ScharCbear: Creations from the Heart

1 February 2005 - 7:30am

Future is Female: Painting by ScharCbear

ScharCbear: Creations from the Heart
by Linda Pascatore on 1 February 2005

Schar C Bear is a Native American Woman Artist living and working on Kauai. As a Native American woman, she works from her heart. Spirit, wisdom and creativity shine through her paintings, photographs, sculpture and poetry.

As a young child, Schar was always drawing--in the mud, sand--anywhere she could. In school, she was often drawing, listening to an inner voice rather than the teacher’s. Her artistic talent was nurtured by her mother, who arranged art lessons for Schar at age 13.

Schar studied for over two years with this teacher, who was a portrait artist. He told Schar that she was a true artist, because she would look at something and see with her heart as well as her eyes. That vision was evident in her work.

At age 15, Schar was ready for a watercolor class. The group was all adults, and with much more art experience than Schar. For the first class assignment, Schar did not follow the teacher’s directions, and her painting didn’t look like anyone else’s. When the teacher singled out her work, Schar was a little intimidated. But the instructor said she had a “creative way of seeing things” and held her work up as an example to the other students.

Schar left home at age 16. It was 1965-66, at a very creative time. Schar left northern California to move to Haight Ashbury, which was a major gathering place of hippies, love children, artists and musicians. She learned to play the guitar during this period, and became part of the musical, artistic and cultural revolution taking place.

Schar was paying the rent by body painting, and selling black light posters, bead work, jewelry, and art. In Haight Ashbury and at the San Francisco Airport, Schar learned that storytelling greatly enhanced her artwork. If she could tell a story about each piece, then it would sell because the customers were hungry for a little spirit, something they could relate to about the art they were purchasing. Her knack for storytelling may have come from her Native American blood. The Native American movement was in full swing at this time, and Schar’s family suspected that they had native ancestors.

Next Schar migrated to the Pacific Northwest and settled in Vancouver, Washington. Her artwork was critiqued by an administrator of the Portland Art Museum. Although she was blind in one eye, she convinced the Vocational Rehabilitation people to send her to college to study art. Her college thesis was on women artists. It was at this time that she took her art name, “ScharCbear”. Cinnamon Bear was her Indian camp name. Earlier she had signed pieces with her surname, Cano. She decided to use one name, including her first name, to make a statement that she was a woman artist.

Throughout her adult life she has continued to study different artistic styles and media. She worked for about 15 years in Chinese watercolor, learning to have intention for each brush stroke. In the late 1970’s, Schar took over a restaurant she had been cooking for, and also used the venue as a place to show art. Around this time Schar’s grandmother passed, and Schar and her mother confirmed their Native American blood. Her mother’s side was Wintun, a northern California tribe from the McCloud River area. The Wintun people have a rich dream life, which Schar has always shared. She began dreaming about oil painting.

She ran into an old friend, who was a well known artist. His paintings were in great demand, but he refused to make reproductions. So he needed Schar to be a “ghost painter” for him. He was color blind, and Schar was the “color queen”, so they were a good combo. They were turning out 40 paintings a week. Schar got paid while learning oil techniques, and also developed a lot of confidence along the way. She was working on Native American themes in her own work. Her partner’s daughter finally came home to paint with him, and he encouraged Schar to move on to do her own work.

Mother Peace: Painting by ScharCbear

She spent the next five years painting a Native American series, consisting of 630 paintings which were shown in Portland and throughout the Northwest. Her subject was usually women and children, especially featuring pregnant women. Many were studies of women carrying children in shawls, baskets, and cradleboards. Some featured ceremonies involving women. These paintings had some common elements of the blue sky, water, golden grass and rolling hills that are characteristic of Northern California where her Native ancestors lived.

Schar sees an art series as a focus on a theme or vision. She works through a progression which is used as a stepping stone to insights. She believes that an artist must keep their creative integrity, and that art is not to be just saleable, but also needs to be an expression of spirit and growth.

Through the 1980”s, Schar explored sculpture. She used natural elements, incorporating ceramics, bead work, raku, feathers, coral, and wood. She did four major sculptures representing the healing process: Spirit of Denial, Death of Fear, Spirit Doll of Truth, and Spirit of Acceptance. All four had actual wings from different birds. Schar would wait until the wings came to her; as roadkill or gifts. One bird was trapped in a theater where Schar was working. The bird was flying against a window, repeatedly injuring itself. By the time she got to it, the bird lay dying. It had the iridescent green feathers that Schar had recently been dreaming about for the sculpture she was working on, Spirit Doll of Truth. That sculpture also contained buffalo fur and bead work.

Schar gained recognition as a Native American artist when she was asked to show at a multi-cultural gallery. She had a retrospective one-woman show of 44 of her works. She sold 35 out of the 44 pieces as a result of that show. The money from the show allowed her to move to Kauai.

Schar on Kauai

Schar always dreamed of “pulling a Gaugin”, being an artist on a tropical island. She was influenced by Gaugin’s use of color and his paintings of native women. She is now living her dream here on Kauai, as an artist who is always learning and growing. She has studied hula, and dances with great beauty and spirit. She has been doing more photographic artwork. She is a strong protector of the monk seals here on the island, and they have lent her their images for some new pieces.

“Believe in what you see and feel--gather along the trail--when you share it, you’re sharing the deepest part of you.” ScharCbear

So, check out this great Kauai artist! Schar is shown exclusively at JJ Ohana’s in Hanapepe on Kauai, Hawaii. She is often in the shop, and if you stop by, she’s sure to share some great stories and a few laughs with you.

You can contact her directly at:
ScharCbear Freeman
PO Box 261
Eleele, HI 96705
(808) 335-5427 or email:

Since 1995 her artwork has been published throughout the internet in various E-Zines. You can view Schar’s art, photographs and poems at:

Her work can also be purchased at her online store at:
Schar’s art and poetry has been published regularly in We Moon: Gaia Rhythms for Womyn, Ladybug Press and various books of poetry.
She is ART co-editor of two E-zines:
2Advant Quarterly:
and Dana Ho Muse:


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