Carving the Relief Wood Spirit

Painting Wood Grain for Basswood

Wood Graining with Acrylics and Oil Stain – Page 2

By L. S. Irish

Introduction and Carving – Page 1
Dry Brush and Rouging the Wood Spirit Face – Page 3

  1. Carving Supplies:
    • 4 quarter basswood
    • band saw or scroll saw
    • basic beginner’s carving tool set including a straight chisel, round gouge, v-gouge, and skew
    • bench knife or chip carving knife
    • sharpening stones
  2. Artist Supplies Needed:
    • Acrylic Artist Paints: Titanium White, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber
    • Oil Artist Paints: Burnt Umber, Raw Sienna, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cadmium Red
    • Polyurethane Spray Sealer
    • Linseed Oil
    • Turpentine
    • Large Ox Hair Brush for the Base Coating of Acrylics
    • Large Soft Staining Brush for the Oil Stain
    • Assort Small Soft Brushes for Dry Brushing
    • Soft Lint Free Cloths
    • Water Pans, Mixing Pans
    • Paint Palette
    • Lint Free Cloths
    • Paper Towels
Click the image for a close-up view.The base coat of this wood spirit is streaked with several different shades of brown acrylic to create the impression of wood grain.Work these streaking steps while the streak color underneath is still wet. This will blend the streaks creating new color shades. 


Base Coats

When your carving has been completed remove any remaining chips, fibers or dust with a stiff brush and lint free cloth.

Step one is to create a colorful base coating to the Wood Spirit using acrylic paints. On your palette mix approximately three parts titanium white with one part raw sienna. You want a mixture that is very close to the original color of the basswood. You can add just a couple of drops of water to this mix to thin it slightly. This will help insure that the color easily fills the deep v-gouge cuts and tight joint lines.

Using a large ox hair brush scrub one coat of the mix to the entire work. Allow this to dry well, about one half hour. You can use a hair dryer to quicken the drying time.

When the first coat is well dried apply a second coat of the base mix. I like to turn a work upside down for the second coating. This lets me get color to areas that the first coat may have missed. Once the second coat is applied allow it to dry well.

The streaking steps that you will be doing next are done working wet on wet paint. Do not wait for each streaking color to dry before adding the next. Instead work the next color while the first color is still wet or damp. This will automatically blend the streaking strokes into new shades of color.

To the remaining base coat mixture add an equal part of raw sienna. Load your large ox haired brush with the new mixture then blot off any excess color from the brush. Working vertically, up and down, pull several streaks of this mix across the work. These streaks should be randomly placed and do not have to go all the way across the face of the work.

Repeat this streaking step using raw sienna unmixed with any other color. Mix a small amount of burnt umber to the raw sienna and add a few more streaks. The final streaking is done with titanium white.

Allow this streak coating to dry well. Your carving should be fairly colorful at this point with changing streaks of color throughout the work.

Click image for a close-up view.A mixture of burnt umber and linseed oil has been used to stain the entire work. Notice how this mix darkens the deep crevices of the carving.The impression of wood graining created by the acrylic streaking still shows through the oil stain. 


Stain Coats

When your base coats of acrylic have dried well apply several light coats of spray polyurethane sealer to the entire work. Let each coat dry well before applying the next. Follow the directions on the spray can.

In a small pan mix one part burnt umber oil paint with one half part linseed oil. You want the oil paint-linseed mixture to be thin but not runny. Using a large soft staining brush apply one coat of this over your work. Be sure to work the oil stain into the deep crevices.

As soon as you have completely covered the work with the oil stain begin wiping the piece using a lint free cloth. As you work your cloth will become saturated with the picked-up stain. As it does refold the lint free cloth so that you are using a clean area. Wipe until all of the excess oil stain is removed and your work has a light to medium brown look on the high areas with the heavy staining only in the deep crevices.

On large carvings you can spot stain the work for more control over the coloring. Here you apply the oil stain is small sections at a time, approximately 3″ or 4″ square. Wipe this area with the lint free cloth then repeat those two steps for the next area.

Moisten a clean cloth with turpentine. Blot the cloth well on paper towels. You want just a very little bit of turp on the cloth. Now wrap the cloth around one finger for support and lightly rub the cloth over the high areas of the carving. This will pick up the burnt umber oil stain from just the highest ridges of your work.

Allow the oil stain coating to dry well, usually this is over night.

At this stage your carving should have a wood grain look with changing color tones as the base color of the wood and dark umber tones in the deepest crevices.


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