Jan 29, 2019

How to Turn a Block of Wood Into a Box of Money

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It all starts here. Artist Randall Rosenthal takes three pieces of white pine and glues them together. Once dried it will be one solid block.




The rough outline begins. Randall knows what he wants to do.



Randall begins to document and explain the process to the members of the woodworking forum Sawmill Creek. Any quotes below will come from this engrossing thread that details the amazing transformation we are about to witness.

“I get a little frenzied in the beginning. I can see it in my head and want to make it appear in real life. My tools are so sharp I don’t know I nicked myself till I notice the blood on the sculpture…..day three.” [Seen below]



Day Four [below]



“Ok….this is near the end of the first week [below]. Starting to under cut. This is significant because there is no going back. No way to lower the flap on top for instance. Also changed the configuration in the box and starting to play around with the corrugation.”





After nearly a week of carving Rosenthal decides to switch gears and play around with the paint job. There is still more carving to be done.




As the painting continues, a forum member asks Randall to expound on his carving process:

“…Sharp tools and a willingness to sneak up on it. I see it in my mind and rather than try and make a few big cuts I make a lot of little cuts… However I do it fast. One thing I do is make everything slightly larger than I really think it should be. Later I will trim back and it will give it a look of complexity. It’s more about tenacity than anything else. The stacks fall out randomly the way they do and there is no short cut to an honest rendition of them.”




Randall says the money stacks at the top are the easiest to paint and the ‘buried’ ones will be more challenging. Although difficult to see, the stacks go quite deep under the ‘flap’.




A forum member asks Randall to explain his painting process in further detail and the artist kindly obliges:

“First I mix a lot of the background color so I can tune up the painting every step of the way. I draw it on in pencil and then use a ‘micron’ brand felt tip pen with archival ink. Then I use the finest brush I can find with carbon black acrylic. Then I do the color. The 50’s have far more color and present a greater challenge. I finish with washes of carbon black. The green sides (which you will see in a bit) are done entirely with brushes as there is no pen I’ve found yet that’s close to the right color and thin enough to be useful. Unlike carving I can keep adding paint forever until I’m satisfied.”




Someone asks Randall what the hardest part to paint is:

“It’s hard to believe but the single greatest challenge for me is getting the cardboard right. It’s not like you can buy a tube of cardboard paint. What I do now is put on light washes of color and kind of sneak up on it till I’m happy. No one would believe how many thin coats of paint this takes.”



Et Voila! The finished artwork measures 8″ x 13.5″ x 13.5″. A true masterpiece in hyperrealistic sculpture and painting.




Randall Rosenthal is an American artist. He was born in 1947 in New York City. After receiving his BFA from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Rosenthal has won countless awards and his artwork can be found in collections, galleries and museums around the world. His work has been exhibited globally and he has done a number of high-profile commissions including the White House.

To see more of his incredible artwork, visit randallrosenthal.com




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Article Categories:
art · BEST OF · carving · hyper-realistic · painting · sculpture · wood

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