My name is Donald Gary Payne and I’m a Catholic Christian woodcarver. I live in southern Indiana and like a million of other guys, I find enjoyment working with wood and have a passion for woodcarving.
When I was in my early twenties, I worked with an older gentleman by the name of Charles Conover. He was a very fine carpenter and a somewhat famous woodcarver, known for his elaborate chains and his carvings of all the Disney characters. He would pull from his lunch box small projects like necklaces and pendants that he would work on during his lunch break. I was fascinated with these projects, and Charles invited me to a woodcarver’s association meeting one evening. That began a 40 year fascination with woodcarving and working with wood.
I developed into a decent carpenter myself and have worked on woodcarvings as a hobby throughout my life. I have spent much of my career as a building trade’s instructor in an Indiana area vocational center that caters to 12 high schools. For 30 years, I taught carpentry, plumbing, masonry, cabinet making and woodworking to over a 1000 students and I felt that it was an important vocation because I touched young people’s lives in a positive way.
During these years as a teacher, my beautiful wife of 35 years, Roxanne, and I raised 5 outstanding children and because of the size of our family and the income I made as a teacher, I often worked on the side doing carpentry work to help with the finances, not leaving a lot of time for woodcarving. As the kids have grown up and are mostly on their own and my teaching income increased through the years, it was not mandatory for me to work as much on the side, so I had additional time to devote to my woodcarving passion, these last several years.
Now that I have recently retired, I have more time and a renewed desire to create sculpture and various woodcarving projects. I don’t have woodcarving credentials; I’ve never had a woodworking lesson or an art class, so what ability that I do possess is naturally from God and my desire to become better as an artist.
I think we are all artists if we allow ourselves the opportunity to try to express the beauty of God’s creation. Even the most outstanding work of art is but a mere shadow of the glory of God. So, with this philosophical view, I present to the world my art through this website.
My hope is that these creations will not only be a unique physical reality that you can enjoy but will allow me a vehicle to express the spiritual reality embedded in the carvings that may in some small way motivate some of you to explore your relationship with God, which is my primary goal …. and perhaps it will give you, to those that are interested, a resource you can use to help develop your creative skills in woodcarving. You might think, “if this guy can do these carvings, perhaps I might be able to do it as well!” And my answer to that thought would be, you can. If I can be of any help to you either spiritually or as a fellow woodworker, just contact me and I’ll do my best.
I thank God for this, the next chapter in my life where again he is hopefully allowing me to touch other people’s lives in a positive way.