St. Seraphim and the Bear
Well, this weekend turned out to be quite a time of relaxation! I was originally scheduled to teach another painting workshop on Saturday, but our winter weather conditions caused the party to have to be rescheduled. So, I had the unique opportunity to spend my Saturday focused on my studio work!
I must admit that for the past week, I had been struggling to find the story for my next painting. I had sketched out a few ideas, and toyed with the idea of just diving in, but the time never felt right. Inspiration always seems to hit at the most unexpected moments...and in this case, my inspiration can in the midst of my Saturday morning routine. As I was getting ready to hop on my computer to check emails, I happened upon an image of an
icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov--a Russian monk from the mid-to-late 1700's who lived as a hermit in a little cabin near a monastery in Sarov. He tended his own garden there and there have been many accounts of his friendship with a bear in that area--whom he would share his food with. So, in various paintings and icons of St. Seraphim, he is often depicted with a bear.
This particular icon was given to me by my mother-in-law, after hearing some of my stories from my time spent working at Yosemite National Park. While I was there in the summer of 2004, I used to go out on morning walks, where I would inevitably find a spot to sit, relax, and read the Psalms. One morning as I was reading, I heard a crunching sound, and looked up to see a bear foraging only about 10 feet away from where I sat. My heart started to beat wildly and I tried to still my breathing, hoping he would not notice me. As I tried not to move, I watched him push over a log to dig underneath it. When he had finished, he turned and began walking in my direction. I immediately looked down and began mouthing the words of the Psalm I was reading, praying that he wouldn't notice me. Instead, he came right up to me, sniffed my leg, and then walked away. I still remember that story vividly to this day. Although I was incredibly nervous to be so close to such a big and strong animal, I also remember feeling a sense of peace knowing that he didn't want to hurt me, and I didn't want to hurt him. We were both just enjoying life and the beautiful creation around us.
So, you can probably imagine why my mother-in-law thought to give me this icon of St. Seraphim--and why I have felt a connection with his story (though I definitely wasn't thinking about giving the bear food when he approached me in the forest!)
Inspired by my connection to St. Seraphim's story, I decided it was high time I tried painting it! Once I began, I found I could not stop, and ended up painting the entire thing in one day! Here is the resulting painting (though I may decide to add a few more details in the coming days!):
Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!
2/22/2015 09:38:28 am
Tara...what a wonderful painting, and the inspiration behind it! Like I told you, I used to live in Cody. I, too, loved YSNP, and the Psalms are so comforting to read. Comforting how God will protect us! He has protected me many times from some close calls! C. L. Christian
2/22/2015 11:24:15 am
I so enjoy all your paintings. I first learned of your artwork through your sister who helped me post surgery on Greenville. You have a wonderful talent. Thanks for sharing this story.
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Welcome to the whimsical world of Tara Pappas' mixed media art! Thank you for stopping by to view samples of my work and read a little about my adventures as an artist. I am always looking for new ways to connect and grow as an artist, so would love to hear from you if you have any questions or interests in a particular piece. I hope that my work brings you inspiration and joy!
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