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Notes From the Net

By Loren K. Woodard
Email Loren at woodcarver@midmo.com or visit his web site at http://www.woodcarvers-gallery.com/

Welcome once again to Notes From The Net, a compilation of tips and techniques that were shared on the several wood carving Listserves on the Internet. As is the case every month, the topics are varied and many.


Painting Techniques

Discussions concerning woodcarving and various techniques connected with woodcarving have been increasingly popular on the Internet over the last several months. Recently we have had a lot of discussion concerning various painting techniques. Our friend and a frequent contributor, Bill Russell, told us about a carving class he had with Phil and Vickie Bishop. Bill wrote:

I just took a seminar with the "Bishops" and it was great. They were a part of the CCA East carve along in Hamburg NY. They paint with thinned acrylics. They suggest using Delta Ceramcoat. When I say thinned paint, I mean thin paint. You can always add more. It was a very informative weekend and Phil and Vicki were very nice people.

Pete LeClair was also there and I carved a day with him too. I have had the pleasure to carve with Pete on several occasions. Pete is using acrylics now also. The only difference is he paints his eyes, buttons, etc. first then he covers the carving with a linseed oil and minimal amount of raw sienna mix. He then pats the carving to get any oil build up off then paints the carving wet with the thinned acrylics. They look great. I am sure his latest book will have the mixture and technique.

You can see examples of both carvers work at these web pages: www.bishopwoodcarving.com and www.peteleclair.sphosting.com

Loren Woodward: I've never been fortunate enough to take a class with Pete LaClair but I do have all of his books. However, I have taken several classes with Phil and Vickie Bishop. I can assure you that Phil paints extremely thin. When he is painting with vivid colors such as red, blue, etc. Phil will fill a bubble in a paint tray with water and put one or two drops of paint in the water. He then mixes this well and is ready to paint. While this is great with vivid colors, it certainly won't work with lighter hued colors such as white. These colors will need to be put on at nearly full strength or the white will look dirty. This is one reason that Pete LeClair paints his eyes, buttons, etc., before he puts the linseed oil on his carving.

Another thing that Phil does is he takes a very small liner brush and paints a very thin line of black around the outside of the Iris of his painted eyes. It looks great. Since I'm not as steady with the small brush as Phil is, I've been using a #5 pigment pens. It looks good too. A word of caution when using the "Pigma" pens, don't push down too hard. I've ruined a couple of the pens before I questioned an artist and found out what my problem was. Another thing that Phil does is paints the black part of the eye first. He then paints the color of the iris and then comes back in with black for the pupil. Don't forget to add your white highlight spot.

Vic Hamburger tell us:

You can take a paintbrush with a nicely lacquered, rounded wood end (the end opposite the bristles) and dip that into your first paint color. Use it like a stamp to apply a nice round dot of paint to your carved surface! The size of the brush end will determine the size of your dot to some degree. Also, the amount of paint on the tip of the brush will affect the dot size. Once dry, you can apply a slightly smaller dot the same way to add a different color.

Vic says that this method is so easy that "even he could do it;" however, most of us that have seen Vic's carvings know that it doesn't have to be too easy for him to handle the situation.

As sometimes happens, I missed the name of the person that submitted the following information. However, Ivan Whillock did better than I did. Ivan knew that the submitter's first name was Mike. Mike, if you read this I apologize for missing your name. However, I thought your information was very good so I went ahead and included it in my article. Mike stated:

I also thin my colors to let the wood show through when possible, but with whites it don't seem possible. They just seem to have too high a level of opacity, so I use them un-thinned, especially with the eyes. However, I do use a trick for the whites of the eye that an artist friend gave me. I tint them just a little with the color of the iris. Blue for blue eyes, brown for brown eyes, etc.

Ivan Whillock, from Faribault, MN, responded:

Good tip, Mike. Another is to paint the eyes flesh color along with the face and use opaque white to make highlights on either side of the iris. That avoids the starry-eyed look and helps in conveying the roundness of the eyeballs.

Bill Splain wrote:

Personally, I use straight white for the eyes but dilute the white for beards, hair and most clothes. For the beard and hair, I think it looks a bit unnatural to see hair too white. True, white hair seems to have a level of translucence and most/many white clothes seem to also have a bit of depth - not sure of the word - but like a mans white shirt you can see something thru it. Therefore, not pure/solid white.


Carving The Female Face

There was some conversation concerning the difficulty of carving a female face. I for one, struggle with this as several recipients of my carved female faces can attest.

Susan Irish sent the following statement to the Woodcarver's List:

I don't see much difference in the female face compared to the male face at this point of my project. I am finding the same planes, the same skin texturing in both. I agree that young children have very smooth rounded facial features but by the time they are 5 to 6 years old they are showing a clear nose bridge, forehead, jaw line, and cheekbone structure.

I am having two different thoughts along this line. Are you working from what you think a female face should look like or are you actually looking at a photo to see what's what? Is your needing to make the female face smooth and flowing from your own concepts of what a woman should look like as compared to what you think a man should look like.

My second train of thought is on the differences in proportions between the male face and female face. Humans are a dimorphic species, the females of our species are typically smaller than the male. Example, Silverback Gorillas are dimorphic, the female often weighing about one half that of the male. As such, the female face may seem compacted to that of the man's. A tall woman that stands 5' 10" still falls in the 5/8 proportions that a tall man of 6' 4" would. 5 by 8 proportions means that the body is 5 heads wide at the shoulder and 8 heads tall. That would make our tall woman's face about 8.75" but our tall man's face is at 9.75" ... a big difference. This may be giving you the impression that her face is smoother and the wrinkles shallower, but proportionately they are the same.

And, it may well be that I am not up to the task ... but with a lot of good feed back on the project I believe that we, as the wood carver's digest, can well create a good tutorial on carving women's faces!!!!"


Carving Patterns Online
Classic Carving Patterns By L.S.Irish


"Ol' Don" Burgdorf: Our carving friend and frequent contributor Ol' Don sent the following information, concerning face carving, to the Woodcarver's List. Personally, I printed his pictures to use for future reference. In addition, Ol' Don will be finishing some portfolios with additional information on carving the human anatomy with the next several months. You may want to keep your eyes and ears open. The following is from Ol' Don.

Hi All - For whatever help it might offer, I have just signed on with PictureTrails and have posted two reference drawings for your consideration. One has to do with laying out the features on the face and because of it's size will probably have to be saved and enlarged in order to read it. The other compares the male and female profiles showing their primary differences. Click on the PictureTrails link below if you'd like to view them.

"Ol' Don" Burgdorf

Homepage: http://artofdon.com
Carving Helps: http://www.PictureTrail.com/carveroldon

Just before this article was submitted for publication, I again went to Ol' Don's Picture Trail album and noted that Don had put more information on anatomy carving at that location. There is now facial information, hands, information, etc. Be sure to check it out.

Well that wraps up my article for this month. If you are not a member of the woodcarving lists presented below, I would like to extend you an invitation to join us. Also, if you are looking for additional carving help, check out the archived articles and information presented in the Woodcarver's On-Line Magazine pages. Take care and I hope you all had a great Holiday Season!!

Loren Woodard

Please take some time and check out the wood carving lists on the Internet. There is a lot of knowledge free for the asking on all of the list serves.

For information regarding the various email lists for woodcarvers, visit The Carvers' Companion Resource Files, or click the links below.

Woodcarver's List - Woodcarvers' Porch - American Stickmaker's - Knotholes List - Fishcarver's List