Bears in a window 1

by maggie

When I mentioned Bears in a window a couple of weeks ago I wasn’t thinking very hard about the subject – it was just another series of sketches in my Window book. But saying something about the motif, meant I was doing something about it, and over the weeks I‘ve discovered that I had a lot of assumptions about it that I hadn’t acknowledged.

Working through them, has (will) undoubtedly produced a better work, but it’s not going to be anything like what I thought it might be.

If we start at the beginning with actual bears and windows we have :

A little window in the outside wall of the back parlour, and on it’s window ledge, one of few in the house, lives a collection of wooden Russian bear (and rabbit) toys.


my (edited) view from the breakfast table.

In 2013 I had a go at drawing them, because – interesting light shadow, and overcrowded shelf


And there the bears (and rabbits) sat, until I worked up the courage to make a work a little more personal.

Then it got hard, because as these images sit the window is little more than a frame for the  crowd of bears. And I wanted the composition to work harder than that. I wanted the whole things to work harder than that but I didn’t quite know how…

If I know the size of the plate I could work from there, big enough,small enough to fit.


bigger does not mean fatter, or quicker – it just magnifies the mistakes


what are you concentrating on? the geometry of the window or the modelling of the bears?

So the composition wasn’t flowing well. Go back an have a proper look again. Try and pick things apart for why they aren’t working.

I like windows as a thing because:

  • you’ve got the whole inside / outside thing going on
  • passive or active looking
  • the actual physical window makes interesting patterns
  • perspective means they are not square, but you brain tells you they are
  • light and shadows
  • they are a people thing without actually having people in them

This is a much more interesting composition, which sez more about the Bears on their window ledge.

Back to the drawing board.

And I haven’t even discussed how much I like the bear with his fur ruffs and matching accordion, or how hard it is to draw his snout face on. I’ve written so much text for this post I can’t remember what I’ve said or not.


diamond window much more interesting – stop being boring

I’m making problems with these quick sketch in pastels, because the orange wall stops abruptly and looks like an additional frame.


colour colour! and shade?

Better but work out how the bear fits into the window space.


coloured paper – chiaroscuro?

The far ear is still really wrong, but this drawing picks up the fascination with the fur and the squeeze box.


grey page,  work with eraser and some extra shadows

Are we getting somewhere?

I looked at this and thought – this doesn’t have to be a print. I’m struggling so much with tonal prints…

I did some test plates with various emery/sand papers and ink/medium.


Needs more work to get the tonal variations I was hoping for, so might not write it off as a print.

Next question how is bear in relation to window? and dimensions of plate?


bad proportions – levels pushed hard.

Things to do

  • Learn bear better and any rabbit minions
  • decide how much window to include
  • light from inside or outside
  • finished medium?
  • keep questioning
  • don’t panic if no answer immediately presents itself