My dad seems to have bear energy. I’m staying at his house for a few days and keep wanting to paint bears.

Here is the first one.

Bear painting 1
“Bear 1″, original watercolor painting, 7″x10”

Here is the second. (I like the first one better.)

Bear painting in watercolor
“Bear 2″, original watercolor painting, 7″x10”

I used a very limited primary color palette for these, and did most of my color mixing on the paper.

I have started a third, of a sow bear with cubs. It’s still in progress, but will post when done!

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More hand drawings

Hands are always a challenge and a pleasure to draw and I certainly don’t consider it a waste of time to have done these. Who knows – they may find their way into a painting some day…

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Graphite drawing - male hand
Male hand drawing #1

More hand studies from the animation illustration project. The male hand is supposed to appear more forceful.  I drew these pencil studies from reference photos I took of my son Isaac’s hand.

However his hands are fairly small and delicate for a guy.  I think a more robust model would be more appropriate for this particular project so I will be redoing these studies very soon.  (I tease him that he’d make a good large animal vet, remembering James Herriot’s comments about small hands being an asset for delivering calves.  Isaac has an aversion to slime so he’s not amused.  But he does have beautiful hands and they were fun to draw.  Isaac – if you ever read this, thank you! )

Hands are always a challenge and a pleasure to draw and I certainly don’t consider it a waste of time to have done these.  Who knows – they may find their way into a painting some day…

Pencil drawing - male hand
Male hand drawing #2
Male hand drawing #3
Male hand study #3

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What the Bear brings…

Bear painting in watercolor and gouache
"Black Bear," watercolor and gouache sketch, 6x9"

This one was done on impulse.  I had pulled out a bunch of scraps of watercolor paper, many of which had been used to demonstrate washes, etc.  This one was covered with a decidedly pink wash and adorned with a value scale along the right hand side.  Probably I should have tossed it, but as I stared I began to imagine a bear looking back at me.

I’m told the bear is a healing totem.  When I looked it up this is what I discovered it also stands for:

bear sketch in watercolor
Sometimes you've just got to paint it, even if it doesn't seem to make sense...

Not surprisingly, these are all  major themes in my life right now…

Do you ever get messages from animals, or feel a spiritual connection to them?  I’d love to hear about it!

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Asian Wild Horses: link to the past, hope for the future

"The Return," watercolor sketch, 11x14" 2010

A couple of weekends ago we had some business in Minneapolis and decided to stay an extra day and make it an outing.  So we headed to one of my favorite places – the Minnesota Zoo!

Of course I’ve always been a horse nut.  Since I didn’t bring my paints on the trip, I was thankful to be able to snap a few photos of the Asian Wild Horses before my camera battery died.   (I’m also thankful that nobody seems to want to call them Przewalski’s horses anymore.  What a mouthful!)

I was intrigued to learn that Asian wild horses have a different number of chromosomes than domestic horses – 66 instead of 64.  I wonder if that has any connection to the fact that, unlike American mustangs, they have never been domesticated and are truly wild creatures?

Their primitive appearance provides a living link to  the prehistoric animals featured in the famous Lascaux cave paintings.  Painting them, I hoped to capture the spirit of the animal and its timeless connection to the natural world.

Asian wild horses are one of those wildlife success stories that lend hope for the future.  When I was a kid there were none left in the wild.  Today there’s a thriving herd of over 300 Asian wild horses roaming free on the steppes of Eurasia.

The title I chose for this sketch, “The Return,” pays tribute to this creature’s indomitable spirit, as well as the dedication and hard work provided by zoos around the world, without which the Asian Wild Horse would have disappeared forever.

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