Wilderness Encounters - the birds and beasts of the Santa Ynez Watershed.
Part of our exploration of A River’s Journey is discovering the animals that make their home in the Santa Ynez watershed. And, the mission of the Wildling Museum of art & nature where our exhibition will be featured starting in February 2018, is to inspire our community and visitors to enjoy, value and conserve that wildlife and natural areas through art. With that in mind, I have chosen to portray the birds and beasts of the Santa Ynez watershed. It is an important and authentic part of the story to be told about the river.
As the Rose Compass group has gone out to remote locations, we sometimes catch glimpses of the wildlife scampering out of sight or perhaps claw marks left by a big momma bear sharpening her claws. You know she was just there, but happy you did not run into her!!
So, how do you paint a bear that’s not really there???
Well, it takes a great deal of research. Much like a novelist researches the details of an environment to paint a picture for her reading audience, a painter does exactly the same thing. I created a drawing of a bear that feels like a California black bear splashing down Alder Creek. The details are important. For example, the grizzlies and brown bears have not been in this area for years and without research I could have easily made the mistake of portraying the wrong bear. It is important to note the black bears’ distinctive traits: notice the taller, more pointed ears, the rump higher than her head and no hump behind her ears. I know she has short curled claws even though they are not shown in the painting. The depicted image of my bear is an invention from my research. So, that’s how you paint a bear without having to stare it down in the woods.
Below are several of the menagerie I have spotted on our Rose Compass adventures. I will post new beasts as we explore more of our Santa Ynez watershed throughout the coming months: