I am much happier with the bear at this size - about 32 inches long. The thread seems to more closely match the weight of the original pen strokes, and I can get better detail. Louis Nicolas was really pushing the medium when he did this drawing, trying to depict a white bear. It appears he diluted his ink and did a rhythmic sketchy zig zag shading all over the area of the bear to try to give the effect of fur. It's pretty odd looking, and so I had to make the choice of how I would handle it in my "translation". I decided to use a pale shade of brown yarn, and I am quite happy with the effect. I'm not planning to start using a variety of shades in any future pieces, but the light and dark bear need to balance each other in terms of texture and weight, and I think the lighter background does the trick.
I am looking forward to spending time with this bear, and thinking about my various associations with bears. There's Winnie-the-Pooh, of course, and Yogi and Boo Boo, and the time I was walking the dogs in the bush and they froze, while I stupidly walked ahead only to find a steaming fresh pile of bear shit on the path in front of us. There's the Werner Herzog movie Grizzly Man, and the news story last week of a BC woman who got lost in the woods overnight and said she could feel bears come up to her in the dark and sniff her face. And there's Suzy the bear in John Irving's Hotel New Hampshire, and Marion Engle's Canlit novel Bear. And of course who could forget Sam Elliot's immortal lines from the Big Lebowski ?