Posted: October 17th, 2013
Hound and Hunter, Watercolor, 1892
The “Hound and Hunter” painting is a watercolor painting done by Winslow Homer in the year 1892. It is part of the many collections of paintings done by Homer. It is said that the painting had been redone. The original painting had a rifle lying behind the boy. The artist had to paint the rifle out as it attracted criticism from the audience. The audience believed that the boy was drowning the deer so that he could retrieve the rifle. The painter had to repaint the water so that the animal could be more hidden. This showed that the deer was already dead and was not struggling as it drowned.
The subject matter in this painting surrounds a young hunter. The young hunter is in a boat in a lying position. He has a noose and a dead deer in either of his hands. However, his focus seems to be on the dog swimming towards the boat. Since he has already made a kill, he seems to be contemplating on how he will take the deer to the shore. He also has another task of making sure that the dog will enter the boat securely. The hunter has to perform more tasks than he can handle. For example, the deer may be too heavy to lift into the boat. If he chooses to drag it, then he will not have a chance of carrying the dog into the boat, as the deer will drown if released. Lifting the dog with one hand may also prove to be a challenge.
In order to bring out the desired artistic form of the painting, the painter has used different shapes, colors, textures lines and spaces. The most evident is the use of colors. The painter has tried to use different colors and different shaded of the same color in order to bring out the desired effect. For example, the leaves on the branches hanging above the water have been painted with different shades of colors. A brighter shade of the color of the leaves has been used to show that some leaves were burnt by the sun. The darker shade was used to show the fresh leaves. A brighter color, almost white, has been used paint the water around the boat. This shows that there is activity around this area and that the rays of the sun may have concentrated on this area. The dark colors used in the background create the distance that brings forth the foreground, middle ground and a background. Colors have also been used to bring out what kind of dog is swimming towards the boat. Different shades of colors have been used on the hands of the boy. The darker shades of the color show that the boy had tanned hands.
Lines have been used to trace out the outline of objects, and they have been used to show activity. For example, lines have been used to show the rippling effect of the water to show that the dog and the boy in the boat are doing some activities. With lines, we can trace the dog, the young hunter, the boat, the head of the deer, and the branch of a tree that is in the middle ground. Spaces create distance. With spacing, one can see that the boat is parallel to the branch. One can also see that the dog is swimming towards the boat. The deer is also in front of the boat, and there is a water bush in the background.
The content of the painting shows that the boy is in a dilemma. He is not sure what to do. If he tries to put the dog in the boat, he will have to let the deer go which will make it drown. If he lets the dog swim, it might not swim through the deeper waters, if any. The distance to the show might be too long. The river might have other dangerous species that might hurt the dog or both the dog and the hunter. The artist tries to convey a man’s self-assurance. He is not sure whether he should drag the deer or carry it in the boat. He is not sure whether he should let the deer go and carry the dog into the boat. Most likely, the dog had accompanied the hunter when he made the kill. The uncertainty in the painting can be identified by the audience. The hunter is attached to both the deer (the kill) and the dog. The deer is important to him because that is the reason he had gone out to begin with. On the other hand, the dog is important to him because it is his companion when hunting.
The painting was striking to me because of the nature in it. The bright color (white) around the boat is more striking as one recognizes that there is some activity going on. When I first saw the painting, my eyes were on the boy struggling to hold the deer. From a first glance, one may think that the hunter is saving the deer or drowning it. The deer was already dead, and the hunter does not seem to be sure on how he would carry it to shore. Once a viewer appreciates a piece of art, he/she is able to study it further.
To me, a great painting is made when the painter brings forth what he/she wanted to portray. The theme/themes should relate to the people so that they are not too complex for one to comprehend. The proper use of artistic forms should bring out the painting in a way that will attract people who do not have a keen interest in art works. As the artist tries to portray the theme of self-assurance, he also incorporates nature, showing that people can be faced with dilemmas even in extremely odd circumstances.
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