It’s not for nothing that carvers joke, “Everything starts with a log. The main thing is to go forward boldly, overcoming the fear of the beginning. You enter an unfamiliar world full of mysteries and unexpected discoveries, a new world, and discovering the unknown is always a pleasure… The torso is ready, and the head is in place. A few more notches with a knife – there are arms and legs. Just like Papa Carlo. Your own Pinocchio came into the world and looks at the “parent” with gratitude. Already the first product gives you the opportunity to feel that you are not worse than others. Comes the desire to cut more, and when you are convinced of their, even if modest, abilities, you are increasingly beginning to attract the process of creating something new, warming the soul, pleasing others. You get pleasure from physical activity (sometimes we miss it so much, not knowing how to fill the gap). You get calluses. Your hands get stronger and more dexterous, your muscles get stronger. With each subsequent job, the need for daily creative work develops. A new interesting activity surprises and delights. After copies appear author’s work. Relatives, neighbors, co-workers become the first kind spectators and condescending critics. A lot depends on their support in your endeavor. They do not have to be art critics, the main thing is not to be indifferent to art and your handicraft. An interested viewer, with a good soul, is very necessary for a beginner.
Another strong alliance of carver, tool and wood is created, perhaps for a long time. If this friendship takes place and there is mutual understanding between you, I have no doubt that new masterpieces will appear. But this is in the future, but at the beginning of the way the first task is to understand wood as a material, to comprehend its qualities, its structure, to know what is inside, how it lends itself to processing with a tool, how to hold a knife and chisel in your hands, overcoming hardness, the layering of wood. Dozens of all kinds of questions! I confess, I’ve been cutting for more than forty years, and the questions never cease. They will always be there. The work itself, no matter what stage it is at, is an endless solution to simple and complex problems, and the more correct answers, the better the result. Now that you’re familiar with what you need to get started, have acquired the right tools, it’s time to think about trying your best. Do not take up that in which you are not sure, because the first failure is upsetting, negatively affects the further decision: whether it is worth continuing. I propose to make several items to choose from. They are available to anyone who has touched wood as an artistic material for the first time. You can start with the simplest one – contour carving on plywood or board. I also offer this ancient type of carving to children. In three to five sessions, they learn it and get so carried away that they just can’t tear themselves away. It’s not technically difficult, but the effect is amazing. Drawings are images from cartoons, animals, landscapes, illustrations from books. Perhaps you’ve heard of flat-relief carving? It’s not hard to make, so try it. Not bad works are obtained by sawing out shapes-images and ornaments with a jigsaw. I believe that beginners can be offered and geometric carving, which from ancient times was decorated with home utensils folk craftsmen. Let the initial stages will be simple elements: triangles, squares, ovals, but enough to decorate the cutting board, shelf, casket, cabinet – whatever you want. Start on a soft lime, aspen board: there will be no problem in overcoming the material. Applied carving is interesting, when the relief details are cut out separately and nailed or glued to the background. But if you are interested in three-dimensional works that can be viewed from all sides, I suggest you start with the most ordinary spoon. It comes in handy, and will serve as a decoration. Usually the first work is kept as a memory of where you started, and subsequent works are compared with it, to understand what you have achieved. You can also start by copying products created by others. These can be Bogorod toys, figurines, frames, reliefs, caskets, most importantly, that they arouse interest. Beginner to master the wood, the tool, the development of a sense of plastics is not forbidden to copy. This way you kind of learn from the master. That’s how many famous carvers started. But gradually, matured and feeling the skill, personality, should abandon repetition of another’s and try to create their own, author’s product, and perhaps a work of wood. I would like to share some practical tips. Before you start, determine what you will carve, try to imagine the desired result. This will help you to understand whether what you have in mind will be interesting in form, plasticity, method of processing. Developing an inner vision is especially useful if you work directly in the material (without sketches, sketches in clay, plasticine). First determine whether the future product is worth the upcoming work, effort and time. If you start, be careful about everything that makes up the final result. This theme, image, material, tool, plastic solution, surface treatment, support, name. All of these components together make up the harmony of the piece. If even one of them is weak, not at a high level, the overall result suffers. Of course, you must also add the soul of the author, his interest, experience and skill. In the end, let every inch of the surface be plastically expressive. Treat it as if it were the most important thing in the work. Don’t do anything and somehow. Try to position the future work correctly in the mass of material, finding a more favorable place for the face. In the future it should be less subject to cracking, free of knots, rot, and optimally fit the texture pattern. If the species has a pronounced texture, consider the placement of the layers to better emphasize the details and the entire composition. When starting a new job, don’t take long breaks, especially in the final stage – the mental attitude you started with may disappear. If you still have to stop for a while, continue to work mentally and at the first opportunity, go back to the work you started. Sometimes you are tired and do not see what to do next, then interrupt for a while and then determine the way forward with fresh eyes. And be sure to bring the work to its end. Sometimes, for the unfinished work you need the eye of the beholder, his advice. It happens, you don’t know how to cut further, but you don’t give up, and the hands themselves lead to the necessary finale. Carvers say, “The eyes are afraid, the hands cut. We sometimes do not know what abilities are in us, and only practice, the mother work shows it. Remember that the product of wood in the end should look wooden, not plastic, do not copy from ceramic, metal and other materials, do not sand, if not necessary, leave a trace of the cutter. Creating a relief, sculpture, do not spare time, make a sketch in plasticine (at least the general forms, the composition of the mass image). There will be less disappointment after the end of the work – in wood to correct errors is difficult. In plastic solutions strive for expressiveness of form, do not make the work sluggish, fill it with life, expression. Create an active, lively surface. Strive to ensure that your work is a beauty, goodness, respect for man, humanity, love of nature. Expressiveness in the work is an evidence of the utmost strain of mental strength, not indifference of the artist. Static, amorphous, do not evoke a response from the viewer, empathy, even just attention. Such work won’t be remembered at the exhibition, they’ll pass it by. Size and form have a certain value, so they should not be arbitrary, not corresponding to the idea. Do not strive for absolute symmetry in your work, if there is no need for it, as is the case with ornamentation. When working, keep to the end of a large waste of all the shades of the species for possible inserts, additions. During the completion period, I would advise you to clean up the accumulated shavings more often. Carelessly, you can cut off an extra piece, which will get lost in the mass of its kind. It can be difficult to find, and difficult to replace, it exactly replicates the bare spot. Don’t rush to finish the job. It is better to finish a day later than to create a deliberately weak product. In the initial, rough treatment, you can slightly wet the surface, it will be easier to cut. At the end of the work this should not be done: it is more difficult to achieve a clean detail and the entire surface, which, drying out, can warp and crack. Seal cracks, oblong cracks better wedges, and not putty made of sawdust and glue. An accurately fitted wedge with the same texture and direction of the layer is less noticeable. Work, don’t wait for inspiration. Let it, when it comes, become a new impulse, a flash in the constant process of creativity. Communicate with colleagues, artists, visit exhibitions, museums, refer to special literature. Take notes, make sketches, take pictures of everything that catches your attention. Take your theoretical knowledge seriously. Never become complacent about what you have achieved. Be self-critical and demanding of yourself. Do not jump to conclusions about your abilities, do not exaggerate, but also do not underestimate them. It is no secret that every person has significant reserves of capacity, which often remain undisclosed, if you do not create the conditions for their manifestation and development. Let the first difficulties, even failures, do not discourage you, and become a new incentive in the work, creativity, learn to overcome the dissatisfaction with themselves. Often a person only through years of patient work understands that he is capable of something. Do not be flattered by praise. Let vanity will be a powerful engine of creativity, but not an excuse for self-love. Do not be discouraged in failures, listen carefully to criticism, try to understand what is wrong, and draw conclusions. Passion, diligence, creativity – the key to success!