Sometimes things seem to happen out of nowhere but that's merely an illusion. Gifts from the deities only happen if you've been sowing like Johnny Appleseed for decades.

In mid-August I received an email inviting me to submit to a digital art competition/exhibition that was scheduled for early September in Mont-Tremblant. Seventeen artists were to be selected by a jury for an outdoor display in the beautiful village. The deadline was short but I decided to apply nonetheless because the invitation seemed legitimate (they didn't ask for any money) and arrived in my inbox without any effort on my part, (which doesn't happen very often). The work had to meet certain criteria for reproduction on a 48" x 48" format.

With only three weeks to create a decent piece, I buckled down. Mont-Tremblant residents love nature and I sensed I had to create something they could relate to. I'm not a landscape painter. If and when landscapes appear in my work, they serve a complementary purpose and generally play a supporting role to one of my human or animal characters. Animals had to be in the limelight.

A few weeks prior to receiving the invitation I experimented with a charcoal tool in the Procreate application. A black bear eventually materialized from the markings. 

Original Bear

I created other variations of the bear but eventually put the experiments aside because I had other projects to complete.

Variation - Dark Magic Bear

After agreeing to submit to the competition, I let my mind incubate for a few days. I remembered the black bear and its variations. An obvious problem was that the dimensions of these images were long and rectangular while the submission had to be square. To fit the format, the bear would have to be overly stuffed with food and ready to hibernate or I would have to include more than one animal. I chose the latter option.

I worked with the two images above in Photoshop to solve the problem. I was a bit worried that the bears might not be colourful enough but tried various options anyway. I duplicated both versions of the bear, experimented with scale and light on each one and recombined them on a square format to create the mysterious "Nous Sommes Trois" (We Are Three) below.

Nous Sommes Trois

I was one of the seventeen lucky artists whose works were chosen for display throughout the village. People had to vote for their favourite image either in person or online. 

Some of the works on display

The primarily black and white bears contrasted nicely against the red brick wall. It was great seeing my work on a larger scale rather than on my iPad or computer screen.

I won the competition with a cash prize which is always good for the ego! I went to pick up the piece in Mont-Tremblant, about a two hour drive from where I live. The reproduction was not as stunning as I had hoped because some of the rich blacks (and contrast) were lost in the process. We artists had been forewarned that this could and probably would happen, but in spite of that, I was overjoyed to see my work hanging in the village. I was also thrilled that residents and my friends loved it enough to vote for it.

I was curious to know how the community organizers had found me. Seems they obtained my coordinates from the RAAV (Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec) which is the equivalent of CARFAC (Canadian Artists Representation) in the rest of Canada. I've been a member of RAAV since 1997. That "appleseed" took only twenty-four years to bear fruit. 

It's all about patience.



  1. It takes patience perhaps, but even more, and fertile ground like an active imagination for the planted seed to germinate. You did good germinating!


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