Thursday, September 10, 2009

Zelda: a Pet Portrait in Relief

Last year I promised a good friend a portrait of his dog, Zelda. I took some reference photos at that time and then bought a few slabs of basswood and butternut with some bark left to act as a frame. The dog is really pretty with lots of great color. I decided that I would do a relief with wood burning for color and a little added color.

Zelda was a stray so we don't know what kind of dog she is, but she is naturally quite thin and with her coloring I think she must be part coyote. Some think she is a whippet.
The first thing I did was to trace off the photo that I'd made the size I wanted. Then I transfered the drawing to the slab of basswood we had decided would work best.

Here I've clamped the wood to my workbench with some very sturdy quick-grip style clamps so it won't move while I work.

This shows the beautiful curls of basswood that came off the gouge as I went around the image. Like buttah. Great wood, and fun to carve with. I haven't done many relief carvings, but I do know that the background is removed first, so that is what I did. The wood is 7/8" thick so I decided to remove the ground down 1/2" to give me lots of wood to sculpt the dog's head.

I almost made the mistake of removing all the background and leaving the dog floating in mid air- but I remembered in time to leave enough wood to make a pillow for her to rest on. The next step will be to remove the background wood right up to the outline.

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