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The White Doe of Nara by sphinxmuse The White Doe of Nara by sphinxmuse
In many ways, my piece entitled DeerWoman was an artistic turning point for me. Although I have been creating images of deerwomen since early childhood, that particular work signaled something significant for me; reactions from both within and without indicated that I should follow that path beyond the tapestry of hunters deeper into the forest. In a sense the White Doe of Nara, created about three years after DeerWoman, is both a kind of commemoration and a futher exploration on the mythology and theme of my beloved DeerWoman. Yet the White Doe is not just a reinterpretation of the same figure in a different cultural context, in fact, the White Doe's character and tale is nearly a direct compliment to that of DeerWoman's.

Where DeerWoman is tragic, perhaps a victim or perhaps a reluctant but mythically necessary sacrifice, the White Doe is a figure with power. While destiny is something DeerWoman succumbs to, the White Doe has a direct hand in weaving it. DeerWoman avoids the viewer's gaze, the White Doe commands it. I feel that the compositional appearance of the landscapes in both images is significant also; DeerWoman is poised at a threshold between worlds, but the White Doe is the threshold, a manifestation of it as well as a gatekeeper of sorts. Unlike the melancholy DeerWoman, the White Doe sprouts antler spikes - she has a means of defense (or offense!). And, of course, there is the rather obvious distinction in cultural context. A Western European influence is prevalent in DeerWoman, but there is a pan-Asian inspiration for this piece.

My main cultural influence for this painting, revealed in its very title, is from Japan. I have long been captivated by Ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints, particularly by the Bijin-ga genre prints of Kitagawa Utamaro. In fact, the background texture and partially revealed hand of the figure in my piece were very much inspired by similar techniques used by him in a circa 1793 print entitled "Infrequent Love." In addition to my usual methods utilizing colored pencil and watercolor, I also experimented with other techniques literally involving processes of printing and stamping. I really wanted to combine my love of the gorgeous graphic quality of Ukiyo-e with my propensity for illustrating portraits in subtle gradations of color and shadow. The aforementioned processes, which I have never used in combination with my colored pencil technique, also allowed me to incorporate a stronger element of chance and randomness into the overall composition. When I work with colored pencil and watercolor, my method is very deliberate, direct, and controlled, however, these other processes were more indirect and much less predictable.

In addition to the aesthetic Japanese connection, there is also a mythological one. Within Japan's indigenous religion of Shinto, Sika deer (Cervus nippon) are regarded as sacred messengers of the Gods. In a particular region of Japan known as Nara in which the Kasuga Shrine is situated, it has been forbidden to hunt the deer for centuries. Deprived of the fear of immediate death at the hands of humans, the deer in Nara Park have become rather tame, freely approaching visitors seeking food and roaming the countryside without care. Legend tells that when the God Takemikazuchi-no-Mikoto first arrived to inhabit the shrine, he traveled on the back of a white deer. Deer also have a strong ties to Buddhism, another major religion in Japan. Siddharta Gautama's first sermon occured in Deer Park in Sarnath, and as this sermon set the Buddhist Wheel of Law into motion, deer are often depicted next to the symbolic representation of the Wheel.

While the Japanese influence is certainly the most prominent, I was also inspired by the art of other regions of Asia. For instance, the landscape depicted within the White Doe's kimono was inspired by Chinese screens and ink-wash paintings. White deer are also associated with divine figures in China as well; there is a painting in the Field Museum in Chicago depicting the Chinese Goddess Ma-Ku with a white hart. The White Doe's central hair ornament is a homage to a piece of Balinese metalwork which was once an earring for a large sculpture. The motif is traditional, but I have modified it somewhat for this image.

Original size: 8.5" by 11"
Media: prismacolor colored pencils, acrylic, watercolor, sumi-e ink, etc.
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:iconarschpo:
arschpo Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2016
:headbang: :stupidme::stupidme::stupidme::stupidme:  :squee::squee: Great Artwork :squee::squee:   :stupidme::stupidme: Amazing :stupidme::stupidme::stupidme::stupidme:  :stupidme:
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:iconqueenlovely777:
QueenLovely777 Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2015
This is such a beautiful piece! You did a great job! :)
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:iconlinnmangay:
LinnMangay Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2015
Amazing!!!
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:icondemersalamaranth:
DemersalAmaranth Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Amazing!
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:iconsilverkitsune26:
Silverkitsune26 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2015
This is beautiful. ^_^
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:iconartbyfieldsofsage:
artbyfieldsofsage Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Beautiful gallery.
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:iconivi-green:
Ivi-Green Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
great details!
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:iconmiss-audaum-lovet:
Miss-Audaum-Lovet Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012
O wow!!! so amazing!
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:iconamazingcatherine123:
AmazingCatherine123 Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2012  Student Writer
wow!!!! that is beautiful!! i love the touch of asian culture thrown in there alot!! :33
btw....how did you find out so much about deer people (or as you called them deer woman, and doe girl) and are fauns (like sieders and stuff....) related to deer people?? lolz just wondering XD

luv this piece!! ^^<< mind if i add it to my favorites???
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Traditional Artist
You are welcome to add it to your favorites :)

My knowledge about deer people is from my own interest and research into mythology and folklore, etc. I really like deer so when I find a piece of lore relating to them (this includes human-deer shape-shifters and deities/spirits/daemons associated with deer), I tend to tuck it away in my brain for later reference.
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:iconhonseyun000:
HonSeyun000 Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
man i love this
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:iconpaindancer:
Paindancer Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2011  Professional Photographer
This is pretty inspiring. I have allways loved human variants.. but its just so prohibitively costly to do right on camera. ;)
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:iconskdrift:
SKdrift Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2011
this is fantastically inspiring!
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:iconhappyfaeriedance:
HappyFaerieDance Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
THIS IS AMAZING!
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2011   Traditional Artist
Thanks :)
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:iconhappyfaeriedance:
HappyFaerieDance Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
no problem!
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:iconherbaljabbage:
HerbalJabbage Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is very beautiful, and the information you've given with it makes it even better! I also think It's got a little bit of an art deco feel to it.
Could I add it to the featured gallery at :iconmythologyandfolklore: so it will appear on the front page?
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2010   Traditional Artist
Thank you. You're most welcome to feature it on the Mythology and Folkore page.
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:iconpunkrawk1982:
punkrawk1982 Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
O_O truly amazing work, it's almost as if she is looking through me
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:iconvidest:
ViDeSt Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2010
Nice work, man!
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2010   Traditional Artist
Thanks, but I'm a woman ;)
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:iconvidest:
ViDeSt Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2010
ooops!! my fault! :blush:
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:iconrenaissanceotaku:
RenaissanceOtaku Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2009  Student Artisan Crafter
This is incredible! I totally fell in love with it when I saw it in the Gothic Art book. Its so beautiful and sorrowful!
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2010   Traditional Artist
Thank you kindly :)
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:iconlilielo-lawliet:
Lilielo-Lawliet Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2009
stunning
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:iconc-c-corone:
C-C-Corone Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This have been featured here: [link]
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:icongloriagypsy:
gloriagypsy Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2009  Professional General Artist
Absolutely gorgeous!
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2009   Traditional Artist
Thanks :)
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:icongloriagypsy:
gloriagypsy Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2009  Professional General Artist
You're welcome
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:iconskyetrinity:
SkyeTrinity Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2009  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
This is really amazing. I love how the detail work makes this feel very beliveable.
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:iconreban:
reban Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2009
eerie! and amazing!
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2009   Traditional Artist
Thank you! Eerie is good :D
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:iconlordivorlon:
lordIvorlon Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2009
wow...wow...
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2009   Traditional Artist
Thanks! Glad you enjoy it :)
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:iconlittletwistedgirl:
littletwistedgirl Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2009  Student Traditional Artist
it's beautiful.
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:iconjohnnyscharonne:
JohnnyScharonne Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2009
Extremely beautiful. Strong but still fragile. Oh, the colors...*sigh* :D
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2009   Traditional Artist
:) Thank you.
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:icongamehengraphics:
gamehengraphics Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Very nice. I love that the scenery is contained in the collar of her kimono, and the her partially revealed hand resembles a deer hoof.
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2009   Traditional Artist
Thank you :) I knew that I wanted to incorporate a landscape yet also wanted the background to have texture, so placing the scenery in her garment was the solution that came to me.
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:iconvloodyvampire:
VloodyVampire Featured By Owner May 27, 2009
wow!!!i sooo luv it!!!
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:iconbeautifulbizarremag:
BeautifulBizarreMag Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2009
Your amazing work has been featured in the Women in Art XII - Traditional (Mixed Media) News Article [link] :heart:

Love your work!!! :iconkissingplz:
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:iconharsed:
Harsed Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2009
Amazing...the shadows of her face,her expression. You really have a talent for mixing different medias to make something so beautiful :)

This is really perfect.
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2009   Traditional Artist
Thank you very much.
Reply
:iconsombrefeline:
sombrefeline Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hello! I've featured this in my journal ([link] )
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:iconbiolumina:
Biolumina Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2008
this is gorgeous! my congradulations :bow:
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:iconzandragon:
zandragon Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist
I saw this on Goblin Fruit, it really is very beautiful. Well done.
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2008   Traditional Artist
Thank you. I'm glad that your familiar with this piece from Goblin Fruit too.
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:iconfairycthulu:
fairycthulu Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2008
Simply brilliant detail and concept, it's a stunning painting....elegant and fantastic and richly detailed. Brilliant.
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:iconnibblekat:
NibbleKat Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2008  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I really wish I could begin to know how to compliment you on this, but there's so much I could say. She's so incredibly beautiful. The details are fantastic.

Seriously? Thank you for making this one.
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:iconsphinxmuse:
sphinxmuse Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2008   Traditional Artist
You're very welcome. This is one of my favorites too.
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October 29, 2006
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