Painting at Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska

When painting on location and a grizzly bear is hanging around I will “calmly” pack up , pay respect, and leave these incredible creatures alone. It is not recommended to approach bears in wilderness. However in Katmai National Park Alaska, one can   sometimes observe brown bears in their natural habitat if done responsibly. Camping in a tent amongst the grizzly bears was sleepless at first, even if  our site was in a  park designated space away from the bears main fishing spot and the tent was “protected” by a  thin  electric wire. Traveling with a small group of photographers and an experienced guide, we observed these giants , feed , sleep, nurse and go about surviving. Most of these bears are used to the odd fly in day trip visitors and have little fear, discomfort or even interest in us. They come to fish for salmon in the tidal streams  and dig for clams  on the beach.  Wilderness experience is recommended as well as checking with the park about proper equipment and  bear observation habits.

I sketch, video and take pictures for painting reference. Painting is a challenge on site as it may be required to move position due to bear behavior and the incoming tides. A small pocket sketch book was most useful, as a few painting were done back at the camp site from a few shapes hopefully well seen. One thing that I hope to express in the paintings is the interconnectedness of the bears to the landscape. Their shapes and colour echo the mountain peaks, and the mountain range itself resembles the back of the lone salmon stranded and exposed in shallow water ready to surrender to the bear that will   selectively feast and leave parts scattered for many other creatures to feed and trees to grow.

Outgoing Tide, Hallo Bay

Outgoing Tide, Hallo Bay, 15in. x 22in. watercolour

"Mother and Cub, Katmai National Park"

Mother and Cub, Katmai National Park

"Hallo Bay Camp, Katmai, Alaska"

Hallo Bay Camp, Katmai, Alaska

Beach Patrol!

" More Beach Patrol"

"Awaiting salmon, Hallo Bay"

"Awaiting Salmon at Hallo Bay." 12in. x 22in. watercolour

About David McEown

Artist, Landscape Painter, Art instructor, Musician
This entry was posted in Alaska, en plein air, Katmai, Landscape painting, Watercolour, West Coast Rainforest and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Painting at Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska

  1. liz says:

    Yay David! Looks great friend!

  2. liz says:

    BTW, AMAZING footage! That cub shaking his head around with the stick was a total Lily move, fell out of my chair laughing!

    PS: I’m guessing that’s Daisy’s click, click, clicking going on in the background…very cool trip.

    • David McEown says:

      Thanks! yes ,we had 5 photographers, thus hard to avoid the the shutter clicks in my video because when viewing these bears we have to stay tight together in order that the bears and mostly the cubs do not get between us. Important is not to chase the bears, it takes a long time to approach and be accepted. I do have a external mic attachment , but that gets tricky because i only have 2 arms and we are standing in cold water most of the time. The best thing to avoid shutter clicks is to give everyone sketch books and just take in all the wonder!

  3. liz says:

    I think the shutter clicks add to it, brings Daisy into the picture.

  4. Mickey says:

    Hi David,
    how beautiful your work is, again and again! I am still loving the ones I bought from you on KK (far side trip). I visited Veronica 2 week ago so I’m all up to date on you and Daisy – good to hear all is going well.

    Hugs to both of you from HongKong,

  5. Aminata says:

    I love the picture of the nursing cub. Your work is really beautiful and thought provoking – hats off to you for encouraging creative expression in nature!

  6. Leslie says:

    Glad to hear you are enjoying the north again. I am taking classes with Bonnie and not doing enough during the week to be successful but she is very entertaining. You are as usual up close with nature and the bears seem to think you are one of them. Have a great time and keep those paintings and photos coming. Maybe you will make it back to R.H. in the spring. All the best………Leslie

  7. Maria says:

    Great video! Give my best to Daisy. I’ve just started to experiment with multi-media as well- this is from Greenland this summer:
    I hope sometime we can meet in person!
    Best wishes,

  8. Myrna says:

    I enjoyed the video of the bears and of course, your paintings. Keep up the good work and we all miss you in Richmond Hill.

  9. I really enjoyed the video with the grizzly. I liked so much to see you draw in your sketch book. Now I am inspired to draw myself. Thank you for the inspiration!

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