Artist chips away with chainsaw
Shawn Rowe uses carving as a form of self-healing
After seeking his own method of self-healing, Shawn Rowe turned to his chainsaw.
Rowe is a resident of Spaniard’s Bay with a hobby some may consider dangerous, but one he holds dear to his heart.
Rowe spent a number of years working as a supervisor offshore, which he says brought him to some rather violent corners of the world, such as Venezuela and West Africa.
A workplace accident in 2013 led him to early retirement, and the stresses of his job left him with some mental-health issues as well.
Rowe admits he is not the type of person to rely on medication to deal with his problems. Instead, he preferred to seek his own means of therapy and healing. This brought him to art – a talent he feels was always a part of him, and something he likely inherited from his grandfather, who also had a knack for the arts.
At first, this journey to selfhealing saw him create art from sea glass, adding the stones to paintings he would make. Later, Rowe found himself creating carvings from wood, which would often become signs and wall hangings.
However, these endeavours did not provide him with the kind of satisfaction he was hoping for. What did, however, was when he learned to create intricate carvings out of large pieces of logs using his chainsaw.
“For a long time, I was actually kind of afraid of chainsaws. When I was a kid, I cut myself on the knee with one when I was in the woods, and so I had never really touched a chainsaw after that,” said Rowe. “I always liked carving. It was something that always intrigued me, especially as a child.
With about a year under his belt as a chainsaw carver, Rowe has created sculptures of owls, eagles, turtles and, most recently, a drunken gnome. Although he did not originally plan to create a business out of his art, he says it began to catch people’s eyes. He’s since sold a number of his creations to those looking for unique garden decorations. Creative process
The process behind the sculptures varies with each individual project. Surrounded by his wooden creations, Rowe said he does not necessarily go into a project with a specific idea in mind. Instead, he gets a feel for what the log could be, and takes it from there.
“It’s no good for me to say I’ll make one specific thing, because by the time I’m done with it, it could be something completely different,” he said. “It’s all in the log itself – there’s already a piece of art in these logs. I’m just using my chainsaw to bring that log to its full potential.”
The carving process can sometimes take him no less than a day.
“Right now, I’m working on one that was going to be a little fairy house at first, but once I had the roof of the house carved out, it started to look a lot more like a soldier’s helmet, so that’s where I’m going with that one now,” he said.
Rowe has had people request certain animals or objects to be carved with his chainsaw, but he’s still unsure if that’s the direction he wants to take this artistic endeavour.
“I’ve had people come to me and ask for one thing or another, but when I’m told what to do or what to create, it takes the magic out of it, in a way,” he said. “It’s not about the money for me. It’s a lot more than that.
“I’ve been through a lot – my family has been through a lot – and this is something I use to keep my mind where it needs to be. I love it, and I think eventually I’d like to turn it into something more of a business, but right now I’m just creating art.”
Shawn Rowe with some of the carvings he has completed. The artist is using chainsaw carvings as a way to create, and heal.