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Celtic Nature

European Bison

Sketched by Duncan M. Watt at the Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie, Scotland


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Bison group: sketch - 14Kb

European Bison with day-old calf

The 'direct drawing' method captures the mother licking her calf's face while the tails flick in rhythmic harmony. The adult is losing her thick winter coat. I have partially shaded this drawing to show the bold pattern in strong sunlight; however the shadow below, I have left only in outline.

This male European Bison drawing reminds me particularly of Pictish silver ornaments which are built up in layers.
My art teacher, the late Elizabeth J. Lambie, used to wear a silver Pictish bull brooch on a sludge-coloured mohair cardigan. The memory is vivid.

The male bison is considerably larger than the female.

On this sketchbook page, the same mother and calf are drawn, the new calf trying to find access to suckle.

Bison mother and calf sketches - 12Kb
sketch of European Bison - 10Kb

The little drawings (top right) show the fore and aft hoof structures.


These sketches show the new calf feeding, apparently rather precariously, as the mother begins to move off.

Clearly, this tree is a favourite scratching post for the animals. The bark is worn away by the contours of bison bulk. The process of mutual erosion of winter coat and birch bark has also caused soil erosion by many moving hooves, revealing part of the root structure, which I have stylised into a rudimentary Celtic Knot.

Sepia sketch of European Bisons - 20Kb
Sketch of bison and calves lying on ground - 22Kb

The wary mother eyes me cautiously. While these animals are at rest, I can indulge in greater detail of textures and the rocky landscape.

  All text and images copyright © Duncan M Watt 2006
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