Category Archives: Art Safaris

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

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by Alison Nicholls

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

We were looking forward to a quick cuppa, a nice mid-morning tea-break, but when we reached the big baobab in Savute, Botswana, we found that our spot was already taken. Let sleeping dogs lie…

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by Alison Nicholls

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie – sketched from life in pen and watercolor, Savute Botswana 2018

The dogs made excellent sketching subjects, once I figured out whose legs and ears were whose. Painted dogs or African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) are very social and like to lie together in a pile, in very close contact, so identifying which dogs to include in my sketch is the first thing I do.

Savute Wild Dogs by Nigel Nicholls

Painted dogs sleeping in a pile, photo by Nigel Nicholls.

Note the annoying piece of grass in the foreground – the bane of every wildlife photographer’s life. If I had a sketchbook for every time I’ve heard my husband ask why there’s grass in the way, I’d never run out of paper again!

Painted Dog Pile by Nigel Nicholls

Painted Dog Pile by Nigel Nicholls

Here’s the scene I sketched. Its so weird when I get back from our trips, see my husband’s photos and recognize my sketches. You’ll notice that the piece of grass is even more annoying from this angle…which brings me to another advantage of sketching – the artist decides what goes into the sketch and what stays out, so there are no annoying pieces of grass in my art.

Now I have to go find my own sleeping dog and take him out for a walk!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Ellies in Ink by Alison Nicholls

Sketching Strong Shadows

Mid-afternoon in Khwai, the hottest part of the day, and I’m sketching strong shadows. We’re sitting by the beautiful ribbon of water that winds gracefully through the grasses and off into the distance. A Nile crocodile lies on the bank with its mouth open, and elephants drink in the river. The light is harsh and the strong shadows made me decide to sketch with the marker tip of my pen, putting only the shadows down on the paper. It doesn’t work with every animal, but for the crocodile and the elephants it was perfect.

Crocodile in ink by Alison Nicholls

Ellies in Ink by Alison Nicholls

Next I tried some hippos, a goliath heron and an African buffalo.

Hippo, Heron and Buffalo by Alison Nicholls

I was really enjoying this, so of course the sun went down and daylight was vanquished by the shadows. But next time I think the light is too harsh for good sketching I’ll have a great way of handling it!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Zebra Crossing

I know its a cliche, but Zebra Crossing was really the only name I could give this video. This small herd crossed the road in front of us as we returned to camp one morning. Its unusual to be on a real road like this during an Art Safari, but the light made this a special encounter, as the zebras crossed one by one. You can see why the group name for a herd of zebra is a dazzle!

Happy July 4th if you are an American!
if you are not American, have a dazzling Wednesday!
Until next time…
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Giraffes fighting photo by Alison Nicholls

Its World Giraffe Day!

Lets celebrate World Giraffe Day by watching giraffes in South Africa. These 2 bulls are practicing their fighting techniques. When its serious, their huge, bony heads hit each other with a ferocious force which can knock a giraffe off its feet. Not the kind of behavior you’d expect from a giraffe, right?

I’ve seen a real fight only once, and it was very short, but violent. It was in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. The bull on the left quickly realized he was out-matched and made a run for it, but only after a few heavy blows meted out by his opponent.

Giraffes fighting photo by Alison Nicholls

On this World Giraffe Day, remember that although giraffes can fight each other, they can’t fight habitat loss or poaching. So consider a donation to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation to help this amazing species.

Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

 

Spotted Hyena watching Impala by Alison Nicholls

Spotted Hyena Watercolor

In this spotted hyena watercolor, I made a conscious decision to add more habitat and landscape features, rather then just concentrating on the animals, as I often do. One morning, driving in Kruger National Park in South Africa, we came across this spotted hyena lying right next to the track, with its head resting on its forelegs. It was too good an opportunity to miss so I started sketching.

Knowing that the hyena was likely to move its head, I started sketching from the back end. With the body and front legs sketched out, I had the opportunity to watch the hyena and choose whichever head and neck position I preferred. As I watched, a small group of impala appeared, browsing their way through the bush, probably heading towards the nearby river for a morning drink. The hyena turned its head to watch them and that was the pose I chose to sketch. A few moments later the impala spotted the hyena, barked in alarm and moved away. The hyena got up and casually walked right up to the car until its nose was just inches from me, at which point I did my window up! Then it walked around the car, stared in the windows on the other side and walked away.

Spotted Hyena watching Impala by Alison Nicholls

Spotted Hyena watching Impala, 11×14″, US$300 by Alison Nicholls

Before we drove on, even though the hyena and impala were gone, I added some more details of the bushes behind the hyena, and drew the simple shapes for the impala. Paint was added back at camp (without photo or video reference), as you can see from this short video of my spotted hyena watercolor.

You can learn these sketching and painting techniques from me on an Africa Geographic Art Safari in South Africa. There’s nothing quite like sketching from life in the African bush. But don’t take my word for it – come and see for yourself!
Alison
Purchase Spotted Hyena Watching Impala.

Alison-Nicholls-Art-Survey

Take Part in my Art Survey!

Here’s your chance to tell me what you think by taking part in my
Art Survey!

Alison-Nicholls-Art-Survey

There are just a few short questions. It will take only a tiny amount of your time. And there’s even a question about sharing a mud-bath with a herd of elephants!

Admit it – you’re intrigued…
So, if you follow my art here or elsewhere, take part in my Art Survey

I’ll look forward to seeing your answers!
Until next time…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Sketching lions in South Africa 2015

I’m Not An Expert Artist, Can I Still Do An Art Safari?

If I’m not an expert artist, can I still do an Art Safari?

This is a common question, because most of us have an underlying fear of not being good enough. But it’s a very easy question to answer. The answer is “Yes, an Art Safari is for you!”

Art Safaris with Alison Nicholls

Art Safaris are a unique way to experience the African bush and over the last 7 years I have had the pleasure of meeting and teaching guests with a wide range of skills – complete beginners who want to try a different kind of safari; artists who sketch regularly but have never been on safari or sketched animals; a jeweler who wanted to try sketching for a change; those who studied art but haven’t picked up a pencil for years; photographers and non-sketching partners who were intrigued and decided to try sketching for themselves; and occasionally one of our professional safari guides has also been tempted to follow along!

Alison Nicholls Africa Geographic Art Safari 2016

Join me at The Bush House, September 15-20, 2018.

What makes it easy for anyone to join in and learn is that we are all working at our own pace, with our own choice of materials. There is no competition on an Art Safari, just a friendly, fun, learning environment. You can do this safari with just pencil and paper, so there’s no need to be a painter or watercolorist. I start by showing you how to look at animals and see simple shapes. Yes, even the strangest animals like giraffes or white rhinos can be sketched using simple shapes! Its amazing how quickly you can improve when you spend 4 full days sketching from life. Its the best way to learn and gives you a real sense of accomplishment too.

Sketching lions in South Africa 2015

If you’re not already convinced, here are some comments from Art Safari guests.

High Praise for Alison Nicholls’ and Africa Geographic’s Art Safari! I guarantee there is something to gain in this experience for everyone. Viewing and sketching the animals live gives you a greater understanding of their movements and their enviroment.  
Angie M from Canada

For myself the time with you and our Art Safari was the highlight of 2017. 
Susanne B from Switzerland

My art safari experience with Alison was beyond my wildest dreams.  I learned so much about drawing the animals I saw.  We went out on two game drives a day and it was such an intimate experience.  Alison gave each of us individual attention and tips on our sketches.  It was so helpful and encouraging.  I cannot describe how wonderful it was to experience really looking at the animal when you are trying to sketch them.  We came back to the lodge to do some watercolor and more intimate instruction, as well as watch Alison work on some of her marvelous work she had done in the bush.  It was a trip of a lifetime filled with fun, learning and lot’s of laughter.  Thank you, Alison for a wonderful experience. 
Debra S from USA


Join me at The Bush House, September 15-20, 2018.

If you still have questions, let me know.
Come and join us!
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' watercolor field kit

My Watercolor Palette – Limited but Changing

You might have heard me banging on about how I use a limited palette of colors and how this gives many of my paintings a tranquil feel. But a limited palette shouldn’t mean a stagnant palette, so for my latest sketching trip to Africa, I changed some of the solid half-pan colors in my Windsor & Newton field watercolor set.

I’ve noticed over the years that some of these half-pan colors can be difficult to tell apart when I’m painting outdoors, because they appear very dark in their solid form. When mixed with a little water, of course there is no problem, but I often need to get straight to the correct color when time is of the essence. So I made myself a little color chart before I left home. Here it is.

Alison Nicholls watercolor chart

It fits nicely inside the lid of my field box set and is covered in wide cellotape back and front.

Alison Nicholls' watercolor field kit

Alison Nicholls’ watercolor field kit

For all you artists out there who are interested in these things…here’s the list of colors I took with me this year (exactly as shown in the photo). Those in red were new this year.

Cadmium Red   Cerulean Blue    
Alizarin Crimson Lemon Yellow Cobalt Blue Davy’s Gray Titanium White
Magenta Cadmium Yellow Windsor Blue Leaf Green Burnt Sienna
Ultramarine Violet Naples Yellow Ultramarine Blue Oxide Chrome Burnt Umber
Venetian Red Yellow Ochre Indigo Hookers Green Sepia

I immediately loved the Indigo, Sepia, and Davy’s Gray – which I mixed with almost everything – notice the large hole I created in the half-pan! I had to remember which of these I was using though, because Davy’s Gray is a very subtle hue, requiring several brush-loads to make its presence known, whereas the Indigo and Sepia required just the slightest touch of water to shout their presence to the world!

So it appears that the number of colors in my field box set is increasing…but the number of colors used in each painting is still limited to 2 or 3.

Until next time…keep painting.
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Drinking Impala by Alison Nicholls

Video: Watercolors from the African Bush

My September visit to South Africa and Botswana was full of sketching opportunities. Check out a couple of them here!

 

Want to learn some of my sketching techniques? Then consider joining me on an African Art Safari

Until next time, take care.
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

So what is an Art Safari anyway?

Art Safari
/a:t , sə’fa:ri/
noun

2017 Art Safari at Africa on Foot

photo by Angela Matthews

Definition:

  1. A trip of a lifetime…filled with fun, learning and lots of laughter¹; truly an amazing experience²; one of the best ‘Africa’ experiences I have ever had³.  
  2. A means of filling your sketchbook with memories of Africa’s iconic wildlife; to really look at an animal and see things that you don’t see from photos⁴, with thorough, humorous, knowledgeable, and patient² instruction from Alison Nicholls. I can’t believe in such a few short days how quickly I improved my sketching⁵.
  3. A way to share a unique adventure with fellow enthusiastic artists/travelers⁵, although you don’t have to be an artist to fully enjoy yourself.
  4. And…if the 2017 Art Safari was anything to go by…an Art Safari is a way to see honey badgers in camp every night!

¹ Debra S         ² Celia C           ³ Alistair G
⁴ Bobby B        ⁵ Barbara W    ⁷ Penelope B

2017 Art Safari at Africa on Foot

photo by Angela Matthews

Example Sentences
My Art Safari experience with Alison was beyond my wildest dreams. Debra S

The Art Safari with Alison Nicholls was a quality experience in every respect…I would definitely recommend ‘following the dream’!  Judy H

I would not hesitate to recommend Alison or this Africa Geographic Art Safari to my closest family and friends. Butch M

Word Origin
Circa 2011, from Africa Geographic Travel.

Hope you enjoyed my attempt to ‘define’ an Art Safari!

Why not join me on an Art Safari in 2018 and see if I got it right?

Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Cheetah Trio by Alison Nicholls

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 wonder if ‘sketch’ is still the appropriate term.

Lets go back a bit. For 10 years I have marketed my art through my website and social media sites because I want people to see, enjoy, learn from, and buy my work. Sketching in the field from life, without any photo or video reference, is vital to my artistic process; great fun; expands my knowledge of animal anatomy and behavior; and makes me a better artist. From a marketing perspective it also separates me from artists who work only in the studio from photos, and I try to make this crystal clear to everyone who sees my work. In a face to face conversation I can explain all this quite easily, but when you see my work briefly on the internet, I need to get this point across as quickly as I can, so terminology becomes very important, hence my use of the easily understood term ‘field sketches’.

Cheetah Trio Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls

Cheetah Trio “Field Sketch” by Alison Nicholls

Over the years, as my skills improved, I began to experiment with my field sketches. First, I started thinking more about composition while I sketched. The underlying pencil sketch for Cheetah Trio was created while I watched wild cheetahs in Botswana. But the cheetahs were lying further apart than they are shown in my sketch. I moved them closer together to create a better composition. I used both my ability to sketch from life, and my compositional skills to create the field sketch you see. Maybe you think I should sketch exactly what I see, but I would suggest that every piece of art has been composed to some extent by the artist. Even a field sketch artist has chosen which pose to sketch – if they sketched exactly what they saw, you would come across more sketches of animals relieving themselves! Secondly, as you see in Cheetah Trio, I began adding watercolor to my pencil sketches. As animals don’t remain still for lengthy periods of time, I usually have to do this back at camp – adding color from memory and imagination in varying proportions.

So according to the definition of a ‘sketch’, my works in pencil definitely qualify – they are executed hastily and contain only essential details. I add watercolor in a more leisurely manner, so does the painted piece still qualify as a field ‘sketch’? Or as field work? Or as a watercolor painting?

I’m sure I’m being overly pedantic, but terminology matters, particularly on the internet, and yet I’m guessing every artist has their own very specific ideas of what these terms mean. (As an aside, one of my pet peeves is seeing artworks described as ‘sketches’ when they are small, detailed pencil drawings, which obviously have taken many hours to complete from photographic reference.)

So…does any of this matter?
When you search for ‘field sketches’ online, what do you expect to find?
I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

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 as I happily sketch my way through the African bush!)

Alison Nicholls art kit

Anyway…back to the new surfaces…one of which is Claybord (made by Ampersand). It is described as the ultimate multimedia panel, with an ultra smooth clay surface that is very absorbent. As you might guess from the name, you can scrape through a painted area to expose the bright white ultra-smooth clay surface. Now this goes against everything I have ever done (as a watercolorist you learn to retain the whites in your paintings rather than add them at the end) so I’m not sure scraping will feature heavily in my use of Claybord, but we’ll see. I am taking half a dozen 5×7” panels. If they were lightweight, I would take larger sizes, but they’re not, so the smaller panels will have to do for now. The surface is bright white and almost texture-free. It is good for detail but won’t hold washes. But pencil and pen will look wonderful on it so maybe I’ll try those. My usual extremely pale sketches are very difficult to photograph in the bush, which is why I hardly ever show you the progression of my sketches. So I’ve been thinking that a softer pencil might be the answer. Maybe Claybord can be part of the answer too.

The pieces of square handmade paper are my next experiment. Although they look like watercolor paper, they act a little too much like blotting paper when a wash is added, soaking up the color and showing all the brushmarks, so once again I think simple lines might be the answer. I’ve had these pieces of paper so long I can’t remember anything about them, except that I got them at New York Central Art Supply, a fantastic art store in New York City, which, sadly, will soon be closing. Like Doctor Who’s tardis, it is tiny from the outside but seems to miraculously hold everything I ever need. It is such a shame it will soon be gone.

Elephant sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2015

Elephant watercolor sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2015

Speaking of simple lines, I’m also going to be doing more sketches directly in watercolor, like this one from the 2015 Africa Geographic Art Safari. I used a rigger brush for these, and was painting while it was raining, which is why this looks such a mess. (Bookings are now open for my 2017 Art Safari on the edge of Kruger National Park in South Africa.)

So watch out for my latest exploits and sketches from Africa – coming soon!
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Art Safaris with Alison Nicholls

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 time for game viewing and a perfect time of year for sketching. If you’re interested in joining me, don’t delay – we don’t expect these spaces to be available for long.

Africa-On-Foot-Safari

Dreaming of an African Art Safari…?

AFrica-On-Foot-Lodges

A perfect setting for art tutorials…

Africa-On-Foot-Safari

Want to discuss art, wildlife and Africa around the campfire…?

Elephant by Nigel Nicholls © 2012

Sketch elephants with me…(photo by Nigel Nicholls ©2013)

Elephant Drinking Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls

Elephant Drinking Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls

Check out the Art Safari details and get in touch with me or with Africa Geographic as soon as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you!
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com
A donation is made to African conservation from every sale.

 

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT, with artist Alison Nicholls

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); Karryl (Rocky Mountains); Carel Brest van Kempen (Central America); Kelly Singleton (Alaska); Sean Murtha (Long Island Sound) and Susan Fox (Mongolia). The exhibit is on display until May 4, 2016.

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT, with artist Alison Nicholls

The fun begins… (l to r) Susan Fox, David Rankin, Karryl, Sean Murtha, Alison Nicholls

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT, with artist Alison Nicholls

Pre-opening photo shoot…

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT

Guests start to arrive…

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT, with artist Alison Nicholls

Alison Nicholls with Ambassador & Mrs Ntwaagae of Botswana…

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT

More guests arrive…

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT, with artist Alison Nicholls

Another pre-opening shot, in front of work by Carel Brest van Kempen…

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT, with artist Alison Nicholls

A few words by one of the curators, Lillian Lum…

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT

The guests listen to the brief presentation…

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT

Stripes are in… (artwork by David Rankin)

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT

Seeing the exhibit…

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT

Sculptor Karryl explain her work to a young visitor…

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio at the Flinn gallery, Greenwich, CT

Pinnacle, sculpture by Karryl, presides over the reception…

Over 260 visitors attended the opening reception and the evening was a resounding success. But this was just the start of a busy weekend of events. Next time I will show you images from the Children Sketching Animals!

Wildlife Art: Field to Studio is curated by Lillian Lum, Claudia Schipper & Alice Sherwood. It is on display until May 4 at the Flinn Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Please come and join me for a guided tour of the exhibition!
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com
A donation is made to African conservation from every sale.

Artist Alison Nicholls

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!

Artist Alison Nicholls

Artist Alison Nicholls

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 who may also have been thinking of joining me. In the middle of the year we will start to think about the 2017 safaris, so let me know if you’d like advance notice of the details. And don’t wait too long!

Happy New Year!
Alison
Africa Geographic Art Safaris
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Lion Pride Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls 2015

African Wildlife Sketch #19 – Lion Pride by Alison Nicholls

This sketch was created, as a demonstration, during the 2015 Africa Geographic Art Safari in Kariega Game Reserve, South Africa. It was a cloudy day and we were watching a lion pride, when suddenly a mother warthog and her brood came trotting out of the bush, straight at the lions. One of the lionesses gave chase and they all disappeared, only to reappear a few seconds later, clattering down the track, with the lioness on the tail of one of the piglets. The chase ended in success for the lioness, but the male lion soon appeared to steal the kill from her. After the commotion died down, they all emerged from the bushes and lay in the open, where this sketch was created. The watercolor was added back at camp, as a demonstration of how I add color to my pencil sketches. It was an exciting start to our Art Safari!

Lion Pride Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls 2015

Lion Pride Field Sketch, watercolor by Alison Nicholls

All my field sketches, are created in Africa directly from life, or sketched back at camp purely from my memory of sightings. They are completely finished in Africa and I use no photos or video reference at any time in their creation. It is always tempting to add finishing touches back in the studio, but I avoid this to ensure that my field sketches really are field sketches. 

The Original Field Sketch is watercolor & pencil on watercolor paper, 11×14″, priced at US$300. Limited Edition Giclées are available, priced at US$120 each. Only 10 copies are available, printed using archival inks on watercolor paper, 14×11″, all signed and numbered by me.

A donation will be made to African conservation from every sale.

Until Nov 22, I will be sharing 1 of my new African field sketches every day. The new sketches are shown to my newsletter readers a full day before they are shown here. Click here to Join my Mailing List and see the sketches as soon as they are released, or see them here 1 day later.

Wherever and whenever you see them, I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed creating them.
Tomorrow’s sketch is of a pack of painted dogs.
Until then…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

African Field Sketches by Alison Nicholls ©2015

Want To See My New African Field Sketches?

All my new field sketches have now been scanned and I am ready to show them to you! 

I will be releasing them on my blog and on social media, one every day, for 3 weeks, starting on November 2nd.
Why November 2nd?
Because before I put them online here, I will be showing them to my newsletter readers – starting on November 1st. So they get to see them a day in advance.

If you also want to see them on the day they are released, use this link to Join My Mailing List. Or, you can wait to see them here. But some of them may be sold by the time they are posted here…

African Field Sketches by Alison Nicholls ©2015

African Field Sketches by Alison Nicholls ©2015

Shown above is a montage of a few of the new pieces you will soon see in detail. All my field sketches, are created in Africa directly from life, or sketched back at camp purely from my memory of sightings. They are completely finished in Africa and I use no photos or video reference at any time in their creation. It is always tempting to add finishing touches back in the studio, but I avoid this to ensure that my field sketches really are field sketches. 

Remember, if you want to see them on the day they are released, you can Join My Mailing List. Or, you can wait to see them here, a day later. Wherever and whenever you see them, I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed creating them!

Until November 1st…(or 2nd)!
Take care
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Alison Nicholls sketching in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

Artist + Elephant = Magic!

As an artist who sketches African wildlife in the field, it can be difficult to get this kind of photo. If I’m on my own, I never manage to get these kinds of photos. So its wonderful to have a husband who takes these kinds of photos for me – often without my knowledge!

Alison Nicholls sketching in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

Alison Nicholls sketching in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe. Photo by Nigel Nicholls.

I can never have too many photos of me sketching elephants. Thank you, Nigel!

Until next time…
Take care
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Alison Nicholls and Chase

What Are My Wildest Dreams?

What are my wildest dreams?
That is one of the questions I am answering as part of Blogging 201. Admittedly the full question is ‘what would my blog look like in my wildest dreams’? But if I’d started with that, you probably wouldn’t have bothered reading this.

Alison Nicholls and Chase

Alison Nicholls and Chase consider a blogging question, with differing levels of enthusiasm.

Blogging 201 has just started. It’s written by the WordPress.com team and they send an email a day for the next month, containing information, inspiration and advice about blogging; tackling a different issue every day. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the emails. And so is my dog.

So what would my blog look like in my wildest dreams? Lets see…

  • Whenever I posted an image of a new painting or sketch, it would sell by the end of the day.
  • My Art Safaris would be full within a month of posting details.
  • A publisher would offer me a book contract to create a series of books based on my visits to conservation organizations in Africa.
  • A production company would ask me to make a TV series in Africa featuring my art and conservation.
  • I would have several hundred comments and at least 100 shares on every blog post.

I could go on, but maybe I’m just being greedy!

It might seem like a wildly optimistic list but wait…you can help!
Start me on the road to hundreds of comments and shares by commenting and sharing now. Unless you are an art collector, publisher or producer – in which case please drop me an email!

Enjoy the weekend.
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Painted Dogs in watercolor by Alison Nicholls

Painted Dog Doodles!

Normally I sketch in pencil then add watercolor, so I try to make sure I’m happy with my pencil sketches before I start painting. For the 3 small 5×5″ pieces below, I abandoned my pencil completely and went straight in with the watercolor, using a long haired rigger (or liner) brush.

Painted Dogs in watercolor by Alison Nicholls

Painted Dogs in watercolor by Alison Nicholls

The lengthy hairs on this kind of brush mean you don’t have complete control over the paint, so you have to be ready to accept mistakes as part of your work. I’m thinking it will be a great way to sketch when I’m in the bush, so I’ll be teaching this method on the 2015 Africa Geographic Art Safari, along with all my usual techniques.

Its amazing what can happen on a sunny day when you are sitting outside mucking around with a new paintbrush!

For those artists out there – there is1 place remaining on this year’s Art Safari. Come join me in the South African bush!

Until next time…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Brown Hyena © Nigel Nicholls 2013

Brown Hyena – #WishIHadAPhotoWednesday

Why is it that when you go into the African bush with people who haven’t been there before, you always see amazing things, and your visitors go home thinking these thing happen every day. This has happened to me so many times I’ve lost count. One example was a visit from a brown hyena in the Kalahari.

Brown Hyena © Nigel Nicholls 2013
Brown Hyena, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa © Nigel Nicholls 2013

We were camping, with 2 visiting friends, in Khutse Game Reserve, at the well known campsite with the lovely camelthorn acacia. It was dark and we had abandoned our chairs near the embers of the fire and we were getting ready to go to bed. We heard something in the bushes on the edge of camp, got our torch (flashlight) and saw eyes. We decided it was a brown hyena but assured our friends that it wouldn’t come any closer until we were in our tents. Wrong!

It casually walked out of the bushes, straight up to our circle of chairs and started sniffing around the fire. If you’ve seen a brown hyena close up, you’ll know they are a very strange looking beast – something like a cross between a spotted hyena and a very long-haired German Shepherd (of the American variety, with the sloping hindquarters). I had seen brown hyenas before but never one so bold and never this close. After a few moments watching it, we decided we should scare it away – to ensure it had some fear of humans and didn’t become some kind of bizarre campsite scavenger (with jaws you don’t want anywhere near your campsite!). We thought this would be fairly easy – just a few shouts required, surely? Wrong again. The hyena completely ignored us. Eventually, after more unimpressive noise-making attempts, we beeped the car horn and the hyena casually wandered off without a look back. And yes, you guessed it, during the entire encounter the 4 of us completely forgot to try and take a photo!

Do you have a #WishIHadAPhotoWednesday story?

Until next time…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com