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Working with wood

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 12:14 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A Lincoln artist has been carving out a name for himself for several years now with his unique wood art creations.

Kevin Baker describes himself as a sculptor and a painter. But it’s his wood art that catches the eye of many. “The main thing with that, is my figures,” Baker said. “That’s where I’m going. My main piece is my ballerina right now, she’s my force muse.” The ballerina started out as a long wood stick. “I find a piece that’s interesting, and that has a lot of knots. Maybe it’s a piece of a root system, where you can see there were stones in it, and other sticks coming off of it.”

The kind wood that Kevin works with is wide-ranging. The wood comes from his experiences in nature.

“I do a lot of hiking. I travel around a lot, mostly to the Northwest, and Southwest, from Montana down to Arizona,” Baker said. I love to camp, so it’s all part of my life and that’s part of my creations. It’s finding something, and then finding something that’s inside of it to create, and bring it out.”

Kevin’s been a part of the Noyes Art Gallery in downtown Lincoln for 21 years. He likes working with juniper. “Juniper comes from Wyoming, Arizona, and Colorado. It’s a pine family,” Baker said. “I love collecting knots. It really doesn’t matter the kind of wood. Knots, burls, I work with the different features that push me into a different place to go with the piece, especially when it has a lot of movement. I might have wanted to go that way, but the wood told me to go this way.”

Kevin also works with woods native to Nebraska, like cottonwood. “The ballerina is actually box elder with a hack berry bowl,” Baker said. “Black walnut, I’ve worked with a lot of black walnut here in Nebraska. It’s really more about the individual piece. I never take a piece off of a tree, I always find it. That’s important to me. I wouldn’t even take a dead branch off of a tree. I only use it if it’s fallen in the ground as firewood. I’ve saved a lot of pieces from going in the fire!”

Kevin enjoys integrating a piece of wood into a painting. As for the future, he says there’s more work to do. “No I haven’t done it all,” Baker said. “Because that would kind of close it, wouldn’t it? I want to leave it open. I believe it is open for me, every experience is a new experience, and can take your creation in another way.”

A sculptor, a painter, a wood worker. Artist Kevin Baker is many things. But one thing’s for sure. He’s talented.

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