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  • I study birds in the field.

  • I have dozens of photos of my subject on my studio wall.

  • I drive hours to spend time with live captive birds.

  • I borrow real feathers or study skins from those with permits.

  • I create clay models, take photos and video and make sketches.


Tupelo wood carving blocks are cut from the bell of the tree and then dried. Tupelo is actually from the Tupelo gum tree and can be found in the swamps of the southern and eastern United States.

It is very light and the grain is pretty uniform.  It is soft and easy to carve.  The unique advantage about tupelo is that it does not "fuzz" and it holds and edge.


  • Depending on the size of the bird, I start carving with a chainsaw or bandsaw.

  • Then I progress to a foredoom tool and finish adding fine detail with a micro-motor.

  • The sanding process begins with 250 grit and ends with 1600 grit to prepare for woodburning.

  • Each individual feather is burned to add the quill and barbs for ultimate realism.

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The composition is where artistry is maximized and what makes a piece really special. The bird should always be the focus, but other harmonious aspects of the piece matter significantly. I consider classic art principles such as:

  • Visual balance 

  • Eye flow

  • Color and accents

  • Light source

  • Height and 3D aspect

  • Negative space


The only item I buy for carvings is the eyes. Everything else I make from wood, paper, copper or brass.

To add to the composition I've made:

  • pine cones and needles

  • various types of leaves

  • deer skull and antler 

  • lizard and rocks

For bases I use locally sourced walnut or oak.


  • Painting is the step where the piece comes to life and it's my favorite part of the process.

  • I use high quality oil paint and treat each feather like it's own work of art. I add shadows and highlights to create more depth and I accentuate with unexpected colors like soft blue, purple and peach.

  • There is definitely a knack to the order of the painting. The ultra fine line details add an extra touch of realism.

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