Since very early childhood I have loved this wonderful material of wood. Our backyard trees generously provided me the gift of sticks on the ground, which I could break with my hands or cut on with a pocket knife. I loved the different barks, the smell of cedar, and seeing what was inside fallen limbs of our giant pecan trees. I used my father’s tools to saw and nail old boards even before I started school.
Around the fourth grade a picture on the bottom of a tissue box of a carved American eagle with carving tools forever changed my world. I bombarded my parents with questions about woodcarving and where to get those wonderful tools. The idea of creating shapes out of wood was new and magical to me. Eventually I acquired some basic carving tools and began to carve a few simple things. I very slowly learned techniques, and very quickly cut my fingers.
Around 12 years old I saw a print of Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting “Pelvis with Pedernal” on the back of a Readers Digest magazine (inspiration often comes from unlikely places). It made me feel something new inside, and somehow I knew at that moment that she was my favorite artist. She still is.
Carving continued to be an interest, mostly to create realistic objects, but I never thought of myself as an artist. In my late 20’s I happened upon a large abstract sculpture, and similar to my O’Keeffe revelation, for the first time I experienced an awakening that a physical shape could stir emotions.
Years of adult life happened and carving continued as an occasional pastime until one day while drawing a sketch for a carving, I began to flow parts of it together as my own style emerged as if awakened suddenly from a deep sleep. I began to surrender to the idea that I, too, could be an artist, specifically a sculptor. It still took several years to say, out loud, to someone other than my family, that I was a wood sculptor. Upon saying it, I waited for laughter and the sky to fall, and neither happened.
I discovered rotary carving tools could give me the curves and flowing effects I was trying to achieve in my work. It is still just as hands-on and takes as much time as hand tools, maybe more so, at least the way I create. While some purist woodcarvers might say it is cheating, I like to say no one told me the rules, and that I would use an old egg beater if it created the effect I was needing.
I mostly work out of a small workshop my son and I built, my daughter and I stained, thanks to a generous funding gift from my wife. They are all very supportive of me.
I recently retired from a career in social work so I can devote more time to sculpting and other creative projects, and spending time with my family and my rescue dog, Denver.
I look forward to showing my work every September at the wonderful Sculpture Celebration in Lenoir, NC sponsored by the Caldwell Arts Council. And I am very excited to be offering my work for sale at the One of A Kind Gallery, LLC in Pinehurst, NC.
When someone asks me which of my pieces is my favorite, the answer never changes, it is always the next one.