the gift of the deer

left: long legs for standing (my first deer on canvas), 30x15 detail,
currently on exhibit at Cafe Latte
right: tiny fawn, 5.5 x 4.5 watercolor+acrylic on paper, SOLD

I grew up in the hills of Northern California where it wasn't unusual to witness deer eating the latest growth in one's front yard.  I was never able to get close to these deer, though.  I was only able to observe them looking out, from inside my home.  My friend, Gina Easley, who recently moved from Minneapolis to Eugene, has had the opportunity to actually follow a family of deer in her backyard.  I cannot think of a better way to transition to a new place! And I cannot get enough of her updates.  If you have any interest, I highly recommend following along HERE.

I read The Gift of the Deer, by Helen Hoover many years ago.  In this memoir, Hoover lives on the Minnesota/Canadian border and follows the lives of a deer family near her remote home for over two years.

I completely relate to how Judy (on Goodreads) reviewed this book, "When life gets too hectic and frustrating, I turn to the natural world...If I can't get up and go, the next best thing is to read something that can transport me there.  This book does just that."

And I might add: and if I cannot read, I watch!  

"Joe Hutto has dedicated seven years of his life to becoming a wild mule deer.  Ordinarily, the deer herd would run from any human, but these keenly intelligent animals come to regard this stranger as one of their own.  As he crosses the species divide, Hutto taps into a new understanding of these elusive animals.  His joy in his new family is infectious."  - Touching the Wild, Season 32, Episode 15

Of course, I highly recommend watching the entire episode.  Hutto experiences a particular doe (not a buck!) as the herd leader.  At one point, he has his hand on this doe's pregnant belly and describes to you what he is feeling.  He witnesses this doe's distress with the loss of a family member.  

screen grab from Hutto documentary

these pieces (and a few more) are available in my etsy shop

Even though I have had an experience with deer at a very early age, I didn't begin painting them regularly until my recent return from our trip up the California coast this summer.  I think this opportunity tapped into my experience I had as a child being able to observe them in such close proximity.

I love this quote by Hutto:
"I was not seeing something.  I was seeing someone."  

When having an experience with an animal, I think most of us feel this way.  
And, I think it's easy for us to get caught up in our own worlds again and forget.

larger work in progress
and the first day of wearing a sweater in my studio this year, September 20


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