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Michelle Thevenot

Michelle Thevenot

THE ARTIST

Hi! I’m Michelle Thevenot, self-taught wood sculpture artist from Saskatchewan, Canada. I carve deep connections to nature with soulful creativity and empowered female spirit by transforming sustainably-sourced logs into one-of-a-kind sculptures for nature-lovers. The carvings often use chainsaws, an arsenal of power carving tools, and hand-brushed accents of paint and stain to bring the carvings alive with eye-catching color, contrast, and detail.

My carvings transform homes, cabins, and businesses with a joyful presence. They often feature favorite animals and plants that make life so interesting and vibrant in the region. Collectors love how the sculptures reflect their vibrant personality, cherished wildlife memories, and a passionate outdoor lifestyle.

I started small with a rotary tool and scraps of wood

How did you get into woodworking?

Wood sculpture developed as a self-taught art form through experimentation, trial and error, research, creative courage, artistic risks, and a never-ending curiosity to try new things.

I started small with a rotary tool and scraps of wood, but quickly grew frustrated working on a small scale. My expressive style needed more room to move, and that meant larger scale carvings and larger tools.

Looking at a chainsaw in the shop, I decided to go for it. I read the manual, geared up, and marched outside with all the girl-power determination to cut down a dead tree. Then, a section of the tree turned into my first attempt at chainsaw carving. Sure, it was rough for a first try, but the sense of accomplishment sent my confidence soaring, and I was hooked!

I continued experimenting with chainsaw carving, and soon incorporated additional power tools to enhance the texture, details, and finishes of the log carvings.

Michelle Thevenot Gallery 1

Thevenot has a deep connection to nature and transforms sustainably-sourced logs into one-of-a-kind sculptures for nature-lovers.

Michelle Thevenot Gallery 2

Taking inspiration from her hometown, Michelle uses a variety of tools such as chainsaws and power tools to carve her designs.

Michelle Thevenot Gallery 3

From discarded wood to art! Michelle's carvings transform homes, cabins, and businesses.

Michelle Thevenot Gallery 4

Michelle developed her craft through experimentation, trial and error, research, creative courage, artistic risks, and a never-ending curiosity to try new things.

Michelle Thevenot Gallery 5

The “Portal of Healing” eagle archway was installed at the Stoney Knoll landmark near Laird, Saskatchewan. The artwork delivers a message of hope and healing.

What inspires your creations?

I grew up in close proximity to forests, lakes, rivers, and wild animals, which imprinted a special relationship with the wilderness from a young age. I’m grateful to continue living an outdoor lifestyle that often brings me to my favorite place – the forest.

Excursions to my off-grid camp in the forest unlocks the creative energy that inspires my creations. From close encounters with wild animals, appreciating the elements of nature, soaking in the solitude and silence while sitting and observing… these are the key forces that authentically inspire my art.

There is wisdom to be found in the wilderness, so that is where I go to gather the logs for carving, to recharge creative energy, and to discover inspirational ideas.

I answered by embracing power carving as an art profession

What made you decide to add power carving to your repertoire?

My art background started in painting and drawing before adventuring down the path of wood carving. I craved more of a tactile, 3D art experience and a physical challenge. I admired chainsaw carvings as seen on a trip to British Columbia, Canada. I was very intrigued and inspired by them, but initially thought I could never do that, being a weak girl and all (hello, toxic and limiting belief system!) After going through some difficult life experiences, I craved a way to reclaim my power, to take control of my life, to break down gender limitations, to redefine my strength, and carve out space to express my story. Power tools called my name, I answered by embracing power carving as an art profession.

What is your favorite power carving tool and why?

Right now, my favorite power carving tool is the Arbortech Turbo Plane. It’s an extremely versatile and efficient tool for the medium-to-large-scale wood carvings I work on. I use it for free-hand shaping and carving, along with leveling out flat surfaces. It feels very safe and easy to handle on the Arbortech Power Carving Unit, and I love the smooth finish it leaves.

What impact has power carving had on your art/passion/livelihood?

Power carving is my way to celebrate female empowerment, to rise above gender stereotypes, to process and heal from past traumas, and embrace a deeply therapeutic connection to nature. I view the carving process as a powerful co-creation between myself (the artist) and the legacy of the tree by embracing its natural character, its symbolic cracks, and knots of personality which guide and enhance the artistic design. Within the art of power carving, I have found a friend in the medium of wood which absorbs and resonates with my senses and emotions.

What advice would you give to people who are thinking of getting into power carving?

So, you’re thinking of getting into power carving... why haven’t you already? What’s stopping you? Obviously, the inspiration has already sparked something deep within you and there’s a desire… a dream… an interest to try something new. And now, it’s up to you to step up to the plate to make your sawdust dreams come true!

Chances are, what’s holding you back from getting started is a protective mechanism, negative self-talk, a self-limiting belief, or a fear of failure. My advice is to kick those negative thoughts to the curb, because those types of excuses and fears prevent you from living up to your potential and they’ll never serve you in the best way.

Instead, reframe that inner dialogue to the positive. Believe that you CAN do this. Sure, you may not have all the knowledge or answers right now - but you are smart, creative, and resourceful, so you will figure it out and find a way to make it happen in a way that is best for you. Creativity takes courage. Give yourself permission to answer the calling and explore the path that power carving will lead you on!

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