Inspired by a photograph of song writer Ed Bruce, this is one of the few carvings I have painted. (I painted it to cover some defects in the wood that I could not fix.) The guitar strings are elastic strings.
Gertis was the sort of man that will not reappear in our lifetime. Raised by Indians, devoid of formal schooling, and free of modern life, Gertis was a skilled blacksmith, logger, tinkerer, and story teller. At home in the woods, he knew the Indian names of virtually all the trees and flowers. With a hot fire in his forge, he could make most tools--and did. With a newspaper reporter, he could spin yarns faster in the colorful, descriptive manner of a real story teller with lots of practice. Pauses to roll a cigarette punctuated his story. He delighted in getting the best of a gullible believer.
Alida tended Gertis as a faithful wife in the tradition of the 19th century. Never having electricity in the house with only kerosene lamps to read by, she read the bible to Gertis each evening to no avail. He didn't believe in it. She earned a little spending money cleaning houses in the community.
I don't know much about Charlie. That's the name my Dad gave him while I was working on extracting him from a big piece of walnut. This man definitely had personality; Charlie fits as a name. He showed up in a magazine sitting on a log smoking what appears to be a very rank cigar. I moved him to a bench against a wall, although some say it looks like he is sitting on an outdoor toilet. Perhaps Charlie knows. Nevertheless, he has real character.
Charlie Garner was a friend of many, and many knew him through the Grand Ole Opry, mission work, family, and hosting of the Grinders Switch Radio Hour every Saturday morning in Centerville, TN, at the Chamber of Commerce office.
To be a successful wood carver, one must believe that the art lies within the wood, and all that is necessary is to remove the excess wood. It's after dust and shavings clear that the art emerges.
Wood art is meant to be touched; it takes a delicate touch to really see the image. Carving the wood follows the same magic--it is as much a matter of my sense of touch as it is using my eyes. The hands are better than the eyes to know where to cut.