Tuesday, July 8, 2014

no going back


A couple of weeks ago while digging through some old photographs I came across an out of focus snapshot of a picture I painted thirty years or more ago. I have no idea why I had polar bears and their lady guides climbing down a grassy bank, nor what they're thoughts and plans are regarding the young man and the other bear, but it must have seemed significant at the time. Anyway, what I did see was at least half a dozen things I'd do differently now that I have a bit more skill using watercolors. The first thought that occurred is that they should be on their way back to a land of ice and snow - a far better environment for the polar bears than a mossy slope. The next was that the composition would be much improved by losing the guy and the other bear. 



This is as far as I've got, and likely as far as I will get, with this project. Once I'd redrawn the picture and begun adding color it wasn't long before I realized I no longer had much interest in painting nubile young women riding, or otherwise interacting with, large and dangerous wild animals. What did I think happens when you try to hug a polar bear? Of course you know what happens, the polar bear isn’t going to be into it, and it’s probably going to try to eat you.

On the other hand there's a brave man named Kevin Richardson, a South African zoologist, who studies animals native to Africa. He's studied lions to such an extent that he seems to have uncovered the secret to not being mauled to death, as you will see. He has decades of hands-on experience studying how lions behave, and he was able to use that knowledge to his benefit (and ours) in an amazing way.



Now I shall return to painting Crow and friends - perhaps there'll even be one with an old lady :) 

10 comments:

marja-leena said...

I would recognize your work anywhere, Susan, and this is another lovely one. If I recall correctly, you used these decorative borders on your older work.

The film strongly reminds me of one we saw some time ago about a woman who could talk to tigers, even heal ones who had been held captive. Quite amazing - I wish I could remember the name.

Should Fish More said...

I like your painting, both of them.
A German artist, G. Munthe, did a tapestry, depicting three bears with women that has some Nordic myths as it's basis.
I tried very hard not to think of Tim Treadwell while watching the clip; he had some silly ideas about Alaska's brown bears that didn't turn out well, this after several years of seeming success.

susan said...

Thanks, Marja-Leena, for yet another kind comment about my work. I think the border on this one was among the first so it didn't turn out quite so well as later ones.

The movie is pretty extraordinary to watch as I'm sure was the one you mentioned about the woman who's able to bond with tigers. Scary business for the rest of us, eh?

susan said...

Thanks, Mike. I'll see if I can find a picture of that tapestry.

Yes, I remember the Tim Treadwell story, but that's one Herzog film I could never watch. A few weeks ago we watched a very cool movie called 'The Bear' for the third or fourth time. It's beautiful and a quite mesmerizing fictional account of bears and people in the wild.

Rob-bear said...

The pictures are excellent. A Polar Bear might eat you,indeed. But a Brown Bear might be happy to see you and give you a big hug. Black Bears usually run away from Humans, sometimes leaving their babies behind. We Browns can be as much fun as Lions, if you approach us gently.

There is something etherial about the picture you restarted. Indeed, I find that about most of your work. Strange. Very strange.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
Nice to see you going back over your much earlier lovely earlier work and ascertaining superior outcomes which is what I think we all tend do in one form or another. I enjoyed watching the video, those lions are certainly magnificent animals!! Let’s hope the remnant of habitat can be preserved for them.
Best wishes

Life As I Know It Now said...

Maybe you saw the future of polar bears when you painted the first picture. Although it must be said that a green world is not ideal for white bears. All the land that animals need for their survival is under attack. Such short sightedness is hard to reconcile.

susan said...

Thanks, Rob, it's good to know you like the pictures. As for bears, I'm more than willing to trust one such as yourself for a hug, but the others not so much. I'll take your word for it about Browns while I keep a safe distance.

I'll be first to agree my pictures do tend to be somewhat otherworldly. I guess in my heart of hearts I like to believe in a gentler Reality that's our true home.

susan said...

Thanks, Lindsay. I've decided not to repaint the old picture, but I'm glad to know you liked it as far as it went. It's true that we can become more discerning with time.

I thought the video was wonderful too. It's interesting to know that there's a growing interest among people familiar with natural habitats to foster the return of large carnivores in areas where they've been wiped out. Doing so makes a lot of sense.

susan said...

I'm guessing you're right, Lib - that thought struck me too when I looked at the old photo. You might be interesting in reading the article about re-wilding the west. Otherwise, we are a crazy species.