Livingston's DEER paintings are inspired by 18th and 19th century European hunting prints and paintings with this creature as iconic subject. Additionally they are influenced by astoundingly real wildlife dioramas at natural history museums Livingston recently visited in Chicago, New York, London and Halifax.
Using his imagination and digital collage and mark making techniques and tools, Livingston reworks 19th century drawings of deer -- painting them and placing them in specific landscapes, blending photographic and painted backdrops with line drawings of trees, plants and other wildlife. It is a conscious reference to the layered dimensionality of dioramas and their crafted spaces where animals that were once alive continue to dwell in simulated realistic landscapes.
Dioramas collapse the artificial with the real to fashion a credible illusion. Similarly, Livingston depicts deer in natural landscapes through digital means combining the codes of painting with elements of collage, photography, and mixed media. The result draws attention to the difficulties of ascertaining what has been hand-crafted in a digital age and whether it matters within the tradition of painting.
Above all, these images speak to the compelling qualities of deer. Their characteristic stare, agility, speed and antlers have inspired many symbolic associations. In various traditions the deer represents kindness, softness, intuition, gentleness, peace, tranquility, regeneration and longevity. As well, deer’s antlers have been likened to a crown growing beyond its body, lending the animal spiritual authority through its connection to the sky and the sacred. These associations stretch through time from these thoughtful classical, traditional understandings to today's more familiar notions of deer as Bambi or garden raider.
Over a period of four decades, Livingston has frequently circled back to the subject of the natural world in his paintings. He holds a BFA from NSCAD University and an MFA from London's Chelsea School of Art. Livingston lives in Halifax where he is a Professor at NSCAD University teaching drawing and painting.