This pheasant painting has ben a long time coming. This is the fourth version, the other 3 ended up in the bin! Deeply frustrating, but sometimes it goes like that. Occasionally the painting flow like a dream, from initial idea through to completion without a hitch. This one was a battle from start to finish!
The First version was of a pheasant crouching. That one didn’t even see a lick of paint. When I had finished drawing it I left it aside of a while like I usually do. When I came back to it was clear it was bad.. so in the bin in went.
This is painting below was the second version of the painting which I abandoned, the composition was wrong in the middle. when I started painting it, it become clear it was wrong, so in the bin it went and I stared again.
The 3rd one went in the bin, I won’t even post that. as it is in shreds.
A pheasant was standing in a field chatting with a bull.
“I would love to be able to get to the top of yonder tree’, sighed the pheasant, ‘but I haven’t got the energy’.
‘Well, why don’t you nibble on some of my droppings?’ replied the bull. ‘They’re packed with nutrients’.
The pheasant pecked at a lump of dung and found that it actually gave him enough strength to reach the first branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. And so on. Finally, after a fourth night, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. Whereupon he was spotted by a farmer who dashed into the farmhouse, emerged with a shotgun, and shot the pheasant right out of the tree.
Moral of the story:
Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there!
Roald Dahl’s book Danny, the Champion of the World made poaching pheasants magical. The method was called a ‘sticky hat’, a raisin’s had a horse’s tail hair threaded through it, It would get caught in the pheasants throat, preoccupied, it can then be caught!
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In 1975 the British Royal Navy banned cats on its ships and put an end to a tradition that had been in place for hundreds of years. For example in Louis XIV’s French Navy in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries all French ships were ordered to carry two cats for rodent-control duties.
Rodent-control was the reason cats were put on ships. All trading nations adopted this practice. It is believed that Cats arrived in Europe by boat from Ancient Phoenicia (maritime trading cultures on the african coast of the Mediterranean). They set their paws down on european soil in about 900 BC.
Gradually cats became worlds travellers, eventually reaching nearly all parts of the world accessible by ship. Over the centuries their offspring developed into different breeds according to the climate in which they found themselves and the mates they took, as well as the deliberate selection by humans.
Cats have long had a reputation as magical animals and amongst the sailing community it is not hard to see why superstitions solidified, sailing was a dangerous business, and if a cat were to bring good luck then all the better! British and Irish sailors considered adopting a black “ship’s cat” because it would bring good luck. As a result most ships cats received a high level of care to keep them happy and to keep the ship lucky.
Famously a cat called Convoy aboard HMS Hermione slept in a hammock! Convoy was so named due to the number of trips he had successfully made during the second world war. Convoy’s luck ran out on 16 June 1942 when a U-boat sank HMS Hermione, sadly killing Convoy and 87 crew members.
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The Butterfly effect is also known as Chaos theory and it has captured the imagination of writers and creatives, a good example is the 1946 film, A Wonderful Life, An Angel shows George Bailey how rewriting history would detrimentally affect the lives of everyone in his hometown. In a subtle butterfly effect, snow falls in one version of reality but not the other.
“A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury, the killing of a butterfly during the time of dinosaurs causes the future to change in subtle but meaningful ways, read about it here
But Chaos aside, butterfly’s have come to represent love and the soul, The ancient Greek word for “butterfly” means “soul” or “mind”.
In Chinese culture, two butterflies flying together symbolize love. And in Japan, they are representation of a person’s soul.
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The finished painting of a hegdehog, and below the same painting in progress.
The hedgehog’s dilemma is an analogy about the challenges of human intimacy. It goes like this, An Array of hedgehogs are getting ready for their winter hibernation, they start to snuggle down into their nest and cuddle up to each other to conserve heat. But they must remain apart. They cannot avoid hurting one another with their sharp spines. Oh dear!
Sigmund Freud used The Hedgehog’s dilemma to describe the individuals relation to others in society. The hedgehog’s dilemma suggests that despite goodwill, human intimacy cannot occur without substantial mutual harm. We all have to have some pain from each other to enjoy some intimacy.
This painting of a hedgehog continues with the theme of animals in their natural habitat. The Hedgehog with a grassy bank depicted on his back. The clover flowers bringing out the green of the grass and vice a-versa.
I Studied Albrecht Dürer watercolour, “Great Piece of Turf”, which is a truly astonishing painting, to get some inspiration for the grass. and I continued my thread of influence of japanese prints and the arts and crafts to decorate the belly of the hedgehog.
Image © Daniel Mackie
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In 1953 philosopher Isaiah Berlin published an essay called,”The Hedgehog and the Fox” in it he expands on the simple notion attributed to the ancient Greek poet Archilochus, “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”
He divides writers and thinkers two camps, those who view the world with one defining idea,(Hedgehog) Plato and Dostoyevsky for example, and those that believe the world can not be distilled down to one idea.(fox) Aristotle and Shakespeare for example.
Archilochus ancient quote has filtered down through the years, I don’t know if it influenced the story of the fox and the cat, but, “the many things” aspect of the story marry up with Archilochus quote. A cat and a fox are having a chat about how many tricks they have up their sleeves. The fox boasts that he has many. The cat says he only has one. When hunters arrive with their dogs, the cat quickly climbs a tree, but the fox can’t decide which trick to employ and is caught by the hounds.
The hedgehog is often depicted as a wise creature, The story, The Hedgehog and the Hare by the brothers Grim illustrates this. The hedgehog outsmart’s the hare with is brains and runs the hare off his legs! read about it here
In This story from Romania, the hedgehog is represented as wise, but an introverted grump!
During creation the earth god had made no room for the oceans, rivers and lakes. God did not know what to do, so he sent the bee to the hedgehog, the wisest of all animals, to ask advice. The hedgehog refused, however, The Bee was smart, he knew that the hedgehog was in the habit of talking to itself. The bee crept back up to it and heard it murmuring, “God does not know that he must create valleys and mountains in order to make room for the waters.” The bee hurried back to God with this advice, enabling him to complete his creation. To reward the hedgehog, God gives it a coat made of needles.
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The Swallow has long been associated with Folklore. European folklore has a long list of good and bad luck stories, from bringing death if one were to land on your shoulder to bringing good fortune if they nest on your roof. One thing that is universal is that if you see a swallow then summer is on the way.
One of the most interesting aspects of the applied meaning of swallows is that of navy tattoos. I have talked about this before on this blog. Swallows, represented for sailors, land. Back in the olden days when sailing wasn’t a precise an art as it is today, the sight of a swallow sparked hope. If you’d been at sea for a long time probably relief as well. Swallows being land-based birds indicated your were near the shore. the birds have been used as tattoos to represent a specific amount of nautical miles sailed, for example, two swallows indicates a journey of 10,000 nautical miles.
swallows have long been used as a representation of speed. it has had influence in the world of aeronautical thought since antiquity.
The world’s first operational transonic jet fighter,The Me-262 Schwalbe, takes its name from the swallow.
The japanese named it’s fighter plane the Kawasaki Ki-61, the flying swallow,
Here you can see the painting on my desk, almost finished. This repeat is a square tile.
and here it is in repeat.
This design is available as a card at The DM Collection
Two Owls, a black cat and an cat licking it's paw are four of the ten creatures up on dispaly at Domalis cafe in Crystal Palce South East London. The Prints are an open edtion,They are 24 x 18 Inches. They only went up last week and two have sold already! I have used a white wooden frame that comes from Italy and they have been double mounted on acid free consvertaion board. Very clean and crisp looking.
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This is another of my repeating pattern designs, repeats are a bit of a brain twister to design, but they are lovely! This one is of owls. Owl’s are typically solitary. However in this design I have a parliament of owls. The literary collective noun for a group of owls is a parliament.
Apparently the collective nouns for creatures stems from an English hunting tradition of the Late Middle Ages. By the beginning of the 14th century this creative use of language was already in place. The trend it seems came from France. It became a courtly fashion to extend use these terms and by the 15th century, this tendency had reached exaggerated proportions.
In the Book of Saint Albans (1486) 165 terms are listed, most of them collective nouns for creatures but some for humans,” a fightyng of beggers”,or “a gaggle of women”
The Book of Saint Albans became very popular during the 16th century and was reprinted frequently, some of the collective nouns for creatures have entered the english language, for example, a gaggle of geese, or a swarm of bees.
Some of the more creative collective nouns are less well-known, for example, a Murder of crows or bouquet of pheasants.
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I have just finished my fist trade show at Top drawer. It went better than I could have ever expected. I have lots of orders to fulfull and have had to initiate another large print run. Great news. My cards were very popular. Interestingly the 5 most popular were, The Hare, The little Owl, The Fox, The Rooster and the cat licking it’s paw.
I now have a collection of 21 cards 16 of animals and 5 of repeating patterns of birds.
Check them all out at my shop, The DM Collection.
Well, The The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a smaller version of the king Charles spaniel. I wrongly thought that the breed was given its name because of its resemblance to Charles II, if you have seen a painting of him you might agree! However I was wrong! In fact King Charles II was so fond of his spaniels he could not be parted from them. He made a decree that “King Charles Spaniels” must be allowed in any public place, including the House of Parliament. This decree is apparently still in the law books today. So the dog was named “king Charles spaniel” because the King loved his dogs not because they looked like him.
I prefer the lookalike version!
In 2012 a study was presented at the annual meeting of the British Psychological Society. It found dog breeds reflect certain facets of their owners’ personalities. Toy dogs (a category with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel fits) tended to be owned by open intelligent people who were also creative. This goes against the idea that toy dogs are owned by air heads.
In fact Isaac Newton owned at toy dog (a Pomeranian) and he was no slouch when it came to cognitive gymnastics! His dog was called Diamond, it was pretty smart as well. Apparently, the dog discovered two theorems in a single morning. Newton is quoted as saying, “one had a mistake and the other had a pathological exception. Isaac, it seems had a sense of humor as well!
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