Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Journey Through Bear Time....Bearfootin' Bear Public Art 2013 for Downtown Hendersonville

I was honored to be asked again by Mike Kai of Morris Broadband to collaborate and create a Bear for this year's Downtown Bearfootin' Bear Project. Having worked with them last year on the "Together We Can" bear, I was excited to be given another opportunity to create a bear to support a new charity and the downtown.

Fiberglass Bear waiting to become Artful
Each bear is a collaboration between a sponsor, a charity, and an artist. Upon completion they are placed on display throughout Downtown Hendersonville from May through October, and are then put up for auction with the proceeds benefiting the chosen charity. 
Last year's bear was a Mother Bear and Cub in a sitting position, while this year's was a full standing Bear. I knew that the height factor and size would be a challenge for me due to my health issues of Lupus SLE and Spondylolisthesis in my spine, but my love of Art and the Bears and Supporting Charities urged me to go forward. 
 Once brought back to my studio it began with a light sanding process to even out its texture and prep for its artful journey. Slowly working through the sanding process was much like a meditation, giving me time to contemplate on the theme of the bear and his design. This year's charity is "Thrive". Their mission is to provide support and opportunities to adults with mental health needs offering community, hope and recovery. Their goal is to help those they serve move from surviving to thriving.
Sanding the Bear...Meditation and Contemplation
During this quiet process the design  had come forward in my mind. The logo of "Thrive" is a sage green leaf branch. I was inspired to incorporate the branch throughout the bear's design, embellishing it further with birds. My artistic take on their mission of moving from surviving to thriving, would now have  birds flying with the branches in their mouths. Along his chest would be a long branch that would symbolically show this process, with a bird beginning in the sitting position...to standing...to getting ready to launch in flight...and then taking off...moving toward a spiral sun that represents its aspirations.
Priming the bear with grey matte prepped my "canvas" for the painting. I used paynes grey, burnt umber, and black to give life to the bear's coat. Using a fan brush, I slowly navigated through giving him texture in his fur.
Textured brushstrokes to give him fur
 Once sanded, primed and the base coat of the bear is done, the exciting part of the design finally arrives. Carefully working around his entire body to accomplish the vision, you find new ways to get to all of the areas. This Bear is taller than me, and so each area had to be worked from a different angle. It was challenging and rewarding at the same time.

There were moments spent outdoors...

Moments spent against work table...

Close detail beginning on face
Birds in Flight toward the Spiral Sun
 I can't truly tell you the length of time it took to complete the Bear, because once in this creative mode....time blends..there are no start and stop times...it becomes Bear Time.
Layers of paint, dry time, paint splattered on clothes, continually moving him to complete your vision, and stepping back to contemplate the process....these things become so much more than doing a painting. It's as if you are creating an entity in itself.

And so becomes "With Wings to Fly", our Bear for the 2013 Bearfootin' Bear Public Art Project.
Front View of "With Wings to Fly"

Back View of "With Wings to Fly"
For those of you that are familiar with my work, you know that most of it revolves around Nature, Animal Totems, and Empowerment...so this project no matter how challenging, is nourishment to my soul. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be involved and hope that it brings a smile to someone's face and that it's message touches someone's heart.
"With Wings to Fly" will be on display in Downtown Hendersonville ( I believe in front of Flight Restaurant) for viewing. His auction will be on October 19th, 2013, when he will be adopted by a loving person.

If you like to learn more about Thrive, the organization that will benefit from it's auction, you can visit their website here

Thank you to Mike Kai and Morris Broadband for supporting artists and the community.

Goodbye Old Bear....I will miss our time together.
"With Wings to Fly" and Artist Jeanne Fry


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