I thought I would share with you some of the thoughts and processes that go into a painting like this.
This is derived from one of those charismatic moments, in this case from just before the infamous Lockdown. We were nearly run over by a red deer hind pursued by a stag in Richmond Park, so close it seemed they were in touching distance. Being a painting it has been tempered by considerations of composition - e.g., leave out the stag, the hind is enough - cuto tthe chase? - and checking the way other artists have tackled some of the issues it presented. The encounter left my heart beating wildly. In theory it was before the rut, so there should have been no chasing going on,
but I have noticed deer do not read the same books on their behaviour that we do.
Even though they had crossed from right to left in front of me, when trying to draw what I could recall, I reversed this. I started with the hind, the focus of attention, thinking to draw the stag next and then see if i could slide the shapes together to make an action packed image.
This is my initial A5 sketch. You can see some parts, such as the head and the drooping branch were clear and others were hunted out, such as the line of her spine.
I liked the way her head had spontaneously come to rest near the top right corner as if running away from me (rather than past me as really happened) and the way all her legs seemed to bunch to the bottom left, except for one, which I had drawn lifting to the right. You can see from the single line cutting to the right that this was a second thought after the others had been drawn. Maybe if I had made them all go to the left she would have been careening aeaw, but this was now not outright flight but the moment before running away, as if I had surprised her when I started to draw and she was about to flee. And I liked the way I had dropped a branch across her shoulders.
The deer had been running in a area of oak trees, so I could drop in a bole in the background.
I now had set of three objects and a background that neatly divided in two, more or less on the centre line of her body. Serendipity can be wonderful!
I wanted the brushwork to give scale to these elements. I think I read Picasso talking about this to Francoise Gilot. So I used at the same sized brush for everything, using a bigger brush than usual, to stop myself trying to do too much "knitting."
I needed to be bold rendering the grass. As I recall it was still green and there had been sun spots making light patches. The grass had been long but as this was under trees it was not so high that the deer disappeared in it... This was the challenge of this picture and I was determined to hack it. For inspirationI went and looked at Permeke's painting of the clergyman in his gig which has a bright yellow ground and at Macke's painting of ladies in dappled shade. I tok some Cadmium Yellow and Light Green and prepares three tones of green, the s wept the colours int blocks, finishing with a catering up stroke. I did not clean the brush between colours, so more half tones of the three principle colours were introduced
I used sweeping strokes to follow the shape of the deer's body, covering the entire animal in Burnt Sienna. Then to put the body and head in deep shadow I painted over this with a semi dry mixture of indigo and VD brown I picked out some highlights in Lght Red.