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Professional artists and amateurs alike know that delving into a new technique or medium can be a daunting task. Whether you’re an oil painter who’s tackling charcoal or a lover of graphite experimenting with color, stepping outside of your artistic comfort zone is overwhelming, but totally worth it.

And Joe Hollenbeck of Hollenbeck Woodworks knows a thing or two about that. Tackling one of the most difficult methods of all, he started creating detailed woodcarvings using a few simple tools. The resulting pieces are indicative of natural skill — and he’s only been at it for a year.

Using Dremel tools and the occasional chisel, Hollenbeck turns raw materials into stunning works of art. He’s been working with wood for many years, but carving is still relatively new to him.

His subject of choice? Dinosaurs. While he’s created a whole host of woodcarvings inspired by various subjects, his childhood love of fossils tends to shine through.

“I mostly enjoy carving dinosaur skulls and bones. Like most kids growing up, I loved prehistoric creatures,” he writes. “Working on these carvings lets me be a kid again while challenging myself with a worthwhile skill.”

To get a better feel for his work, let’s take a look at his process. It starts with a general sketch. The initial sketch focuses mainly on values instead of details. Those come later.

After that, he grabs those Dremel tools and digs in.

The bulk of the work at this point is centered around throwing the basic outline in relief.

After that, the mind-boggling magic happens. Once the dinos come to life, they’re finished with stain and varnish.

Mimicking the natural process of excavating fossils, Hollenbeck coaxes dinosaur bones out of raw, natural materials.

Luckily for us, Joe Hollenbeck does commissions. If you’d like to learn more about his work and request a piece of your own, be sure to check him out on Facebook!

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