Brown bear (Ursus arctos)

Watercolor painting of a brown bear

fact sheet: https://www.nathab.com/blog/brown-bear-facts/

image reference: https://www.muchbetteradventures.com/magazine/hiking-greece-brown-bears-callisto-conservation/

donate: https://support.worldwildlife.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=main_monthly&s_src=AWE2211OQ18299A06206CX&s_subsrc=topnav&_ga=2.198798253.348307351.1654895471-796612217.1654895471

inspiration:

I wanted to paint an animal that spoke to me of strength. I immediately thought of bears, partly because of the “mama bear coming to the defense of her cub” stereotype. I was particularly attracted by the strong arms and shoulder of this image.

Creation:

I used light brown to block in the shape of the bear and switched to gray to put in rocky background. I spent a couple painting sessions using short strokes to indicate fur. I tried to use the color of the brushstroke to show volume. (Somewhere along the way, I wondered if it would’ve been useful to paint a naked bear and then add fur to it.)

I realized that I didn’t capture the turn of the bear’s head in the photo, so I spent a painting session concentrating on the head and face. At first, I left the eyes blank and try to go in with black as my last move. I wanted the eyes do have some life in them. The photo does not include any catch lights. The eyes in the photo are unseen. I ended up with a rather wistful looking bear.

Insights:

  • I enjoyed the “flow state” of painting the body of the bear.
  • Looking at how the light falls on an object is the path to rendering volume.
  • Strength isn’t always overpowering. It can come from honest presence. The bear is being wholeheartedly itself. There is power and strength in that unapologetic stance.
Skills

Posted on

June 30, 2022

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