and complex projects bring more. He prefers working on his own designs versus commissions. "I try to make everything a little experimental," he explains. "And commissions usually make you go backwards instead of forwards. Plus you never know if the sculpture in your head matches the sculpture in the client's head."
Fred, now 60 years young, is versatile in many respects. The subjects he carves range from cowboy caricatures to superbly realistic religious figures. He's carved local farmers and hung-over gargoyles. Some works, like the sculpture honoring hometown astronaut Pinky Nelson (Photo, above), are nearly life-size. Others are as small as a fist—"Applebee's sliders," Fred calls them.
Fred works in numerous carving styles, but he's particularly interested in what he calls "mezzo-relief" carving. "In between low-relief and high-relief carving is a realm where there are few absolute rights and a good many wrongs," he says. "When working in this style, a carver weighs numerous options of how best to create the illusion of greater depth. These options include warped planes, distorted forms, enhanced or compressed elements, judicious undercutting and the use and re-use of the actual (available) depth. Of course, these options are employed in conjunction with conventional perspective techniques of converging lines, foreshortening and overlapping. Fred's sculpture titled "Betty's Spies"—the 2010 International Woodcarver's Congress "Best in Show" award winner—offers a prime example of this carving style (Photo, page 25 at bottom). Although this sculpture is only 3-3/4" deep, the trees visible through the window appear to be far away—across the street from the gentleman in the foreground.
Fred's figures in the round are
(Norwegian Wheelchair) 2004
Butternut, black walnut bur oak 34" H x 28" W x 40" D
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