Another month down in 2023, and I’m looking forward to Santa Fe Spring!
Last month I shared the progress I’d made with both the Kubbestol and the Ganesh Om pieces, and now both pieces are nearing completion. These pieces commanded most of my carving time in February so I’m excited to finish them up soon to get started on some new projects.
I’m getting very close to finishing this Norwegian-style Kubbestol (wooden chair) carved in northern basswood from a single log. It is carved in the baroque acanthus motif to give it movement and complexity.
The Greeks developed the Acanthus patterns around 450 BCE and it has been adopted by many regions over the centuries. This motif is still regularly used today in art and architecture.
The only remaining tasks I have for this project are to clean the edges, add the decorative cuts, add the seat, and seal it and it will be completed. This is the second kubbestol I’ve created and I have thoroughly enjoyed the process.
Last month I mentioned that a friend of a past client reached out to commission this cool Ganesh Om piece, and now I can share the process and final version with you!
After everything else was finished, I stained this piece, let it dry, and will be delivering it to the client soon! Here’s the completed piece I’ll be giving them:
We had 6″ of snow on February 14th! It’s days like this that make me realize just what a beautiful place Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico are to be.
I also recently led my men’s hiking group on the Santa Cruz Lake Trail (6,800′ elevatIon) near historic Chimayo, NM. (About 30 mins from Santa Fe). The trail is a 4.5 mile out and back with 400’ of elevation change with views of Santa Cruz lake. As you can see, the lake is partially frozen this time of year. The weather was snowy (34F) and cloudy.
Thanks for checking in about the updates from last month, looking forward to catching up with you again soon!
January was a month filled with continuing and new projects, teaching a few carving students, and beautiful Santa Fe weather for inspiration. As I gear up for another year of carving, sculpting, learning, teaching, etc, I look forward to the projects and events 2023 brings!
I’m happy to say I’m in the home stretch with the Kubbestol! With the outside of the back and seat nearly finished, I shifted focus to work on the inner back of the chair.
This month I plan to continue working on refining details on the outside of the chair while mostly focusing on completing the inside. After that, it’ll just need finishing touches and a stain!
I was also able to make some progress on this sculptural carving for a friend of mine who owns a floral shop. This piece has been an interesting and novel project for me!
The combination of creating something that is simultaneously 2D and 3D with the familiarity of working on botanical pieces has been both fun and complex.
Next up – finishing details and painting!
I received an awesome new commission from a couple in Chicago who are friends of a past client – an Om symbol and Ganesha combined into one piece. I’ve just recently finished the drawing and planning process for this piece, and am now at the beginning of the carving process.
These 3 pieces garnered the bulk of my time in January, and I look forward to sharing the progress with you here next month.
January also brought 2 hikes that were beautiful, strenuous, and chilly!
I hiked theCabra Loop Trail near Los Alamos, NM(35 miles from Santa Fe) with my men’s group. It was partially covered in snow, so we wore our spikes. We covered 6.05 miles with about 1,000’ of elevation change. It was sunny and 25 degrees at the start and climbed into the high 30’s by 12:30. Beautiful area!
I hope you’re enjoying this early Fall weather, it’s been gorgeous here in Santa Fe. If you missed my first blog post last month you can click here to read it – in this post, I give an overview of my artistic journey thus far.
First and foremost I wanted to invite you to visit my home studio through the Santa Fe Studio Tours on October 8th and 9th, and the following weekend of October 15th and 16th. During both weekends you can visit my studio as well as many other talented Santa Fe artists’ studios from 10am to 5pm.
This year I’ll be Studio 62, and I’m looking forward to getting to talk to some of you about the work I do and answer any questions you may have! You can find information on my studio here. Also here is the full list of artists participating in the studio tour so you can plan your route. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave me a comment at the bottom of this post or shoot me an email – I’m happy to answer any questions.
There’s also a gallery preview October 7th-9th, and you can find more information about that here. I’ll be at the opening meet-the-artists reception and hope to see you there!
Before I moved to Santa Fe a few years ago, I was a part of artist studio tours for 14 years in Texas and always really enjoyed them. I’m excited to see what the experience is like here in Santa Fe.
During the last few weeks I’ve been working on a variety of projects for clients and myself. Most of my projects are woodcarvings right now so I’ve been enjoying focusing on that medium, with one clay sculptural piece too.
As I mentioned in last month’s post I’m currently working on a kubbestol (wooden log chair) for my son, I haven’t worked on one of these in years before this project.
Below is the start of the design process for the kubbestol. I took a large roll of grid velum paper and cut out the shape of the back of the kubbestol. I laid out my design, then folded the grid paper in half and flipped it over the trace the design I developed from the other side – giving me a mirror image. After the design is completed I trace it onto the wood and emphasize highlights and shadows.
I’ve also been working on a commission from a client – a memorial relief of a young girl named Autumn Wilde, who passed away in 2019. When I first saw the photos of Autumn, they were very moving and I could feel the love and loss of this special child. It was a blessing to use my talent to create this sculpture for them. I made several copies of the sculpture for family members and was told they all loved the portrait.
The relief sculpture is approximately 11.5x15x1/2” that was originally executed in plasticine clay and cast in hydrocal plaster, with oil paints used for the patina.
Lastly, I’ve also been working on these panels utilizing chip carving and other techniques.
The panels are 18”x28”x1.25” in alder wood. Alder is a very soft wood which makes it a great choice for projects like this. They’re designed as a South West style architectural piece.
Along with working on these pieces during the last few weeks I’ve also been attending my weekly sculpting group as well as teaching. I really enjoy both of these weekly gatherings because it gives me a chance to talk to other artists about our current projects, have focused work time, and bounce ideas off of one another.
I’ll continue updating you on these and upcoming projects in next month’s post, make sure you’re on the Art by Doug Oliver email list to be the first to get notified when new blog posts are up.
In addition to my artistic projects, I’ve also been on some really great hikes this month in and around Santa Fe!
September 1st: I enjoyed my birthday by hiking the Atalaya Mountain Trail here in Santa Fe with my men’s hiking group. It’s a good strenuous hike at ~7 miles and 2000′ of elevation change and a peak at 10,407′. I’ve probably done it 6 times since moving here and it’s been challenging every time.
September 8th: it was my day to lead the hiking group, so I chose the Nambe Lake Trail which starts at the Santa Fe ski area (10,200’). This is one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve tried here in Northern New Mexico. The trail is 6.7 miles out and back and you gain over 2000’ of elevation and the lake is at 11,411’. It is a very difficult hike, but has a beautiful payoff!
September 15th: Hiked up at Valles Caldera National Preserve today. (near Los Alamos-about 40 miles from Santa Fe) We hiked the Rito de Los Indios trail which was a moderately challenging hike. This is an 8.0 mile out and back trail in a beautiful backcountry setting which started at 8,455’ elevation and topped out at 9,364’ for an 886 ft elevation gain. We heard elk bugling and came across dendroglyphs carvings done by sheepherders in the early and mid-1900s. It started out foggy this morning but soon warmed up and we had partly sunny weather.
Welcome to the first of many posts on the Art by Doug Oliver blog! I am so excited as I am writing this first post, blogging is such an amazing way to share my thoughts, ideas, and snippets of my work and life with you. I feel that there cannot be a better way to genuinely express myself to the fullest.
If you’re new here, I’m glad you’ve joined us. My name is Doug Oliver and I’m a Fine Woodcarver and Sculptor who lives and works in Santa Fe, NM. I have a deep love and respect for traditional and representational (realistic) art in most forms. Whether that is design, sculpting, carving, art, architecture, figurative, ornamentation, or history it all melds into one in my mind and soul. I firmly believe that there is always more to learn in the world of art and I’m on a lifelong journey to continue expanding my expertise, knowledge, and understanding.
My artistic process started early in life, I started drawing at a young age and always loved art and have enjoyed the creative process. I was inspired by my mother, Marilyn, who was a talented amateur painter. She took me to classes with her when I was younger and I took a few art classes in high school but thought I needed to pursue a more safe path since I wanted a family. For many years I had the urge to tap into my creativity again, and then one day in my early 30s, a family friend introduced me to woodcarving and it felt like the whole world of art and creativity opened back up to me.
After being introduced to woodcarving I was fortunate to find and study under a Bavarian master wood and stone carver, Ludwig Kienniger, for many years. I now have over 27 years of experience and am well versed in many classical and contemporary styles, and enjoy carving in many types of hardwoods. I also enjoy sculpting in clay (primarily figurative) as it allows for more freedom of expression than wood or other hard materials. Throughout these 27 years of learning, I have explored a wide variety of techniques, approaches, styles, and mediums. All of this has culminated in creating Art by Doug Oliver as a way to share my art with others, connect with fellow artists, and take commissions for those who’d like my art in their home, workplace, religious space, etc.
In December of 2019, I changed my life and moved away from the Dallas area (a place I called home for decades) and moved to Santa Fe where I did not know a single soul. I came here to pursue my passion for art and to live and work in this inspiring environment. I have not looked back since making this big life change. Getting the opportunity to live in such a beautiful, inspiring environment as well as being able to connect to the very well-established Santa Fe art world has been incredibly beneficial to my art and my life as a whole.
If you’d like to keep up with my work, the best way to do so is by joining the Art by Doug Oliver email list. On the 1st of every month, I’ll be sending out an email to this community to catch up on what projects I’ve been working on in the past month, information about commissions and availability, new techniques or mediums I’m experimenting with, as well as little snippets of my life as a Santa Fe artist. In each of these emails, I’ll provide a link to the monthly blog post as well which will have more in-depth & detailed information, photos of my work and process, and a full overview of what’s been going on in my work and life. You can also visit the Art by Doug Oliver website at any time to read this or past blog posts!
My hope is over the coming months I’ll be sharing blog topics that will inspire, educate, and enlighten you. These posts won’t only contain information about carving, sculpting, and art – but many other topics that continue to fascinate me like travel, museums, geology, and the natural world. I plan to showcase how I start a project and then how I proceed through the different stages until completion. I’ll also show you and discuss how I choose tools and types of wood for projects. This way I can bring you along from the initial drawing to the completed sculptures.
I also will cover topics such as tools, woods, clays, benches, armatures, and many of the things that I use to create my art. I also plan to showcase some artists that inspire me (past and present). I hope that you will follow the journey and process with me, and I would also love to hear from you if you have questions, topic ideas for posts, or anything else you’re curious about. Thank you for being here, I appreciate you and your support for my artistic journey!