Inspiration and Design

Questions to Ask

Does the wood have an interesting focal point – a central point that draws your attention?

You can find a focal point by covering the wood with a cloth. When you take the cloth off the wood take note of the first thing your eye is drawn to This will be your focal point. Is it pleasing? Is is distracting? if it is distracting can or should it be changed or eliminated?

Are there extraneous limbs, or directions that carry your eye away from the sculpture?
What types of lines do you see in your wood?

Are the lines straight? Could they be eliminated or softened?
Do the lines signify movement or motion?

Horizontal lines suggest repose tranquility and stability.
Vertical lines appear to rise upward and create movement or energy.
Curves give a quality of softness and continuity.
Spirals prove motion.
Repeating lines provide rhythm.

Do the lines flow artistically from one point to another?
Will the same lines direct the eye to the focal point of the sculpture?

Does the piece have harmony, proportion, and balance (too heavy one end or in the middle)?

Driftwood sculpture is three-dimensional – if you do something on one side, see how it affects the other side.

Can or should the piece be simplified? Keep in mind. K.I.S.S., Keep It Simple Stupid, but don’t make the piece so simple it resembles a stick.

Tools to help in designing:

  1. Rotate the wood in several directions. Take time to stand back and look at a piece from a distance. If possible, leave it propped up in full view at different angles over a period of time as you study it.
  2. A white or black cloth may be used to cover up parts to help decide if they should be removed.
  3. Use a crayon or chalk to mark changes on the driftwood.
  4. A colored piece of yarn might be used to remind you of what not to eliminate or what to be careful of if fragile.
  5. Take photographs of the wood at different angles. They may be put into clear plastic folders and a dry erase marker can be used to do a number of things: define the lines, focal points(s), indicate what needs to be eliminated or enhanced, shaping voids, and others.
  6. Sketch or outline the shape on a piece of paper (trace your photos). Experiment by erasing parts to see which parts are best shape to retain.
  7. Use the grain lines to help direct the shaping.

Notable Quotes and Parting Thoughts

A driftwood sculptor can do as little or as much as he wishes toward changing the original form . . . NWDA Teacher’s manual
The overall design is more important tan the detail. If you focus on the design the detail will follow.” Jan Petzel
If you change the way you look at things you change the way things look. Arlene De Palma

When you have completed your sculpture from driftwood, as yourself, “Is this piece still recognizable as having been created from a piece of driftwood?” If the answer is not “Yes,” you have over-shot your goal. Patricia Bartlett

Ultimately, you should let the spirit of the wood be your guide, remember to breathe and always have fun!

Lisa Stone