Spaniard’s Bay artist turns to his chain­saw

Shawn Rowe uses carv­ing as a form of self-heal­ing

The Compass - - Editorial - BY CHRIS LEWIS [email protected]­n­com­

Af­ter seek­ing out his own method of self-heal­ing, Shawn Rowe turned to his chain­saw.

Shawn Rowe is a res­i­dent of Spaniard’s Bay with a hobby some may con­sider dan­ger­ous, but one that 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.

An ac­ci­dent at the work­place in 2013 led him to tak­ing an early re­tire­ment, and the stresses of his job left him with some men­tal health is­sues to top it off.

Rowe ad­mits he is not the type of per­son to rely on med­i­ca­tion to deal with his prob­lems. In­stead he pre­ferred to seek out his own means of ther­apy and heal­ing. This drive brought him to art – a tal­ent that 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.

“Af­ter my ac­ci­dent at work in 2013, I came home and was in a rut. I didn’t know what to do with my­self, but I knew I had to do some­thing. I couldn’t let my­self start beat­ing my­self up. I knew my grand­fa­ther was an artist, and in my head, I felt like art was some­thing I could do. Now, it’s like my own ther­apy. This is how I cope, and it works won­ders for me.”

With ap­prox­i­mately 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 on cre­at­ing a busi­ness out of his art, he says it’s be­gun 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. Rowe ex­plained to The Com­pass, sur­rounded by his wooden cre­ations, that 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

“I felt like art was some­thing I could do. Now it’s like my own ther­apy.”

- Shawn Rowe

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 noted. “But, like I said, that’s li­able to change at some point too. You never re­ally know un­til the work is done.”

Rowe has had peo­ple reach out to him re­quest­ing 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, sur­rounded by some of the carv­ings he’s com­pleted.

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