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  • Sacred-Drummer-Blackfoot-Shaman-Painting-James-Ayers

Sacred Drummer - Blackfoot

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Title: Sacred Drummer
Tribe: Blackfoot
Size: 36" x 36"
Medium: Oil on canvas
Price: $13,000


Sacred Drummer - Blackfoot

In the flickering firelight, one man connects with the Great Spirit. The beat of his drum matches the beat of his heart and the will of his people.

About the subject

This drummer sits in his teepee, alone, to commune with the Great Spirit. He plays a drum, an integral part of this sacred ritual. He sings his prayers, hopeful that they will be heard. Songs, especially those sung during ceremonies, were considered sacred.

The man wears a split horn buffalo headdress with ermine fur on the sides. This article of clothing was meant to impart the abilities of those animals onto the wearer: strength from the buffalo and ferocity in battle from the ermine.

He wears a dentalium shell breastplate, leather leggings, and with beaded moccasins. On his arms, he wears brass or copper bands, probably acquired through trade. Notice the glimmering highlight on the armband from the fire.

About the composition

Creating firelight is a challenge - you have to get the tones, the light, and the shadows correct or it looks “off” to the viewer. Since the light inside the teepee would have come from a fire on the ground, I set up multiple lamps on the floor to create the proper light direction.

Notice that the background is painted in an Impressionist style (an artistic technique I like to use sometimes) in order to create the look that the surface of the teepee and hanging objects are bathed in firelight. This almost otherworldly tone adds to the mystic nature of the scene.

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