Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Bare (sic) Facts

5" x 7" watercolor on 140 lb Fabriano Artistico hot press paper

For several mornings at approximately the same time, I parked my car at the same place at the edge of a park. There was a large tree that intrigued me and I wanted to try to capture it on paper. I also liked the way it framed everything beyond.

So I painted the tree and when I was about halfway through, with the tree complete, I showed it to a friend. I had tried to portray all of the many shades and textures I saw on the tree, including a large knot.

She looked at it, and then squinted and leaned closer.  "What's that?" she said, "Is that a bear?"

I looked at the picture again. And then I saw it.

There it was where the knot should have been - a bear.  I'd had no idea the bear was there.

If you didn't see a bear the first time you looked at the picture, then look again, and there it will be. And once you see the bear, you cannot unsee it.

Now with a few dabs of water or paint and some subtle changes I could have banished the bear from my tree, and I considered doing so.  But I kind of liked the old fella - he had a friendly smile - so there he stays.

So now it's my bear tree.

I had fun with the scene beyond.  There was a house off to my right just beyond the far side of the park and I decided that for my composition it would look good on the left, so I put it there.  And now the bear guards that house, I suppose.

And those are the bear facts, as I see them.

At the end of each of my sessions, I'd snap a shot of the picture, to evaluate my progress and consider what to do next.

And here is a slide show of those shots:


  1. Hi Dan,

    The first thing I saw before reading the post was the "bear" in the tree.


  2. well, I am glad you elected to keep him, because he is indeed very charming. One time I uploaded a tree painting onto an online art discussion group. It was well before I became a blogger. Someone noticed there was a numeral (like an 8) in the tree, then another commenter saw a 4, then another saw a 2 and so forth and so on until practically all numbers were represented. It started to not be so very amusing after 12 or so..hardy har. I turned the painting to the wall. Carl Sagan once wrote that we look for faces because the first thing we ever see is the human face. It's why we see the Man in the Moon, etc....we actually look for it.
    Great painting...I especially like where you put the house.

  3. Glad you kept the bear, he certainly does have a nice face. It's a lovely painting Dan.

  4. 'en plein air conditioning' good one imagined inside the house didn't consider car air conditioner. Maybe the bear face was what captured your attention? I've heard that we are born to find faces. The bear is a keeper too cute.

  5. I saw the bear before reading (except I thought it was a cat).. I had someone see a woman's face in a rose painting I did... I never saw it, but when they asked if I did that on purpose... what could I say but... yep, sure did LOL
    So that's YOUR bear embrace him :-)

  6. This post was so funny Dan I had to stop reading to pull myself together. Then I went back to take a closer look at the knot in the tree to see if I saw a bear. I didn't, I saw a knot. It looked like Jesus.

  7. I really love the texture of the bark on the tree, I always find it hard to get the right texture to bark and I think you got it bang on. And for the bear, didnt see it until you pointed that out, but I have to say it looks more like Lorax is looking back at you (maybe he was keeping an eye on you and made sure you were only there to paint : ) This painting is such a great contrast your last painting that you posted, I like seeing all your different styles of work.

  8. It's strange how we can look at a painting for a long time and not see something like a bear lurking about. Great knotty work on the tree!

  9. Hello Dan,
    You know, all I saw was a great painting of a tree. Then I read the post so I went back to have another look and now I see....a great painting of a tree. Wonderfully done mate.
    With my drawing of my Mum and Dad, a lot of people said they could see a fox in the background. I looked and looked and all of a sudden...Yes. Now I see it every time I look at it.
    Fantastic painting Dan!

  10. Oh, how you made me laugh! Brilliant post and a super painting. In years to come, I think it may become famous....

  11. This is beautiful and I don't see the bear. My photo file is full of shots of tree trunks--I love 'em. You got that great texture.

  12. Nicely done Dan! I think you've captured wonderful texture in all the trees. The fence helps guide the eye and your placement of the house is well done. I don't see a bear.

  13. So many of you don't see a bear! I am shocked. Why to me it is there big as day!

    Anyway, thank you all - I truly enjoyed your comments - great fun!

    Addressing a few of you more spedifically:

    Vicki, Celeste, Sue, Mary and Elaine - Thank you for seeing the bear. See folks? I am not crazy.

    Celeste - That is a really spooky event re your painting and awfully interesting. The Carl Sagan quote is darned interesting too.

    Linda - You are so funny!! If Jesus has appeared there, I am selling it on e-bay. I'll make a fortune.

    Mari - The Lorax! Possibly. I think that is the only Dr. Seuss book I haven't read.

    Stew - Well Stew, I looked and looked in the painting of your Dad and Mum and I don't see a fox. Sorry.

    marancat - The question is - for what reason?!

    Hallie - You see a nude woman in my last post and I don't see it. I see a bear in this one and you don't see it. Somehow I think you are getting the better of the deal.

    Pamo - It's there I tell you! It's there!!