Susan M. Smith
~ Wood Carvings ~
Born and raised in the country in Pennsylvania, Susan has always loved art and drew & painted as a child. She started carving at age 17, never taking a formal course. Susan moved from Pennsylvania to Haines, Alaska, with her husband, Sam, in 1984. For over 30 years she has carved many subjects from different mediums using traditional wood carving tools.
At first, Sue started carving 'basswood' into realistic wildlife art sculptures. Then she loosened up her style, discovered Cottonwood bark in Alaska, and found it to be a great carving medium. Now her favorite carving medium, she collects Cottonwood bark up the valley in Haines - bark that has fallen off already dead trees. The rich mahogany red tones make awesome natural carvings - yet it takes to the acrylic paints like a duck to water! Her pieces reflect the beauty of details that only her talented fingers can draw out of a piece of bark. She continues to use traditional carving tools for her sculpturing and hand finishes each and every one.
Susan carved a large collection of Santa Claus' out of the Cottonwood bark for many years. She took to carving Santa's like St. Nick's personal 'helper', and after painting the carvings she finishes them with a non-toxic, water based varnish. She's enjoyed carving Alaskan animals with her Santas but has done numerous other animals and people's pets or hobby themes into them as well. Her maiden name is Goldhart, so she incorporated that into each Santa carving by painting a GOLD Heart on the back. House of Hatten Inc. sold her carvings for tabletop center pieces and ornaments from 1998 to 2001.
In Winter 2008, Susan resumed carving wildlife in the bark for a change and included here are some of the results of that endeavor. Sue possesses a unique gift to draw and carve with such beautiful detail and design, showing her subjects 'in motion'. She loves to try and display movement in her carvings to give them life.
Susan now resides in Juneau, Alaska, and has her art studio upstairs above the Sandbar where she has more wildlife carvings on display and for sale.
The carving below of a Mountain Man and his horses about to encounter a sleeping Grizzly Bear is called "Dangerous Trail".
Up in the mountain high country he
spends months alone, hunting and trapping until he has enough furs to barter
with at the Trading Post down in the valley.
The journey back down to the valley is sometimes treacherous. Ever mindful of the ever-present dangers of possible encounters with Mountain Lions, Grizzly and Wolverine, he cautiously makes his way down steep mountainsides...
A Mountain Man's horse is a strong horse, bred for the rough, mountain life and terrain. To watch him navigate the rocky hillsides, you'd think he was part mountain goat.
Warmed by the furs he's fashioned into clothes, he feels the increasing warmth of the air as he descends the great mountain. He wonders what new things he will learn have happened in the valley below during the long, winter months. Looking forward to seeing familiar faces, and to hear voices once again, other than his own.
He chuckles to himself, wondering if his old friend at the Trading Post will again try to talk him out of his favorite fur hat.
Having made this journey so many times before, his pack horse leads the way down.
The Mountain Man's musings about the Trading Post are interrupted. Simultaneously, he and his horses are jolted by their senses. The wind has changed, and the familiar smell is unmistakable...Grizzly!
Still deep in slumber, the old Grizzly benefits from having eaten so well throughout last Summer, having eaten enough for almost two bears...
..will he dream of encounters...or will he wake to one?
Pictured below - A beautifully detailed door panel carved from Basswood, showing a Grizzly Bear fishing.
For more information on Susan M. Smith Carvings, you can contact her via email at:
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
~ OR ~
Call 907-314-0482 for appointment to visit Sue at her Art Studio in Juneau, Alaska