Carving, oldest of the crafts, has been combined with painting by a local man into a new form of art which has created unusual interest among all who have seen it.

Valentine Touponce of 83 McArthur Street uses most of his spare time to turn out the pieces which appeal particularly to sportsmen, because for the most part they feature trout and other fish.

From a distance the works might be mistaken for simple paintings with exaggerated perspective to emphasize the fish in the foreground. Actually, they are done in relief, with all the objects projected from the background in varying degrees.

The fish are complete in every detail and carved from one block of wood. The remainder of the backgrounds combine such materials as wood, cork and plastic wood to put houses, trees and land lines in low relief.

The detail of the carvings is remarkable enough, but the most striking thing is the color. The fish are done with water colors and then varnished and are so accurate that most of the time they are mistaken for real fish which have been stuffed.

The backgrounds, which show a remarkable eye for true color, are painted with nothing more professional than household enamel. They appear completely natural except for occasional discrepancies in perspective.

Mr. Touponce has also made game ducks in relief, in addition to the fish. He says that although most of the fish he has carved are trout, he himself never follows the sport, but prefers lake fishing.

Amazing as all this sounds, the greatest surprise to people seeing the work is the talent of Mr. Touponce. He says he has never had any formal or informal training in carving, painting or any other art. He just does it because it “comes natural.”

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989. She can be reached at