One word: REINDEER! What’s not to like? I guess unless you’re a Sami reindeer herder then you don’t think about them much throughout the rest of the year then, BAM! December arrives and they line up amongst the other symbols of the Christmas Holidays as reminders of what we might be missing out on.
So, thank you BBC Radio Four for a lovely programme on reindeer that helped me to see them as real animals, not mythical creatures, and to appreciate their beauty and amazing survival capabilities. In this programme you get to meet Tilly, a reindeer ‘whisperer’ in the Cairngorms, who made me want to give up my lowland life, buy my own herd and make for the hills! Did you know that the only part of a reindeer not covered in fur is its eyeballs? This and other wonderful facts are in the programme.
I came upon the reindeer programme because I set off on an internet trail spurred by an article about the oldest cave painting found in the UK (14,000 years old) of…you guessed – reindeer.
After both these reindeer encounters, I had an overwhelming desire to draw one. Now, I am NOT an artist. In fact, I have a bit of a block when it comes to drawing. So this was an unusual moment for me. Fast-forward two hours, the duvet (I was drawing in bed in the early hours!) was covered in eraser ‘crumbs’ and I could feel those familiar tears of frustration beginning to smart in my eyes. I kept telling myself to ‘just draw what you see in the photo of the reindeer’. It wasn’t working.
On the verge of giving up and relegating my pencils to the back of the cupboard, I changed my ‘draw what you see’ mantra to ‘OK, draw what you feel.’ ‘You are a cave painter,’ I told myself, ‘You’re drawing the essence of the animal.’ And this happened:
Now, I am no Hockney or Emmin and this is no masterpiece, but this little sketch was a therapeutic and really pleasing moment of creativity. It felt like I wasn’t drawing with my mind but with my physical self. Maybe it proves that sometimes we just have to let go of the world and engage with our inner cave painter!