“I’m really a deer trying to be a human,” explains Rebecca Haines, a contemporary wildlife painter from Wyoming who now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. From coyotes to owls to the elusive but gentle deer, Rebecca’s paintings reveal the soft spirit that lives beneath the fierce demeanor of wild animals. Her artwork explores the presence, mystery, and message of these dynamic creatures, which the artist believes we as humans can learn a great deal from. Rebecca’s strong connection with and respect for animals shows through in her work, particularly with one of her most meaningful subjects, the deer.
Gentle Girl, Rebecca Haines, 36×24″ oil/panel
“The deer is the animal I most resonate with, followed closely with coyote and raven. I often feel I am a deer trapped in a human body and that’s why life can feel so challenging sometimes! The deer represents gentleness and a return to the natural world. Often, throughout history, the deer has been included in sacred images from many different traditions. On the top of Buddhist monasteries, we often see the wheel of life in the middle with a deer positioned on either side. In images of Jesus, he is often pictured walking with a deer. In some middle eastern traditions, the deer is pictured in their religious artwork and illuminated poetry. And in many Native American tribes, the deer is the most sacred and important of all the animals to them for many reasons. Deer antlers are often seen to represent “sacred antennae” to the spiritual realm, a way of tapping into those places. The Huichol Indians from Mexico portray their medicine people in their artwork with antlers, which symbolizes this belief. And the deer, the female doe especially, represents to me personally a boundless sense of wonder and magic and playfulness.”
Rebecca’s oil stick and grease pencil paintings are made up of loosely representational drawings, abstracted form and line, and vibrant color fields. She begins with an image in mind and then follows where it leads, allowing the essence of the animal to emerge rather than confining it to its physical accuracies alone. Nothing in her work is brushed; she manipulates the oil sticks to create the effect she wants by scribbling, blending, and smudging, creating hard lines that evolve into simple gestures or vibrant colors that blend into soft shapes. Composition is important, particularly the way the space is broken up by the image and what abstract forms are left in the background. Colors and layers are built up through quick movement, with the final phase being the meticulous realism of the animal’s eyes. Their piercing gaze is what draws the viewer in and brings the subject to life. With these realistic features emerging from an ambiguous background, it seems that you have caught the creature in a moment in time – maybe a startled movement or a wary glance. Sometimes these expressions are intentional, but often times they arrive unexpectedly.
The Great Perhaps, Rebecca Haines, 24×18″ oil/panel
“This rabbit appeared on my panel one day in a magical, mystical sort of way, like it was peeking out from another dimension and still unsure of this one, so it was keeping two feet in the other world until it had a chance to observe things more closely in ours. He seems to be a rabbit of great distinction or high stature. He enchanted me, and continues to do so…”
Rebecca’s intention as an artist is to communicate the lessons that animals can teach us, while also providing a bridge between the civilized and the wild, between the known and the mysterious.
“Animals are a link to the sacredness of all that is.” -Rebecca Haines
Rebecca is our Featured Artist this month at Pippin Contemporary. Meet her on Friday, June 10th from 5-8pm during the Edible Art Tour with Jambo Café, where participants will snack on delicious African cuisine while viewing Rebecca’s latest work.