29/30 Days of Illustration – A Japanese Black Bear

I love painting animals. Continuing from my painting of the Japanese Macaques relaxing in their hot spring is a painting of this Japanese Black Bear.

It was a quick painting, and this version is unedited, but I like what’s happening with it’s fur; how the paint has been moved around by the water to make interesting patterns of colour in its coat. I also like how even though it’s a ‘Black Bear’, in reality it’s more a ‘Purple Bear’. Perhaps we’ve discovered a new species?

Regardless of their colour, these bears are at high risk of extinction due to human expansion, like so many animals all around the world. When I go hiking with friends, one of us often has a bell or a radio on their rucksack. If we’re in a secluded, wooded area sometimes we sing or talk loudly so that if any bears are around they will know that we are humans and not to come near. Stories of bear attacks are in the news from time to time, too. For an animal which is so much in the consciousness of people living in Japan to be so endangered was surprising for me.

Even though I’d made this illustration just because I wanted to draw an animal and bears came to mind, this illustration made me read more about them, and become aware of their predicament. I’ll look out for any conservation initiatives to see what’s being done for them and their situation.