The Path Less Traveled

About five months after I moved to northern Colorado I had the great good fortune to meet David Neils, a wildlife videographer, conservationist and educator.  David spends his time capturing truly wild wildlife on trail cameras and then sharing the results to educate and inspire others.

Two things happened after my first group hike with David: I bought a couple of trail cams for myself, and I got involved in some of David’s efforts to help black bears stay healthy and wild.  A bunch of us planted nearly 1,000 wild plum and chokecherry seedlings one April Saturday, and later in the summer we carried water in backpacks up a rocky mountain path to refill a crucial watering hole.  The aim was to keep the bears from searching for water in populated areas and thus getting in to trouble.

Both of those experiences made doing this painting so important.  The photo was one of David’s trail cam captures.  He graciously allowed me to do a painting from it.  This bear is actually traveling up the path toward the watering hole where we had dumped our 40-pound packs of water.  [Full disclosure: this was from a year earlier, but still.] The painting, The Path Less Traveled, took a long time to complete.  Watercolor wax batik is always detailed and complex.  I usually do six or seven layers each of wax and paint; this one took nine.  Capturing the light across both the landscape and the bear required more layers and more gradual changes than usual.

And a neat side note: those trail cameras I bought for myself?  Look what I captured on one of them recently.  What a wonderful surprise.  [I had seen this mother and her cubs a year earlier in the same area.  Clearly they have come out of hibernation healthy and whole.]