Monarch Bllack Bear Col Mitchell Contemporary Paper Artist

Featured New Work: Monarch

Col Mitchell Contemporary Paper Artist . Announcements - Achievements, .Featured New Work 2 Comments


Award winning Monarch, an original Pen & Ink on Sculpted Paper Artwork by Col Mitchell Contemporary Paper Artist

Read on for a personal bear encounter story and a snapshot video of the process, below.

Monarch Bllack Bear Col Mitchell Contemporary Paper Artist, Muskoka, Canada
60″ x 30″ x 1.5″
Pen and Ink on Sculpted Paper
(Bear: single sheet)

Corporate Collection



Muskoka Arts and Crafts Inc. 40th Annual Spring Members’ Show

Judges: Micheal Zarowsky and Scott Barmin


Muskoka Arts and Crafts Inc. 40th Annual Spring Members’ Show


A “Near Monarch” Experience

I spent a lot of time, from zero to my early twenties, at our family cottage on Smoke Lake in Algonquin Park. Even so, as far as my memory goes, I really only have one “bear story” to  come out of that period that directly involved me.

A fair bit of mental energy was burned up those days “on the lookout” for bears. For the most part I imagine, as it was my Grandfather’s perpetual habit to make his last words (whenever we left a cabin) a warning. “Watch out for the bears,” he’d say without fail.

Going to the outhouse? Watch out for the bears. Heading to the sleeping cabin? Watch out for the bears. Off to the boat house? Watch out for the bears. Berry picking along the highway? Definitely, watch out for the bears.

Maybe it’s no surprise I developed a substantial paranoia surrounding bear encounters.

So picture this: A late summer night with a campfire maybe thirty feet from the main cabin on the left and less than half that distance from the shore of the lake to the front. A scattering of friends and family surround it. The sleeping cabin is up a rocky slope behind and slightly to the right.

The cabins are situated on a bit of a point. On the right side of the sleeping cabin is a thin slice of land hosting a few waist high evergreens, that drops off to water. On the left side is a large flat rock sloping down to a fairly level grassy area, where that bonfire burns. Behind the sleeping cabin the woods begin with its floor of pine needles, occasional jutting rocks and tangled tree roots.

It’s behind the sleeping cabin where I and a friend (young teens at the time) opted to forgo the long walk into the dark (bear filled) woods to access the outhouse before bedtime. (I’m sure you get the picture.) There we were, crouched in position, she flat-sloping-rock side, I drop-to-the-lake side, when we heard . . . a rustling noise.

PJs up!

Another rustle, coming from the right side of the sleeping cabin, the side I am closest to. And then a low growl.

Two things happened at once. I started screaming “A Bear!” While out of the corner of my eye I saw my friend fall in what seemed like a slow swoop, toward the sloping flat rock. This spurred me to run also, but I stopped right at my fallen friend. Something was not right.  One of her legs, in the dim light of the stars, appeared inexplicably outrageously long. And then her screams joined mine.

It must have been especially surreal I imagine for anyone on the lake that night who may have heard us. For while  I was screaming “A Bear! A Bear! A Bear!” my friend was screaming “My Sock! My Sock! My Sock!”

If you have been on a lake you know how sound travels. In between our screams I heard “A Bear! My Sock! A Bear! My Sock! ” echoing over and over again across Smoke Lake.

When Nancy’s stretched-to-the-limit sock came loose from the tree root, and we stumbled down the mere thirty feet or so to our bonfire-hugging (and laughing) relatives, that is when her diabolical older brother sauntered out, chuckling, from the right side of the sleeping cabin.


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Learn More:

“My art reflects my process of viewing and experiencing nature as I remember it, that random pendulum of intensity and tranquility, the shape, colour, line, and texture I associate with nature’s wonders, beauty and complexity all coloured by an adult’s remembrance of childhood imagination and fancy.” – Col Mitchell

Read more from my biography and artist statement at

If you have any questions about this piece please don’t hesitate to Contact Me

Monarch is currently part of a corporate collection.

To view in person other works in my original technique of pen & ink on sculpted paper visit my studio:

Col Mitchell Artist Studio & Boutique
in the historic Clock Tower building
49 Manitoba St, m5 Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada

Also available are home decor items, jewellery, apparel, accessories, greeting cards, postcards, limited edition Giclée print reproductions, and gifts inspired by select original works.

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Comments 2

  1. With this map, you can move around the U.S. to find stories from your own community, or a look at EDF s work in the field. You can help us reach our goal of 2 million acres of monarch butterfly habitat protected by adopting a milkweed acre for just $35. The more you give, the more habitat you restore.

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