Woodworker's Central
Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 2/11/02

A Book Review by Bill Britton

Title: Carving The Human Figure

Dick Onians

Published by: Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.

387 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016-8810
ISBN 1-86108-179-0
Price Softcover: $17.95 (Canada $25.95 )
176 color pages

I think I can safely begin this review with a great big OOPS! The book was not what I had anticipated. When I spoke for the book I had envisioned a book on carving little figurines of range worn old cowboys, ladies of the old west, and Indian warriors. I'm not sure why I made this assumption other than through fond memories of sitting on the court house square as a youngster watching the old men doing their thing, namely, trading pocket knives, yarnin', spittin', and whittling the most marvelous creations imaginable. I guess I'll always associate "carving" with the spit and whittlers I knew as a kid.

So when I opened up the book my preconceptions were promptly shattered. This was clearly more than the quickie "how to" book. Rather, it was a very serious study of drawing, sculpting, and carving the human figure. We start off with a chapter of basic human anatomy in which the skeletal and muscle structure is studied in some detail. Not a simple matter when one considers that all human figures are unique unto themselves and vary not only with male/female differences but also with racial differences, fat accumulations, body conditioning, and age of subject.

Following the chapter on the basic human anatomy are the specialty chapters. Chapter two is on carving the head with sections on the eye, the eye lid, the brow, the ear, the lips, the nose, etc. You get the picture - quite detailed. The following chapters on the torso, the feet, the hand, etc., are equally detailed and complicated.

I read the entire book, fascinated by the tremendous void in my knowledge base and the under appreciation I've had for those who attempt to draw, sculpt, or carve the human likeness. No, I do not see carving the human figure in my future but guarantee to have a greater appreciation and admiration for those who do.

The book is well written, easily read, and very nicely illustrated by a very knowledgeable and talented author. He also goes into a nice bit of "how to," tools used, materials, etc. and in summary, I give it a "two thumbs up" rating. (I think there was even a chapter on thumbs..:-)

Bill Britton

Editor's Note: Sterling Publishing has graciously donated several books for review which are passed on to our members free of charge in exchange for thoughtful, honest reviews. Thank You! And you can usually find their titles at a discount from Barnes And Noble

Back to the Gazette

Contact Us | Homepage
We encourage all our visitors to send us
their thoughts, suggestions and complaints.