Stag Below Watchtower at Lyme Park


On my hard drive I found a photo showing a stag in the grounds of Lyme Park which is about a half hour drive from home. I didn't take it but I know just where the person who took it was standing - near the long drive that winds up to the stately home. I probably saved the photo hoping it would spawn an oil painting. It did - I brought a blank canvas down from the attic and set about painting. Here is the result.


I cropped the photo a little as I thought the middle ground was a little featureless. I cut out the 'waist' of the it, pushing the top and bottom bits together so the stag was nearer the watchtower. The building is known as The Cage (as it resembles a birdcage) and it was built in 1520 as a hunters watchtower. Horses could be ridden inside and the upper rooms afforded a view out onto hunters chasing deer. It's thought illegal poachers caught the huge estate would be locked in there (in earlier times they'd have been shot dead.)


I haven't painted snow before and wasn't sure how to start. Oil paintings featuring thick snow often have a purple tinge to them but the hill I was painting was mostly grass with only a peppering of snow. I started with white for the snowy bits and splashed in some greens and browns around them. Despite chopping the photo down the hill ascending to the hunting tower was still featureless excepting tufts of grass, escarpment and bushes. I haphazardly daubed in with some thicker taller grasses. Slowly things built up and I thought perhaps I won't end up throwing this thing on the fire (or painting over it.)

What was that stag looking for? Food or its harem? They're usually after food or deer. As the stags there don't break cover often perhaps the person who took the photo was there early in the morning or late in the evening. The stag doesn't look to be putting down its left hind leg; was it resting it or was it painful?


Nearly finished I realised the stag's head was too small for its body and I had to enlarge it. Soon the canvas was finished and can be on your wall this time next month (allowing for drying.) It's yours for 18,000. Normally it would be 40 but my neighbour Cindy asked me to go round to her home to unblock a plughole. Later I bumped into her 7 foot beef-stack of a husband and by mistake said I'd spent an hour that morning playing with his wife's "butthole". He punched me into next week and I had to have 18,000 worth of plastic surgery on my face.