Last summer I started painting animals around the house. Highlighting critters I’d seen in our yard or on the patio, I painted smaller fauna like songbirds, along with the occasional skink or frog. Yet we’ve also seen plenty of larger animals in our yard, including rabbits, the occasional opossum, and deer. After months of painting small creatures then, I decided to put a full-sized deer on our red accent wall. Let’s take a look!
At the risk of getting “Do-Re-Mi” playing on loop in my head perpetually, I decided to paint a doe. I’ll occasionally see fawns, and more rarely, bucks, but does are by far the most numerous visitors through our yard. Usually they walk, sometimes they’ll run, but I can always see them from the window in my study.
Preparing to Paint
I began by making some preliminary drawings in my sketchbook. After trying out a few different poses, I decided to show the deer looking out toward the yard quietly. I considered a more action-oriented pose, but thought it might look stilted with the deer frozen in place.
I then began working on the wall by sketching an outline. Since I don’t have a projector to enlarge my sketches, this was all done freehand. I used white chalk for the initial outlines, erasing the lines I didn’t like. Once I was happy with the outline, I went over the chalk with white paint. After I outlined the deer I realized I’d made the legs too long, but I fixed this by adding a rock and redrawing the doe’s hooves to the correct height.
Painting the Deer
From there, it was a matter of adding color, value, and texture. I mixed all the colors myself using the three primary colors, black, and white. I also used some leftover gray from another painting project for the rock. The abstractions I’ve been painting for the past few years have made me a lot more confident with using different techniques like dry brushing. This enabled me to convey the texture of the deer’s coat without painstakingly rendering every hair. As a result, I painted the entire deer in about three or four afternoons, with each session lasting about 2 hours.
One Deer, Big Changes
Having the deer on the wall has definitely changed the mood of the house. While I’ve painted birds and other wildlife in each of the rooms, it’s easy to overlook them if you’re not paying attention. The deer, by contrast, is unavoidable. Like the cabinet doors I painted a few months ago, it’s a focal point rather than an accent.
But I don’t plan on stopping here. On the contrary, I’m just getting started.