Saturday, August 30, 2014

"Maya Bird" Takes Flight

My latest woodcarving was inspired by a Mayan icon of a bird that I found in a book called, "Design Motifs of Ancient Mexico". The book features simple black and white drawings collected from rubbings of pottery and temple art across central America. The author, Jorge Enciso, has categorized the images by subject; geometric shapes, types of plants and animals, etc., and I never fail to find something to get my creative juices flowing again.

I am still working on a pile Cedar boards leftover from a fence project. The wood is not ideal for detailed work as the grain density isn't always consistent. Sometimes a good section will have a fibrous, coarser band running through it that makes it difficult to render finer bits.

The first photo shows my simple reference freehand drawing and the next photo was the outline cut done with a coping saw.
Sometimes, on larger pieces, I'll use a jigsaw to do the outline cut, but this wood is prone to split and this is a smaller piece, only five inches long, so better to take some extra time and care and do it the old-fashioned way.

The third photo is the completed carving before any finish has been applied.
I used artist's acrylic paints to finish this piece, experimenting with a resist method by covering some of the raw wood with a gloss medium to create naturally lighter areas; beak, body and tail feather tips. Then I washed in some brunt sienna and red in the lower areas and crevices. To further emphasize the deeper lines, I used a little bit of black, then coated the entire piece front and back, with more gloss medium.