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My career began as a commercial artist in 1964 working in the Chicagoland area as a graphic designer/illustrator. I ran my own design agency from 1969 through late 1983 when a career opportunity in Minnesota called.

My late wife and I married in 1977, the same year we purchased some acreage with a small cabin on it in the town of St. Germain, Wisconsin. Our careers only allowed weekend visits or short vacation breaks to our Northwoods retreat.

Spring of 2001 was the time period when we sold our Minnesota home and moved to St. Germain. We were thinking retirement but another graphic arts position at Drs. Foster & Smith in Rhinelander, Wisconsin put retirement plans temporarily on hold. I was able to scale back the number of days in the office which allowed some free time to experiment with my woodcarving. My first carvings were mostly fish species; Northern Pike, Bass, and Trout. Each new carving was an improvement upon the last. 

My Northwoods property is heavily forested and provides food and shelter for a large variety of wildlife... deer, bear, squirrels, fox, rabbits, chickadees, crows, hawks, eagles, osprey and owls are some of our neighbors. The land also provides some of the timber used for my carvings... mostly birch, poplar and oak. I purchase other carving woods from local loggers.
Throughout my life I have always been intrigued by birds of prey, especially owls because of their secretiveness and beauty. My first owl carvings were a Barred Owl and a Great Horned Owl, both fairly common residents of the Northwoods. I continue to carve these two species but have also concentrated on some less frequent winter visitors to our area from farther north in Canada... Snowy Owls, Boreal Owls, Northern Hawk Owls and the largest of the owl species, the Great Gray Owl. Other birds of prey have been created on my workbench including the American Bald Eagles, Red Tailed Hawks, Kestrels, Osprey, Falcons, Burrowing Owls, Eastern Screech Owls, Saw-whet Owls and Barn Owls.

Some of my newer carvings include Ruffed Grouse, Pileated Woodpeckers, Quail, Loons and Red Foxes. Every new species is another wonderful learning opportunity to expand my skills. The technique I use for coloring each piece is something I have developed over the past several years. I use artist oils applied in thin, nearly transparent layers that allow the natural wood grains to show through the color. It is a slow, time consuming process because each new layer of color must dry completely before the next layer is applied.

Thank you for visiting Wildlife in Wood. I hope you enjoy viewing the woodcarvings I have created. If you are interested in owning a piece for your home or office, please call or email me with the species you are considering and I will get back to you with a price and delivery date.

Barry W. Benecke
St. Germain, Wisconsin

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