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The Folk Art of Greg Goul — Carvings, Inspiration, Nature, and Sketches.

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I wasn’t sure if Winter was going to come this year. Until this month, we had only a dusting of snow. In February, we had a snowfall of probably four inches initially, then at the end of the month a dumping of eight to twelve inches.

The backyard birds have been very happy that I filled the feeders. The contrast of the birds of color have been a joy. A Tufted Titmouse even showed up, a first at my feeder.

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This is the first folk art bird carving that I did of a Merganser duck years ago. At first, I was really impressed with it, but eventually felt that I didn’t take the carving far enough. I decided to leave it outside to see how the acrylic paint would react to the environment … rain, hail, snow, sun, and extreme colds. The paint has faded a bit, but not as much as expected. The pine wood has cracked around the eyes (and the carving has lost its red eyes), and the body has cracked from the dowel rod connecting the head and body. I didn’t finish the carving to fight against the elements. Right now it’s buried underneath at a foot of snow. Most likely when I move from this house, it will be buried in the vegetable garden.

Folk Art Merganser

Sarah and I went to Riviera Maya, Mexico, for a short vacation at the start of the month. We stayed at a resort called the Fairmont Mayakoba. After visiting one of the restaurants, La Laguna, I noticed an amazing book at the entrance (probably Sarah brought it to my attention) called Birds of Mayakoba by photographer James Batt. The restaurant even had binoculars to view the birds! Sarah searched around and found the only copy available. I am very lucky to have it. I own plenty of bird books, but Birds of Mayakoba is the most beautifully photographed, cleanly designed, and printed book in my collection. It will provide plenty of inspiration for future folk art bird carvings.

Here is a link to view an online version of Birds of Mayakoba. The printed version is a thing of beauty, so if you ever find it, buy it! I have searched online to find another copy, but haven’t had any luck.

The blog, Ride into Birdland, also has a great interview with photographer James Batt about photographing birds in Mayakoba. Check it out to learn more about how Batt captures his world-class images.

Birds of MayakobaBirds of MayakobaBirds of MayakobaBirds of Mayakoba

Many of my favorite folk artists carve in Bas Relief. Flat boards, chisels, and gouges. Something I haven’t tried just yet. Not sure if it’s due to lack of tools, time, space, or vision … but I’ll eventually get there and run out of excuses. Hopefully in the Spring, I’ll get my outdoor studio set up to get this going.

Anyways, the above clip is about Key West artist Mario Sanchez. Sanchez worked quietly, creating his art at his home in “Mario’s Studio Under the Trees,” as designated by a hand-painted sign nailed to a mango tree.  For over 70 years, he carved and painted scenes of Key West on boards of pine and cedar. His style as a self-taught artist describes the simple life and the activities that he remembered as a child growing up in Key West: flying kites, spinning tops, parades, neighborhood characters, and passing the time rocking on front porches. His memory of events was precise and he often explained that he could not carve a scene that was not accurate because “you can’t just invent history.”  During his career, Mario produced over 600 paintings and woodcarvings.

My favorite quote from the complete documentary on the Folkstreams.net site is “I know that my modest art isn’t any good, but it pleases, and it pleases others.” I hope my art does the same. Please take 14 minutes to learn more about this amazing artist, Mario Sanchez: Painter of Memories.