Society of Wildlife Artists blog: Drawing bears

Pay attention to the detail when painting different species of bear. 

Grizzly bear wildlife artwork by Darren Rees
In Yellowstone, there are two species of bear to look out for: the black bear and the brown, or grizzly, bear.
Sounds straightforward, right? One is black and the other brown, you might expect. But you'd be wrong.
You see, some black bears are actually brownish in colour. Such individuals are referred as 'cinnamon'. And, just to make things more complicated, some brown bears have such dark coats that, at a distance, they appear black. Confused yet?
Once again, you have to study the structure and appearance of the animal to distinguish the two. Black bears have larger ears and fur like velvet (check out those bearskin hats). Brown bears have a shoulder lump and a coarse coat, which can have a two tone look.
The black bear's profile has a straight nose; a brown bear's nose can be slightly upturned and a little pig-like (though don't tell it I said so).
Drawing bears is like drawing birds - you need to look hard to detect subtle differences. Don't forget to keep your distance though as they are a little more dangerous!


Darren Rees has been painting for over 20 years and is one of the UK's most highly respected wildlife artists. His first solo book Bird Impressions was published in 1993 to much critical acclaim. He is a knowledgeable naturalist and also acts as a guide on wildlife tours around the world.
To visit Darren's website click here.
To visit the SWLA's website, click here.


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