Category Archives: African People

Art in Tanzania with Alison Nicholls

Art in Tanzania

I see natural artistic talent every time I teach a children’s art class but it is particularly striking to see when you know the children have no art lessons at school, no access to art materials at home, and little exposure to art online or in print. Unfortunately, this can describe children anywhere in the world, including many parts of the the US & Europe, but on this occasion I am thinking of children in classes I taught while visiting African People & Wildlife (APW) in Tanzania.

One class was for students in the APW Summercamp and one for students at Loibor Siret Elementary School (this class also included teachers from other schools who wanted to see the classes in action). I have animal drawing cards which show a photo of an animal (wildlife & livestock) then the simple shapes and lines you can use to create a drawing of the animal. We aim to do 4 in an hour-long class, so the children concentrate on drawing the shape of the whole animal, not the detail on their faces or coats. As you can see, the opportunity to draw is really appreciated by the children and the teachers too!

The children you see in this video are members of their respective schools’ Wildlife Clubs (set up with help from APW). The highest achieving and most involved children in the Wildlife Clubs can earn a much sought-after place at APW’s Environmental Summer Camp – a week-long camp of learning activities at the Noloholo Environmental Center. Children who attend Summer Camp become eligible for selection for an APW Noloholo Environmental Scholarship, giving that child a full scholarship to secondary/high school at a good boarding school in the town of Arusha.

The cost for each scholarship is US$1200 per year. If you are able to offer a child this invaluable gift of education, please Donate via the APW website and choose this option:


(Please note: No child is selected for a scholarship unless funds are available for their entire secondary/high school education, so there will never be a case of a child receiving a partial education. However, although it is desirable to donate annually, you can choose to make a 1-time donation of this amount too.)
Thank You!
Alison

Learn more about African People & Wildlife.

Murals in Tanzania

Mural Magic in Tanzania

A major reason for my return to African People & Wildlife (APW) in Tanzania was to help with murals in 3 rural schools. The students created the designs using their own drawings and some images I supplied, then I made stencils to help transfer the outlines onto the walls quickly. The stencils proved very helpful and as a result it took each set of students only 1 day to finish their murals.

The name of the school and village (Loibor Siret, Kangala or Narakauo) is shown at the top of each wall, and the school’s Wildlife Club name is at the bottom. The Wildlife Clubs were set up with help from APW, and Noloholo is APW’s Environmental Center and headquarters. So Noloholo Simba Klabu means Noloholo Lion Club in Swahili. The other schools have twiga (giraffe) and faru (rhinoceros) as their symbols. I am making more stencils out of canvas (featuring different animals for other Wildlife Clubs) so more murals can be created by the students with help from APW.

I have visited APW 4 times, and every time I am struck by their continued success in “finding the balance for communities & wildlife”. There will be much more about my recent visit coming soon!

Learn more about African People & Wildlife.
Read about my previous visits to APW.

Thanks for watching!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Music on this video is royalty free, titled Acoustic Breeze, from www.Bensound.com

Alison Nicholls art materials for Tanzania

Packing for Tanzania

I’ll be off to Tanzania again in a couple of weeks, visiting African People & Wildlife to help with some murals in rural schools and do some art classes for teachers and students. Somehow, I hope to do some of my own sketching too, so here’s my latest video showing what I’m taking with me. You can read about my previous visits to APW here.
More soon!
Alison

Rock art in Savute Botswana

Learn from the Masters

If your goal is sketching wildlife and you want to learn from the masters, you could do far worse than look at rock art by the San (Khoi-San or bushmen). With a few simple lines they catch the essence of an animal, so you immediately know it. And through their lifestyle as hunter-gatherers they are unparalleled in their knowledge of the animals they depicted in their rock art.

Rock art in Savute Botswana

Rock art in Savute, Botswana

Over the years I’ve seen rock art in many locations in southern Africa including Matopos (Zimbabwe), the Tsodilo Hills (Botswana) and Twyfelfontein (Namibia). Most of the paintings are not in caves but are on the underside of overhanging rocks, while many of the petroglyphs (images chipped into the rock surface) are on fully exposed rocks.

How I start an elephant sketch by Alison Nicholls

How I start an elephant sketch by Alison Nicholls

Last year I was in Savute, Botswana, and revisited a rock art panel on one of the small hills in the area. I sketched the 3 main animals – an eland, elephant, and sable antelope. A few months later I was creating a video for my Art Safari guests, showing how I start my sketches of elephants. I remembered the elephant painting in Savute and realized the 2 main shapes I start my sketches with (a large block for the body and a smaller block for the head) are the same as the main shapes for the elephant in the Savute painting.
Maybe the rock art I’ve seen has influenced me more than I knew!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Twyfelfontein Namibia

Petroglyphs, Twyfelfontein, Namibia

Murals at APW

Murals in Tanzania

Painting on a wall while standing on a wobbly plank balanced between 2 wobbly supports, is something many artists will have done I’m guessing.

Alison Nicholls in Loibor Siret

Drawing out the initial mural design                                                African People & Wildlife

I was visiting African People & Wildlife, near Tarangire National Park, learning about the organization and their successful work with communities to allow people and wildlife to co-exist on the Maasai Steppe. Part of my visit involved art-related activities and on this occasion I was drawing out the design for a mural at the Loibor Siret primary school, so that the students could paint it. We were designing as we went along but it worked out well.

Mural design at APW

Mural design                                           photo: Deirdre Leowinata / AfricanPeople&Wildlife

Some of the paint literally slipped off the wall as we painted it on, so we have nothing red in the finished mural. And the brushes lost so many hairs that the lions took on a far more realistic look than I could have possibly hoped for!

Murals at APW

photo: Deirdre Leowinata / AfricanPeople&Wildlife

But many enthusiastic and capable hands made the whole experience great, and sometimes the trials are what the best memories are made of. I’m going back in June and this time the designs are being drawn up by the students, winners will be decided in advance, and with a bit of luck, 3 schools will end up with colorful murals designed and painted by members of the school community. However, this time I’m bringing brushes with me, and we’ll buy a different kind of paint. Live and learn!

Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Rural village scenes sketched in pen in Botswana by Alison Nicholls

Sketching Villages from a Moving Car!

Recently I discovered that sketching villages from a moving car might be more difficult than sketching wildlife!

Rural village scenes sketched in pen in Botswana by Alison Nicholls

These rural scenes were sketched as we drove down from Kasane to the Tuli Block in Botswana. Although we are driving quite slowly through villages, it’s still a challenge to sketch and you need to develop a photographic memory by looking, memorizing, then sketching. However, I soon found my stride because these rural scenes are etched in my brain, from my years of living in Botswana. I wanted to capture the typical sights of a village – people sitting by the road; herds of cows in the shade of a tree; donkeys and goats; village bars and small houses with satellite dishes. Pen was the perfect medium and I particularly love this pinky-gray ZIG Memory System writer. And sketching made the long drive go by much faster!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Safari Night at the Explorers Club

Alison Nicholls-Safari Night at the Explorers Club

Alison Nicholls speaking about how Africa inspired her art, at The Explorers Club, New York City.

Last night I was fortunate to be sharing the stage at The Explorers Club during Safari Night, which was organized by Ann Passer and Alan Feldstein. There was wonderful music, singing and dancing from Cameroon and Tanzania, excellent food from various African countries, and speakers on topics covering the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia; clips from Born to Explore including a visit with the Hadzabe in Tanzania; the evolution of safari companies; panotriptychs of extraordinary conservationists; an update from Zimbabwe; discussion of neurosurgery in Tanzania and an introduction to remarkable Rwanda.

Richard Wiese showing clips from Born to Explore.

I spoke about the size of Africa and how living there inspired various features of my art – space, color and subject matter. I also digressed slightly into why no-one who goes to Africa should do a “walking with lions” experience. (Basically because you can only walk safely with young lions, as soon as they get older they are more dangerous. So what happens to them once they get too large to safely walk with tourists? They can’t be released as they are used to people and can’t hunt. The most likely end is a sad one – they are sold to canned hunting operations and shot. Their bones may even end up being sold to meet the increasing international demand for lion bone.)

I did end on a more amusing note though:
When I was planning to move to Zimbabwe from London, I was asked a question by many Londoners. Years later, when I was planning to move to New York from Botswana, I was asked the very same question by many Batswana (citizens of Botswana). The question was: “Isn’t it dangerous there?”

Everything is relative…
Take care
Alison

www.artinspiredbyafrica.com

Alison Nicholls sketching a cheetah

Upstaged by a Cheetah!

On Sunday night I was sketching a live cheetah in Poughkeepsie, New York, at a benefit for the Cheetah Conservation Fund. The cheetah in question came from the Columbus Zoo in Ohio and is a hand-reared ‘ambassador’ cheetah, who is used to traveling (with her Labrador companion!) to events to help raise funds for the conservation of her wild counterparts.

Alison Nicholls sketching a cheetah

Alison Nicholls sketching an ambassador cheetah

Dr Laurie Marker, founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, was the guest of honor. While Dr Marker was speaking about cheetah conservation in Namibia and around the world, the cheetah was doing all she could to upstage her, by purring unbelievably loudly. And while that was happening, I was sketching. Here I am, later in the evening, with Laurie and 1 of my sketches.

Artist Alison Nicholls with Laurie Marker of the Cheetah Conservation Fund

Artist Alison Nicholls and her sketch, with Laurie Marker of the Cheetah Conservation Fund

Cheetah watercolor sketch by Alison Nicholls

And here is the sketch.  Cheetah watercolor sketch by Alison Nicholls

Paola Bari had organized the event and on display were a number of artworks on ostrich eggs, including 1 by yours truly. It was a wonderful evening, although quite strange for me because less than a month ago I was sketching a pair of cheetah brothers in northern Botswana catching an impala!

Find out more about the Cheetah Conservation Fund.
See my Ostrich Egg Artwork.

Until next time…take care
Alison

www.ArtInspiredByAfrica.com

Sun Spots by Alison Nicholls: Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner

Alison Nicholls Painting Featured in Explorers Club Event

Visionaries of Conservation – Paradigm Shifts in Protecting the Planet is the theme of The Explorers Club 2015 Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner. If you look closely, you may recognize the image featured below – yes it is my acrylic painting, Sun Spots!

Sun Spots by Alison Nicholls: Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner

Sun Spots by Alison Nicholls: Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner

I’m looking forward to attending the weekend of events, hosted by the Florida Chapter of The Explorers Club, in early November. The events will “celebrate explorers who exhibit excellence and innovation in conservation, with emphasis on emerging techniques and technologies that meaningfully contribute to our knowledge of the world and how we protect it.”

I am delighted that my art has been chosen to represent this important event in the celebration of conservation!

Until next time…
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Sandals made from car tires, field sketch by Alison Nicholls

Walk A Mile In Another’s Shoes by Alison Nicholls

Walking a mile in another person’s shoes is a valuable exercise, allowing us to see life from someone else’s perspective. But the words that make up this phrase show us a lot too. The assumption is that people everywhere wear shoes, something that is just not true in much of the world. In many places, people wear no shoes at all, or the shoes they wear are made from materials that would be discarded in Europe or in the US. Like the ‘ten thousand-milers’, sandals worn across East Africa, by the Maasai and other tribes. These practical, long-lasting sandals are made from the tread of car tires (that’s tyres, for those in the UK).

Sandals made from car tires, field sketch by Alison Nicholls

Sandals made from car tires, field sketch by Alison Nicholls. The tread of the tire is used as the sole.

Shoes or no shoes, “walking a mile in another person’s footsteps” is a valuable lesson, and might result in more understanding and appreciation for other cultures, something that countries across the world could benefit from.

Until next time…
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Alison Nicholls sketching among the Maasai in Tanzania © African People & Wildlife Fund / Deirdre Leowinata

Lions, Livestock & Living Walls on Long Island

Join me on Sunday June 7 from 2 – 4pm, as I celebrate the appearance of my exhibition, Lions, Livestock & Living Walls, on Long Island. You can see my watercolor field sketches and studio acrylic paintings, based on my visits to the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania. You’ll also be able to see my new book, and at 3pm hear me talk briefly about APW and my visits there.

Cold Spring Harbor Library, Long Island, NY

Cold Spring Harbor Library, Long Island, NY

So please join me at the wonderful Cold Spring Harbor Library on Sunday June 7, from 2 – 4pm. The exhibition will be on display from June 2 – July 30. A donation will be made to APW from every sale.

Alison Nicholls sketching among the Maasai in Tanzania © African People & Wildlife Fund / Deirdre Leowinata

Alison Nicholls sketching in Tanzania. Photos by APW / Deirdre Leowinata

You can find the Cold Spring Harbor Library opening times here.
Learn more about the African People & Wildlife Fund.
See my African Field Sketches.

I hope to see you there!
Alison

See my new book!
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Alison Nicholls with Dr Laly Lichtenfeld and Charles Trout of the African People & Wildlife Fund

10 Successful Years for the African People & Wildlife Fund!

2015 is the 10th Anniversary of the African People & Wildlife Fund. On April 25, I attended APW’s Annual Benefit, along with several pieces of my artwork. 1 small original and several limited edition giclées were sold, and APW received nearly US$700 in donations from these sales.

The benefit was a beautiful evening and a great chance to catch up with APW’s current work on the Maasai Steppe in Tanzania, helping rural people manage their natural resources for the mutual benefit of both people and wildlife.

Alison Nicholls with Dr Laly Lichtenfeld and Charles Trout of the African People & Wildlife Fund

Charles Trout, Alison Nicholls and Dr Laly Lichtenfeld at the 2015 APW Annual Benefit.

See more of my work with APW in my newly published book:
An Artist Visits the African People & Wildlife Fund.

Learn more about the African People & Wildlife Fund.

Until next time…
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

 

Exhibit Visitor sketch by Alison Nicholls

Yes, I Fell For It…

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City has a great exhibit on at the moment: One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Works. It documents the mass migration of African Americans, across several decades, from rural southern states to urban northern states. Well worth a visit! But I was there to do some sketching…

Exhibit Visitor sketch by Alison Nicholls

Exhibit Visitor sketch by Alison Nicholls

It was at the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania, where I began sketching people and now I can’t seem to stop! The funny thing is that I usually have much more trouble sketching people in western clothing, than I do sketching the Maasai in Tanzania. I wondered why that was and realized I was falling for a common trap – sketching what you think you know, rather than what you actually see. I know western clothes. I wear them myself. So I thought I could sketch people wearing western clothing without spending too much time looking. Wrong!

At the Exhibition sketch by Alison Nicholls

At the Exhibition sketch by Alison Nicholls

So, on this trip to MOMA I made a conscious decision to start looking for the simple shapes that I use when sketching in Africa. And wouldn’t you know it, my sketches were so much better!

Check out the work of my friends and fellow artists, who joined me on my MOMA sketching trip: Hazel Jarvis and Rachael Grimm.
More soon!

Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com (or wherever I happen to be!)

Alison Nicholls' new book: An Artist Visits the African People & Wildlife Fund

Have You Created a Monster?

Thank you to everyone who has helped make my book such a success! I have received so many orders that I will need to print more copies.

Alison Nicholls' new book: An Artist Visits the African People & Wildlife Fund

Alison Nicholls’ new book: An Artist Visits the African People & Wildlife Fund

I could never have guessed that the response would be so positive and of course I am thrilled. But you may have unleashed a monster – I am now planning my 2nd book, this time based on African wildlife! More about that soon…

Art Inspired by Africa: An Artist Visits the African People & Wildlife Fund

If you have placed an order, your book will be in the mail as soon as I’ve signed it. Thank you again for your support!

If you not yet placed an order but would like a signed copy… please remember that after April 30, the book will be available on Amazon.com, for a higher price. At the moment a signed copy is available from me for only US$35.

If you live in the USA, you can place an order here. Shipping within the US is US$6.

If you live outside the USA, please drop me an email and I can send you a shipping quote (shipping to the UK or New Zealand is $15).

A donation is made to the African People & Wildlife Fund from every sale.

Thank you!
Asanteni Sana!  (Kiswahili)
Ashe Naleng!  (KiMaasai)

Learn more about the African People & Wildlife Fund.
See more of my African Field Sketches.

Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Painted dog, photo by Alison Nicholls

Shocking and Senseless…

Some of you may have heard the terrible news from Zimbabwe, about the murder of Greg Gibbard from Painted Dog Conservation. I have not commented until now because I didn’t know what to say.

Painted Dog Photo © Alison Nicholls

My thoughts go out to Greg’s family and friends, to everyone at PDC, and to the conservation community at large.

If you are wondering what you can do to help, think about supporting PDC in their moment of need. Greg would appreciate that.

Painted Dog Conservation

Alison

Alison Nicholls' new Book featuring Art from Tanzania

And The Winner Is…

The results are in, and they were pretty overwhelming.  74% of voters chose the Yellow Cover for my new book!!!
Art Inspired by Africa:
An Artist Visits the African People & Wildlife Fund

Alison Nicholls' new Book featuring Art from Tanzania

Alison Nicholls’ new Book featuring Art from Tanzania

I’m glad I asked you to vote for the cover design, because my instinctive choice was the White Cover! Some of you will argue that I should go with the white cover because it was my choice and I am the artist, but I have to disagree. If almost three quarters of you chose the yellow cover, then I’m going with you – after all, one of the purposes of this book is to publicize my art and the work of APW. And the best way to do that is to have a larger number of people pick up the book!

Because the results of the poll were so clear, I decided to close the contest early. So the name of the winner was pulled today.  And guess what – the winner is another artist!

Shukas, a sample page from my upcoming book.

Shukas, a sample page from my upcoming book.

The winner is Ray Brown, a talented artist and friend. You should check out his art too – after you’ve ordered a signed copy of my book!

Field Sketches, a sample page from my upcoming book.

Field Sketches, a sample page from my upcoming book.

Pre-order a copy before April 30, 2015, and you will get a personally signed copy for the stupendously, ridiculously, low price of only US$35 excluding postage ($6 in the USA). After April 30, the book will be available on Amazon.com but at a higher price. I am ordering the books now and they will available late April or early May. A donation is made to APW from every sale.

Living Walls, a sample page from my upcoming book.

Living Walls, a sample page from my upcoming book.

If you live in the USA, you can order here:
Art Inspired by Africa
An Artist Visits the African People & Wildlife Fund

If you live outside the USA, drop me an email or leave a comment and I will let you know shipping costs for your country.

Pre-order Your Signed Copy for US$35 before April 30, 2015.

Alison Nicholls' new Book featuring Art from Tanzania

Alison Nicholls’ new Book featuring Art from Tanzania

Book Details:
This is the 1st book in my Art Inspired by Africa series, and it features images of art created as a result of my visits to the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) in Tanzania. There are full-page images of my field sketches and studio paintings, all accompanied by personal notes or journal excerpts. The foreword is by Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld, APW Executive Director, and other APW staff have also contributed to their comments to the book. Photographs and text explain specific APW programs on the Maasai Steppe and my work with local school children. The 46-page book is printed on full-color premium lustre paper, in a softcover 8×10″ landscape format. A donation is made to APW from every sale.

Congratulations to Ray Brown! (check out his amazing graphic art using the link).
Learn more about the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania.
Until next time…
Take care
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com
Donating to African conservation from every sale.

Shukas, a sample page from my upcoming book.

Take a Look Inside my Art Book!

Work on my book is progressing nicely so I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at a few pages.

Living Walls, a sample page from my upcoming book.

Living Walls, a sample page from my upcoming book.

Art Inspired by Africa – An Artist Visits the African People & Wildlife Fund features field sketches created at the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW),  studio paintings inspired by my visits, excerpts from my field journal, a foreword by Dr Laly Lichtenfeld (Exec Dir. of APW) and details of APW programs.

Field Sketches, a sample page from my upcoming book.

Field Sketches, a sample page from my upcoming book.

The book will be approximately 50 pages, in a landscape 8×10″ format and will be available for sale in late April. As with my sales of field sketches, paintings and limited edition giclées, I’ll be making a donation to conservation from the sale of every book. This will go to help APW’s work on the Maasai Steppe of Tanzania

Shukas, a sample page from my upcoming book.

Shukas, a sample page from my upcoming book.

But one lucky person can win a signed copy by helping me choose the cover design. There are two options shown below – white or yellow. You can vote by leaving a comment here or on my Facebook page. I’ll be announcing the winner and the cover choice on March 31st!

Art Inspired by Africa Covers

Art Inspired by Africa Covers. Tell me your choice in a comment and you might win a copy!

Now I really must go and finish writing the Introduction!
Until next time…
Alison

Learn more about the African People & Wildlife Fund.

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com
Donating to African conservation from every sale.

 

Art Inspired by Africa Covers

Help Me Choose The Cover For My Book

For a long time, people have been asking me when I’m going to create a book of my art.
The answer: in April 2015!

It will be the first in a series titled Art Inspired by Africa and this book is subtitled An Artist Visits The African People & Wildlife Fund. It will feature my field sketches & studio paintings, a Foreword written by Dr Laly Lichtenfeld, Executive Director of APW, and contributions by other APW staff. And of course the book is full of my art images, pieces about my conservation-themed paintings, and excerpts from my field journals.

Alison Nicholls Book Cover

Alison Nicholls Book Cover 1

Alison Nicholls Book Cover 2

Alison Nicholls Book Cover 2

Right now I’m deciding on the cover design and I’m asking for your help. Give me your opinion and your name will be put in a hat to win a signed copy. All you need to do is leave a comment with your choice – Option 1 (white cover) or Option 2 (yellow cover). I’ll be announcing the winner on March 31st, 2015.

So, what do you think. Option 1 or Option 2?
Let me know..!
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com
Donating to African conservation from every sale.

 

Children in Tanzania, field sketch by Alison Nicholls

Send a Scholar to School!

I haven’t run any marathons recently. Not even a half marathon. I haven’t done any long sponsored walks, although I really should be paid for the amount of time I spend walking my German Shepherd dog. I have not even entered any sponsored hot-dog eating competitions. (My dog’s ears just perked up. You can be paid to eat hot-dogs, wow, humans are Amazing!) What this all means is that I have not asked you to sponsor me to do anything.

Children in Tanzania, field sketch by Alison Nicholls

Children in Tanzania, field sketch by Alison Nicholls

So yes, you guessed it, I am about to appeal for your money. But not for me.  Instead I want you to consider a donation, of any amount, to help send a scholar to school. In Tanzania!

The scholars I refer to are Noloholo Environmental Scholars. The African People & Wildlife Fund in northern Tanzania created this scholarship program, to allow children from the Maasai Steppe the opportunity to go to a good boarding school in Arusha for their secondary education. Most of these children would have very little opportunity to continue their education beyond Grade 6 (end of primary school) if they did not receive the scholarship. During their vacations from boarding school they mentor other students who want to follow in their footsteps – and there are many who want to follow in their footsteps. As you can imagine, this program is changing lives. Some of these children may be future conservationists, but whatever they choose to do, they will be raising living standards and expectations not only for themselves and their families but for their communities as a whole.

So please take the time to look at this link and see if you can help with a donation of any amount.

Noloholo Scholarship Fund
Asante sana! (thank you very much in Kiswahili)

Until next time…
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com
Donating to African conservation from every sale.

Shimmer & Shukas by Alison Nicholls

Art Challenge Day 5 – People and Conservation

Shimmer and Shukas Field Sketch, watercolor 11x14" by Alison Nicholls

Shimmer and Shukas Field Sketch, watercolor 11×14″ by Alison Nicholls

The Herd, acrylic on canvas 24x20" by Alison Nicholls

The Herd, acrylic on canvas 24×20″ by Alison Nicholls

Living Walls, acrylic on canvas 29x29" by Alison Nicholls

Living Walls, acrylic on canvas 29×29″ by Alison Nicholls

Although I had painted landscapes and wildlife, I never thought I was interested in painting or sketching people. But as I got to know Botswana better, I did try my hand at a couple of pieces. However, I was never comfortable sketching people without their permission and was too shy to ask. As with so many things in life, it was only after I left Africa that I realized what a chance I had been missing all those years. But luckily for me, it was also at this time that I became familiar with the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania and arranged with Dr Laly Lichtenfeld to spend time at the project sketching. While I was there I learned about APW’s work with the local communities and saw firsthand some of the complex conservation issues facing both people and wildlife. I knew I wanted to include these issues in my work and began composing some conservation-themed paintings which show issues like human-wildlife conflict.

My visits to APW grew out of my visit to the Painted Dog Conservation project back in 2007, but with APW I moved into the realm of painting people. Frankly, when I first visited, I had absolutely no idea how much I was going to enjoy this! The conservation of wildlife and habitat depends on the decisions that will be made by people who share the land with wildlife. If their lives are made easier by the elimination of wildlife then it will be difficult for wildlife to survive and roam freely. The work of conservation organizations can help to provide workable solutions, but it is the people who will make the ultimate decisions – which is why I am pleased to finally incorporate both the people and wildlife of Africa in my art.

These days I make a donation to African conservation from the sale of every original painting, original field sketch and limited edition giclée and I aim to use my work to explain complex conservation issues and highlight solutions which are being used in the field.

Thank you for following my week of Art Challenge posts, I hope it gave you an insight into my artistic journey. Life as an artist has its ups and downs but I never want to do anything else. Its been a wild adventure so far. Long may it continue!
Alison

Learn more about the African People & Wildlife Fund.
Learn more about Painted Dog Conservation.

Visit my my Website
Join my Mailing List
Find me on Facebook
Art Inspired by Africa

Kisimir, Nicholls, Living Wall, Tanzania

Human-Lion Conflict in Tanzania

Kisimir, Nicholls, Living Wall, Tanzania

Elvis Kisimir of APW & artist Alison Nicholls at a Living Wall in Tanzania

The start of 2015 has not been as peaceful as many across the world hoped. There have already been many atrocities and human tragedies in the first 2 weeks of this new year and my thoughts go out to all who have lost family members, friends and colleagues.

The start of the year was also tragic for a pride of lions near Tarangire National Park in northern Tanzania. On New Year’s Eve the pride killed donkeys which were kept in a traditional thorn boma in a Maasai homestead, so the moran (warriors) hunted the lions and killed one. Early on New Year’s day a woman and her child found a lion in their boma (also a traditional thorn boma). Thankfully the woman and her child were unharmed, but the moran of the area started gathering in large numbers and hunted down another 6 lions. One of APW’s Human-Wildlife Conflict officers tried to diffuse the situation. (Elvis Kisimir, pictured above, is another of APW’s HWC offers. Like the others, he is Maasai, from a village in the area, and has successfully prevented warriors from embarking on lion hunts in the past.) However, this situation involved huge numbers of warriors and attempts to resolve the issue peacefully were unsuccessful.

I’m adding this post as an update to “How Do You Know If Conservation Is Working?”, a post I wrote at the end of last year and which you can see below. Unfortunately, this incident is a prime example of why the work of organizations like APW is so vital and why the installation of more Living Wall bomas (fortified bomas that protect livestock, prevent habitat destruction and dramatically reduce incidents of human-wildlife conflict) are essential. The area where the donkeys were killed has very few Living Wall bomas although APW hopes to install many more there in the future. But each wall takes time and money to install. APW founder & Executive Director Dr Laly Lichtenfeld told me that many people in other communities with significant numbers of Living Walls have expressed sympathy to APW staff over the lion killings. They appreciate the numerous benefits that working with APW has brought to their communities – not only Living Walls, but high school scholarships for children, natural resource management seminars for adults, grants for small businesses and the creation of the only Women’s Association on the Maasai Steppe, to name just a few. APW aims to expand these programs to many more communities and I hope you will consider supporting their work.

2015 has certainly not started as we all hoped, but lets make sure we turn it around very soon.
Until next time…
Alison

Donate to help APW expand their work on the Maasai Steppe

How Do You Know If Conservation Is Working? (originally posted on Dec 12 2014)

Quite simply, as in any other field, you have to evaluate your results. It is easy for conservation efforts to be undertaken with the best of intentions, only to find that there are unexpected negative consequences which put the whole project in question. Unfortunately, too many organizations want quick fixes and they don’t stick around to ensure that their efforts have the desired results.

That is certainly not the case with the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) in Tanzania, an organization I am proud to support. Dr Laly Lichtenfeld, Charles Trout and Elvis Kisimir of APW recently had a paper published in Biodiversity & Conservation, titled Evidence-based Conservation: Predator-proof Bomas Protect Livestock and Lions. The team evaluated their depredation data relating to large carnivore attacks on livestock in their study area, and found a significant decline in depredation events after the construction of fortified bomas (also known as Living Walls).

The fortified bomas prevent attacks on livestock by large carnivores and this prevents retaliatory attacks on carnivores by livestock owners. They reduce habitat destruction because they do not require repeated cutting of thorn bushes like traditional bomas, and they reduce the burden on women, because they require no maintenance. But significantly, they also found that the reduction in depredation events due to construction of fortified bomas, did not increase the number of carnivore attacks on non-fortified bomas or on livestock at pasture. Had this been the case, they could have been reducing depredation at the boma, only to increase it elsewhere. Instead, the evaluation of their long-term data showed that fortified bomas are an effective conservation tool and should be considered by other organizations aiming to reduce human-carnivore conflict.

And that is how you know conservation is working!

Donate to help APW continue their work on the Maasai Steppe!

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Happy New Year from Alison Nicholls!

Art Inspired by Africa

I hope 2015 is happy and healthy for you and all your loved ones.
I hope 2015 is peaceful, with opportunity and education for all.
I hope that 2015 will be a great year for conservation around the globe,
including an end to rhino and elephant poaching.

I think that’s probably enough to start with!

Happy New Year!!

Alison

Don’t forget today is the last day to take advantage of my 2014 Seasonal Offers!

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Kisimir, Nicholls, Living Wall, Tanzania

How Do You Know Conservation Is Working?

Kisimir, Nicholls, Living Wall, Tanzania

Elvis Kisimir of APW & artist Alison Nicholls at a Living Wall in Tanzania

Quite simply, as in any other field, you have to evaluate your results. It is easy for conservation efforts to be undertaken with the best of intentions, only to find that there are unexpected negative consequences which put the whole project in question. Unfortunately, too many organizations want quick fixes and they don’t stick around to ensure that their efforts have the desired results.

That is certainly not the case with the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) in Tanzania, an organization I am proud to support. Dr Laly Lichtenfeld, Charles Trout and Elvis Kisimir of APW recently had a paper published in Biodiversity & Conservation, titled Evidence-based Conservation: Predator-proof Bomas Protect Livestock and Lions. The team evaluated their depredation data relating to large carnivore attacks on livestock in their study area, and found a significant decline in depredation events after the construction of fortified bomas (also known as Living Walls).

The fortified bomas prevent attacks on livestock by large carnivores and this prevents retaliatory attacks on carnivores by livestock owners. They reduce habitat destruction because they do not require repeated cutting of thorn bushes like traditional bomas, and they reduce the burden on women, because they require no maintenance. But significantly, they also found that the reduction in depredation events due to construction of fortified bomas, did not increase the number of carnivore attacks on non-fortified bomas or on livestock at pasture. Had this been the case, they could have been reducing depredation at the boma, only to increase it elsewhere. Instead, the evaluation of their long-term data showed that fortified bomas are an effective conservation tool and should be considered by other organizations aiming to reduce human-carnivore conflict.

And that is how you know conservation is working!

Donate to help APW continue their work on the Maasai Steppe!

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Tea by the Fire Field Sketch 11x14" © Alison Nicholls 2014

Sketching in the Dark in Tanzania by Alison Nicholls

Tea by the Fire Field Sketch 11x14" © Alison Nicholls 2014

Tea by the Fire Field Sketch 11×14″ © Alison Nicholls 2014

Tea by the Fire was possibly one of the most difficult sketches I’ve created, because I was sketching in near darkness. I had been invited into the home of a Maasai family to sketch, but when I got inside I couldn’t even see the chair I was offered, and I had no idea how many people were in the house, never mind whether they were men, women or children. I was doing pretty well with my KiMaasai greetings by this stage in my trip, so I was hoping to be able to say the correct greetings to the various members of the family according to their gender and age, but it is very difficult to greet people when you don’t know who they are or even where they are!

My eyes took a couple of minutes to adjust and then I could see 2 women and 2 children by the fire. There was a small opening high up on the wall which let the smoke out and a little light in. There were pots on the fire and soon we each had a lovely cup of hot milky tea. Gradually I was able to start putting pencil to paper and by the time I finished sketching, I could see the family and the contents of the house quite well. I wanted the sketch to show the darkness of the house and the tiny slivers of light from the window.

As I sketched, I was thinking about this amazing opportunity and how removed I felt from my normal life. I like to avoid the use of technology as much as possible during my travels in Africa. Its a kind of escape for me. But every now and again I would be reminded that technology reaches most places these days – a cellphone screen would briefly flood the house with a cold blinding light as one of the family members received an incoming call or text!

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Watering the Cattle, field sketch 11x14" by Alison Nicholls

Watering the Cattle, Tanzania Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls

Watering the Cattle, field sketch 11x14" by Alison Nicholls

Watering the Cattle, watercolor field sketch 11×14″ by Alison Nicholls

“Cattle drank in lines at the trough then ambled away to graze; Maasai men leant against their sticks in the shade of the trees; donkeys, often fully loaded with water, stopped for a drink before heading home (often with no owner in sight); men flew past on bicycles down to the stream, filled their water containers then slowly pushed their bicycles back up the hill; children herded goats and sheep and stopped to stare (if they were brave they would come to see my sketch then talk and laugh as they left); whistles, shouts and cow bellows floated out across the karongo (stream).”   An excerpt from my Journal, June 11 2014, during my latest visit to the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania.

See more of my African Field Sketches, all of which are available for sale with a donation to African conservation. I also have a number of Seasonal Offers available until the end of December.
Learn more about the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania.

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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