Greetings fellow intarsia artists!
I thought I would start this comments section to express my thoughts on different aspects of Intarsia. My goal is to share what I’ve learned with others in the hopes that they will also benefit from this knowledge. I find that I am still learning with every new project that I do. I am also interested in new ideas that other artists may have. If you have any ideas that you would like to share, please send them to me and I will gladly pass them along. Please visit my contact page for my e-mail and send your ideas or suggestions to me.
In this first post, I want to share the story of my journey to becoming a wood intarsia artist. In future posts, I will cover such topics as finishing.
My journey to becoming a wood intarsia artist
February 19, 2011
About 10 years ago, when I first became interested in wood intarsia, I decided to research this intriguing art form. I wanted to learn as much as I could so that I could eventually create pieces that not only would please me as an artist, but also please others enough so that they would want to buy them. I wanted to achieve the highest level of quality that I could with my work, and I decided that the best way to do that would be to search the web for the best wood intarsia artists that I could find. In my search, I discovered Judy Gale Roberts. Her design ability and attention to detail really caught my eye.
I knew that my journey to reach Judy's artistic level would not be an easy road. My first intarsia attempts produced pieces that left much room for improvement. Not having any training as an artist, it took me a long time to understand how to use the different shades of wood to achieve the appearance of shadowing, or a three dimential look.
During this time of experimentation and learning, I had many questions. Since Judy was my inspiration, I thought that I would ask her for advice. Much to my surprise, Judy would take the time to respond to my questions (even the simple ones) and would even send detailed pictures to show me some things that were difficult to explain with just words.
One time, I remember working on a piece and I had a hard time visualizing what I needed to do to give my work some depth. I sent an e-mail to Judy and she said one thing (of many) that helped me bring it all together. She said to always start with the wood pieces that would be the furthest away from you (in the composition). With that advice, it finally made sense to me.
Another thing Gale explained to me was that you can never sand too much. Believe me, to a point she’s right. Many intarsia artists never seem to sand enough to give their projects a nice finished look. They go through all the work to put it together, but then only sand a little and it leaves their work looking too flat.
To get that beautiful, finished look with your intarsia, the composition should be sanded or shaped to the edge on the outsides, with the exception of the bottom, which most times is left unsanded.
I've noticed that most people are drawn to the pieces that have the finest detail. I often get comments from people on the intricacies that I put into my artwork. One piece of mine that viewers are often drawn to is, "Amish Children". The pattern for this piece called for the boy’s fingers to be cut as one piece. I thought that it would look even better if I cut each of the five fingers individually. Cutting and shaping each finger separately was difficult, but the end result was well worth it. Another piece that often gets noticed first is "Boy With Frog." People often comment on how pleasing it is to their eyes. They love the color of the woods and how the grain flows together from piece to piece.
I’ve had people that e-mail me asking how I go about selling my artwork. They also inquire how I get paid the money that I ask, when they can’t seem to sell theirs for a comparable price. There are many factors that come into play when trying to sell your artwork. The best thing you can do is to let your work justify the price. If you have the best quality work out there, the sales will come to you. Remember that no matter how good your work is, you can always get better, and that will only help you make sales!
In closing, I have some final thoughts on sales. Right now we are in some tough economic times. Many people would love to buy artwork, but just can’t afford to do so. As things get better (and I hope they will), I do believe more people will begin, or resume, purchasing art.
– Dave Kolter