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Wood Carving Adventures

Updated: Apr 24, 2021

I initially encountered wood carving when I was busy with my undergraduate fine arts degree and quite enjoyed the final finished product of a wood carving. Later on, when I was working as an art teacher, one of my colleagues at the time mentioned that she had some Jelutong that her mother wanted to carve but never did. I then purchased the wood off my colleague and because the wood was mostly flat panels I started to work in relief.

I found that I was attracted to what at best could be called archetypal or mythical subject matter. I carved images of the sun, the moon and two trees on a moonlit night. I loved the process of the image taking shape through the process of carving and then how the artwork became more finished and finessed as I started sanding the resulting form I created. I also liked trying to work with a tension between rough and smooth textures that the carving and sanding processes could create.

The problem I then had was to finish off the artwork. I wanted to both be able to paint the artwork and also seal it off (from insects like woodborer beetle). I contacted a former lecturer of mine who mentioned that if I use a mixture of boiled raw linseed oil and genuine turpentine I could do both: seal the artwork from damage and mix paint into the aforementioned mixture to add colour to the artwork.

This was a good solution for me as I respect wood and I like something of the grain of the wood texture to come through. I also found out that I could add goldleaf (and other metallic finishes) onto the carving. I liked the resulting artworks as they made me think of something I read somewhere on how ancient Greek marble sculptures used to be quite brightly painted and colourful and I wanted my carvings to be somewhere in between-still looking like and true to their wooden material but with a hint of colour coming through.

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