Painting young animals without having the painting look too cutesy is quite a challenge. Sleeping baby animals look cute anyway, but this element should never be abused by artists to make the painting more successful. The cute aspect of babies is built into nature to activate the mother’s instinct to care for them.

Looking at a sleeping child (like my daughter and later, my grandchildren) was always a delight. I wanted that same peaceful expression on this little black bear cub’s face. I wanted it to look like it was having nice dreams, and animals seem to dream just like people do.

One could imagine that the mother bear sleeps nearby, but I wanted to keep her out of the painting and put the cub on a bed of mosses to create the feeling of a very soft children’s bed. The warm yellowish tints in the mosses suit the colors of the black bear cub very well. These kinds of color combinations fascinate me, and I usually choose my subjects for that purpose. For a mother bear, the cubs are a constant worry, as they are very vulnerable. So when they settle down after their funny games, it’s time for the mother to take her own nap.

— Carl Brenders