A Deer Holding a Painting of a Deer Like It Won Best Deer

It started, Joseph Fink says, as a chance encounter in a Hudson antiques store.

“My girlfriend, Meg, and I were browsing around and came upon this terrible, wonderful painting of a deer wearing a painting of a deer around its neck. It was very badly done, but also beautiful,” Fink tells me. “I wanted it so much, but it was too expensive.”

Collector of Harts

So when Joseph Fink put out a call on Twitter for “paintings of deer wearing pictures of deer around their necks like they just won a prize for Best Deer”, I thought it was funny. Then as it came up a couple times more, I started thinking about. I finally came home one night and actually did a test layout for the image I had in my head sitting on the highway in traffic.

Sketch of a deer holding an award ribbon against the Welcome to Night Vale logo background

Which, well, wasn’t fantastic but it wasn’t half bad either. It, and some discussions on Twitter, got me to thinking about what direction I wanted to go with it that were a bit different. I finally struck on the idea that I wanted to emulate Dutch and Flemish portraiture. You know, the stuff with the big lace ruff and collars and lush fabrics and oh god what did I get myself into. But sometimes stuff just falls into place. A friend reblogs a fantastic collection of stag photos. Somehow I stumble on a person recreating Dutch portraits in photos of people holding animals. It started to fall together. Thanks to the magic of Photoshop, I had my reference layout of a stag in a huge lace ruff holding a painting with an ornate gold frame. Oh yeah, let’s get started.

First picture is actually the second attempt to get started. My mock-up and my paper were of different dimensions so I had to redo my grid. But with that done, I could fit the Deer on the paper properly. You can see the false start lightly in this photo.

Starting to Deer
That’s supposed to be my sewing table on the right. Supposed to be.

In order to cover the false start and to give it more depth and interest, I decided I needed a wallpaper background. Something like a damask or similar, but not. Then I remembered this great stamp I ran across on Zazzle. Oh yeah, we’re going to make a carnivorous pitcher plant wallpaper for this bad boy.

Now with Carnivorous Plant Wallpaper

Here are some in progress shots so you can see the evolution. Jeremiah Vanderkamp, as I’ve been calling him, grew a goatee eventually on suggestion of my friend Justin. Deer don’t generally have them, but Jeremiah is a sophisticated Dutch deer.

Now with fabric folds Tonight's Deer
Tonight's Deer Almost Finished

And finally, after 12-15 hours of work, the final product.

Jeremiah Vanderkamp, Pastels on paper, 22″x32″.

I am extremely proud of this. Not only because it’s the first thing I’ve painted in years, but because I actually got it out of my head the way I wanted it. I wasn’t sure I had a chance in hell of getting all of those blasted folds to actually look like fabric. But they do and he’s pretty fucking awesome.

I am probably going to have prints for sale in the near future, but I’m thinking of switching print vendors from Zazzle because their terms are somewhat unfavorable to artists these days. So stay tuned if you want a print.

I did not get a chance to do a hand off to Mr. Fink himself. I managed to find their tour manager at a merch table at tonight’s Welcome to Night Vale show in DC and I hope it got back to him. Or perhaps the tour manager will decide to keep it for herself. I wouldn’t blame her, frankly. My husband is actually rather disappointed I didn’t keep it because he wanted to frame it and put it above the fireplace. Anyway. This is my painting of a deer holding a paint of a deer like he just won best deer. Thanks internet and Mr. Fink for helping me create him.

ETA: Prints now available: Jeremiah Vanderkamp on Society6