instead, a sleek, stylistic piece of art that was individually hewn from wood with love by human hands. I was instantly hooked!
For the last 30 years I have self-taught myself to carve all manner of "wild things" with an assortment of tools and knives. I am especially interested in carving birds of prey. Tupelo and basswood are my primary carving woods with mounting woods that range from driftwood to manzanita root to black walnut formal bases. The style most often used is "realistic" which focuses on carving finite details like feathers and fur which make my critters seem alive.
My personal philosophy of style is that my sculptures are a frozen instant in action or implied action rather than stiff, formal poses. Secondly, the personality of the piece is essential. That is why I always start with the face. The face determines the feeling of the piece. If it has the proper personality and demeanor, everything else will follow. Finally, whenever possible, I try to inject light humor or flights of fancy in my work.
Five years ago, Carole and I, and our large brown dog, returned to our beloved Blue Ridge high country and I established a studio/shop in our home near Boone, NC. Last year was very good to me. I entered three regional woodcarving competitions and returned home with two best-of-show awards, a people's choice award, and eleven category blue ribbons. My highest honor came in August of 2007 when I was inducted into the Southern Highland Craft Guild.