'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 9 (carved moose antler and skull)

I have included a pic of the entire sculpture so that you can get a sense of the whole.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 9 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this phase the grizzly cub has been completed, save only for a few minor adjustments. The horizon line, which passed behind both bears, has been removed.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 9 (carved moose antler and skull)

I am now using a Canon S30 digital camera with a 3.2 megapixel image size. My hope is that you will see greater detail with a little more clarity.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

I have completely redone the 'frame' or antler border. Not happy with the effect of carrying the background lines of mountain and sun onto high relief along the border, as it flattened out the image, I have carved away these effects. Replacing these with a continuation of the sun ray and insect theme, it seems much more pleasing. The mountain and sun appear to recede and the rays carry the wavy pattern of sun and mountain into the lower half of the antler, where the pattern changes to water. The insects now appear to cluster, as they are wont to do. I have refined their shapes, adding larger and smaller holes to give the impression of 3D clusters, with some bugs closer and some further from the viewer.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 8

Another element of the design that was troubling me and seemed to flatten the scene, was the connection point of mountain line and mother bear. Since the medium of antler is 3D and can be viewed from multiple points, the mountain and horizon line did not recede as in a 2D drawing or picture, where the use of darker and lighter shades push the background into the distance. I decided to create the effect of distance or separation using another visual illusion, whereby the background around a near object does not seem to exist, blocked by a kind of halo effect around the object. While this adds to the fragility of the carving, I decided to cut the mountain from around the mother bear.

The horizon line will also be removed along the orange line, once the cub has been roughed out. In the meantime it will remain for support. Since it is not possible to put material back, once removed, I used the clone brush in Paint Shop Pro to eliminate these sections in a digital image, to see if the effect worked. It did, to my satisfaction, and I think the initial removal of the mountain connections would bear this out.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 8 (carved moose antler and skull)

The sun and mother bear have been completely reworked and refined, bringing them to a finished stage. So it's on to the cub and the buck brush in the foreground.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 8 (carved moose antler and skull)

I think I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! How much longer 'till the whole is done?
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Moose Skull - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase 7 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this phase I completed the snowflakes on the face of the skull (those on the rear remain to be done.) Note the patterns on the left snowflakes pick up design elements from the right of the sculpture and the left pick up elements of the right. This serves to balance the sculpture and provide unity.

The raven has been sharpened up considerably, as has the ice fog grill.


Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, centre phase  (carved moose antler and skull)
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Right Moose Antler - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 7 (carved moose antler and skull)

This phase has been one of the trickiest and most time consuming to date. The mother bear in the summer scene has been further defined. The section of antler is extremely thin here and the challenge has been to design the mother so that she looks substantial from the probable vantage point of the viewer. The antler curves toward the viewer, exposing the thinness of the antler along its edge. The best solution has been to carve the body texture of the bear deeply in relief, permitting a rounding of the multiple surfaces, while finishing the nose and mouth area in the round, providing a pleasing illusion of substance which works from every vantage point.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, right phase 7 (carved moose antler and skull)

The brown marks are made by a pencil crayon and serve as reference points for further refinement. I find that pencil crayon is preferable to pencil, as pencil leaves fragments of graphite which persist in the pores of the antler. The pencil crayon's waxy consistency tends to remain on the surface of the carving and comes away easily during subsequent work.

The small holes represent Yukon's ever present summer environment: insects. Yukon's summers belong to the blood suckers, save in the small oases human bug killing technologies have carved out of the wilderness, which are our towns. With such an influence, nay, dominance over the summer landscape, I felt it necessary to include them in the sculpture, along with the creature we typically assign to that role.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 11) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 11

The Sandhill Crane has morphed again into a more realistic bird. Co-incidently, while I was working on this part of the sculpture the Sandhill Cranes migrated through, passing over my studio in flocks of hundreds and thousands. I was able to observe their feather structure and flight pattern with an eye to duplicating the same in antler. It was indeed fortuitous that they passed by when they did, because the pictures I was using for reference were simply not adequate! There is a little more work yet to do on the receding wing, which will be attended to later, when I change the position of the work on the carving bench.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 11 (carved moose antler and skull)

I have found that my back has been giving me a little trouble lately, due to inadequate support from my old chair and the need to work in a reaching or stretched position. I broke down and purchased a new office chair, with a very comfortable seat, firm back support, adjustable arm rests and the ability to raise and lower the chair on a gas cylinder. The new chair has made a real difference, providing great support while allowing my hands and arms to work, on each section of the antler at a consistent height and with consistent support.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 10) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 10 (carved moose antler and skull)

The wolf has been completed in this phase.

It was a challenge creating the impression that the head is angled toward the moose. I wonder if the medium lends itself better to relief efforts that are parallel with the surface of the antler. Though it is technically possible to carve anything that can be drawn, the surface and thickness of the antler creates its own impression of the form which militates against images which are angled into or away from the viewer across the antler surface. A case in point is the carving I did for FNAWS, 'Faro Fannin.' In that carving the sheep's head is turned on an angle toward the viewer. Though the carving is correctly executed, the viewer does not necessarily pick up on the details of the carving, such as the 3/4 view of the nose, which would indicate the head is angled toward the viewer. Instead, the viewer sees the head as a profile and assumes the sheep is looking away from the viewer at a right angle and is then puzzled why the back horn is so much further ahead than the front horn.

It is hard to overcome the limitations of the medium!

If the image were to be carved on a solid background it might be a little easier to introduce the subtler angles, but I am not willing to sacrifice the illusion of fully rounded figures. Each of the figures in this piece are set on an angle, and they seem to work fine here, but in future I may limit the figures to profiles.


Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 10 (carved moose antler and skull)
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 9) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 9 (carved moose antler and skull)

The moose has been refined in this stage with a relief design meant to portray something of the power of the animal in its winter coat. You can see the top of the wolf marked with the pattern to be carved in the next phase.

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 9 (carved moose antler and skull)
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 8) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 8 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this phase, the trees have been refined, the moose and wolf have been mapped out for refinement and the antlers on the moose have been begun.

I have tried to capture some of the unique looks of the various varieties of trees in winter. The aspens are slender and barren of foliage. The pines are blanketed with snow in that Christmassy way, and the gnarly pine supports stooks of snow on its hardy satellites of growth.


Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 8 (carved moose antler and skull)
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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'Yukon Seasons' (Left Moose Antler - Phase 7) by Shane Wilson

Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 7 (carved moose antler and skull)

In this phase I have carved the snowflakes and redesigned and roughed out the spring ice and sandhill crane.

Since every snowflake in nature is unique, I decided to carve each snowflake with a unique design. Some resemble real snowflakes and others pick up patterns from the rest of the carving. As such, this allows for the environmental element of snow to serve as itself and as a unique border, blending harmoniously with the whole. Since there is a large sun on the right antler, representing the sun's omnipotence during the summer, there is a correspondingly smaller and less prominent sun/snowflake on this antler (8th from top right). The snowflakes above the sun take on the shapes of winter's night, symbolically representing stars, constellations, the moon, northern lights and the north star (first on right, above the ice fog pattern).

Needless to say, the carving of the snowflakes was delicate and painstaking, involving the NSK micromotor tool and small dental bits.


Yukon Seasons by Shane Wilson, in progress, left phase 7 (carved moose antler and skull)

Moving down along the sculpture, you come to the section representing spring, with large blocks of ice breaking up. Though it may have been difficult to see, there was an abstract sandhill crane built into the arrangement of the ice blocks. When I came to refine the area, I noticed that the crane looked a bit like it had been crushed under the ice, splayed out like a bug on a windshield.

So it has been redesigned. The crane (a little more realistically portrayed) now appears to be in flight, emerging through the ice, as spring and new life emerge from the deep-freeze of winter. It has been roughed out in this phase; I'll come back to it again after refining the winter figures in the next phase.
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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