Last year during this month, I sketched a version of my absolute favorite bear from childhood, Paddington Bear, but it was the more recent movie version. This year’s version comes straight from the late 70’s Simplicity pattern 8223, (today I think this pattern number refers to knitted tops with Disney appliques), and it’s the one that my mother actually made for me. Well, not just for me, as she sold them in craft shows, but for me and many other happy adults and children in our little city. Though the first book about this bear was published in the late 50’s the first soft toys weren’t made until the early 70’s in the exact year that I was born. So the stuffed animal version of Paddington Bear and I are precisely the same age and have sort of grown up together. As much as I loved the bear, however, the real added magic to the Paddington stories came for me in the illustrations of Peggy Fortnum, who passed away last year at the age of 96.

The illustrations in those books were so incredibly endearing and Ms. Fortnum’s sparse, whimsical and energetic linework made the characters jump to life with personality. I think this had to be the first time I fell in love with drawing as I found it magical that a few scratches of ink could create so much personality and story. Later, other artists would splash some color onto her drawings, including her own niece, and we would see his signature blue coat. I longed to create drawings like hers and one day grow up and illustrate a book with my own characters. But I never took the time to learn or really practice illustration and would just scribble and get frustrated that things weren’t turning out like I had envisioned them. Now, over 40 years later, I’m finally illustrating my stories, but in a slightly different way. I still get frustrated, but the adult me has learned the beauty and reward of the journey.

For any of you who are unfamiliar with the story, Paddington was found sitting in a railway station in London and taken in by the Brown family. Since he was from “Darkest Peru,” and was well, a bear, he was quite unfamiliar with the customs and didn’t quite fit in. And when it comes to sharing my illustrations, I still feel a bit like Paddington. I’ve no clue what I’m doing and just love jumping in and trying to figure it out as I go along. So many of my lovely artists that I feature here have learned some beautiful techniques and I’ve made myself a note to someday learn them. In the meantime, each little post is an effort that arrives like Paddington in the station. Waiting there on a suitcase, hoping that a passerby might stop and take a second glance. And if they just bend down to look closer, they would notice a small and unassuming note that simply reads, “Please look after this bear. Thank You.”

Join us for the January Doodlewash Adventure: Childhood Memories,
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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Indian Yellow, Dioxazine Purple, Sennelier Red, Red Orange, Phthalo. Green Light, Phthalocyanine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Deep. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
Day 4 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Paddington Bear Simplicity Pattern Stuffed Plush 70s umbrella
Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

40 replies on “Please Look After This Bear

  1. The little London bear, dear Paddington 😀. I think I had most of the books, and you are quite right that she managed to express so much movement in just a few simple lines….I always thought when I was young that they were wobbly like jelly! I love that you have also achieved in illustrating your stories, a joy for us all ❤️…….pass the marmalade!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This endearing little bear has charmed the world for generations, and your portrait of him is just as enchanting – blue raincoat, yellow hat, and tag declaring that he needs some looking after. The world’s sweetest waif gently wends his way into our hearts. How lucky you are to know the exact moment when you fell in love with art and that Paddington was your guide. I can’t claim similar recognition though I’ve loved art and stories ever since I was very little.

    Please look after this bear. Please look after all the lost and lonely children of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 This little bear and the memory are so dear to me! So happy you liked my rendition. And yep… those were the first illustrations that seemed to connect with me. I’m not sure why, but I knew then I wanted to draw someday. Better late than never I guess! hehe

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, but in my humble opinion, you don’t need to learn a thing! Your illustrations/doodles are always so exquisite and unique to you!
    As to Paddington, I have yet to make the acquaintance. I know right? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eee!!! He’s just so cute – I want him! Sigh, it always seems to come as a surprise just how much I love Paddington. Your doodlewash looks just very much like the one my grandmother knitted for me, actually – perhaps it was the same pattern. Paddington buddies, if so 😉 and nostalgia overload! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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