After writing about ‘Reviewing work – line versus colour with tone’ I wrote at the end of the post that I felt the subject had more to be said on deer, and so I have decided to re-visit this for my Assignment 2 piece.
That said, I am not sure as to how I want to re-visit the deer piece. My initial idea was based on the rubbish dumped on the side of the road, and animals like deer being left to die like rubbish cast away which is most upsetting. My first instinct was to start thinking about drawing a dead deer from life, and to see where that initially took me. I enquired around, living in the countryside means there are several gamekeepers around here, and I know it is stalking season for some. Whilst this threw up a whole lot of questions for me, I thought it would be the right way to start the process.
After making some calls, I got a phonecall from a local keeper, who told me that he did have some muntjac heads in his freezer, ready to be stuffed and mounted. I went over to his house and he let me sit and draw these for an hour in compressed charcoal and pencil, which I then came back and worked on one at home to experiment further in ink and coloured pencil.
Whilst this was a great exercise and good to look at a part of a deer in real life, firstly the muntjac is a weird looking creature – sort of part deer, part badger and part warthog. Secondly what I loved about the roe deer I had originally drawn was the long elegant legs and hooves, which are so beautiful even in death. I spoke to the keeper briefly about how he is on the list for the police to call when a deer gets struck by a car and is in a very bad way, so he can go and humanely dispatch the deer on the road rather then leaving it to suffer. Obviously some people do have feelings about it and don’t just leave the deer to die slowly which was nice to hear. That said, he said that even though he dispatches them, he is obliged to leave the deer by the side of the road, and is not allowed to use it for meat – it is not allowed to re-enter the food chain. I feel this is such a shame as us as humans have killed it, yet its death is completely pointless. At least if it were used for food the death would not go to complete waste.
Whilst I could not pull the trigger myself I do see why it could be conceived as necessary in many cases. I am not a vegetarian, I do enjoy eating meat. However I feel sick to the stomach about how my meat from the butchers is dispatched. It is horribly hypocritical of me – I don’t like the way they do it, yet I still eat it. It fills me with guilt when I think about it, so I tend to not think about it. I wonder how many others out there feel the same way about meat production? Therefore I do see it that a competent stalker, who dispatches a deer in its own environment without it even knowing it was going to happen, seems so much less brutal and more humane then putting it in a lorry terrified, driving it along the motorway in a cold ventilated lorry with cars and motorbikes whizzing past, falling over its friends in the crush within, only to be parked up with the scent of death all around you and forced off a lorry into a place that you know is not right. The fear must be immense. I know many many people would argue with me, but I am admitting my guilt and I know that us humans are ultimately parasites, but I am part of that parasitical chain and there is little I can do about it. And I know that if I was going to die, I would rather be taken quickly without knowing it was coming, then having to suffer for a long time or experience extreme fear of dying before actually dying. The argument is, of course, why should they have to die at all, but that is a huge argument that I cannot get into for the sake of this assignment.
Based on my musings, I started to look at how I could draw a dead deer, and show respect for said deer in its death. The keeper himself is an extremely respectful and conscientious man. He does everything he can to make sure that the death is swift and as without fear or pain as possible. My recent visit to the Ashmoleum Museum had me thinking about the worship of animals in different cultures and I wondered whether deer had ever had this sort of worship and if I could incorporate it in some way.
Looking online, I found that some ancient cultures did in fact revere the deer. The Pazyryk tribe lived-in the Altai Mountains in Siberia, south of the modern city of Novosibirsk, Russia. It is loosely believed that deer formed part of their worship, and remains that have been discovered from the the burial mounts that depict tattoos showing deer with huge antlers. I found some deer drawings online from this era and copied them to see if they might work as a background to my drawing, to show respect for the dead deer that I have drawn. Below are drawings from these images.
I then got a phonemail from the keeper who told me that he had just bought home some roe deer, and so I went straight around to his house to do some life drawings of the deer, in compressed charcoal on A2 paper.
One of my ideas stemming from this, was to draw a deer on a kitchen table, with its legs gracefully dangling over the edge, giving the impression that the deer will be used for food. There is also the idea that the deer on the table could almost look like it was on an alter, bringing in the religious/worship idea once again.
I then drew several drawings of the deer hanging – I do feel these drawings are more brutal in their context. They are more obvious and pack a bit of a punch to the viewer, even to me who saw the real thing.
I worked further on one of the ‘poses’ when I got home, using different ideas for the backdrop, including one with text from Gerald Durrell’s ‘My family and other animals’.
Some of the drawings had the wood alongside which the deer was hung, and the way in which this falls almost looks like the deer is hanging on a cross, which again throws up religious connotations which is also thought provoking.
The assignment requests the use of colour in this piece, however my single hanging deer in colour, and my muntjac head above just didn’t feel emotive enough for me and are a bit weirdly childlike, and the hanging one is almost creepy, so I have decided to work primarily in charcoal, but pulling out the head only in full colour, with the colour sort of dribbling away down the deers body, in a way how the life is drawn away from the deer itself.
I started to transfer one of the images of the Pazyryk drawings onto an A3 piece of paper, but it was taking such a long time to draw each individual image, so I drew two different pictures onto tracing paper, scanned them into the computer, and copied and pasted to make a whole sheet of each image.
The second drawing has ended up looking like a whole load of frogs, whereas the first one is much more decorative, almost in an organic, William Morris type of way and so I printed this out, firstly onto A2 paper for a practice run and then onto A1.
This might well lift the mood of the drawing of the deer, and is actually a direct contrast to the deer hanging, so I think it might work quite well. On the other hand, it might add too much fussiness to the drawing itself. I will have to block out with white gesso the body of the deer in order to get any charcoal detail onto it, or perhaps just the head….this is what I will practice on the practice run.
I did a brief smaller practice run on the hand drawn copy, and its helped me work a few things out. Namely that I will have to gesso out some of the pattern behind the actual deer itself – whether I gesso out the whole body or not I’m not sure, but for the head where there will be colour, it might be too much of a mess.
My first of the final pieces was on A3 paper, below.
And the second was on A2 paper, cropped.
Sadly the proportions of the deer’s body on the second of the two pieces is slightly wrong – the neck is too long, as is the body. In the second piece I also put the cross, as I thought it would look stronger, but in fact I think the first of the two looks stronger now that I am viewing it on the computer. I seemed to have lost some of the looseness from previous drawings on this ‘final piece’ once again.
Once again I need to reflect on my progress for this assignment, and I have done this below.
- Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.
Most of the drawings achieved in this assignment were drawn from life, and I am relatively pleased with these efforts, in particular the four large charcoal drawings of the deer lying down. Other drawings were drawings from my life drawings, which I drew from back in my studio. I do seem to be tending towards charcoal and also compressed charcoal now, although I did use coloured pencil for the assignment piece. Charcoal and compressed charcoal is still my favoured medium and I feel I can convey a lot more expression when I use it in its entirety. I have continued to work on composition ideas in my development of the idea, continuously trying different ideas until I reach a conclusion.
- Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.
For this assignment, I feel the quality of outcome of the final pieces is not necessarily the best work throughout the assignment. I would have preferred to do a plain charcoal drawing again, but felt that because this is what I did for assignment 1 that I ought to diversify a bit, but I’m not sure this has benefited me in any way. I like my concepts, and feel I have communicated my ideas in a cohesive manner through my blog, but feel perhaps its not 100% yet, but as with many subject matters, my particular subject matter could run at least another ten races. I found it fascinating and compelling and this has certainly been the most interesting part of the still life section of the course for me.
- Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.
I have tried so many different ways of conveying my subject in this assignment, and so many of my drawings really resonate with me. I have continued to explore from start to finish. Certainly with my charcoal drawings I feel I am starting to gain some perspective as to my personal voice – I am starting to develop a certain style in my drawings which I am enjoying applying to different subject matter in my own personal sketchbooks. I will enjoy applying these techniques to the next section, in particular the trees and the townscapes.
- Context reflection – research, critical thinking (learning logs and, at second and third level, critical reviews and essays).
My visiting of galleries has been poor for this section of the course, and I plan to rectify that in the next part. For personal reasons I have found it hard to go and see ‘particular shows’, but I have continued to look at plenty of contemporary art, but not necessary older works. I have tried to take on board my tutor’s suggestions regarding critical writing, and applied this to a few areas of this section when writing about other work, and hope that this shows.