Alan Carter currently resides in Asheville, NC.
Good design is the bedrock upon which any successful artistic enterprise is built. The psychological space a work of art occupies, its visceral magnetic allure, is as meaningful as its physical presence. As an artist, I’m keenly aware of the importance of this principal. The measure of success I achieve is directly related to my understanding of these dynamics.
Craftsmanship is also unequivocally vital. Solid construction technique, an understanding of wood behavior, and attention to detail are an absolute prerequisite to the success of the finished product. Every component of a piece deserves the same degree of scrutiny and attention. Each part is an integral component of the whole.
I spent much of my professional life in the 2-D world, painting photorealistic street scenes on canvas. Years spent photographing and observing urban life taught me much about form and design. Odd, seemingly random patterns can spark a new idea or fresh approach to a piece.
My design influences are many and varied. The shapes and proportions of interesting buildings may spark an idea. Almost any other artwork can have an impact. Art Deco and Asian influences are certainly evident in some of my pieces. Often the wood itself will suggest an idea; a particularly unusual grain pattern or texture can trigger an interesting project. Even organic sources such as land formations and plant structures exert their subtle pull.
Wood combinations are also very important. The interaction of various grain patterns, colors, and textures can define a piece and its impact on the viewer. Too much going on and it’s a visual jumble; too little and it’s pedestrian and dull. I spend a great deal of time sorting through my collection of different woods (and other materials as well) to find the right combination that will conspire together to lift my work to new heights.
Often it’s an open-ended process. Much of my work grows and matures on its own. That is, I may start with a specific idea, but as things progress new thoughts come to mind and the piece may change direction. Woodturning, like stone sculpture, is subtractive in its approach. You cut away at something to reveal the hidden inner beauty it holds within. As shavings fly off the piece of wood, new patterns emerge as well as new spatial relationships. This affects the way I further compose the piece and surprising things often result that completely transform the final object.
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