Carved Life-size Red Tailed Hawk


This sculpture is a one of a kind.   The hawk is caught in the midst of his frustration from missing his prey.  His wings are lowered in a pre-mantling behavior.  His left wing is on top of the tail with a lower wrist because of the direction he is facing.  The right wing is more elevated at the wrist but the primaries are under the tail. which exposes the red tail that gave the hawk its name.  Carved mourning dove feathers are in front of the bird, one under a talon and a few leading toward the direction the dove escaped.    This stunning sculpture is designed to be a table centerpiece.   



Art Wolff carved this lifesize Red-Tailed hawk.  The beautifully carved sculpture made from tupelo.  Was previously Mounted on a painted black walnut panel that has since been removed.  The carving illustrates a hawk that had missed its intended prey.  Maybe you will be able to see the frustration in its face and attitude.   


Art started this sculpture started with two pieces of wood. Those pieces include the head, (carved separately to allow for fine carving and painting detail on the head and inside of the open mouth) and the body.    Art only uses acrylic paint on this carving.  A dead flat water based varnish is used to protect the sculpture.   


Understandably with a carving of this size, the combined time of research, planning, carving and painting took approximately 180 hours to complete.  In the beginning, Art starts the process with a block of wood that he has drawn the top and bottom outline of the hawk.  As you might imagine, if he had tried to remove all that extra wood by hand, it would have taken forever, therefore a bandsaw was used to save time and energy.


As you may guess, the most important part of the carving process is laying out the feathers on the wood. This process is the foundation of a great carving. First, Art starts by drawing the feather groups, then he draws each and every feather. Hence, Art strives to give each feather it’s own personality with a combination of ripples, splits, curved feather shafts, and barbs.  It is very important that the artist has an attention to detail during the wood burning phase of the project. Art has to be patient with the progress and be confidence in himself because it is equally important to the final outcome of your work.  A steady hand is critical.  Since detailed wood tends to swell when exposed to moisture, the entire carving is sealed as soon as the wood burning detail is completed.  

 As you may guess, the most important part of the carving process is laying out the feathers on the wood.  First, you must draw the feather groups, then you draw each and every feather.  Since raw detailed wood tends to swell when exposed to moisture, Art coats the entire carving in sanding sealer as soon as the wood burning detail is completed.  


Now the fun begins.  While this is the stage where the carving comes alive, it is a process that has many stages.  Initially many layers of paint are used replicate the natural complexity of natural feathers. As if you were painting a landscape portrait you start with the background colors and work your way out to the final colors. Finally, Art adds fine highlights to the edges of the flight.  Since it’s often hard for artists to know when to stop adding details, Art always solicits the opinions of friends who help him to not “muddy” the appearance of your work.  Finally,  Art adds the fine highlights to the feathers.   

Art applies several very thin washes of acrylic paint are used to create a  feather color is achieved with many light washes of color.  The first paint is the undercoat that blends different colors intended to show through the final feather pattern.  Secondly, the top layers of paint present the mix of organic colors you would see on a wild bird.  Art uses a dry brush technique the last step in the process is adding highlights to the feather edges.     

Hand carved Hawk Pictures

Carved Hawk , Front quartering picture

The carved Red-tailed hawk, Front quartering picture


Carved Red-tailed hawk watching it's prey fly away.

A carved Red-tailed Hawk Watching it’s prey fly away.


Back view of the red-tail

Back view of the red-tail


Red-tailed hawk, right side view

Red-tailed hawk, right side view


 Red-tailed hawk, front close up view

Close up, front close up view

Additional information

Weight 8.75 lbs
Dimensions 21 × 16 × 12 in