Category Archives: Conservation

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

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

Wild Elephants sketch by Alison Nicholls

10-Minute Daily Sketches on Etsy

A 10-minute daily sketch is a great way to start the day, keep my sketching skills up to speed, and experiment with line and color. Every piece is unique. They are available at my Etsy Store priced at only US$60 each and 50% of the proceeds are donated to African conservation organizations. I begin each one with an ink drawing then add watercolor or fluid acrylic if time allows.

Wild Elephants sketch by Alison Nicholls

Wild Elephants sketch by Alison Nicholls

These daily sketches began when I attended a Portrait Party organized by New York City Urban Sketchers. There were nearly 100 artists, divided into groups of 12 and we sketched each person in our group, one at a time,  for 10 minutes. I enjoyed this experience so much that I continued doing a 10-minute portrait sketch every day after that.

Leopard Lines sketch by Alison Nicholls

Leopard Lines sketch by Alison Nicholls

Soon I decided to revert to my usual African subject matter as I realized this would be a great way to keep my sketching skills up to speed for when I return to Africa and sketch animals from life.  As my daily sketches started accumulating I decided to sell them on  my Etsy Store, with 50% of the proceeds donated to the African conservation organizations I support. These include African People & Wildlife (Tanzania), Painted Dog Research Trust (Zimbabwe), Cheetah Conservation Fund (Namibia) and others.

Kudu Bull sketch by Alison Nicholls

Kudu Bull sketch by Alison Nicholls

My daily sketches are based on the amazing photos taken over the years by my husband, Nigel. Working directly from photos is not normally something I do, but when I set a 10-minute deadline I have to concentrate on the basics and eliminate unnecessary detail, just like I do when I’m sketching from life in Africa.

Painted Purple (painted dogs) by Alison Nicholls

Painted Purple (painted dogs) by Alison Nicholls

Every sketch is unique, priced at only $60 and 50% of the proceeds are donated to African conservation organizations. I’ll be posting new pieces to my Etsy Store every few days so please join me for my 10-minute daily sketch journey!

Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

See my husband, Nigel’s photos on Instagram.
Visit African People & Wildlife website.
Visit Cheetah Conservation Center website.
Visit Painted Dog Research Trust website.
Visit NYC Urban Sketchers Facebook Group.

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

 

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

Gigantic Giraffes!

Today is World Giraffe Day.
So, in honor of these towering tree-nibblers, here are a variety of giraffes in art.

Browsing Giraffe Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2015

Browsing Giraffe Field Sketch, 11×14″ by Alison Nicholls ©2015. Limited edition available.

2 giraffes, painted in blue, look out over the bush, by Alison Nicholls

Giraffes, 6×4″ watercolor. Original Sold.

Stages of a giraffe sketch by Alison Nicholls

How to sketch a giraffe. Photo by Nigel Nicholls.

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 up, let alone walk or run anywhere. Or drink.
As with so many large mammals, their numbers have been dropping far too fast in recent decades due to habitat loss & the bushmeat trade among other things.
So, I’m donating 25% from the sale of my remaining Browsing Giraffe limited editions (see above) to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). One of the limited editions has been donated to Longnecks for Longnecks a fundraiser for GCF in Orlando, Florida on Thursday. So join them for an evening out in support of gentle giants!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com
White-backed vultures acrylic painting by Alison Nicholls, 8x8"

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 next few years). Their amazing eyesight allows them to spot a carcass from vast distances and they follow other vultures if they start to descend. If they land in trees, maybe they’ve seen a predator near the carcass and need to be cautious. If they swoop to the ground with feet splayed like grappling hooks and land close to the carcass, there are likely to be no predators present. They have an immediately recognizable silhouette, even though there is great variety among vulture species.

White-backed vultures acrylic painting by Alison Nicholls, 8x8"

White-backed Vultures, 8×8″ acrylic by Alison Nicholls ©2017

You might think vultures are common across Africa, but this is no longer the case. Some species, like White-backed Vultures (Gyps africanus) are listed on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered. Their numbers are declining due to electrocution and collisions with power lines; habitat loss; trade in vulture parts; loss of large ungulate populations which are their main food source; and inadvertent or intentional poisoning. (Poison is sometimes applied to livestock or wildlife carcasses by people in rural areas as a means of killing predators, but this can result in the death of dozens of vultures at a time, as well as the death of any other mammal, bird, reptile or insect which feeds on the carcass.)
One morning in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, we set out for a drive and found the carcass of a young wildebeest. It was completely untouched and had obviously died of natural causes during the night. White-backed vultures, a couple of Rüppell’s vultures and some maribou storks had found the carcass and were collecting around it. Later that same day we passed the spot again and found a completely clean, intact skeleton. I wish I had taken a photo, but I’m afraid I didn’t.
White-backed Vultures drawing by Alison Nicholls ©2017

Studio drawing for White-backed Vultures by Alison Nicholls ©2017

Vultures have an amazing ability to digest rotting flesh without getting sick. Imagine the great wildebeest migration without any vultures to clean up the remains of the many animals who die along the way. There are occasions when dozens of animals die crossing the Mara river – crushed by the weight of animals around them. Crocodiles and other predators would eat their fill, but they alone can’t handle the number of carcasses. Bodies would pile up on the banks and in the river, poisoning the water as it travels out of the national park towards Lake Victoria and the Nile, where thousands of people live along the shores.
So next time you pull a face at the idea of vultures, remember that they, like every other living creature, perform an amazing and necessary function.
A little respect for the fascinating vulture, please!
Take care
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com
Elephants in Brown by Alison Nicholls

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.

Restful Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls

Restful Field Sketch – 8×10″ original watercolor on paper, unframed, US$200. A donation of US$70 will be made to Cheetah Conservation Botswana from this sale.

 

We hear about the plight of charismatic species like lions, cheetahs and painted dogs, but habitat loss, the bushmeat trade, the pet trade and human-wildlife conflict are pushing a huge percentage of our Earth’s species towards ‘endangered’ status. It is downright depressing.

Lioness and Cubs Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2016

Lioness & Cubs Field Sketch – 11×14″ original watercolor on paper, unframed, US$300. A donation of US$105 will be made to African People & Wildlife in Tanzania from this sale.

So what can we do?
A lot.

Dog Pack Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls 2015

Painted Dogs in the Morning Field Sketch – 11×14″ original watercolor on paper, unframed, US$300. A donation of US$105 will be made to Painted Dog Research Trust in Zimbabwe from this sale.

Get involved, particularly in your own local area. Make sure your local politicians know how important the environment is to you. Stand against destructive development projects and stand up for sustainable long-term solutions. Protect invaluable wetlands, forests, plains and wild places, not just because they are beautiful and provide necessary habitat for numerous species, but because they provide us with recreation and employment opportunities, and because they are essential to our own well-being.

Elephants in Brown Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2016

Elephants in Brown Field Sketch – 11×14″ original watercolor on paper, unframed, US$300. A donation of US$105 will be made to African People & Wildlife in Tanzania from this sale.

It is not eliteist to stand up for our stunning planet and its inhabitants. It is absolutely necessary.

Cheetah Trio Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls

Cheetah Trio Field Sketch – 11×14″ limited edition reproduction, printed on watercolor paper, unframed, 25 copies only, US$120 each. A donation of US$36 will be made to Cheetah Conservation Botswana from this sale.

And if donating to African conservation organizations is important to you, you can take a look at some of my work and know that for today, and throughout the weekend, I will be making large donations from any sale. I will also be offering free shipping within the continental US and half-price shipping elsewhere in the world.
Lets make Endangered Species Day unnecessary.
Thank you.
Alison

Alison Nicholls
alison@artinspiredbyafrica.com

Painted Dog pups by Nigel Nicholls

What Does Endangered Look Like?

Endangered looks like this…

Painted Dog by Nigel Nicholls

photo by Nigel Nicholls

And this…

Painted Dog by Nigel Nicholls

photo by Nigel Nicholls

and this…

Painted Dog by Nigel Nicholls

photo by Nigel Nicholls

Endangered is losing 99% of your population in just over 100 years…

Painted Dog by Nigel Nicholls

photo by Nigel Nicholls

And no longer being found in 25 of the 39 African countries you once roamed…

Painted Dog by Nigel Nicholls

photo by Nigel Nicholls

The Painted Dog (also known as the African wild dog) is endangered.
Approximately 500,000 of these never-domesticated wild canids existed around 1900. Today there are closer to 5,000. But the strength of these dogs is in their pack. They live and hunt together. They feed their sick. They share their food. They all care for the pack’s pups. One for all and all for one!

Humans have pushed them to the edge of extinction by pushing them out of their natural habitat and reducing their natural prey, by killing them as vermin, accidentally catching them in snares meant for other species and killing them on roads. But we can help them too. The Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT) works in Zimbabwe, one of the last strongholds of the dogs, to conserve them using science & education.

Painted Dog by Nigel Nicholls

photo by Nigel Nicholls

You can help too!

Join Dr Gregory Rasmussen from PDRT at the Rye Arts Center on March 17 from 7.30-10pm. Learn about the amazing social life of the dogs, hear their strange calls, sip South African wines, try tasty hors d’oeuvres and see arts and crafts of Africa. Your entire $50 admission fee will be donated to PRDT to fund anti-poaching patrols, research and other vital programs.
Please RSVP to me. If you cannot attend please consider making a donation. Drop me an email and I’ll tell you how.
Thank you!

Alison Nicholls
alison@artinspiredbyafrica.com

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.

Wildlife art exhibition setup at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT.

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 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, and on April 24 at 2pm there will be an Artists Talk by Sean Murtha and Alison Nicholls. Come and join us to see the exhibition for yourself!

Wildlife art exhibition setup at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT.

The exhibition setup…

Wildlife art exhibition setup at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT.

I set up the field box for sculptor, Karryl.

Wildlife art exhibition setup at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT.

The exhibition begins to take shape…

Wildlife art exhibition setup at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT.

Curators hang Sean Murtha’s work…

Wildlife art exhibition setup at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT.

Artists Kelly Singleton & Alison Nicholls…

Wildlife art exhibition setup at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT.

Pinnacle by Karryl…

Wildlife art exhibition setup at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT.

Nearing completion…

Wildlife art exhibition setup at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT.

The impressive exhibition title wall…

Wildlife art exhibition setup at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT.

Ready for the opening reception…

Next time I will show you images from the Opening Reception!

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. On April 24 at 2pm I will be giving an Artists Talk, along with Sean Murtha. I will also be at the Gallery to meet visitors on the following days and times:
Tuesday April 19, 11am – 2pm.
Thursday April 21, 5pm – 7pm.
Saturday April 23, 12pm – 2pm.
Monday April 25, 2pm – 4pm.
Wednesday April 27, 11am – 1pm.
Thursday April 28, 5pm – 7pm.

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.

Zebras In Mopane, acrylic by Alison Nicholls

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 group of artists.

Zebras In Mopane, acrylic by Alison Nicholls

Zebras In Mopane, acrylic by Alison Nicholls


Here are the details you need to know!

Thur March 31, Flinn Gallery
Opening Reception: 6-8pm.
Sat April 2, Flinn Gallery
Children Sketching Animals: 11am-12pm. Sold Out.
Artists Talk: Susan Fox (Mongolia), David Rankin (India) & Karryl (Rockies), 2-3pm.

Mon April 4,
Explorers Club
Artists Talk: Alison Nicholls, Susan Fox, David Rankin, Sean Murtha & Karryl, 6pm.
The Explorers Club, 46 East 70th Street, New York City. Registration Required.

Sun April 24
, Flinn Gallery
Artists Talk: Alison Nicholls & Sean Murtha, 2-3pm.

The exhibition runs from March 24 – May 4, 2016. The Flinn Gallery is located at 101 West Putnam Ave, Greenwich, CT 06830. Wildlife Art: Field to Studio is curated by Lillian Lum, Alice Sherwood & Claudia Schipper.

Come and join me at one of our exciting exhibit events!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredByAfrica.com

Painted dog, photo by Alison Nicholls

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.

Painted dog, photo by Alison Nicholls

Painted dog, photo by Alison Nicholls

I recently spent time with Dr Rasmussen in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe, and we were fortunate to see 2 different dog packs, including 1 successfully hunting impala. Sketching painted dogs on a kill is not something you get to do everyday! And then we were able to visit the remains of the kill and watch Dr Rasmussen take bone marrow samples from the legs of the impala. (Obviously these dogs were fairly well-fed, as often there is barely a scrap left after they have finished eating, let alone enough to take bone marrow samples from front and rear legs!)

Sitting around the campfire we listened to spotted hyenas, watched for elephants in the dark next to our tents, and heard more from Dr Rasmussen about life as a painted dog conservationist. It was an experience not to missed. And I urge you not to miss this opportunity to hear him speak about his life and work with painted dogs!

So join me on Saturday (and you’ll also have a chance to win a limited edition field sketch of painted dogs from my last visit to southern Africa)!
Alison

Lecture with Dr G Rasmussen of the Painted Dog Research Trust.
Where: Wolf Conservation Center, South Salem, NY
When: Saturday Feb 20 at 6pm.
Cost: $20 per person ($10 for PDRT, $10 for WCC)
What Else? Registration required. Click here.

A painted dog (African wild dog) and an Arctic wolf.

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 of the resident gray wolves at WCC.

A painted dog (African wild dog) and an Arctic wolf.

A painted dog (African wild dog) and an Arctic wolf.

I recently spent some time with Dr Rasmussen in Mana Pools and I can promise you this evening will be a fascinating one. You will also have a chance to win a framed copy of one of my recent painted dog field sketches, valued at $140, which I am donating for the evening.

Painted Dog Pack At Rest Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls

Painted Dog Pack At Rest Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls

So join me for this fun, informative and inspiring evening!
Alison

Saturday February 20, 2016 from 6-8pm.
Wolf Conservation Center, South Salem.
Registration is required as seating is limited. Price $20 per person.
50% of proceeds will be donated to PDRT and 50% to WCC.

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Alison Nicholls and Greg Rasmussen, Mana Pools 2015

Caption Competition!

An informal moment from my recent visit to Mana Pools with Dr Gregory Rasmussen of the Painted Dog Research Trust.

Alison Nicholls and Greg Rasmussen, Mana Pools 2015

Alison Nicholls and Greg Rasmussen, Mana Pools 2015

I think this image deserves a caption competition.
So…any ideas what is happening here…or any great captions….
I’m all ears…

Until next time
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Cheetah field sketch by Alison Nicholls

Running to Catch Up on World Cheetah Day!

On this World Cheetah Day, I’m sprinting to get this out in time… and sharing a quick field sketch of 2 hunting cheetahs from my recent trip to Botswana. The sketch was created in pencil then the watercolor was added once I returned to camp (without reference to photos or video). In the spirit of sketching the fastest land mammal, it was all done very fast!

Below you’ll find links to some great cheetah conservation organizations. Hurry up and check them out!

Cheetah field sketch by Alison Nicholls

Cheetah field sketch by Alison Nicholls

Cheetah Conservation Fund
Cheetah Botswana
Cheetah Zimbabwe
They all deserve your support to help conserve cheetahs and the habitat they need to thrive!

Until next time…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Racing Extinction - Discovery Channel Global Premiere, December 2, 9pm EST.

Tigers, Manta Rays and Racing Extinction!

I have not seen a wild tiger 1. I have not been swimming in the ocean with sharks or manta rays. Although I have not seen these species in their wild habitats, I know that each one fills a unique niche and that the planet will be a poorer place without them.

Racing Extinction - Discovery Channel Global Premiere, December 2, 9pm EST.

Racing Extinction – Discovery Channel Global Premiere, December 2, 9pm EST.

If you are reading this, clicking like, adding a comment or agreeing with my sentiments, then you may already know about the global premiere of Racing Extinction on the Discovery channel tomorrow, Wednesday December 2, showing at various times (9pm EST). If you are planning to watch it, that’s fantastic! But here is the problem – if you are already planning to watch it, then it is likely that nothing in this film will come as a surprise, because you probably already know about the industrial-scale removal and destruction of wildlife and plants underway across the planet, with countless species being decimated for our consumption, either as food, trinkets or products of some other kind.

The problem is, how do we get people who don’t know or care about these issues to watch this film (and others like it)? My plan had been to watch Racing Extinction with friends. I told several that I had already seen the film at a screening at The Explorers Club, so their 1st questions was “How bad is it? Is it graphic?” I can’t lie. Yes, parts of the film are graphic, but that is because what we are doing to other species on this planet is graphic. So several friends said they would not be able to watch it. How many other people, who might start to watch the film, will turn off as soon as they see something too graphic? I have seen many wildlife-related images and videos that haunt me. There are some I could mention right now that I think about probably every few weeks. I will remember them forever. They make me wince and want to turn away and think of something else. But turning away doesn’t help to solve the problem.

So here is my challenge to you, if you find it hard to watch films like this – try to watch the whole film (it ends with some suggestions about what you can do). Because only by seeing the graphic nature of what we, the human race, are doing, will we truly try to alter our behavior. When you feel that terrible pang of guilt, maybe you will stop eating so much meat, decide not to buy that teak furniture for your patio, avoid products containing microbeads2, use the dishwasher and dryer less, decide not to own exotic species as pets, or stop using harmful chemical products and excessive amounts of water on your lawn. That pang of guilt might make you think about your behavior and, ultimately, change. And change is what is desperately needed.

So watch Racing Extinction, preferably with a friend, then #StartWith1Thing !

1 Although I have been growled at by a tiger in Bardia, Nepal, while sitting on an elephant, in grass taller than the elephant, with my feet pulled up around my chest. But that’s a whole different story!
2 Microbeads are tiny plastic particles found in many personal care products. They pass through our water supply and eventually out into the ocean, where many creatures ingest them, accidentally mistaking them for food particles. Visit beatthemicrobead.org to download a free app to help you identify products containing microbeads.

Kalahari - Ostrich Egg painted by Alison Nicholls

Cheetah Egg!

Kalahari, my painted ostrich egg, is now available on the Cheetah Conservation Fund’s 25th Anniversary Online Auction site. (Yes, this is a post about a painting of a cheetah on an egg, not a post about a cheetah’s egg. I just couldn’t resist using that blog post title!)

Kalahari - Ostrich Egg painted by Alison Nicholls

Kalahari – Ostrich Egg painted by Alison Nicholls

You can bid on it here, and the proceeds will help the Cheetah Conservation Fund, based in Namibia, with their excellent programs which help to conserve cheetahs & their habitat. Here is a little more information about my cheetah egg!

Kalahari
This ostrich egg painting features creatures found in the Kalahari Desert – the ostrich, the cheetah, the giraffe and the springbok; while the top of the egg shows guinea fowl feathers and porcupine quills. The colors of the egg also represent the colors of the Kalahari. White is for the wide, flat, salt pans. Blue is for the huge, pale pastel skies. Brown is for the thorny scrubby brush and tall grasses.
The egg is painted in acrylic and varnished.
Bid on Kalahari!

Read more about the creation of this egg:
Ostrich Egg design Rolls On
Ostrich Egg is Easier to Balance than to Paint

Learn more about the Cheetah Conservation Fund

Until next time…
Roll on…
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

Alison Nicholls balancing an ostrich egg on her head

Ostrich Egg Is Easier To Balance Than Paint!

Imagine painting in watermedia; using loose washes of color; overlapping the washes; creating a layered, yet still transparent background. Now imagine trying to do that on an ostrich egg.

Alison Nicholls balancing an ostrich egg on her head

You have no idea how long it took me to get this photo!

I hate to say it, but I may have met my match!

The washes of color actually look great on the egg –  the dimpled surface being vaguely similar to a strange piece of watercolor paper – if only I could get the washes of color to stay on the egg. Instead, the beautiful pale washes slide down the sides and collect underneath, where they morph into disappointing blobs before dripping straight off the egg onto the table.

And this is before I have even decided on the actual subject I am going to paint. At this rate I will be making the artistic equivalent of scrambled egg…

However, eggshausted as I am, I will not admit defeat. Tomorrow I will hatch a new plan (sorry, sorry, sorry).
Alison

Before you ask:
Why am I doing this? For a wildlife fundraiser. More details coming soon.
Where did the egg come from? An ostrich farm in the US.
Is the egg full? No, it is empty!

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Leaoprd in Magenta, painting by Alison Nicholls

Dogs & Cats Leaving Home!

Last month I was fortunate to have work accepted into the annual exhibitions of 2 organizations – the Society of Animal Artists and Artists For Conservation. Being a Signature member of both of these organizations is an achievement I am proud of. They give me access to a vast fellowship of artists, who work in every medium imaginable, and whose subject matter covers every continent, and the oceans and seas that divide them.

Moonrise by Alison Nicholls © 2014

Moonrise, acrylic on canvas 12×16″ by Alison Nicholls © 2014

The 55th Annual Exhibition of the Society of Animal Artists will be on display from August 28 – October 25, 2015, at The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, New York. Look out for my painting of African wild dogs, Moonrise, if you are able to visit the exhibition. A donation will be made to the Painted Dog Research Trust from the sale of this painting.

Leopard in Magenta, painting by Alison Nicholls

Leopard Dreaming, acrylic on canvas 20×16″ by Alison Nicholls ©2015

The Artists For Conservation Annual Exhibition will be in Vancouver, Canada. From Sept 10 – 12, 2015, it can be seen at the Fairmont Waterfront and from Sept 19 – 30 at Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. At this exhibition, look out for my acrylic titled Leopard Dreaming. A donation will be made to Panthera from the sale of this painting.

Selections of artwork from both the SAA and AFC exhibitions will be part of touring exhibits, so you may have a chance to see them in various states of the US. If my pieces are selected for the tours, I will post the details. I have my fingers crossed..!

Until next time…
Take care
Alison

Learn more about:
Artists For Conservation
The Society of Animal Artists
Painted Dog Research Trust
Panthera