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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

'Nother Stopper

Challenged to whittle a themed stopper by a WCI forum member who heard I was in a slump gave me the incentive to finally whittle a human caricature I've been thinking about for a couple years.

Here's my version of a character in The Outlaw Josie Wales, Chief Dan George plays Lone Wadie, one of Clint's sidekicks.  The challenge was to whittle a caricature of a western character from TV, could be movies, serials, or even cartoons.  Have to admit I thought of Quick Draw McGraw for a couple seconds.  I did a practice face first, using step by step instructions from Harley Refsal's book Whittling Little Folk- thanks Harley, not the first time you've helped me out. 

I missed a couple details, like always there are things I'd do different on the next- I think we owe it to ourselves as artists to critique our own work and look for those items we'd improve.  Major thing I'd change is the head-meets-hat line- the head should enter the hat at 90 degrees; I tapered the head into the hat and it looks like the hat is too small.  His mouth also turns down too much, makes him look angry- something Lone Wadie never was in the movie.

While planning this little project (that took forever) I used the Interweb to find reference photos.  I don't like to trace, and I don't have a printer (last one died of dust asphyxiation after sitting for a couple years unused).  How to create a pattern or sketch?  I knew I had to get the proportions right in order for the figure to work.

Here's what I landed on: took a piece of lined paper with one half inch ruling, cut a  square hole the size of my blank, in this case 1.5 x 5" and zoomed individual images in or out until they fit my rectangular hole.  I made the hole extra tall so I'd have some room to adjust, my blank ended up just over 3" tall.  With a couple extra tick marks on the top & bottom of the hole, also spaced at 1/2", I was able to locate reference points on my basswood block for important features, including tilting the hat.  I think I'll either get a clear acetate sheet to fit my computer screen, I can tape a paper window to the acetate, or an acetate sheet with a 1/4 or 1/2" grid on it.

This way I was able to use images for different sizes, collected from wherever I could find them, and view my subject from multiple angles.  

I feel good about the result, all in all, and must have done something right- couple folks on the forum who love the movie like I do knew right away who I intended to carve.  That's a success.  heck my wife even knew- she's been in the room often enough when I was watching the movie, made sometime in the seventies I think it was, it's been on my tv a bazillion times.  She didn't get it 100%, her comment was 'its that Indian from that movie', close enough to a bulls-eye for me.

This was a little outside my comfort zone, so far I've concentrated on flowers, animals, a few fantasy characters- no people, and certainly nobody anyone has ever heard of.  Frighteningly close to reality, for me.  Not the last caricature I'll do, I'm thinking Charles Bronson might be next....

Whittle on my friends, and keep your fingers behind the edge-
Buffalo Bif

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