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Voices of the Wilderness

Baby Patches 

Baby Patches 

In July 2017 I was afforded the opportunity to participate in the Voices of the Wilderness artist residency with the U.S. Forest Service in a remote area of southeast Alaska known as Pack Creek, Admiralty Island.  During my stay here I came to know of an old female bear named Patches.  Amongst the rangers I stayed with there was some debate as to whether she had passed away or not because she had not been seen for several days.  You see Patches was the oldest known female to frequent the fishing grounds of Pack Creek.  She was estimated to be around 30 years old, which is in the upper end of life expectancy for coastal brown bears.  She also suffered from a twisted, broken back leg, which limited her mobility and a split nose the result of some past altercation.

Two days after my arrival I saw Patches.  She was still alive.  I watched her approach from a distance like a giant hyena.  Her shoulders sloping downwards to her hindquarters due to her broken leg, creating the distinctive silhouette.  She moved with some difficulty, her age and physical condition showing, yet as I observed her interact with the other bears it became apparent she was the boss.  For the rest of that afternoon I watched Patches cause chaos in the tidal flats, intimidating young mothers into dropping their fish with her Terminator-like gait, slow and deliberate.  I thought to myself, there is a story to be told here.  She was not always like this.  Patches was once a cub fresh as the first spring rain.  This painting is dedicated to Patches and the rangers I met during my stay at Pack Creek, Admiralty Island in July 2017.

Apex Predators: The American Alligator

The children's book that probably had the longest lasting impact on me was one that I discovered over two decades ago in my local library in Houston called, Album of Sharks, written by Tom McGowen and illustrated by Rod Ruth.  And it was Ruth's powerful, bold, wonder-inspiring illustrations that left such an indelible mark on my developing psyche that despite not seeing the book for over twenty years, I could remember nearly every illustration.  One of these days I hope to write and illustrate a book with that same power.  This image, my depiction of one of my favorite animals, the American alligator, an animal I have personally seen up close in the wild, is my first attempt at realizing this vision.  I hope you enjoy it.  

Just One Pint

There was just one pint. The bartender and all the other customers had run out the backdoor when the enormous hulking mass approached the window. I alone had stayed. I wanted that pint.  

Breakfast?

"Breakfast?" it seemed to gesture.  Rob rubbed his eyes hoping to erase the image before him, but the smiling figure was still there.  It was shaping up to be a rather strange day, he thought.

My New Neighbor

Stacy gazed out the dining room window as she had done every afternoon that summer when her eyes locked with the unflinching stare of a rotund green mass perched on her neighbor's fence.  It looked like some sort of bird, though she doubted it could fly with its stubby little wings protruding from a body shaped like an under-inflated beach ball.  She wondered how it had managed to perch itself on such a high and precarious post.

No one would believe her.  She had to find her camera —quick.  "Please, please, don't go flying, or whatever, away," she silently urged the clumsy-looking green mass as she stealthily swung her legs over her chair and hurried out of the dining room.