ROBERT G. KERR
Bob Kerr has been
carving and perfecting his technique for nearly forty years.
His early introduction came in the early 50's when he carved
decoys for hunting. In 1960, thinking he knew a lot about
carving, he attended a decoy competition in Syracuse, New York.
He came away from the show realizing that he still had much to
learn. Encouraged rather than exasperated, he went home a
When Kerr became
involved with carving, the field's popularity was still very
young. The carvers of that time had very unique, personal
styles. Kerr feels this is something the last twenty years
has taken away from carving. With the growing popularity,
distinctiveness has given way to what the market demands.
He feels many carvers, inspired by recent advent of "how to"
books, are technically adept and can render very lifelike
subjects but lack the unique approach and the creative fire that
actually brings a work to life. For Kerr, trial and error,
not trends, have gotten him to his present creative forte and
he's not finished yet.
He researches all his
subjects as thoroughly as he is able, making use of many
sources. He is well aware of the anatomy of the birds he
carves and uses this knowledge to reconstruct not only the
physical features but also the natural positioning of the bird.
Other sources he uses are artists' renditions, photos, study
skins and mounts, and personal observation. When in doubt
about a particular feature, he combines information from all
these sources, establishes the consistencies, and from there
decides how to proceed.
Kerr begins a piece by
doing numerous study sketches of his subjects, which are either
miniature or lifesize. On paper and in his imagination he
considers the piece from all angles to insure the proportions
are correctly established and every aspect is structurally and
visually accurate. he then transfers the sense of his
final sketches directly into the wood.
Starting with a piece
of basswood or cedar (for larger works) or tupelo (for smaller
subjects or features such as wings), Kerr cuts the wood and
hollows out both halves of the body. Hollowing reduces the
chances of the wood cracking or splitting.
The vast majority of
his detailing is done in the painting stage. Kerr has a
very distinctive, meticulous style. Generally, he works
with acrylics, a fast drying medium that doesn't led itself to
the blending of color. Therefore, Kerr achieves his depth
and intensity of color through the application of many layers of
paint. He sometimes uses a hair-dryer to speed the drying
process. Generally, the richness of the color shines
through, bringing the bird to life.