Flagstaff wood artist carves a living, one picture at a time | Local
Kruse is not only a rental router, but also makes his own art on wood, mainly landscapes and depictions of nature. His work is exhibited downtown at the Artists Gallery, where he encourages visitors not to be shy and feel free to stroke his creations.
The great thing about wood as a medium, he says, is its tactile joys. It’s part of the attraction to run your hand over the roughly hewn grain, feel the grooves and lines, and notice the precision of the craftsmanship. And when you step back, those crossing lines and swirling streams merge into a well-crafted portrait of, say, Bernie.
The right combinations
Wood as a medium is of course nothing new. Artists have been making woodblock prints for centuries, and sculptors sometimes choose them as a material over gemstones. But Kruse combines the artistic with the commercial as an engraving. After all, a man has to make a living.
Nevertheless, the practice satisfies his artistic impulses and keeps him in touch with his family in North California’s East Bay. Both his father and grandfather were woodworkers, and his father Lee made a living as a furniture designer and carpenter. But while his ancestors were more artisans, Kruse decided to focus more on the artistic.
“I’ve always been fascinated by wood,” said Kruse, running one hand over his short-cut salt and pepper hair. “I like what the weather does with wood. I do a lot of landscapes and trees in my work where it’s almost like going full circle. Wood to wood to make a tree out of it. Such a thing. “