A reoccurring subject that I enjoy painting is the Chainsaw Guy. To me he’s a human symbol of the land, friends, family, and the seasonal to-do list. Other types of chores are done with a chainsaw, but it’s the gathering of firewood that produces the most reference photos for me to work with in my paintings.
Nowadays my family has been focusing more on salvage cutting since our land went through a forest fire. So finding trees to cut has been less of an issue. But in the past the drive and hunt for a suitable tree to cut for firewood was always fun. Buying the tags, having a road trip, getting the truck stuck, was all part of the trip.
If you burn wood in the winter you’re either buying it by the cord or you’re going out and getting it yourself. I’ve done both. I don’t run the saws. I take the pre-measured stick and the crayon and I mark down the length of the logs. I pile the brush. I load and unload the rounds. I take sneaky pictures. And to save the day we have a wood splitter, which makes splitting and stacking the wood so much faster.
Chainsaw guy fits in so well with the rural landscape. Sometimes the figures I paint and the way I paint them in no way resembles the scenes I’ve plucked them out of in real life. But Chainsaw Guy very literally starts and stops in the wilderness. He’s always someone familiar; whether I tell you who the person I painted is or not. Everyone I know knows a Chainsaw Guy or Gal. Or wants to.
A phrase I’ve heard recently is mountain culture. Chainsaw Guy definitely fits in with this idea in my paintings. He automatically embodies an outdoor lifestyle. Someone with an understanding of the mountains he or she calls home.
These experiences I’ve had over the years while stocking up on wood to burn through the winter are all the inspiration anyone could ask for. My camera roll runs over with the shapes of figures I can abstract and arrange within a canvas.
Here’s to many more years of growing the Chainsaw Guy image!