Tuesday, December 25, 2012

More Than I Can Bear

Last summer I made a trip with the Loll Staff to Jackson Hole.  I always try to visit all the galleries I can, and in one I saw a wonderful picture.  It was of a bear standing beside an untended fire.  There was a canoe overturned to one side and three cubs up a tree.  As I looked at the picture, I thought to myself, this is my life.

Let me explain.  All summer I worry about bears and forest fires.  The picture seemed to capture all my worries in a single frame. 

I could not get the picture out of my mind.  I made a sketch of it in my pocketbook, and then in my journal.  As the next Saturday approached, I began to wonder how much that wonderful picture was, and if I might not buy it.  Bryan was taking the crew to town so I gave him careful instructions as to where the gallery was, and what the picture looked like.  I told him to call me with the price.  Sure enough, around noon he called.  He told me that he had found the picture.  I was thinking if it was $3k or less I would buy it, somehow.  Bryan told me he had bad news.  The picture was there, as wonderful as I had said it would be, but it had been sold.  "But," he said, "I would not feel too bad - it sold for $30,000.

Janice told me it was up to me to paint the picture myself.  I determined to make my own version of the painting.  What follows is a more or less step by step progress through to the final watercolor, well final for now.

This is the first sketch in my pocketbook, when I was still dreaming of buying the original.

Here is the effort from my journal.  I have added a tent, instead of a canoe, and a food crate.  As I walk the camp, I bristle every time I see an unattended food crate.  We beg the troops to put everything in their bear box and lock it up. 

Once back in school, I began doodling my dream in my notebooks.

A cub up the tree.
Three cubs and some perspective and value study.

My first effort in watercolor.

I like this one better - Janice told me I had to give it to her.
More bear studies in my day plan book, doodled while I lectured.
I start to add mommy.
 Food box and fire, and the cubs all in place.

A more finished sketch of mom.

First fully developed sketch, about 8" by 11", ready to transfer to the Watercolor paper.  Note, I've added another "pet peeve", the tent is now tied to a living tree.

 Finished first draft in color.  I am experimenting with the washes as well as the composition.
Second try in color.  I've moved the the food box closer to the tent and added an ax, out of the yard!

 Here is the full sized pencil drawing, I have added a fire barrel, tipped over and empty and the garbage it disgorged.  This is also all too common, and a painful sight about camp.
 The back of the drawing is covered with 2B pencil, ready for the transfer to the 300 lb. watercolor paper.

The drawing is transferred, then the lines are retraced in 3H led to make them darker.  Note, I have added an open bear box, complete with styrofoam cooler.  I have masked those highlights I want to remain white. 
Then I began to add the color in washes.  First yellow then blues and greens.   The sky is flooded with blue, purple, red and orange.

 The final work.  Not worth much, but it carries the message I wanted.  I imagine it above the fireplace in the Jed Stringham Memorial Hall.  I will reference it as I go over the rules for ax, bear, and fire precautions. There is so much to worry about at Camp.  It is my life.
 Here is the final framing.  I have surrounded the painting in the patches issued over the last twelve years.  The last twelve Janice and I have spent there since our return from Catalina.  During that time there were also seven "Loll" shoulder patches.  The shoulder patches are, from left to right, top then bottom: 05, 06, 07, 08, 09,  2010 , 2011.  The pocket patches are posted clockwise from 01 - 12.


MindMechanic said...

I can imagine there would be more than a few staff members that would love a framed version for their own homes. I wonder if you could have a lithograph made available for people to purchase?

Its trite...but
Painting in a gallery at Jackson Hole $30k
The memories of so many scouts at Loll through the years...priceless.

Lysis said...

Thank you for the kind words. I hope to do better before I end up on any "other" walls.

MindMechanic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MindMechanic said...

The value of most paintings are dependent not on what is on the canvas but rather who put what on the canvas and what the artist or subject meant to potential buyers.

Taylor said...

I love this and all of your art.

Taylor said...

I love this and all of your art.

Tiffany said...

This is absolutely fabulous, and I agree with MindMechanic. It would be lovely if there were a lithograph available for purchase.