When I first became interested in wood carving I asked some wood carvers for some pointers and advice. Without exception they all answered, "learn to keep your tools (knife) sharp", and "practice, practice, practice". It took me a while to realize (believe) the truth in these answers. I have only recently seen the proof in my improvement. And I have only recently become confident in my knife sharpening skills.
Here's some photos of some carvings that were recently completed.