Every ones individual tastes vary about everything. This applies to carvings and whittlings too. Some like their pieces painted while some like them natural.
I remember looking upon a carving of a Santa, that was excellent. Very very well carved. The piece was painted to the most exact detail. The piece was being judged, and only garnered a red ribbon. I remember talking to the carver and he said the judges told him the carving was excellent, but the paint job made the piece look like it was plastic. Whether one agrees wit the judge or not, his reasoning points out the two schools of thought on finishing a carved wood piece.
I like both the painted piece and the natural. Although, there are reasons for a natural finished carving over a painted carving. At the top of this list of reasons to finish a carving naturally is the steadiness of the painters hand, and the painters vision. Of course there is always the time element.
and the fact that some just love the look of natural wood.
Here's a photo of painted and natural finishes.
The ornaments and pins in the top row were merely finished with HOWARD'S FEED-N-WAX. This is one of the fastest finish methods. I could have dipped the pieces in a wood conditioner, then dipped into a stain, let dry and waxed.