Coming up with an idea for an art piece can be a struggle even for art virtuosos. The experts, though it seems they never run out of beautiful pieces to display, consider art a difficult addiction from which they can’t get sober. An artist at times has to strive hard for inspiration, to be inspired to create something moving—something that goes beyond its mere facade and aesthetic purpose, piercing through and stirring a person’s inner mind.

Wood carving, like all forms of art, is an expression of thoughts and emotions by an artist, through cutting, chipping, and shaping a slab of wood. When a woodcarver puts heart into his pieces, the results can be phenomenal.

But how does a woodcarver form ideas and etch these concepts on wood? How does one create a gripping art masterpiece? How does one get inspired to express beauty and create life out of something raw and inanimate?

We tag The Woodcarver’s Haven a “haven for every aspiring woodcarver,” because we value inspiration. This drives us to help motivate and inspire burgeoning artists to practise and better their craft. By teaching them what they need and guiding them through each wood-carving project, we get inspired too. We inspire each other, and that’s what makes the teaching and learning environment here at The Woodcarver’s Haven truly beautiful and exciting.

Below are some of the important inspirational reminders we tell our students so they’ll emerge not just as excellent woodcarvers, but also as expressive and sensational artists.

Practice makes permanent:

Art is never perfect, which makes it more beautiful. Practising often doesn’t get you to perfecting your art; you just make more and learn to create better pieces. With constant and serious practice, you refine your strokes, achieve more details, improve focus and control, and be a better woodcarver in all aspects.

Even if you’re working on a simple rocking horse restoration project, take it seriously and give it your best. Dedication and practice help you explore wood carving as an expressive art, and make you discover how to play with styles and techniques to come up with something unique and awesome.

Explore your feelings and emotions, and express them:

This requires a little self-introspection and can be difficult for some. Identifying your emotions is really challenging most of the time.

Basically, it helps to think of the things you love and hate, like and dislike. The difficult part is when the artist, in the process of pinpointing his feelings, experiences a surge of emotions too hard for him to control, and might end up not being able to work on something.

In times like this, artists should be having this mindset: I’m doing this piece of art to let out or express any positive or negative feeling that I like or dislike. With this, the art expression becomes a cathartic experience to make the person feel better about himself and be more connected with his art. This boils down to art being a therapeutic medium.

Artists inspire artists:

Go to exhibits, collaborate or carve with other woodcarvers, watch and learn from expert woodcarvers, enrol in a wood-carving class, talk and share ideas with other artists. These are opportunities that open your mind and widen your horizons when it comes to carving on wood and using the art to express feelings. You can combine concepts you’ve gathered from these experiences until you find a comfortable style you can stick to. But never stop exploring.

Look around you:

You can draw inspiration from your surroundings. Just try to look around; not just look but really see through things in your midst. A real artist sees through the simplest subject, and creates something simply amazing out of it. You can start chipping or cutting on a simple wooden rocking horse and add more intricate and fun details as you please. Or you can start fixing an old and broken wooden chair and turn it to another piece of furniture. Dare to create and explore. After all, art is all about discoveries and experiments. Even the most distorted figure can emerge as one dramatic and outstanding masterpiece.

Have fun—a way to motivate yourself:

Enjoy what you’re doing because this is a way of inspiring and motivating yourself. Yes, it is important for artists to be able to motivate themselves, and not depend too much on external sources. Have fun with wood carving, and if you do make it your profession, then you’ll never have to work a day in your life. If you’re tired, rest. You can’t focus and work well with a tired mind and body. Don’t pressure yourself too much. Just enjoy and you’ll be surprised at how you never seem to run out of inspiration.

Success and positivity go together:

Optimism keeps you going. It’s impossible to get by as an artist without committing errors. Consider these mistakes as building blocks to your success. Learn from them the best way you can and you’ll be grateful you had them. Carving images on wood is a big deal. It also takes a great deal of optimism from you, if you want to make it big in the industry. So be positive. Inspire and be inspired. Carve and express!