Sat 18th Jan 2020 Paint, Stain, Plain or Grain Talk by Gill Smith (member)

Gill started by asking a series of question. Finished your carving?   Now, do you feel tempted to paint it, stain it or leave it plain.  To paint or not to paint,  is the most argued question, especially on the other side of the Atlantic.

British carvers, on the whole, are against adding colour to their carvings, saying that the natural colour of the wood is is now preferred.  Up to medieval times most of the carvings were painted.   The Americans do things differently as shown by this magazine cover. Bird and fish carvers are the exception and their carvings are beautifully painted.


Jill’s thoughts: Am I looking at a painting of a duck made of wood?  Or am I looking at a beautiful piece of wood carved into the shape of a duck?









Wood Grain can enhance a carving



















Grain can work in various ways, the piece of wood suggests a carving, or you choose a piece of wood with a grain that fits your ideas.

BUT The use of the grain has to be thought of before the carving is started.

















If wood without a strong / interesting wood is chosen, then all the beauty and movement has to be introduces by the carver


You shouldn’t paint if you can’t paint a picture on paper.

If the carving is going into a competition

Paint can cover up mistakes, it is a carving competition not a painting competition, so all else being equal the unpainted one is judged better










Sometimes you do not have to paint a carving, there is colour in the wood’s hard dark inner heart wood and softer lighter outer sapwood that can be utilised














Some members brought their painted / stained work in. Richard Colbran’s hares was carved from walnut, on ash background in an oak frame with some delicate staining work to bring out the detail.













John Adamson’s hydrangeas were coloured blue with shoe polish, and the umbrellas in the background show how far he has got with recovering from an unfortunate experience with stain.









These are some Scandinavian flat cut figures which are traditionally painted with thinned  down acrylic paint








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