The Way of the Wolf

While working on this painting last night I realized I was getting "too attached" to the image - hence I was having trouble with the wolf's legs and they were becoming much too importnat - and overworked. So I decided what I needed to do was start over, and wiped out the who bottom of the painting. When I stepped back, I was surprized to see how making the legs unimportant forced the face of the wof to be the focal point - which is what I wanted all along. As I looked at the wolf, it occured to me that this is how this animal - and the medicine she carries - wants to present herself. Not all at once and in your face, but shrouded in mystery. There is much to learn abuot the way of the wolf, and it can't be hurried.
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Wolf Totem

I began working on this painting last night. It's another small painting, 8x8". This painting is a little different from the other totems I've painted in that I've really cooled the background and also the wolf has darker hairs on top instead of underneath, so I had to modify my technique a bit. I can't wait to get back into my studio and continue painting.

I've been thinking abut painting wolves for a long time, and have always had a great interest in them. I recall a time at a zoo, many, many years ago. I was looking into the wolf enclosure and had the extraordinary experience of locking eyes with a wolf. It wasn't a challenge, but rather an exchange of some deep emotion, a longing - and in some weird way it felt like recognition between us. I remember I broke gaze first, and the wolf slowly turned and walked away. I was left standing alone with a most indescribable sense of sorrow.

Wolves have a highly developed social structure that is more similar to human behavior than it is different. I sometimes think that what humans fear in wolves is what we fear in ourselves - our predatory nature. According to, the wolf “totem brings faithfulness, inner strength and intuition when he enters our lives. But he also brings learning to live with one's self. The wolf teaches us to learn about our inner self and to find our inner power and strength. But to achieve this, we must take risks and face our deepest fears. A wolf totem demands sincerity. This totem demands a lot of us but gives us much in return; a spirit helper that is always there to help and gives us extraordinary powers of endurance. He reminds us to listen to our inner thoughts and trust our insights. They remind us not to waste resources and to learn how to avoid trouble and confrontations.  People with Wolf totems have the capacity to make quick and firm emotional attachments.  Trust your insights about these attachments.  Wolf will guide you.  Take control of your life with Wolf’s help and do so with harmony and discipline.”

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Little Bear

I just finished "Little Bear" last night - and was struggling to figure out a title. I looked at different names in mythology and folklore and Native American stories. Nothing seemed to fit.  I complained to my husband that I couldn't think what to call the little bear painting. As soon as the words left my mouth I knew I had found the name - Little Bear. At 8x8", it IS a little bear!

This piece will be in the miniature show at the Western Spirit Art Show in Cheyenne, Wyoming. (See "Events" for more information.) I know I keep saying this, but it bears (no pun intended - well, okay, maybe it was intended) repeating, that I am having so much fun working on this series. Technique-wise, it combines the elements I love best from the work I've done in watercolor, pastel and oil. But beyond that I love the intimacy of painting individual animals without the distraction of landscape behind them. These paintings are more about the importance of the animal as an individual - I want the viewer to feel a connection on a more metaphysical plane. The focus is on who the animal is, what it represents for the viewer, and hopefully how an understanding of the animal can lead to a greater understanding of the self.
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Bear Necessities

Organic Bear

(Sorry, couldn't resist the reference to the Jungle Book!) I finished this painting a few days ago (you can see the unfinished version in an earlier blog) and like the expression on the bear's face. There is something playful and benevolent about her, yet her size and claws let you know she is not to be messed with.

If you find yourself attracted to images of Bear, you may be able to learn something about yourself by studying the behavior of bears. According to the Animal Totems website, Bear teaches us to respect our natural hibernation cycles. Just as Bear rests during winter and reawakens during spring, we need spaces of rest and rejuvenation. Bear calls us to awaken the potential within ourselves and the power of our unconscious mind. Bear reminds us there is a time for playfulness and a time to be assertive.

I'm working on a small Bear painting (8x8) which may go into the miniature's show at the Western Spirit Art Show. I've not had time to do much painting lately - I've had company almost non-stop since Thanksgiving, and have had to deal with family health issues. Plus my daughter got married New Year's Eve and then moved with her new husband and her two children up to Oregon - lots of emotional stuff! Like Bear, I am looking forward to a bit of hibernation to recharge my batteries. 

I'm taking my Mom down to the Ernest L Blumenschein show at the Denver Art Museum today. By all accounts, it is a great show and I'm psyched to go see it and be inspired! 

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Organic Bison

Just finished this piece a few days ago. This was the first time I've tried my new technique on a larger format painting (30x30) and I really enjoyed working this way in larger scale. I've been reading alot lately on other blogs about having a focus in your art - and I have to say that focusing on painting totem animals - especially bison - has really allowed me to develop this style. I am excited to get into my studio everyday to paint. I no longer wonder what I'll paint and my confidence has taken a quantum leap - I'm not the least bit afraid as I let the paint do its thing on the canvas. In the past I'd feel tentative, afraid to "ruin" something. Or I'd overwork. Now I'm feeling the joy of painting without over-thinking. Much more in the moment. I relate it to learning to ride a horse. At first you are so aware of every move your body makes. Your mind has to tell your body, sit up straight, lift the rein, move your leg. There is this lag time between thought and action that makes things look and feel awkward. But then, after awhile, your body remembers what it is supposed to do and just does it, by-passing the "talk" part of the brain. Much more seamless, balanced, natural. And FUN! That's how I feel about painting these days. I'm having fun.

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Organic Bear

I was recently asked to describe my style and the word "organic" came to mind. It seems a rather appropriate word for both the subject - totem or "medicine" animals and for the technique I'm using. The word organic can be defined as related to, or derived from living organisms. It is also defined as made up of many different parts which contribute to the way in which the whole society or structure works. My application of paint is "organic" in terms of it being allowed to flow in a "natural" way, as it dips and flows along pathways of its own choosing. 

This painting is a 30 x30 and in the beginning stages. After the first layer dries enough to be stable, I'll go back in with more paint, darkening some areas, lightening others, intensifiying some colors, muting others. 

Bear has joined me on my journey - interestingly, in the winter. This is the natural time for Bear to sleep in pseudo-hibernation. A time of quiet, introspection, rest. Female bears give birth during this time of sleep, and the cubs are nurtured and grow in the womb-like environment of the den.  Winter is a time of quiet for me as well - after the hub-bub of the holidays, I tend to hunker down and spend more time on solitary pursuits - reading, writing and painting. If you tend to become a home-body in the winter months, you may have an affinity for Bear. Click here  for more information on Bear medicine.

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