Fine Wood Carver and Sculptor
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About John Bryan | Maine Artist | Handcarved Wood and Fine Sculpture



About John Bryan

Wood Carver - sculptor - fine artist



80,000+ hours with a chisel in his hand.

From his workshop in North Yarmouth, Maine, John Bryan has been carving incredible works of art in wood since 1978.

His studio is a place of solitude and reflection - it is where he has logged the majority of his 80,000+ hours of carving. In an age where instant gratification is the norm, John's work stands as an anachronism - incredibly detailed and lifelike works of art carved into nature's original medium: wood. These pieces can take hundreds or thousands of hours to complete, depending upon the scale and type of wood.

John Bryan at work, carving a chrysalis in his workshop.
— John Bryan

Thoughts from the woodcarver

When I first started my relationship with wood in college, I didn’t have a clue that it would become my life’s pursuit. Had I not won an international student furniture design competition in 1978 I doubt that I would have ever discovered my artistic self. 

I had many more comfortable options and choices I could have made, but I got caught in the gravitational pull of something deep inside me, went with it and have rarely looked back. The thousands of hours I have logged in the solitude of my studio have allowed me to connect all the dots of my life in meditative states and cathartic currents that are indescribable. I identified a deep archetypical and unconscious connection to what I was doing, and who I had become. There have been numerous epiphanies in which I felt so strongly that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to do, that it took on the quality of a life script destiny. The things that were most important to me at the beginning of the trail seem miniscule and a bit trivial now when compared to what I have discovered about myself, and the Universe as the trail has narrowed in time.

Looking back it is easy to identify the many sacrifices I and my family made to allow me to pursue this life. I had no clear vision of where I was headed or how it would all end up. It would be honest to admit that I became a technical and spiritual bushwhacker and have been winging it since the beginning. While my generational peers have been pushing the front line of the digital age, my work took me backwards to a more ancient humble existence full of self-discovery and keen observation.

It would be easy to assume that the digital revolution has left me and others in its wake, but the treasure trove of intangibles that a working artist accumulates cannot be purchased. It has to be earned over the long haul.

Carving wood for a living sounds pretty romantic and idyllic until one is faced with the daily challenges in a studio day after day for many years. If the Buddha was right in defining a good life as a perfect blend of blessing and curse, carving for a living would be the perfect metaphor. It’s a very honest living and most of the path is uphill, sometimes vertical. All these years I thought that I was working the wood and creating masterpieces. But the truth beneath the surface is the wood has been sculpting and shaping me and my spirituality since day one.  It would be a just reward if I left this world having become a masterpiece of my own making. Carving wood is good medicine for anyone who dares to tackle it.

Being able to spend my life this way has been phenomenal and has surpassed all expectations. It’s almost beyond zen. The process always invites you inward.
— John Bryan