In birdwatchers' mythology (yes, there is such a thing) the sender (or "sendari" in Finnish' birders' jargon) is the spirit that sends rare birds to birdwatchers to twitch. I would like to think it's a joke, but I'm not always so sure about that. On a small remote island (legendary for its many rarities) in the Alandian archipelago, there actually is a place, an old dead tree stump like the one in my painting, where dedicated "believers" bring gifts to the spirit in order to make it send the most exceptional birds to them, a country first, or other megaticks. It may be a joke, but it's also an echo from the (not necessarily so distant) past. For our ancestors it certainly was crucial that the "sender" was generous, and sent animals to to the hunting tribes to feed them. Experienced hunters new the routes of the reindeers, horses, and other big game animals, new when to expect the fish to swim up the rivers and creeks, and the migrating birds to return. But they could never be quite sure. If something went wrong - weather patterns shifted, and the animals didn't arrive in time - the clans dependent on hunting, could face severe starvation. So, while their skills and knowledge were not always enough to secure their food supplies and future prosperity, they turned to the unknown, and appealed to the mysterious forces that seemed to rule all life and decide the fate of people. A digital painting using ArtRage. Normally, I paint in a very traditional way, without using any "tricks", and even the blurred effects are achieved with basic tools, thin layers and light touch. But lately I have tried the special ArtRage features, like in this painting, to get a feeling of depth, by using the palette knife ("instant blur") or blurring a whole layer. Quite fun really, so much so that I must be careful not to use it too often.
The ancestry of the modern horse is a bit confusing issue to me, but on the other hand it seems to be that for experts too. The Przewalski horse, or the Mongolian wild horse, is pretty much straight forward, it even looks like the prehistorical horse images on the walls in many caves. But why are modern domestic horses so different? Okay, a chihuahua doesn't exactly look like a wolf, being a striking evidence of how selective breeding can change a species over a relatively short period of time. But what disturbs me most about the modern horse is the length of the manes of all domestic horses. Is it just a result of selection done by humans? In which case I wonder why it has been seen as something so much more preferable than a short mane? Are all modern breeds of domestic horses descendants of one single lineage in which a long mane had become apparent through selective breeding? Or was there a type of ancient wild horse, perhaps the (probably) hypothetical "forrest horse", which lived apart from the other horse types, maybe in more humid weather conditions, where rain and snowfall occurred more often, giving a horse with a longer mane some advantages against the shorter standing variety, which is standard in the wild extant equine species like zebras and asses and even the Mongolian wild horse? Of course, all illustrations depicting Ice Age horses or any other extinct species (or subspecies, or types) are hypothetical, so it doesn't matter so much how I paint them really, it's the context that is interesting. And it's not my task to invent the theories, my job is to make visual interpretations of them. But sometimes, like in this case, it seems quite hard to find even a good theory of the origins of a specific feature.
A couple of quick sketches
When I'm working on a bigger project, I might start one or several paintings every day, if possible, but don't work very long on any of them. As a result I have now probably a couple of hundred paintings, like this one, waiting to be finished. This way I have always something to do even when I feel tired and lack inspiration, I just pick any painting and make some brushstrokes, put it aside and continue on another one. And then, eventually, completed paintings start to emerge out of that mass. Quite miraculously, it seems.
I started this one for some time ago, but decided to let it rest for a while. It's a complicated image with a lot of alternatives, meaning a lot of painting back and forth.
A lot of the stuff on this blog is going to be about the way of life of stone age people, and life in general during the Ice Age (meaning the last glacial period). I've been working on the subject for a long time, and am now going through and repainting old pictures, and producing new material. The idea is to gather my paintings and drawings into a bigger collection of illustrations, which will be available for various purposes.