Posts Tagged ‘folkart’

Yesterday I spent time in the shop putting finishing touches on these two birds.  These are perks that will be sent to folks that are supporting my upcoming Northern Forest Canoe Trail trip through my Indiegogo campaign.  Many thanks to all that have helped.  These two are going to Gordie Felt, Remsen, NY and to James Kelly of Indianapolis.



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Yesterday I delivered a wisdom of owls and a few others to be included in the offerings of Jerry Points’ gallery Eye on Art in the Carmel Arts and Design District.  I am thrilled to have my work associated with this gallery and collection.

Eye on Art

111 W Main St #150

Carmel, Indiana 46032

(317) 752-1722






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These are available to purchase. Simply click the Etsy banner to the right. You can get a 25% discount with the coupon code SHOPHANDMADE.










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You are reading an installment of a Field Guide to (50 Little) Birds. Everything that goes into a bird or whale is intentional and deliberate. This guide is intended to allow folks to understand my work at a deeper and more meaningful level.

The guide is decided into four sections.

The Back Story will explore inspirations, motivation and philosophy.

Before I Begin will contain discussion on research and design.

The Stuff They’re Made Of will look into the materials I use and how they are chosen and procured.

A Distressing End will look at my finish techniques.


This entry was prematurely published. Check back later for completed work.

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Sperm Whale Photos

Photos of 12″ Sperm Whale. I’ve another on the bench as well as a similar but much larger (24″) one.


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I have the same dream that many artists have–to quite the day job and spend my time making stuff people want to buy.

There is no question that there are enough people out there to consume any product. If Chia Pets or the work of Thomas Kincaid can make it so can 50 Little Birds. I’ve never questioned this. The problem is getting the word out to the right people at the right time in the right way.

A couple of years ago I discovered Alyson Stanfield. Alyson, among her many talents, consults artists in order to enable them to reach their markets effectively. I’ve wanted to take her online classes, but never seem to have an extra $100 when here classes are listed.

So I did the next best thing and bought the books.

First I bought The Relatively Pain Free Artists Statement. This book outlines three weeks of writing activities that will lead me to writing a powerful, concise and effective artists’ statement. Most artisist have to write a statement, from time to time, and it’s hard to do well. Most of the time something is dashed off and the job is done–often poorly.

The second book I’d Rather be in the Studio is a practical approach–consisting of a lot of reflection and writing — to beefing up communications and PR and sales so that enough work is generated to allow an artist to spend time in the studio creating.

Both books are excellent. Like any self-help book my success lies in my own self-discipline and willingness to really do the work.

Today, in her blog, Alyson suggested something that I already saw emerging from completing the activities in her books. It seemed obvious– after all I’ve spent nearly every day for thirty years in a classroom. I need to teach people how to look at and how to appreciate my art.

Last night I had a conversation with two art loving friends (an activity I had to complete for the Relatively Pain-Free Artists Statement) and this need was apparent. These ladies both have my work in their collections, but as we talked and they learned more about why I do things the way that I do they were clearly developing a clearer appreciation for what I do to create a piece.

Every procedure, every color choice, every material and every found object is deliberate. There is thought, design, method and madness in everything that goes into my work. Over the next week, or two, I will visit some of these aspects of 50 Little Birds and the madness behind them. It is my hope, that with a few field marks in mind you will be able to examine my work a different way.

Stay tuned.

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From the current issue of TravelIN.

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I finally began to move forward with my full sized tundra swan in flight. When completed it should measure fifty-four inches longpith a wingspan of seventy-two inches. My largest strongly, not surprisingly, is to find the space to do this in my tiny crowded shop.

I work, mainly, using two inch thick white pine planks. The cheeks on this swan are three inches thick so the head and neck (the only carved portions of this bird) blank had to be glued up from two pieces of wood.

The trick to a strong and successful glue joint is perfectly mated wood pieces. Before glueing the pieces I flattened them with a bench plane. I then glued them using a waterproof wood glue. It’s important to apply even pressure so I used lots of clamps (six) and thick cauls.

After the glue had set (twenty mins.) I removed the clamps and sawed the head and neck in two profiles. I saw the profile first and tack the scraps back into place before sawing the outline from the top. I then cut a “handle” at the end of the neck to provide a clamping surface.

Like any carving the next step is to knock the corners off–carve off the corners at forty-five degrees to make the piece octagonal–and begin the rounding process. These corners roll in at the beak to form the top and bottom surfaces. The tip of the beak is left square and will be shaped much later. It’s always a good idea to leave extra wood in areas that may be particularly delicate.

Waterfowl heads are thickest at the base of the cheeks. The sides of their heads slant inward. Unlike ducks, with a pronounced cheek line, swans heads are simply tapered. Using a small hand plane I define the flat sides of the head.

More about this later.










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Yesterday I attempted to post this from my new iPad.  I failed.  There is a learning curved and importing images is much more difficult that it should be.  I’ll get it worked out.

At the Indiana Artisan Marketplace I had a copy of Frank Chapman’s Bird-Life in my display.  The book, an early informal color illustrated bird guide,  features wonderful color plates by noted bird artist Louis Agassiz Fuente.  The cover features a multi-color typeset image of an American Redstart.  This print is quite striking.

I had carved a redstart, based on this illustration, that was offered for sale at the show.  I was demonstrating carving and painting throughout the show.  I was itching to do some metalwork and my eye fell on the redstart carving.  I took the piece around the corner to my demonstration shop, cut and shaped a pair of wings from a lithographed tinplate cigar box and re-created the redstart.

Here ’tis!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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I love this show and the fine women that run it, but it didn’t look like I was going to be able to participate this year.

Good news–Circumstances have shifted a bit and 50 Little Birds will be on hand.  We are a late entry so please do what you can to let the folks of Bloomington know the birds will be on hand!

Bloomington Handmade Market

Bloomington Convention Center

Saturday, April 7, 2012

10:00 – 5:00

Thanks to Sally, Nicole, Mia and Jessica!

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