Blog

Join me as I blog about art, Africa, conservation, field sketching, studio painting, wildlife, art safaris and life as an artist. And a few other topics as they grab me!

Recent Posts

Art Eclipse!

Art, Science and Kids – what could possibly go wrong?

Art Eclipse with Alison Nicholls

Yes, there is nothing like combining cardboard, binoculars, colanders and art on the driveway on a hot day in August. Can you tell I am desperately trying to reproduce a segment from Blue Peter? (I’m showing my age and UK background with this reference.)

Art Eclipse with Alison Nicholls

Just aim the binos at the sun (without looking at the sun) and the image will project onto the ground. The cardboard around the binos provides some shadow to make the eclipse more visible when its projected. Its very difficult to keep the image steady, as my neighbor, Mike, discovered. He thought he’d come over to see the eclipse but we really needed him to stand absolutely stationary for an hour projecting the image on the floor!

Art Eclipse with Alison Nicholls

Of course I completely forgot to take a photo of the projected eclipse image, although you can just (only just) see it at the top of Charlie’s paper on the image above. 2 other sets of neighbors popped by and one rushed back with some Xrays – which you can use to look at the sun and see the image very clearly. It was a fun neighborhood event.

Eclipse Art by Alison Nicholls

My own eclipse art turned into a little abstract. Never having painted an eclipse before, I was quite pleased with myself!

Until next time…keep on painting.
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Is it a Field Sketch?

“Sketch – a simply or hastily executed drawing or painting, especially a preliminary one, giving the essential features without the details” (from Dictionary.com) On each visit to Africa I fill several sketchbooks with pencil and watercolor art. I have always referred to these artworks as ‘field sketches’ but as my work evolved I began to […]

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Generic Giraffe & Other Pitfalls

After sketching in the African bush for a number of years, I know the shapes of many of the commonly seen species. Right now, from memory, I can create a quick drawing of a giraffe, elephant, lion, leopard, painted dog, cheetah, kudu, impala, spotted hyena, buffalo, gemsbok, zebra, wildebeest, white rhino, baboon or aardvark (OK, […]

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Normality is a Paved Road

Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it. Vincent Van Gogh Like most great quotes, you can apply this to so many aspects of life. I, of course, will apply it to art and artists! The paved road is a flat, monotonous, man-made surface, running from one destination […]

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Gigantic Giraffes!

Today is World Giraffe Day. So, in honor of these towering tree-nibblers, here are a variety of giraffes in art. We all know what a giraffe looks like, right? Well I challenge you to sketch the giraffe above. Now, tell me, aren’t giraffes put together in a strange way? Its amazing that they can stand […]

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Fascinating Vultures!

Yes, I really do believe that vultures are fascinating! I imagine you either agree with me, or you are pulling some kind of disgusted face. So let me explain. I’m a fan of vultures and love to sketch them (I haven’t created many studio paintings of them, but am hoping to remedy this over the […]

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An Artist’s Fear

Many artists find blank canvas or white paper intimidating, because they want the very first mark they make to be perfect. I understand this, but for me, its the final stages that are more intimidating – the last few brush-strokes which can make or break a painting. When I think I’ve nearly finished,  I put […]

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Endangered Species Day Donations

Today is Endangered Species Day.  This is not a day we should need on our calendars, but unfortunately it comes around every year, with more and more species falling into the ‘endangered’ bracket.   We hear about the plight of charismatic species like lions, cheetahs and painted dogs, but habitat loss, the bushmeat trade, the […]

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What Does Endangered Look Like?

Endangered looks like this… And this… and this… Endangered is losing 99% of your population in just over 100 years… And no longer being found in 25 of the 39 African countries you once roamed… The Painted Dog (also known as the African wild dog) is endangered. Approximately 500,000 of these never-domesticated wild canids existed […]

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New Elephant Field Work by Alison Nicholls

Yesterday I got back from my latest trip to South Africa and Botswana, where I had a number of great elephant sightings. One memorable morning included a herd of 40 elephants who spent time carefully touching and smelling the bones of a dead elephant cow (more about that coming soon). This new sketch shows a […]

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Sketching in Africa!

During my sketching trip to Botswana and South Africa I will be trying out some new painting surfaces, although I’ll still be using my trusty watercolor sketchbooks by Holbein. (Yes, the 14×11″ size sketchbook with the incredibly catchy and colorful name: Multi-Drawing Book 5F. I suppose the workhorse-like name and plain cover might help prevent me from spiraling dizzily out of control […]

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Do You Know These Hamerkop Facts?

First, the obvious – Hamerkop means ‘hammer-head’ in Africaans. Don’t think I need to explain why! Second – the Hamerkop is only a medium sized bird, but it builds huge nests, often 6-8 feet across, made of thousands of sticks usually wedged between the branches of a large tree. Third – the Hamerkop nest has […]

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A Different Kind of Desert

The deserts I usually frequent in Africa do contain a lot of thorny, spikey plants, and Namibia in particular does have some outlandishly beautiful flora, but recently I visited Arizona and was struck by the cacti. Not literally of course – I just thought I’d share some images! There was a mini heat-wave going on while I was there (117F […]

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2 New Spaces on 2016 Art Safari!

Someone’s change of plans could start your Artistic Flight of Fantasy… That’s right – we now have 2 spaces available on the 2nd sold out 2016 Art Safari in South Africa. The dates are September 14-18 and the venue is the Klaserie Game Reserve in South Africa on the edge of Kruger National Park. Its prime […]

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An Exhibition In Images: Children Sketching Animals!

Part III of an exhibition in images features Children Sketching Animals. Chris Evers from Animal Embassy brought scorpions, an African bullfrog, a monk parakeet, an emerald tree boa and a rabbit. 25 local children arrived to sketch and sculpt with tuition from artists Alison Nicholls, Karryl, David Rankin, Susan Fox and Sean Murtha. All in a […]

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An Exhibition in Images: Opening Reception

Part II of an exhibition in images features the Opening Reception. The exhibition is Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut, which features field work and studio work from 7 Signature members of the Society of Animal Artists. Each artist works in a different region of the world: Alison Nicholls (Africa); David Rankin (India); […]

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An Exhibition in Images: Setup

This is the story of an exhibition…in images. The exhibition is Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut, which features field work and studio work from 7 Signature members of the Society of Animal Artists. Each artist works in a different region of the world: Alison Nicholls (Africa); David Rankin (India); Karryl (Rocky […]

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Wildlife Art in the Flinn Gallery

Soon my paintings, including Zebra in Mopane, will be hanging in the Flinn Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut. We have some great events scheduled around this exciting exhibition, so come and see the wildlife of Africa, Mongolia, Alaska, India, the Rocky Mountains, Central America and the Long Island Sound from the unique perspectives of a diverse […]

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Start the Weekend with Chittering Dogs!

Start the weekend with chittering painted dogs! Join me to hear Dr Greg Rasmussen of the Painted Dog Research Trust talk about the unique, endangered and beautiful Painted Dog (African wild dog). Dr Rasmussen will talk about the years he has spent with painted dogs and the challenges facing them, particularly in Zimbabwe. I recently […]

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Spot my New Cheetah Painting!

I’d like to show you my new cheetah painting, Strides, but I can’t – not yet! It will be revealed in late March when it hangs in the Flinn Gallery in Greenwich, CT, as part of the exhibition Wildlife Art: Field to Studio. In the meantime, enjoy the preview! Flinn Gallery Greenwich Library, 101 West Putnam […]

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Painted Dog Playtime by Alison Nicholls

Playtime is based on my recent sketches and memories of painted dogs in Botswana playing around a tall clump of buffalo grass. So where is the grass, I hear you asking? Well the composition did originally contain the grass, but I removed it because I felt that the obvious playful energy of the 2 dogs was […]

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Painted Dogs AND Wolves – 1 Night Only!

Dr Greg Rasmussen of the Painted Dog Research Trust in Zimbabwe will be speaking at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY, about the challenges faced by painted dogs (African wild dogs) and how research can help conserve the species. After the lecture you will be able to see more charismatic canids in the shape […]

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Part 2: Fashionable Color Palettes – Artistic Smart Move or Sellout? An Artist’s Opinion.

Color is a very, very important part of my art and my color choices are carefully considered. I often use color to indicate a time of day – reds and oranges for the heat of midday; blues and purples for dusk. I also use combinations of colors to suggest a mood – limiting my palette of […]

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Fashionable Color Palettes – Artistic Smart Move or Sellout?

A while ago a good friend of mine pointed out that most of my paintings in a certain color palette were sold. At the end of each year I look at my sales and try to determine trends, including general color schemes, but I have never made a point of checking out the current season’s ‘fashionable’ colors and using them […]

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2016 Art Safaris Fully Booked!

There have been no flurries of snow here but there have been a flurry of bookings for the Art Safaris I teach for Africa Geographic! We advertised 1 safari in September 2016, then added a 2nd, also in September. And as of today, they are both fully booked! Its a great start to 2016, although I apologize to those of you […]

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