BIG SKY – Loren Pinski, a nationally known wildfowl artist, has several carvings displayed at Creighton Block Gallery this fall.

Pinski’s career began in 1984, when he saw a carved mallard drake in an art gallery in Holland, Mich. Amazed at its beauty and realism, he returned home to Missoula and bought a how-to book. With some old carpentry chisels and a Douglas-fir two-by-four, he carved a decoy. One thing became immediately clear: This would be the last time he would carve using construction grade lumber and old chisels.

Although primarily self-taught, Pinski has taken classes from world-class carvers such as Ted Smith, Tom Newell, Tom Matus and David Alexander. These men helped Pinski refine his skills, teaching him to make feathers look real, create soft color transitions, and express the unique personality of each bird.

This, Pinski says, coupled with knowledge gained from hours observing birds in their natural habitat, enables him to create realistic wildfowl sculptures out of simple pieces of wood.

“What is most striking about Pinski’s carvings is their elegance,” said Colin Mathews, owner of Creighton Block Gallery. “Each piece creates its own aura, which raises Pinski’s skill to the level of high art.”

Pinski’s carvings have been displayed in galleries and art shows around the West, including the Western Art Week in Great Falls. He has also earned honors at carving competitions in Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California.

For the past 11 years, Pinski has carved the Mulrooney award for the North American Wholesale Lumber Association. His flying bald eagle is considered the most prestigious award in the forest products industry and is awarded at the NAWLA Traders Market every fall. He also carves the membership awards for the Pacific Logging Congress.

Fortune 500 companies have purchased Pinki’s carvings as retirement gifts, service awards, and customer appreciation gifts, and he has been featured in corporate journals and national carving magazines.

Stop by Creighton Block to see how a piece of wood can become a bird that seems ready to take flight.