By Eva Potter
One look at Keith McKale’s artwork and it quickly becomes obvious he is a precision worker by trade. While he may hold an engineering degree, McKale is not afraid to follow his artistic talents into the realm of woodcarving.
McKale has been showing and selling his intricately carved wood artwork at local galleries, festivals and art shows since 2011. Currently, you can see his work displayed in the lobby of the Ellicottville Memorial Library at 6499 Maples Rd. in Ellicottville. The show will hang until July 29.
Stop at the library to see McKale’s Celtic love spoons, hand carved from butternut, chipped carved Celtic crosses made of butternut and basswood, as well as scroll-sawed pieces like a bald eagle, buffalo, tree and a special piece he calls “Racing the Storm.”
He said, “The ‘Racing the Storm’ piece is a sailboat under full sail, and I used a piece of black walnut with a decorative knot in the upper corner that looks like a pending storm moving in. You kind of have to see it!”
A self-taught artist, McKale said he has been working with wood all his life. His father was an amateur ornithologist, so McKale grew up watching and studying birds and began carving what he saw in nature. His father was also a talented furniture maker, woodworker and bird carver, adding to McKale’s genetic talents.
He describes himself as a nature lover and outdoorsman, and enjoys hiking and backpacking with his son. To create many of his carvings, he uses hardwoods and softwoods from his own trees on his property near Ellicottville, which also houses his Fern Wood Art studio.
Recently, McKale participated in an intensive bird-carving workshop and has begun exhibiting bird sculptures including a Red-breasted Nuthatch.
He said, “I am going to be adding hand-carved and painted birds and feathers to my portfolio of work. I have several songbirds under way, as well as several feathers in the wood burning stages that I will be displaying soon.”
“I have made my home near Ellicottville, and believethere is nothing more relaxing and fulfilling than an evening carvingon my front porch!” he said.
The Ellicottville Memorial Library is located at 6499 Maples Road in Ellicottville, NY. Hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily except Sunday. Evening hours are 5–8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.