Why Polar Bear Art?
My polar bear oil paintings are a more natural evolution in my representational art and portraiture painting than one would assume. I have always painted that which is dearest to me (my children and cats often served as models) with themes of solitude without loneliness, mindfulness (as in living in the moment) and tribute to spirit, character and beauty. A sense of discovery, exploration, celebration of summer in the Canadian landscape was there as well.
My polar bear paintings will continue on in these themes. I want my polar bear art to inspire these same feelings of hope, longing, wonder and celebration. Celebration & wonder about the bears, but longing and wonder about moments of solitude, exploration and discovery, too. I hope my paintings provoke thought about these great bears, their solitary journey, the threat to their polar landscapes through loss of sea ice and dark water. To feel the mystery and drama that still plays out in polar landscape, that is unobtainable for most of us to explore, but that many of us yearn to experience.
When one combines these themes with my aptitude for creating figurative landscapes, portraiture that includes animals, my biology education, my admiration for the north, one can understand how polar bear art is a natural next step in my artistic development.
At first, my bear portrait models were inspired by very real bears of the Toronto Zoo (thank you Inukshuk, Aurora, Nikita, & now Juno). But through good fortune, (those ducks were all in a row), I've recently made two trips to the Canadian north, first to Iqaluit, and Cape Dorset, Nunavut, (Arctic), and then, before the sea ice formed, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, the polar bear capital of the world (subarctic). I was able to experience first hand the majesty of the north first hand - grand vistas of the arctic, polar bears on the tundra, and mindblowing northern lights.
At the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, I filled a notebook about polar bears, thanks to lectures by a WWF polar bear researcher, and other educational experiences.
All this extraordinary experience brings new understanding about the polar bear, climate change and its effect on the species, and reaffirmed my belief that there is still wonder in this world.
My future art will still showcase the bears' goofy good lucks, spirited intelligence, and awesome (in the true sense) size and power. But in my other paintings, I hope to bring more.
As if viewed in a dream, a solitary bear passes by in the night, sometimes the northern lights reflect off it's fur. Is the light hope? Or like in my earlier paintings, is this a moment at the precipice of an action? If we continue watching, not moving, will we be witness to the great bear's extinction? If we turn away, will the great bear still be there when we turn back? Or will it have vanished into the realm of sky spirit, our memory of it all that remains.