“You can’t see me” - is what this young Snowshoe Hare might be thinking. Early one morning, as my son and I ventured into the fresh mountain snow, we saw all the telltale signs of where a number of different grizzlies had been wandering the valley during the night. This hare sat undercover watching as one silvertip trundled by just a few feet in front of his hideout.
The hare’s transition from the dark summer fur to winter’s white phase is initiated by the cold temperatures of fall. Often these guys will be partially or fully white before the first snows even arrive. This way, when winter does come, they are ready to disappear into their surroundings. Early into their winter colour phase, hares are not the pure white they will be later in winter. This hare’s fur has a glow of greyish green undertones and a tinge of brown streaking down his face – both remnant signs of his summer coat.
I love how fresh snow accumulates on twigs and branches. In this scene, these hanging clumps of snow echo both the shapes of the hare’s plump little body as well as the softness of his fur. These clumps of snow hang precariously to the needles on each branch creating the sensation that they will spring free with the slightest disturbance – much like how the hare will spring to life if something gets too close to his hideout.
Painting white-on-white snow scenes are a fun artistic challenge. Snow and white fur offer a much wider spectrum of colours than might be expected. Each type of white in nature reacts differently against snow and snow changes colours depending on the colours it is absorbing and reflecting. Mountain goats can appear yellow-orange against snow, hares can be greyish and ptarmigan sometimes look pink. In this painting I enjoy bringing you in for a close look at this wide-eyed little hare. Creating this intimate view of the hare’s undercover lair makes his nature, attitude and previous nights encounter watching a grizzly pass by more meaningful.