Tuesday, 5 June 2012

That Old Bear

WIP: Well loved old bear
Beginning of a demonstration on how to paint soft toys from this afternoons workshop.

Quite often I think I know where my workshops are heading with subject matter. But there are often surprises as artists attending will sometimes bring in something completely new or in this case old to paint!

I absolutely loved the bear that Mary brought into class today. His name was Biffer and he had been very well loved in his lifetime. Poor Biffer had long since lost his glossy fur. His eyes were still shiny and in place, his black stitched nose was also perfect. I loved that you could see the stitching in places where he had been carefully put together many years ago. He was wonderful!

He naturally reminded me of my own "Thread Bear" painting from my new book along with the childhood memories I shared on my blog recently. I am amazed at how many people read that post and taken aback to also learn my writing  touched hearts emotionally too.

My bear was so similar to "Biffer". He was called "Rupert" after the famous Rupert Bear stories. He was golden in colouring with jointed arms. A wonderful "growler" in his tummy made serious growls when his belly was pressed. I loved that bear so much and like to think my real Mum took a lot of time in choosing him for me as a goodbye gift because it would have meant she really did love me. Unlike Biffer the bear I saw today, my own bear in time, had no nose because I had kissed him so often. I had lovingly worn this part of his little face away.

When my father remarried I was later brought up by a very caring lady who became my Stepmother. She felt sorry for both me and Rupert and dressed us up in a way we weren't accustomed to. I was bought white shoes with little cut out floral patterns in the leather. I remember coming out of the shoe shop holding her hand and walking into every single lampost and obstacle.  I was so in love with my new shoes I stared at them and not where I was going. I can still see them in my imagination. And how I swung my small childs legs on the bus on the way home so that I could admire my shiny new shoes. Unfortunately when I returned to my Grandmothers home where I was still staying these gorgeous shoes were immediately put safely back in their box. My old brown lace ups were put back on my feet as these apparently were far more suitable for a child.

But Rupert got a brand new suit of bright red trousers and a stripey matching jumper to hide his now very overly loved little,bald body. He also got a new stitched nose to make up for where I had kissed his old one away. He didn't look like my bear any more but I loved him anyway.

How amazing that moving a brush for a few minutes while showing how I would start painting Biffer could take me back to my own childhood. To Rupert and then my pretty white shoes.

I wonder what memories you would have if you painted one of your childhood toys?

It is really fascinating how moving a brush and working in colour can open sections of your mind that had long since been locked tightly.

Today I loved painting Biffer, I actually didn't mind thinking about Rupert or how he came to me as a child.

In fact I can't wait to paint a bear tomorrow if I get time, using my texture techniques bringing the sparkling eyes to life and I may just give him one ear for fun. Or maybe I could make him cross eyed and call him "Gladly", like the bear out of the bible.

Gladly my cross eyed bear!

Have a great day and happy painting!


I do need to catch up on my many emails but Bridget if you are reading this, a huge bear hug is winging its way to you! How are the owls?

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