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.