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The sweetness of babies is universal. Whether human, or animal, it seems we are all struck by the cuteness of the young. If you have been fortunate, you will have seen a polar bear cub. They are so cute, playful and funny, it almost hurts! So why, you wonder, does this portrait of a dear little polar bear cub have a baby's breath (gypsophila) flower crown on its head?
Well, the flower crown is a symbol of nature, tribute and celebration. It reminds us that our lives - nature and humanity, are as intwined as the flowers in the crown. ( For another flower crown painting visit here)
The white gypsophila represents the innocence of the young bear, and well, that its English name is “Baby’s Breath” is symbolic in itself. Not only do we want that little bear to keep breathing for many year’s to come, but also it’s a reminder, we all share the airspace here. We are connected, that what is important for the polar bear’s survival is also important to our quality of life, too.
Do you know, that my realistic polar bear paintings are all inspired by the photographs I have personally taken of polar bears? This cub is Juno who was born at The Toronto Zoo. I think she is now at the beautiful Assiniboine Zoo, Winnipeg, Manitoba. I have not exaggerated the fur - it quite naturally formed the shape of a heart!
Fresh off the easel, fourth in the Polar Bear Sunset Series. In the Pink is a 24” x 24” x 1.5” oil painting on canvas. This beautiful bear is both literally and figuratively “in the pink”
In this new series of polar bear portrait oil paintings on canvas, a beautiful polar bear is portrayed against the setting sun, and the arctic sea.
It is spring. The polar bear’s solitary journey in search of seals, a mate, and shelter on the sea ice is coming to an end for another year.
The darkness of the arctic winter day vanishes along with the sea ice. Sunshine returns and so do the glorious big sky sunsets.
As the day draws to an end, the sun’s glory is reflected off the open water, the remaining ice, and the polar bear's translucent fur - sea, ice and polar bear connected by its light, colour and warmth.
We can reflect, too. What will we lose under the threat of climate change? A setting sun offers hope with a new day ahead, but "into the sunset" can also signify the end.
This is the first polar bear painting in the new series . Let me know what you think.
Although I am an experienced portrait artist, over the past few years, my online presence has evolved to that of polar bear artist. Recent followers do not know about my portrait painting service. And so recently, when out of the blue, I was contacted to paint a portrait of a very lovely Labrador Retriever, it was interesting for me to learn that one of my polar bear paintings had inspired the commission!
How does a polar bear painting possibly relate to a portrait of a beloved pet?
It lies in that fact that I regard all my subject matter as portraiture, and my polar bear art is no different. I paint with the theory the eyes are the “mirror to the soul”. Until I get the eyes “right”, until they feel alive to me, I personally don’t connect to the painting. When that magical moment of connection happens, then the painting is on its way!
All artists have their own way of approaching a painting, especially when painting from photographic reference. Some artists apply the paint inch by inch, finishing each section completely before moving on to the next.
I use the more “whole painting” approach in my technique, but I start each session with the eyes and work out from there. As each new layer of paint is added, my focus remains on the eyes, until finally, the portrait comes to life in my imagination.
I have a biology degree, a fine art degree and most of an illustration degree. As a result, I like my portraits to be realistic and anatomically correct, yet emotional, too. But my ability to draw from my imagination, honed from my illustration studies, plays an important part in this process, too. One learns to be a bit of an actor - to feel that emotion and spirit of the subject and to try transfer it to the canvas.
For example, when I was commissioned to paint Dr. Oscar Peterson (Living Arts Centre, Mississauga, ON, Canada), I was honoured and thrilled to paint the jazz great’s portrait, but I had also never seen or met him in person. This was a larger than life portrait and I was working from someone else’s photographs. .
How was I to connect to the subject and make it more than a copy of a photograph?
First, I brought the whole painting to the edge of completion. It was a large painting (larger than life) and a complex one , as in fact it was multi-portraits.. Dr. Peterson’s piano was to be accurately represented. His hands were a portrait in themselves. And his face was clearly selected in the piano top!
So with the face roughed in, I began the final painting of it as I listened to the emotion- filled, heartfelt tribute of music and song that aired on CBC Radio that day. As his teenage daughter spoke lovingly about Oscar Peterson, the father, I did the final paint of his eyes and face.
So, when I began to paint polar bears, I wondered, how to bring the bears alive? How to make them more than a reproduction of a photo I took of a polar bear at the Toronto Zoo?
So for the painting below, Polar Bear Portrait Study 1 (Wistful Bear) ( and a couple of others in this earlier series) I placed my laptop on a stool in front me, as if a portrait model on a chair. One of my polar bear photos was up on the screen. I then created the polar bear portrait as if the bear was seated there in front of me. (wouldn’t that have been fun, although short lived.) Once again, the eyes say it all in this painting. (Read more about this painting here)
So when Ottawa’s CTV news reporter and anchor, Christina Succi contacted me to paint a portrait of her beloved dog, I was flattered, but also surprised to learn that it was one of my polar bear paintings that inspired her request. But then I learned which painting and then saw a photo of her dear doggy,
Can you see the connection?
If you would like to know more about my polar bear art , or info on how to commission a portrait, please feel free to contact me here.
A flash of northern lights reveals a beautiful polar bear suspended beneath the surface of the sea. A buoyant animal, and a strong swimmer, it is comfortable in this underwater space.
But the frozen sea is its true place, vital to travel, hunting, mating, denning.
Due to climate change, sea ice forms later in the fall, and melts too soon in the spring, leaving the fate of the polar bear species, in suspense.
But for the time, in this painting, we can admire the beauty, and power of the bear, envy its solitude, see the intelligence in its bright eyes. Beautiful deep blues, green, and unlike the situation, black and white.
Contact me here more more info about Polar Bear Beauty in Suspense.
The Fall is a portrait of a polar bear on its solitary journey in the arctic night, unaware that a red maple leaf (Canada’s national symbol) falls before it from above. The fall colour of the maple tree isn’t part of this bear’s autumn landscape, but the frozen sea, so vital for its survival, is. Increased periods of open water from spring to fall, due to climate change, increases the polar bear’s vulnerability.
Painted in wonder and warning,The Fall pays tribute to an iconic Canadian animal, and connects Canadians in the responsibility to protect it, thereby protecting and saving ourselves.
Why the Canadian connection? Although one of the world’s most favourite animals, polar bears are only found in Canada, Alaska (USA), Russia and Norway. 60 - 80 % of the world’s population are found in Canada. The Fall has a “sister” painting, the award winning “The Canadian Flower Crown”. Read about it here
I am pleased to announce The Fall has been accepted into ARTWORKS 2018, the OCADU Alumni Show, December 2 -8, 2018. The Great Hall, OCADU. 100 McCaul St., Toronto. More Info and opening reception date & time here