Wednesday 27 September 2017

Reindeer, Finland

Reindeer, Finland.

Kujala Reindeer Farm, Nissinvaaran, Finland - charcoal and chalk on grey paper. 31 x 48cm
Being a farmer's daughter I am quite familiar with ungulates ( cows and sheep) at close quarters. These domesticated and semi-tamed reindeer were very friendly, and so long as there were oats and lichen on hand they remained in the same area so we could observe them. They were very fidgety due to the midges that pester them incessantly, and often broke into a trot to get away from them, circling back to the food again. This made drawing them quite challenging, especially since the midges were attracted to us humans as well!
Always there was this clicking noise as they moved, especially noticeable in the heavier males.
Wikipedia informs me: "The sounds originate in the tendons of the knees and may be audible from ten meters away. The frequency of the knee-clicks is one of a range of signals that establish relative positions on a dominance scale among reindeer. "Specifically, loud knee-clicking is discovered to be an honest signal of body size, providing an exceptional example of the potential for non-vocal acoustic communication in mammals."
The farmed reindeer ( there are very few wild ones now) range free in the woods for over 50ks from the farm and are all tagged. Their horns, meat and skins are all used, and some animals are trained for pulling skis, a popular race.

When they all walk away - memory helps!

These animals were quite used to humans and knew which bag contained the lichen -  their "chocolate"!

This male had already shed the velvet which covers and nourishes the antlers as they regrow them each year.

That evening I had fun cobbling together a small model using red wax and no tools, just my fingers!

Monday 25 September 2017

Brown Bears

A quick soft pastel sketch on coloured paper - 24 x 30cm

Brown Bears - Kuntvaara, Northern Finland, near the Russian Border. 

The brown bears were impressive - enormous animals, fat and shaggy ready for hibernation.
Unfortunately the day in mid September when we visited the hide the light was terrible, so I just did a colour sketch in soft pastels on coloured paper to pin down tones, and colours, and the general atmosphere. The animals were really too far away to make detailed drawings without using a scope.
Ravens, gulls and magnificent sea eagles competed for the salmon bait laid out just before our visit.

It was a privilege and an emotional experience to see Europe's largest terrestrial carnivore in the wild.
Absolutely wonderful!

It was clear from their behaviour as they cautiously came out of the woods that they were more afraid of the other bears - and some were huge - than us humans in the hide trying to keep our excitement quiet.

For details for Bear Watching:
 For some better bear photographs click here.

A large male

A female anxious as she had her cub nearby

The female leaving with her cub following, as soon as the big males appeared - note the salmon bait on the pine trunk.            


Monte Altissimo September 2019   Oil on panel 15 x 27cm English:      Since my last blog with lockdown  finally terminated in Italy, I have...