CG Jung wrote that “there is a bear with glowing eyes deep in the human unconscious.” These black bears soar in the air, reveal interiors filled with light, wander the woods in seclusion and find moments of grace in stillness.
The inspiration for this series of paintings was a dream of a black bear trying to enter my room. I spent the next year delving into the significance of bears: I drew them at the zoo, drew their skulls at the Academy of Sciences, visited their habitats in Pepperwood Preserve and Albion and eventually filled four notebooks with sketches.
“Bear” is an irreducible verb, so ancient that no other word conveys the same richness and complexity of its meaning. Here, by way of example, are some of the many definitions of the verb “bear”, all of which “bear” meaning for this body of work.
To bear, selected definitions
1. to bring forth; give birth
4. to hold or remain firm under (a load): bear the strain
5. to be capable of: bear close examination
7. to manage ones self: to bear oneself erectly
8. to conduct (oneself); to bear oneself bravely
9. to suffer, endure, undergo: to bear the blame
10. to sustain without yielding or suffering injury
11. to be fit for or worthy of: It bears repeating
12. to carry: to bear gifts
13. to carry in the mind or heart: to bear love
15 to render, afford: to bear witness
17. to have and be entitled to: to bear title
18. to exhibit or show: to bear a resemblance
19. to accept or have as an obligation: to bear responsibility
21. to possess as a quality: bear traces
22. to have and use; exercise: to bear authority; to bear sway
23. to show or use force, strength, influence
26. to bring forth young or fruit: Next year the tree will bear fruit
28. bear down, b. to strive harder
29. bear on, relate to, or have connection with
30. bear out, substantiate, confirm; The facts bear me out
31. bear up, to endure hardship bravely
32. bear with, to be patient; to be forbearing
33. bring to bear, to concentrate on with specific purpose
Each painting was made with thick, J-grade, Belgian linen. Once stretched, the linen was sized with gently warmed rabbits skin glue. The remaining glue, Bologna chalk and stand oil were emulsified and kept at a constant temperature, then spread in three thin layers over the sizing. The finished support has a surface far surpassing speedier methods of creation and reverberates like a drum. This centuries old process contains no plastic or petroleum derived materials. The completed oil paintings range in size from 30 x 40” to 8 x 10”.