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This image began its existence as an idle sketch, and might have remained so. However, as I delved into it further, it revealed a compelling, mythic story that I wanted to express visually.

    In The Great Encyclopedia of Faeries, Pierre Dubois writes of faery does and relates a tale of a woman who is human in daylight and a white deer by nightfall:
'Why are you sighing, my daughter Marguerite?'
'I have great anger in me and I hardly dare tell you. I am a girl by day and a white doe by night. The hunters are after me, the barons and princes, and my brother Renaud, he is even worse. Go, my mother, go and tell him at once that he must restrain his hunting dogs until tomorrow morning.'

'Where are your dogs, Renaud, and the exciting hunt?'
'They are in the woods hunting the white doe.'

'Stop them, Renaud, stop them, I beg of you.'
   
Three times he sounded his brass horn; on the third time the white doe was caught.

'Let us call the skinner, so that he may skin the doe.'
   The man skinning her said: 'I do not know what to say, she has blond hair and the breasts of a young girl.' He drew his knife and quartered her.
   Then the hunters, princes and barons were seated at the table in the great hall of the castle, eager to start eating the venison. But Renaud was waiting for his sister to arrive before starting the feast. He wondered about the empty seat: 'Here we all are, except for my sister Marguerite..'
   
And a voice arrived from the roasted meat: "Why don't you eat, I was the first seated...My head is on the dish and my heart is by my ankles. My blood is spilled everywhere in the kitchen, and my bones are being grilled on the black coals.'
   So ends the sad, sinister lament with twenty-four variants and seven melodies, gleaned on the road from Niort to Saint-Lô.


Although I do not feel that this is the exact story my illustration relates (for one, this Deer Woman is not a White Deer Woman, and secondly, the sun is illuminating the forest), it shares some very common elements with this tale. As in that tale, a female is caught between two forms: that of a graceful doe and that of a girl. She is a shapeshifter, a creature who lingers at the edges of the Veil. She does not completely belong to either to the realm of Faery or of mortals. She wears both the finery of human aristocracy as well as a Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) in her hair. A tapestry, woven with human hands, bars her from the forest, the haunt of her faery kin, yet it still permits her a painful last glance at a path to the Otherworld. That same tapestry may also hold a clue - hunters with their dogs and spears are searching the forest for game.

The style of this piece was largely inspired by Renaissance portaiture, and the tapestry is in many ways a homage to the Unicorn Tapestries.










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Daily Deviation

Given 2006-03-02
DeerWoman by *sphinxmuse is a great debut to a gallery. It has strong visual character in the same vein as Michael parkes, but carris its own themes and delivers on tonal depth and execution. ( Suggested by melancholycreations and Featured by zeruch )
:iconkarinamacgill:
KarinaMacGill Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Professional General Artist
Amaizing! Very botticelli!
Reply
:iconlucilla6:
Lucilla6 Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2010
I like more of them but this one was catching right now....
Reply
:iconmegeso:
Megeso Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2010
This is such a beautiful piece. Wonderful work!
Reply
:iconsanoshinna:
sanoshinna Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is so beautiful. Her deer and human qualities blend so well together. Amazing job!!
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2009   Traditional Artist
Thanks. This is still one of my favorites.
Reply
:iconremixt:
ReMixt Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2009
wow... amazingly done.
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2009   Traditional Artist
Thanks!
Reply
:iconremixt:
ReMixt Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2009
no problem! ^^
Reply
:iconpilot-tender-foot:
pilot-tender-foot Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2009  Professional Traditional Artist
:heart:
Reply
:iconspikesquirrel:
spikesquirrel Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2008
wow... beautiful...
Reply
:iconmistressjane:
MistressJane Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2008
Lovely work ......the white deer was sacred to the ancient british peoples.

There was one that roamed the new forrest until last year, then it's body was found, minus the head.
It shocked the nations psyche and made national news, practicaly every british child grows up knowing these animals are sacred.
I hope the ba****d that shot it got what what he/she deserved for that.

At Stonehenge solstice gathering two years ago a girl was dancing as the sun came up wearing a white doe mask, your work reminded me of it.
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2008   Traditional Artist
I am very interested in Deer myths and legends.

It's such a shame to hear about that poor beheaded creature. The person who killed it probably wanted its head for their wall as a trophy I imagine. What goes around, comes around in this case I hope.
Reply
:iconsleetwealth:
Sleetwealth Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist
I love this one. I am partial to deer/faun figures.
Reply
:iconsebas1986:
sebas1986 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2008
me ha encantado esta obra, la idea además es buenísima, y por lo que he visto en este y otros trabajos tuyos tienes un estilo genial y muy personal, sigue así de veras! Me ha llamado la atención sobre todo porque en obras que estoy realizando recientemente las compongo con una figura humana acompañada de un animal siempre, y ultimamente estaba pensando en mezclar esos elementos y animalizar la figura humana... bueno no m enrollo más, he supuesto que sabes español porque en una de tus obras tienes puesto en español "la muerte" si no es asi "sorry"!...
Saludos!
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2008   Traditional Artist
Perdón, yo no hablo español. ¡Gracias para su comentario! (I had an internet translator assist me with those phrases).
Reply
:iconkittykatlozzy:
kittykatlozzy Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2008
amazing work i luv it whatdo u use ur work really inspires me i'll be puttin some new work on here soon keep a look out cant wait to see more :-) :-)
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:iconbear48:
bear48 Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2007  Professional
very nice job
Reply
:iconlifesanindiefilm:
LifesAnIndieFilm Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2007
i just stumbled upon this, and had to admit that I adore it =]
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2007   Traditional Artist
Thank you :D
Reply
:iconaylaelphabamidna:
AylaElphabaMidna Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2007
Wow. How sad. Gorgeous picture, it's a really surreal mixture of human and animal.
Reply
:iconnibblekat:
NibbleKat Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2007  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
She's so gorgeous and sad. Such beautiful colors. Very emotive.
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2007   Traditional Artist
Thank you, this is still one of my favorite pieces.
Reply
:iconimmortalxmurder:
ImmortalxMurder Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2007
That's possible the most beautiful piece of artwork I have ever seen... It's beyond words... You;re extremely talented! Great work! ^^

Did you use colored pencil?
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2007   Traditional Artist
Thank you very much, and yes I use colored pencil extensively :)
Reply
:iconhedgehogbeeblebrox:
HedgehogBeeblebrox Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2007
Arr, hope you don't mind the comment on an older piece, but I stumbled upon this by accident, and I must say it's absolutely beautiful.
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2007   Traditional Artist
You are welcome to comment on any of my pieces :) Thank you!
Reply
:iconemperornortonii:
EmperorNortonII Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
This is beautiful! :D
Reply
:iconbohemian-folly:
bohemian-folly Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2006
Gorgeous.
Reply
:iconenchantedgal:
enchantedgal Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2006
I just wanted to thank you for the inspiration. My artwork is a lot different from yours, but I just had to do a deer woman after seeing this. ( [link] )
Reply
:iconsabi-shaylan:
Sabi-Shaylan Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2006
Good work. Very unique style.
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2006   Traditional Artist
Thank you.
Reply
:iconkagama:
Kagama Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2006
this one is really....unique i must say.what a great imagination you must have.
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006   Traditional Artist
Unique in a good way, I hope!
Reply
:iconkagama:
Kagama Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006
yes....unique in a good way
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006   Traditional Artist
Whew!
Reply
:iconstarbones:
starbones Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2006
This is absolutely gorgeous! I love her delicate fingers with hoof-like nails. And her long neck! What an elegant creature she is.
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2006   Traditional Artist
Thank you :) I was definitely hoping to capture a creature of elegance.
Reply
:iconttethys:
Ttethys Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2006
How can I describe it? There's something classically romantic about it. Gorgeous!
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2006   Traditional Artist
"classically romantic" - I like it! :D
Reply
:iconttethys:
Ttethys Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2006
Hehe ^^
Reply
:iconashtea:
Ashtea Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2006
love the colours and the composition...and especially the deer anatomy with those soft doe eyes.
congrats on the dd, it was well deserved :)
Reply
:icondreamingtwilight:
DreamingTwilight Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2006
I am compelled to comment on this piece because I have loved it ever since I first came across it on Elfwood. Technically it's beautiful, i.e. the shading, the background, all the textile and skin textures; and these combined with the subject and the peerless expression of the doe's face just blow me away. Thank you so much for sharing. I would love a print of this if you ever made them n___n
Reply
:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2006   Traditional Artist
:D I have prints availble right here through DeviantART. Below the image is an option "Buy a Print" or you can just visit my Print Shop at www.sphinxmuse.deviantart.com/store.

I have a few different print sizes as well as a postcard available of this piece.
Reply
:iconnelledreamsofberlin:
nelledreamsofberlin Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2006
i am sorry i keep forgetting to comment on this piece... it is really good work and you deserve all the praise you get for any of your pieces, i wish you the best of luck with your art!!
Thankyou for sharing and especially for going into such meaningful detail.
Reply
:iconenricorpg:
enricorpg Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2006
I love surreals =)
Reply
:iconwaefaerie:
Waefaerie Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2006
Oh my! I loved The Last Unicorn and was especially impressed by the similarity in style to this piece and The Unicorn Tapestries. A truly magnificent hommage! I especially love that "vacant gaze" that all does have with their black eyes (the shine is excellent!) especially meaningful due to the almost distant, surreal feel what with her touching the arrow in her chest. The colors are just lovely!
Reply
:iconmakedaset:
Makedaset Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2006
You have done such a beautiful job crossing anatomy. It is hauntingly beautiful.
Reply
:iconbeaux-mondes:
beaux-mondes Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2006
It reminds me of a Midsummer Night's Dream..
brilliantt.
Reply
:iconameliagirl103:
ameliagirl103 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2006   Photographer
This is amazing work. I love how there's a story behind it. Makes it all the more intriguing.
Reply
:iconlilfairie:
LilFairie Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2006  Professional Interface Designer
awsome picture, love it!
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Submitted on
January 4, 2006
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