Sunday, June 16, 2019



The oldest (Celtic) god is Cernunnos, depicted with the antlers of a stag, seated cross-legged, associated with animals, and holding or wearing a torc. Not much is known about Cernunnos but interpretations identify him as a beneficent god of nature, life, or fertility. I find it interesting that Cernunnos is half man, half stag. We clearly like to relate to such a magnificent animal. It looks powerful yet elegant, noble but humble, strong but vulnerable.

I remember driving on Island of Mull and being redirected due to roadworks. As we continued our journey on small roads, all the sudden a huge stag (Red deer, Cervus elaphus) stood in front of us. My husband stopped the car and for a moment we looked in awe at this mighty animal. It looked at us and we looked at him with instant respect, so close and intense was the encounter, that we can still recall the moment, decades later.


It is therefore that I have drawn stags and deer often. The challenge is always to capture the strength and elegance. Recently, I drew a full stag but I was disappointed because it didn’t stand out. It had not the mightiness that I was looking for. I then applied the 'Celtic' method of looking which lines and shadows were essential and which I should leave out. Say 90% of my initial lines were erased and as a result I not only ended up with a more powerful stag, the space that became available allowed me to work on applying beautiful lines and figures (see how the eyes of the stag are also birds). Thus, the stag is complied of many seemingly loose elements, connecting and giving it form.

I placed it in an ancient three-tiered Upperworld, Middle world, and Underworld. The Upperworld shows the sun and the moon and the antlers of the stag shapeshift into birds that fly away, symbolizing a shamanistic journey to the Upperworld. The Middle world, our natural world, is shown as tree branches and tree trunks. The Underworld can be entered by visiting an ancient burial site, or being close to dolmens, as is the belief of ancient peoples. I knitted all worlds together by using patterned borders that suggest vegetation and flowers.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer
At Etsy & Instagram

Artist Info:
I used Derwent Graphite H7 and H3 only, on Winsor & Newton cold press paper. Using only Derwent H pencils gives a drawing very soft tones. Personally, I favour this, but others might judge that it needs more enforcement by darkening  specific areas. A few small prints of my drawing show a more enhanced or 'harder' version (Photoshop). There are many 'Celtic' pattern vectors freely available but I decided to design my own irregular patterns.

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