A national, award-winning artist, Jennifer Felton is passionate about carving and timelessly capturing birds and feathers in wood. For over 15 years, she’s created exclusive, competition-quality pieces that focus on fine detail and stunning realism.
Embracing the challenge and paradox, Jennifer thrives on combining rigid mediums such as tupelo wood, copper, paper, and oil paint to create visually soft birds. Each feather is breathtakingly real; as in nature, no two feathers are created alike. From the delicate edge work and downy loft to wood burning each barb, no detail is overlooked.
She’s studied extensively with falconers and bird rehabilitators, learning to incorporate the hyper-realistic characteristics that make her pieces stand out. Spending time with the birds is another dimension of the art form that Jennifer is passionate about.
Jennifer has been competing in the Ward World Carving Championship for over a decade. In 2023 she earned the honor of joining the masters division by earning first place awards in three advanced categories and the top three awards in the advanced division.
In addition to birds, Jennifer’s wildlife drawings are created with the same special attention to detail. From deep reflections in the eyes to the cascading motion of fur, the attitude and emotion of the wildlife subject is clearly evident.
"I love to be outside no matter the weather conditions. I am rarely without binoculars and always have an eye to the sky. I participated in a state-wide bird count this past winter and we spotted some great birds."
"It is is amazing what you see on random hikes through the woods. Flocks of cedar wax wings, newly born fawns, and a five-lined skink lizard are a few of my favorite finds."
FIELD AND STUDIO
Studying takes many forms. From setting up trail cameras next to carcass piles to rushing to bird sightings to see a migrating bird not native to our area.
On snowy Iowa days, a warm studio is a welcome place to concentrate on details and tweak to my heart's desire.
My favorite carving possession? The small band saw in the background.
NEW ART STUDIO
In spring 2021, I built a new art studio east of our property. Complete with separate work spaces for carving, drawing and painting the studio is nearly all glass with plenty of natural light. The space was designed with practicality and flexibility in mind. It is a dream come true with wide views of the countryside and wildlife.
How did you get involved in carving birds?My husband and I bought 60 acres of timber 30 mintues from our house. We custom designed and spent an entire summer building an off-the-grid cabin in the woods ourselves. The cabin is full of custom charm that fits our personalities and passions. On the main railing up to the sleeping loft I wanted to add a carved screech owl. I got out the chainsaw and foredom tool and started to carve a really rough bird. When I was done I started a life sized great horned owl refining my work spending a year and a half to complete. When I finished I wanted to enter it in an art contest. I got online, found the Ward World Carving Championship, bought myself a ticket, flew out by myself and won in the novice division. It was then that I saw the carving culture and how willing the artists were to discuss their techniques. I have been carving ever since. I knew I wanted to be a master level carver at the World level and I have been pursing that goal ever since. I am currently one award away from earning that title.
What type of training do you have?Actually, none. I attended a four-year art school (Minneapolis College of Art and Design) and studied graphic design. I never took a fine art class. I have always asked a lot of questions, researched, studied and refined until I was satisfied. I will spend hours working with materials until I master them. I love that this art form has so many levels: engineering, metal work, woodwork, wood burning and painting. Each level challenges me every time I work on a piece and I love that aspect. In my opinion, this is the hardest art form anyone could pursue. It has to be pleasing from all angles and be believealbe which is a difficult mark to hit as an artist.
How many hours does it take to create a bird?To be honest, I can only provide a range because I have never tracked my time and there are different factors with each piece. Typically it takes 800 - 1,100 hours. My standards are comptition quality and realism first and foremost. Whatever it takes to reach those standards is what I am willing to commit. If something doesn't look right I change it. There is no point spending the time and effort knowing something isn't accurate.
How do I purchase a bird?Lets start a conversation. A songbird, a game bird, an owl or a raptor...any bird is an option. Just complete the contact form and let me know what you are interested in.