The first post of this series showed off a few 2 dimensional types of woodcarving. The second part moved to 3 dimensions, and some of the things featured there looked like people. This post moves on to “characters.”
On the rather serious side of whimsy, we find woodspirits and greenmen. Woodspirit carvings try to capture the fleeting image of the rarely seen character that guards the forests. These guys are very often carved on trees or branches, right through the bark of the tree. Many, like Shawn Ciba’s wonderful example here, are used to adorn walking sticks. As a genre, woodspirits have long beards and often have flying hair.
Similar in mythology are greenmen. However, instead of hair they have leaves. Leaves for eyebrows. Leaves for beards. Leaves for top of the head hair. Leaves growing from their orifices. A carver mentioned in an earlier post, Chris Pye has quite a gallery of greenmen, all foliate, none hairy.
More whimsy! More whimsy! OK. There are a lot of woodcarvers doing caricature carving, and there are as many styles as there are carvers. A style with a minimalist approach began somewhere in Scandinavia and is popular because of the ability to represent a lot of character with relatively few cuts. This “flat plane” style has quite a following, and one of the carvers who loves it is Gene Messer. Not only does Gene love flat plane carving, he does a lot of other caricature carving and delights in making videos to invite and instruct new carvers. At the time I write this, Gene has created 889 YouTube videos. That’s one very impressive collection.
Gene is not alone on YouTube. There are quite a few other carvers publishing videos, far too many to list here. You can easily find them if you’re interested. Hint: start with the subscribers to Gene’s channel.
One more excellent example, caricatures in the western style. Lynn Doughty is an award winning carver who lives out in the middle of the old west and creates characters from the age of the wild wild west. Each character tells a story, and each is done with painstaking faithfulness to the era. Lynn is yet another carver who shares his knowledge via videos. Lynn carves while his wife, Judy, films. The result is another very rich collection of how-to videos at Out West Woodcarving. (Click on that photo to see Crusty in all his glory.)
Thanks Gene. Thanks Lynn. Thanks Allen, and Gary, and Jim, and Mark, and …. all the people who make woodcarving videos.