Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Three topics are specifically mentioned in the title, studies, figurative (subject matter), and wood sculpture, each topic being essential in my discussion of efforts in art. Being a student with intentions in three-dimensional art, I came to the conclusion that if I were to be very capable in sculpture, I would have to plan each project as an educational process in itself. Being able to see improvement on my part, through exposure and dealing with difficulty by degrees was and is essential to my development. Keeping this in mind, and realizing one of the few limitations of a student, time, the learning experience itself often outweighed the importance of my artistic statement. I will leave to Art historians the job of interpreting the significance of the human figure as a subject for the artist. Let it be sufficient to say, that I've found the figure a subject which lends me a chance to learn, improve and maybe strive for perfection. Wood carving is basically, in the carvers tradition, subtractive. However, lamination, adding wood where you want it by gluing, is not only practical but time saving. Laminating woods means that color contrasts within a form can be achieved by gluing different woods together. The problem of checking in wood (cracks), is virtually eliminated due to laminating kiln dried lumber. Carving in log stock, where the form is limited within the dimensions of the log, is another, perhaps truer, test of control and planning. Problems exist in carving log stock. Once too much wood is removed it rarely can be replaced satisfactorily. Checking is almost a trait in carving log stock, infrequently can a log carving be found with no cracks. To say either form of subtraction is of a higher level is not my intention. It is my intent to state that both methods are available to the student as tools for learning. When the subject matter is figurative, it is important to remember darker woods do not reflect light detail in the same way as lighter varieties. Dark woods used in contrast to light woods afford linear and tonal contrasts. Linear qualities can also be achieved by using woods with pronounced grain patterns. Textures and finishes can be used in capturing light to sculptural advantage. Smooth, creamy finishes take light and reflect it evenly over a flowing area or fleck texturing can break up light into small patterns of light and dark. With all the cosmetic devices that can be used, it is really wood's innate beauty which can turn weakness into strength. Awareness in figurative wood sculpture seems to be directly proportionate to my exposure, instruction from the experienced and my ability in wood to show some improvement. It is that bit of magic, that improvement brings, which carries me to higher levels of development.


Dale Picken

Date of Award

Fall 1974

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1974 Kraig Dexter


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