two beavers

two beavers watercolor painting


I googled “animals that work together” and surfed the results, which included this article that lauds beavers for their job shadowing habits (which surely involve the beaver equivalent of asking for help), their planning, creativity, and innovation.

After Europeans came to America, beavers were hunted almost to extinction. Beavers were (and still are in some circles) considered pests. Their fur was used for coats and hats. The species has since recovered to a population of 10-15 million.

I’ve read a long and encouraging article about farmers and ranchers cooperating with beavers in land and water management. It inspired me to imagine that all is not – environmentally speaking – lost. There could be a far future where wildlife is valued and supported. We can’t go back to an unspoiled landscape, but perhaps we can move forward in ways that make space for interspecies partnerships.

Image source:

David Attenborough’s comments and video about beavers (found after painting was completed.)


I decided to paint colors like the ones in the photo. I painted gray logs, brown beavers, and green water. I presume the water is reflecting green trees or is murky.

  • it bugs me that:
  • In no time, I was dealing with the issue of using black paint. I decided to go there, even if watercolor wisdom is not to do it. It’s definitely unevenly applied. Next time, just say no! (Still, it’s not bad…)
  • I wasn’t really sure how to indicate hands. It would be nice to pause for a little research, but I didn’t take the time. Check this photo
  • I’m happy about:
  • the bulk of the beavers’ bodies. They have volume and – for the most part – are not over painted.
  • The beavers’ heads and faces. Even though they are different, they both work.


  • Other than the insecurity about black, I had a good time painting these creatures.
  • Do differently: don’t use black, take time for research. (Honestly, I think I prefer painting in crazy colors.)
  • The beavers are holding the same log, so they are really cooperating on this project.  The video above shows that dam building is a cooperative venture – possibly even involving more species. It would be fun to watch two beavers working together and see how they communicate.
  • Every time I paint, I’m asking for A LOT of help. I need help getting the wheelchair in position, positioning my hands and arms, getting paints and brushes out and positioned, arranging the reference painting, repositioning the paper, and cleaning up. Every painting I make is a cooperative process. (I’m also relying on photographers and animal models.)

Posted on

July 27, 2023

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