Portfolio | Bear Essentials

Sarah Woods

Black Bear Bluff, oil, 20 x 16.

“For twenty years I have made my home high in the mountains of southern Colorado. It is remote, unpopulated, and rich in wildlife, with one of the largest bear populations in the state. Over the years I have had dozens of bear encounters, and this painting was inspired by a very memorable one. This bear had a lot of attitude and had developed some bad habits because of it. We were never really sure when it was just bluffing. I feel very lucky to live here because I like to paint what I know. This painting is typical of my work in that it includes strong lighting, a bold palette, and an intimate glimpse of the wildlife I love to paint.”


Trailside Galleries, Jackson, WY, and Scottsdale, AZ; Hayden Hays at the Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, CO; www.sarahwoodsart.com.

Upcoming show
Group show, Trailside Galleries, Jackson, WY, March 1-31.

Sarah Jane Webber

“I have always been attracted to faces, especially the appealing expressions you find in the wild. Bears run the gamut of expressions, from commanding to comical, and I find them great subjects for my animal portraits and paintings. As a child growing up in the 1960s, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of my summer vacation time in Yellowstone, where we were able to safely witness black bear and grizzly. These are special memories. What I really enjoy painting are their lively eyes, big noses, expressive eyebrows, and the wonderful play of color throughout their fur. I like to play with the titles for my bears, too, and I felt HAPPY GO LUCKY said a lot about his attitude—he’s a grizzly, so not a lot to worry about!”

Happy Go Lucky, oil, 10 x 10.

Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA; Buffalo Trails Gallery, Jackson, WY; Gallery at the Windsor, Del Norte, CO; Gallery Collections at La Posada de Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM; The Artful Deposit, Bordentown City, NJ; Wilde Meyer Gallery, Tucson and Scottsdale, AZ; www.sarahjwebber.com.

Upcoming shows
Cowgirl Up!, Wickenburg, AZ, March 28-May 8.
Silent Auction, Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ, April 1.
Silent Auction, National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson, WY, June 24.

Julie T. Chapman

“ILLUMINATION was inspired by a seminal trip to the remote coastline of Katmai National Park in Alaska during the salmon run. We saw dozens of grizzly bears during that week, but this beautiful female was my favorite. We spent an afternoon with her as she fished a bouldered cascade; she was comfortable with our tiny group’s quiet presence and even exhibited body language that seemed to mean “come play.” These priceless hours with a wild personality led to my desire to create a portrait worthy of this gorgeous bear, borrowing from Rembrandt’s device of a glowingly lit subject against a dark background. ILLUMINATION won the 2002 Arts for the Parks Grand Prize, and the piece represents what I love to do in my work: consider the stunning beauty of each animal and treat each individual as a landscape to be explored.”

Illumination, oil, 20 x 30.

Legacy Gallery, Jackson, WY, and Scottsdale, AZ; Pitzer’s Fine Art, Wimberley, TX; Ernest Fuller Fine Art, Denver, CO; Visions West Gallery, Bozeman and Livingston, MT; Townsend Fine Art, Missoula, MT; www.JulieTChapman.com.

Upcoming shows
Featured Artist, Winter Equestrian Festival, Palm Beach, FL, through April 3.
The Russell Show & Sale, Great Falls, MT, March 17-19.
Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Art Show, Cheyenne, WY, July 21-August 1.

Robert McCauley

Mixed Metaphor (Windfall), oil, 22 x 28.

“Today, the border between hinterland and wilderness is mostly romanticized history, or political fodder in minor regional skirmishes. This piece establishes a “here vs. there,” an “us vs. them,” with the borderline defined by a windfall barricade of the last tree remaining. The bears, with their humanoid, erect stance, are a metaphor for confrontation. Their gazes, neither aggressive nor passive, make direct contact with our eyes. We are seeing ourselves, threatened by the same issues of habitat loss and deteriorating ecosystems.

“My work is influenced by 19th-century art and literature, which use the American landscape as stage backdrop for the ongoing drama of westward expansion. I think of Thomas Cole standing in the wild underbrush, painting the cleared and fenced land in the oxbow far below. Or Natty Bumppo (James Fennimore Cooper’s “Deerslayer”) peering from the shadows of the virgin forest to witness a drift of smoke several miles away, signaling the onslaught of civilization.”

Visions West Gallery, Denver, CO, and Livingston and Bozeman, MT; Robert Kidd Gallery, Birmingham, MI; Lucia Douglas Gallery, Bellingham, WA; Gail Severn Gallery, Ketchum, ID; Linda Hodges Gallery, Seattle, WA; Perimeter Gallery, Chicago, IL.

Upcoming show
Group show, Fresh Paint Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, May 12-13.

Chad Poppleton

Covering Home Plate, oil, 30 x 40.

“This piece grew out of a trip to southeast Alaska with a few great friends. We roamed around the coast in 14-foot outboards searching for bears. If you have ever navigated such a small boat through 6- to 8-foot breakers, you know what an adventure this can be. The river deltas that empty into the ocean do so in one of two ways—smooth transitions or rough rapids. These areas are favorite places for bears to find submerged boulders or ledges to perch upon while they wait for salmon to leap up and over the rapids.

“I thought a little pun was appropriate in titling this piece, since a large brown bear guards the passage as if playing the catcher position on a baseball team. These first-hand experiences in the wild ignite my creative drive. I feel compelled to share my love and appreciation of everything wild through my artwork.”

Legacy Gallery, Jackson, WY, and Scottsdale, AZ; Collectors Covey, Dallas, TX; Samarah Fine Art, Whitefish, MT; www.chadpoppleton.com.

Upcoming shows
Legacy of the American West Show, Legacy Gallery, March 10-20.
The Russell Show & Sale, Great Falls, MT, March 17-19.

Nicholas Wilson

Family Tree, gouache, 30 x 15.

“I’ve always thought of certain animals as having distinct personalities, living out their lives as individuals like you and me. This perception has resulted in some fun and interesting picture ideas that I have attempted to capture. FAMILY TREE is a case in point: a protective mom with young ones who appear oblivious to surrounding dangers. I’ve experienced the same type of situations here at home when raising my boys. From a lifetime fascinated with wildlife, I’ve concluded that combinations of natural elements, like bears at home among aspen trees, conjure up familiar relationships that we can all understand and sympathize with, providing the painted image with its own ring of truth within our range of emotions.”

K. Newby Gallery, Tubac, AZ.

Upcoming show
Two-person show, K. Newby Gallery, March 26-April 9.

Featured in March 2011.