Sunday, 29 March 2015

Tugging At Heart Strings : Moonbear Rescue

 "Behind the Bars"
Finished painting of Yogi on his way to the sanctuary in Vietnam.

I couldn't rest until I finished the painting of Yogi and as I worked today I realised this watercolour carried so much emotion in it that I just had to share my feelings. I know so many people who, like me, get so upset when they read about cruelty to wildlife. We sit behind computer screens and vent our anger at stories we hear of cruelty in other countries. Whilst quite often conveniently forgetting issues that are appalling in our own. Surely we have the right to fight against killer whales being confined to small spaces in sea theme parks? We are sickened by dog eating in far off places.  How the dogs are killed is far too painful to observe , especially when gruesome images are frequently shown on line. If I shared the horrors I have seen I am sure I would lose blog readers here and now, and I won't.

But when we see something unpleasant how easy is it for us to turn away and forget about it because it doesn't effect us?

My watercolour of Yogi today really pulled at my heart strings whilst I was working. Not just because of this bears plight but because humans can be so cruel. In some countries, due to outdated cultures, people still have no idea of the cruelty they are inflicting on living things. I can see that change in these countries will take time. It cannot , no matter how much we want it, be an overnight happening.

But back to the moonbears being rescued. Here for a wonderfully refreshing change is news of three bears who are being aided to live a life they have never known. My painting started as a confused first wash. The bars initially became more important than the subject. Lines restricting the animals movement in life also acted by restricting my freedom. I lost the ability to allow colour to simply flow as it usually does for me.

 Stage 1. Being Restricted 

When I paint in watercolour I hate rules or restrictions. I need to be free in my mind to create beautiful soft flowing compositions that depict the beauty that I see around me. But here I am faced with a beautiful animal that has been treated  so cruelly and the bars represent its' prison. In reality the bars of this cage were red. But that colour reminded me of blood and I couldn't use it. Happily, however, this bear is moving to freedom. So I left the bars white to depict the light of hope. Hope around the corner as I know this wonderful bear will now be freed.

 White bars represent hope and freedom to come for this moonbear
First Stage.

Stage 2. Feeling The Freedom

I left my first wash to dry and as always the colour paled during the drying stage. The watermarks of my tears magically created fur patterns in the coat of the moonbear so they worked for me rather than against me. I looked at the  first stage and realised I only a little detail was needed to complete my painting.  I added the nostril first. Moonbears have delightful big noses. I can just imagine the joy of Yogi being able to  take in the scents of fruit and the earth of his new sanctuary. He is going to be in heaven! So painting his nose became really enjoyable thinking about the  ecstatic experience he is to face next in his so far awfully painful life.

Adding detail for the moonbear nose.
Second Stage

Stage 3. Seeing Clearly

Now I have started to relax in my painting. I am almost visualising this bear without the bars blocking its' beauty from me. I can imagine its' furry body roaming freely around the sanctuary grounds. Its' eyes will be shining. It will be able to  lay on its back and roll, facing sunshine for the first time without being hindered by a cage.

I have the  "good" feeling I need to complete a painting and so a little more detail is added to complete my piece.

Stage 4. Looking Ahead

Yogi on my easel!
Finished painting.

My observation skills came into play at this stage. I could see the little whiskers on the muzzle of Yogi and they were outside the cage. I'm happier. My mood is changing. This bear will soon be free and I feel great knowing that when I hear news soon of his release into the sanctuary there may be images of his  very first movements.  And I can't wait to paint him without bars.


When we paint using preliminary sketches we restrict our freedom. When we work minus the pencil lines we can create allowing our emotions to step in or take over which is what I did today. This painting didn't take long. It leaves a lot to the imagination. But so does this bears' journey. Maybe we don't want to know all the gory details of his lifes' history. It isn't our fault he was captive or treated badly. So we can move on with our happier lives and not worry about it or animals like Yogi.

But unfortunately, or fortunately I can't.

 I am built in a way that I care so very much. And I never want to change or stop hurting when I hear about animal cruelty. What I would love to hear is that people all over the world are becoming more aware doing something to stop it. even if it is simply by raising awareness.

I have donated to Animals Asia today. You can even buy a bear honey on their web site! I would like to think that Yogi will have his own special supply waiting for him from the many fans who, like me, are so happy that he is now going to be free.

Buying honey for moonbears via this link or befriend a bear! 

So, if you have read this far. thank you as my blog has taken a different direction today. But if you love animals as much as I do I am sure you won't mind. And after all, this is who I am.

A lover of life.

Happy painting!


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