In 2019, I was offered a solo show at the Northern Alberta Jubilee in Edmonton. The theme was going to be polar bears, but I knew I didn't have enough reference material and had to figure out how I was going to get some.
I had planned on taking in one of the Polar Bear Tours in Churchill, Manitoba, but the show was to take place in November through January, and the trips were offered in October, so that wasn't enough time to paint. Instead, I talked my son into coming with me to Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg had the biggest polar bear enclosure I knew of and housed 8 rescued polar bears.
I booked our flights and hotel and got in touch with the conservation officers at the zoo. Everything was arranged for the 3 day visit, including meeting the officers and seeing their research facility. The zoo works closely with Polar Bear International and is involved in the conservation of the Churchill area, including rescuing orphaned cubs.
We spent 3 days watching and photographing the polar bears. The enclosure "Journey to Churchill", is huge and a lot of time was spent walking from one viewing area to the next. There are a number of pools for the polar bears to play and cool off in and one large pool with an under ground viewing area. It was breath taking.
I was able to capture many great shots of the polar bears and have been incorporating them into my paintings. Submerged is the first underwater painting in the series taken from my time at the Winnipeg Zoo. It was a labour intensive painting that I truly enjoyed doing. I used a number of difference reference photos for the painting, but the bubbles gave me a bit of grief. I wasn't able to get them to make sense at first, I had them all over the place. I needed to figure out how to make them work. I love to swim, so on one of my trips to the local pool I did some experimenting. While underwater I brought my hand down hard on the water and watched how the bubbles rise, I did this over and over. Okay I admit, I did feel a little bit silly, and I did get a few strange looks, but hey, it's all for art! And it was a successful experiment.
The large scale painting (48" x 48") was completed and framed, and took centre stage at the show opening. It was a lot of fun to see so many of the patrons who attended the opening get their photo taken in front of the painting, it was even more fun when it sold a few days later to someone who attended the opening.
As I continue with my series "The Polar Bear", I am drawn to the polar bear underwater. My first painting "Getting Closer" was also an underwater painting and has done very well winning awards in shows and getting notice. There is just something that speaks to me when it comes to these wonderful animals. Not all my paintings are underwater, but after painting "Submerged" you can expect to see a few more.
Submerged is part of the Federation of Canadian Artists Online Juried Show "Water". I was very happy to see that the Federation Gallery is using it in their ad campaign for the show.