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

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The American robin is active mostly during the day and assembles in large flocks at night. Its diet consists of beetle grubs, earthworms, and caterpillars, fruits, and berries. It is one of the earliest bird species to lay eggs, beginning to breed shortly after returning to its summer range from its winter range. Its nest consists of long coarse grass, twigs, paper, and feathers, and is smeared with mud and often cushioned with grass or other soft materials. It is among the first birds to sing at dawn, and its song consists of several discrete units that are repeated.

This folk art bird carving of an American Robin is carved from Basswood. I used milk paints, various stains, and techniques to age the carving.

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The long, narrow bill with serrated edges distinguishes mergansers from all other ducks. Mergansers are among the largest ducks. In flight, they appear more elongated than other ducks, flying in trailing lines close to the water’s surface. The male common mergansers have a greenish-black crested head and upper neck. The lower neck, breast and underparts are creamy-white. They have black backs and upperwing coverts with white scapulars. The female common mergansers have a tufted red-brown head that is clearly defined from the lower neck by a clear whitish chin. The back and sides are silver-gray and the breast and belly are white.

Here is another old folk art piece that I completed in 2011, and photographed in March of 2012. This folk art bird carving of a female Common Merganser is carved from pine, painted with acrylics, and finished with various stains to age the carving. The underside is cut to simulate water, add color, and provide a more streamlined look to the carving. I’ve had two of these carvings sitting on the bench for years and need to finish them this Spring. This post may provide the incentive.

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Sandhill Cranes give a loud trumpeting call that can be heard long before you see them. Mated pairs of cranes engage in unison calling. The cranes stand close together, calling in a synchronized and complex duet. The female makes two calls for every one from the male.

Sandhill cranes’ large wingspans, ranging from 5 feet to 7 feet 6 in, make them very skilled soaring birds, similar in style to hawks and eagles. The Sandhill Cranes use thermals to obtain lift, and can stay aloft for many hours — requiring only occasional flapping of their wings and expending little energy. Migratory flocks contain hundreds of birds, and create clear outlines of the normally invisible rising columns of thermals that they ride. The cranes appear to be playing while on their migratory path with no reservations.

This folk art bird carving was carved from old cedar, painted with acrylic paints, and finished with various stains in the aging process.


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

The Cardinal is the state bird of Indiana and six other states: Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. Northern Cardinals breed 2-3 times each season. The female builds the nest and tends to the hatchlings for about 10 days while the male brings food. The male then takes over the care of this first brood while the female moves on to a new nest and lays a second clutch of eggs.

Cardinals are one of my favorite birds to carve. They are distinct and easy to recognize. This folk art bird carving of a Female Cardinal is carved from Basswood. I used milk paints, various stains, and techniques to age the carving. I photographed this carving last Fall in different settings and natural lighting conditions.

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