Where I live, it’s pretty common to see bears near town, and certainly on our hiking trails. Bears are one of those iconic animals in the Rockies that everyone wants to see (hopefully from a safe distance).
When I am at art shows, I often get asked if I have “bear art” and it’s odd — given where I live — that I haven’t had any printmaking art of bears.
Several years ago, when I was doing more acrylic painting, I created a painting of a bear we sighted in the forest near Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park, a place you are almost guaranteed to see a bear.
Although I can’t find statistics on it, it feels as though we’ve had a unusually high number of sightings of bears in Banff and Canmore this spring and summer. Almost everyone I talk to has seen one, fairly close up. I’m not sure why this year is any different, but bear sightings have resulted in the closure of several trails — even sections of the townsite of Banff have been temporarily closed.
This summer, I’ve created a card that shows a mother bear and her cubs. Now, when asked, I can say, “Yes, I do have bears in my collection!” Carving these bears was so much fun, I think I will be doing more.
I begin by drawing the design on the block, and start carving away the pieces in the card I want to show white.
Once the design is completely carved, I ink up the block and pull my test prints. Then I make any adjustments necessary before creating numerous copies of the cards. These will definitely find a market locally. Bears are so popular!
The black bear is one of the most common bears in Canada, being found in most provinces and territories. Although called “black” bears, their coat can be dark brown, blond or cinnamon in color. The little bear family in my card is classic: litters can be between one and six cubs, but more typically females have two to three cubs. Once born in January or February, the cubs are dependent on their mother’s milk for about 30 weeks, or around 7 months, so they can be seen with their mothers well into the fall season.
Bear sightings are always special. If you’re in the valley, though, be “bear aware” and don’t get too close or try to feed them. Visit this website for staying safe around wildlife: Banff Tips. If you live here, you can get weekly notices of where bears are in the valley by visiting the WildSmart website, following WildSmart on Facebook or Twitter, or signing up for their weekly email notifications.