Blue Bear Painting: A Closer Look

Oct 12, 2023

What is the story and inspiration behind the vibrant new bear portrait hung prominently in the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery? The project had been in the works since 2019, when artist Kent Paulette first proposed the idea of creating and then donating an original painting of a bear to the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. He met with President and Executive Director Jesse Pope and Vice President Lesley Platek, and they discussed the expansion of the nature museum and possible spots for the artwork to hang. At 10 feet wide and 7.5 feet tall, the finished piece was the biggest painting Paulette had ever done!

Paulette has shared how it all came to be.

“Grandfather Mountain is such a special place to me. This painting was inspired by my visits to the wildlife habitats and seeing the bears there. I collected water from a waterfall at Grandfather Mountain and mixed the water directly with paint to stain the canvas with my Creek Washes. A bear came to visit my home studio as I was working on this painting outside on my deck. I think it was coming to see the painting because I hadn’t seen a bear there in three years.

… I painted it outside on my deck in May 2022 during a week of extremely heavy rains. The rain water helped keep the canvas wet as I was painting my Creek Washes, so the colors were able to continue to flow together instead of drying as I went. It was a collaboration with the rain and wind. The wind blew the rain randomly on me and kept me on my toes. It also blew my tarp which grabbed paint from one spot on the painting and painted it on the canvas in another spot. Rain dripped down and hit the volume controls on my speakers, causing my music to suddenly raise loudly in volume. It’s as if the rain wanted to emphasize certain lyrics and sections of songs. … I used a huge palette knife to paint the thick texture and a brush to paint my Creek Washes and the little geometric shapes. As I was working on the painting, I wore clothes that I inherited from my grandfather, Harold Sewell.”

Paulette is a self-taught artist who uses uninhibited, energetic brush strokes to create paintings that leap off the canvas, alive with color, texture and movement. For Paulette, each painting is a gamble, a leap into the unknown, a wild ride of exploration and experimentation. He paints to figure things out, not to achieve a specific result. Unexpected or unintended outcomes are welcome; they offer openings through which new possibilities can be glimpsed, imagined and developed. Paulette works to exploit these opportunities, continually pushing himself and his paintings beyond the boundaries of habit and into the realm of chance. View more of his artwork at

Grandfather Mountain | Home to the Swinging Bridge, Animal Habitats and Nature Museum

GPS: 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646
Mailing: PO Box 129, Linville, NC 28646

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