If I had one piece of advice to offer any aspiring artist it would be to
research your subject thoroughly. My specialty as a woodcarver is Native
American faces and figures. In my shop I have many books and pictures that I
have collected over the years. When I carve, even if it is a carving that I
have done before, I usually have at least 3 books open and lying close by.
I'm not advocating copying by any means, however it never hurts to have some
research material around to refresh your memory or to help you learn more
than you already knew. The following are 5 of my favorite research books for
the type of carving I do.
Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist
by Stephen Rogers Peck
This is a wonderful book for diving deeper into human anatomy. This book is
laid out in sections which show you the human form from bones, muscles,
surface anatomy, proportion, equilibrium, and locomotion. If you want to
carve people, this would be an excellent book for you to have in your
Drawing the Head & Figure
by Jack Hamm
This book is almost always laying open somewhere close to my workbench. It
has been an invaluable tool for learning proportion. As with many carvers,
most of my original works start out as drawings. This book has been like
taking a drawing class for me, it seems like I learn something every time I
Mystic Warriors of the Plains
by Thomas E. Mails
I have heard this book referred to as the bible for Indian carvers, and I
would have to mostly agree with that description. This is a large book with
many, many drawings by T. E. Mails, depicting the Plains Indian culture.
This book is a rich resource for anyone wanting to gain a comprehensive
knowledge of Plains Indian dress, hairstyle, weaponry, religion, crafts, and
art. Simply a must have book for carving Indians.
Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume
by Josephine Paterek
This book is a great tool for finding information on Native American
clothing, hairstyles, headdress, and costume accessories. The author
provides comprehensive information on every major tribe of North America.
This book is a great way to find out how the Native American looked pre and
post European influence.
Atlas of Indians of North America
by Gilbert Legay
This book is filled with full color illustrations of hundreds of Native
American tribes in typical costume. This book is divided into regions
spanning all of North America. I have found this book especially useful for
research before painting my Indians. This is another book that stays open
most of the time in my shop.
I hope that you have enjoyed this little look into my research material. I
have many, many more, but these are my favorites. One other item I would
suggest for those of you interested in carving the human form is a mirror.
There is no handier human anatomy tool that I know of than a quick look in
the mirror. Look at yourself as a whole library of information on human