Wednesday, November 25, 2009

“Sketchbooks and the Artist”

“Curious Bear”Teton National Park

October 1, 2009

After successfully painting all day on the bank of the Snake River, we return to camp. Bright tones of amber, crimzon, umber, and sienna blanket the landscape.
Squirrels chatter in the trees as they jump from branch to branch, from tree to tree, as if today is the last day to gather pinion and seeder nuts and hoard them inside old hollow trees for quick snacks during the cold winter months. In the woods not far us, we can here the unmistakable bugling sounds of Wapiti (elk) as they establish their territory and breeding herd. Bears, too, eat continuously to store fat for their long winter’s nap.

At our camp near Coulter Bay, just on the boundary of the Teton National Park lives a bear whose name is Number 399. The National Park service gives Bears numbers to identify each bear, keep track of their activity, and to monitor if any bears are interacting with park tourists in an unpleasant manner. Every bear has its own personality and interacts differently with members of the human race. Number 399 is a popular bear at the campground. Rangers and park visitors like him because of his natural curiosity about people, and as a result, many park tourists enjoy seeing this beautiful four year old, honey-colored grizzly. He likes the attention and poses for pictures, and he has never been cited for unruly bear behavior, although his natural curiosity makes a few campers a little uncomfortable as he wanders from campsite to campsite.

I capture my first glimpse of Number 399 as I enjoy a cup of tea just outside of our Silver Streak Trailer. I grab my sketchbook to make a quick sketch on paper knowing that I can later transfer it to canvas. The bear stands for a few moments among several fallen tree trunks before lofting away to another campsite. While he stands there, a burst of wind makes his fur ripple like waves on water, back- blowing his thick winter coat. The following day, I learn that a hunter, who had just killed an elk, shot Number 399 three times and killed him. The hunter apparently was worried that he might have to share his kill with the bear. This was a poignant reminder of the value of sketching in the moment as the opportunity presents itself.

“Sketchbooks and the Artist”

Artists haven’t always carried their paints and canvas with them on their travels. The practice of painting on location via plein air is a relatively new concept in the history of painting. Many artists prefer the traditional method of sketching their experiences in a sketchbook. Artists can draw models or objects of interest, jot down notes and observations about a subject’s shapes, colors and unique features, or work on ideas for upcoming paintings in their sketchbooks. In this painting, “Curious Bear,” I worked from a sketch that I drew of the bear that visited our campsite. Having only seconds to jot down ideas, I worked on an idea for a painting from my notes the following day after I learned that this bear was shot and killed. This is an example of why it is essential that an artist always have a sketchbook and a pencil or pen to sketch and write notes and observations.

I recommend using a book that has about 50 sheets of plain paper with a spiral spine to start, and urge artists to carry it with them everywhere. Make a point to draw at least three drawings a day in it. Practice drawing in it everyday, and use it for everything from ideas for your next painting to making your shopping lists. It is not practical to invest in expensive journals with upgraded paper and leather binding displaying the artist’s name in gold leaf. Although these can be impressive, the fancy journals are intimidating and rarely, if ever, used. Don’t think of your sketchbook as a holy relic. It is just a book with pieces of paper. The real value is not the book itself; it is using its pages to practice your sketching and to journal what you are thinking and feeling each day about the world around you, with the possibility of capturing a precious moment that later can become your next great painting.
I have devoted my life to touch, move and inspire others to see and appreciate the beauty of art and its relationship to nature. And, as we travel through this great land with our 1970 Silver Streak trailer following behind our truck, I passionately desire to share the power and beauty of nature and art with others.For a FREE book on everything I know about painting go to


Blogger twisterdudes said...


Such a bittersweet story. Sweet in that you were able to let 399 live forever in your beautiful painting.
But very bitter in the way he was killed. Thank you for the story, the painting, and last but not least, for the words of wisdom.

Happy Thanksgiving! of boz

10:13 PM  
Blogger said...

Stefan, Thank you for your story and
comments of being in the outdoors. The poingnant ending saddening but the
painting a memory.YEnding with your note on carrying the sketchbook will make me more mindful of such.
Thank you
emilyl in Texas

8:14 AM  
Blogger david said...

The popular comment layout is common, so it is easily recognized when scanning to post a comment. If the comment section is in a different format, then I am going to spend more time trying to decipher what everything means.
this is very interesting blog for online marketing

work from home

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw this painting and loved it immediately. After reading the story it made me appreciate the painting even more. How sad such a beatiful animal had to die. Thanks for sharing...

4:59 AM  
Blogger 风骚达哥 said...

20151012 junda
coach factory outlet
Buy Kobe Shoes Online Discount
ralph lauren
michael kors bags
michael kors outlet
Canada Goose Jackets Outlet Online Sale
Michael Kors Outlet Online No Tax
coach outlet store online
louis vuitton outlet
Abercrombie T-Shirts
Wholesale Authentic Designer Handbags
cheap jordans,jordan shoes,cheap jordan shoes
michael kors handbags
Louis Vuitton Clearance Sale
michael kors outlet
nfl jerseys
canada goose outlet
Official Coach Factory Outlet Online Sale
Michael Kors Online Outlet Shop
ugg boots sale
Louis Vuitton Handbags Discount Off
cheap uggs
ugg boots
Gucci Outlet Online Sale
ralph lauren uk
Louis Vuitton Outlet USA
michael kors outlet
tory burch outlet
Louboutin Red Bottoms Shoes Outlet

11:20 PM  
Blogger Zheng junxai5 said...

nike outlet
celine bags
jordan shoes
coach outlet
toms wedges
michael kors outlet
coach factory outlet
cheap ray ban sunglasses
kids lebron shoes
cheap oakleys
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet
hollister clothing
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton outlet
true religion outlet store
ray ban sunglasses outlet
coach factory outlet
retro 11
nike roshe run
ray ban outlet
michael kors outlet clearance
concords 11
coach outlet
coach outlet online
michael kors purses
michael kors outlet
oakley outlet
michael kors handbags
louis vuitton outlet stores
true religion outlet
adidas originals
nike store
oakley sunglasses wholesale
hollister clothing store
michael kors purses
nike free uk

1:29 AM  
Blogger soma taha said...

2:48 AM  
Blogger rehabgad1 said...

Good write-up. I definitely love this site. Keep it up

12:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home