Category Archives: Elephants

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

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.

baobab

What are your Big Five African trees?

What are your Big Five African trees?
If you haven’t been on safari in Africa, you may not know what I am talking about. It all started with the “Big Five” – a term coined by hunters, describing the most dangerous animals to hunt – the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Over the years it morphed into a marketing term – used to describe places where you could see these animals and other iconic wildlife species.

Real fan palm or mokolane palm.

Real fan palm or mokolane palm.

Then, because we all seem to like lists, along came the Little Five – the antlion, the leopard tortoise, the elephant shrew, the rhinoceros beetle and the buffalo weaver (obviously a play on the Big Five, but yes, they are all real species of insect, bird or mammal). Soon the Ugly Five appeared too – the warthog, wildebeest, vulture, marabou stork and hyena. I object strongly to this list as I love sketching all these animals and birds. In more recent years, the Big Seven has made an appearance – its the Big Five plus cheetah and painted dog (African wild dog).

Baobab

Baobab

On one trip we started discussing the Impossible Five. I think most people would include pangolin (I’ve never seen one), aardwolf (I’ve seen 2) and aardvark (also never seen one) on their impossible list. After that it comes down to your personal experience and where you are in Africa. Porcupine, brown hyena and painted dog are often included but I’d have to add bushpig, serval and caracal to the options.

nyala tree

Nyala tree

And then we get to the trees. As far as I’m aware, there’s no official Big Five tree list, and the trees you include would again depend on where you are in Africa. My list would be baobab; camelthorn acacia; nyala; real fan palm; and leadwood.

sausage-tree

Sausage tree campsite, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana – don’t camp under a sausage tree when the fruits are falling – they are very heavy!

My list tends to change quite a bit though! Other trees that creep in and out of the list include sycamore fig; mopane; marula; sausage tree; and jackalberry. And of course I don’t have good photos of all my favorite trees, so many of them are not illustrated in this post.

baobab

Baobab

So what are your Big Five Trees?
Let me know!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Baobab (Adansonia digitata)
Camelthorn acacia (Acacia erioloba)
Nyala (Xanthocercis zambesiaca)
Real fan palm (Hyphaene petersiana)
Leadwood (Combretum imberbe)
Sycamore fig (Ficus sycomorus)
Mopane (Colophospermum mopane)
Marula (Sclerocarya birrea)
Sausage tree (Kigelia africana)
Jackalberry (Diospyros mespiliformis).

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

10-Minute Wildlife Sketches

It was only a matter of time before I started doing 10-minute wildlife sketches.

Turquoise elephant by Alison Nicholls

10-minute sketch by Alison Nicholls

It all started with the Portrait Party, where I really enjoyed doing 10-minute portraits of people. Every week day in February I did a 10-minute portrait at the start of the day. Then March arrived and I decided to switch to wildlife, starting with ink then adding watercolor, working on yupo paper. I’m using my husband’s amazing photographs, amassed over the years in Africa, so you can be sure I’ll never run out of options. Its really weird for me to be drawing directly from a photograph, but the fact that I have only 10 minutes keeps my mind focused!

More 10-minute wildlife sketches coming soon.
And yes, they are for sale!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Birds & Beasts: See The Paintings

March 22 was the Opening Reception for Birds & Beasts: Near & Far – my current exhibition with artist Sean Murtha, at the Rye Arts Center, Rye NY. We had a good turnout and are holding more events associated with the exhibition, including Sketching Workshops from Live Animals on March 24 and an Artists Talk on April 17 at 11am. If you live in the area, please come and see the exhibit. If not, you can see all my artworks in the exhibition here.

Alison Nicholls Alison NichollsReception1 Reception1

Enjoy the exhibition!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

travel africa

Travel Africa Features my African Art!

A few months ago I was interviewed by Travel Africa, answering some interesting questions about my trips to Africa and the way I sketch and paint. Today the online article has been released and you can read it here. If you can. please leave a comment as this may prompt them to feature me again in their print magazine too. Thank you and enjoy the article!
Alison

Meet the artist: Alison Nicholls

Birds & Beasts at the Rye Arts Center 2018

Birds & Beasts: Near & Far

Birds & Beasts: Near & Far – that is the title for my next exhibition, shared with artist Sean Murtha, at the Rye Arts Center, Rye NY, from March 22 – April 21.

Birds & Beasts at the Rye Arts Center 2018

Giving an exhibition a title can be remarkably difficult. You want to get it right – to indicate what the exhibit is about – but leave a little mystery that will make people want to attend. Its especially difficult to come up with a title when you are are sharing an exhibit with another artist. So (despite my husband’s objections to the word ‘Beasts’) I am pretty pleased with this title and feel it nicely represents my art of large African mammals (some of which are of course, beastly!) and Sean’s art consisting mostly of birds who dwell near or on Long Island Sound.

Drinking Impala by Alison Nicholls

Drinking Impala by Alison Nicholls

Of course, I wonder how much the title means to anyone else. After all, artists often squirm over titling each individual piece of artwork, only to find that viewers don’t really care what the title is. I hate to admit it, but I don’t have a clue about the titles of most of the art in my own home (those pieces not painted by me), so I wonder if all the angst is really worthwhile. Anyway…even if the title is irrelevant, I do hope you will come and join us for one of the many events associated with this exhibit – the Reception, the Artists Talk or the 2 Sketching Sessions with live animals provided by Animal Embassy, including (I am most excited about this) the wonderfully named Quilliam, the African crested porcupine!

Quilliam the African crested porcupine with Chris Evers of Animal Embassy

Quilliam the African crested porcupine with Chris Evers of Animal Embassy

Read more about the art of Sean Murtha
Read more about the Rye Arts Center
Read more about Animal Embassy

I hope to see you at the exhibition for a wild time!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

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

Another dead-end. Elephant Calf by Nigel Nicholls

Oh No – Another Art Dead-End!

In many careers you start by studying, learning from others. Those who came before you have created a foundation of knowledge, gathered over the years, so there are many dead-ends you don’t need to visit or experiments you don’t need to repeat – because the answers have been found and are there for you to see and understand. In some careers you are legally obligated to learn and follow this accepted wisdom. A doctor must learn medicine and follow accepted practice, a lawyer must learn the law of the land and (hopefully) operate within it. So how does art differ from this?

Another dead-end. Elephant Calf by Nigel Nicholls

Well, from my years of experience I’d say that being an artist appears to demand that you turn down any number of dead-end roads on your route to improvement. Its true that many people study, that they follow the example of the great masters of the past and learn the history of art, but no amount of theory or knowledge of materials can make you a great artist. Its all about practice, trial and error, and time. Practice leads to competence. Trial and error leads to innovation. Time allows you to develop your own style.

Art is about forging your own path (and trying not to trip over your trunk).
Enjoy the journey!

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

Elephants on the Move by Alison Nicholls

Elephant Watercolors at Shimuwini

Shimuwini is a lovely Bushveld Camp in Kruger National Park, on the edge of the Letaba River.

Elephant in Kruger National Park

Elephant in Kruger National Park

The view is river, rocks and riverbank for 180 degrees, so every time you look somewhere you see an animal or bird you hadn’t noticed before. Egyptian geese noisily make their own part of the riverbank known to potential rivals; hippos saunter out of the water and graze along the banks; elephants appear from nowhere, dwarfed by the expansive view; waterbuck stand in the shallows; impala delicately pick their way up and down the bank; crocodiles lie quietly on sandy spits of land, jaws agape; saddle-billed storks strut in the rippled water; a brown-hooded kingfisher catches insects in the grass; a hamerkop flies lazily past contrasting with the frenzied hovering of the pied kingfishers.

Waterbuck in Kruger NP

Waterbuck in Kruger NP

There is too much to watch and too much to sketch. The view as a whole is too big for me to sketch on the size of paper I have available, and I find it nearly impossible to focus on one small area, so choosing a sketch subject is extremely difficult. Even the rocks are interesting – some jagged and dark gray, others smooth and pale. The river itself has several channels – all containing their own daily dramas as every species lives its life. I really do need a week here next time, along with some much larger paper! But, in the time I had – a measly 3 days – I sketched a couple of herds of elephants. 

Shimuwini

View from Shimuwini Bushveld Camp, Kruger National Park

Elephants on the Move (below) was sketched late one afternoon as a small herd left the river after drinking, heading uphill into the bush. You can see the soft pastel afternoon colors and how the elephants blend in perfectly with their environment, despite their size. This painting has a calm feeling – all the elephants are moving slowly in the same direction.

Elephants on the Move by Alison Nicholls

Elephants on the Move, watercolor 11×14″, US$300, by Alison Nicholls

This contrasts with the 2nd piece – Elephants at Noon (below) where the colors are much harsher. Another small herd had come to drink, but in this painting you can see that I’ve emphasized the jagged rocks, along with the harsher colors.

Elephants at Noon watercolor by Alison Nicholls

Elephants at Noon, watercolor 11×14″, $300, by Alison Nicholls

Self-driving and sketching in Kruger is great, especially when you have a husband who likes to do the driving, but when you stay at Shimuwini you don’t even need to go out for drives to see wildlife. If you are thinking of a self-drive visit to Kruger, I’d highly recommend the small Bushveld Camps. As the SanParks (South African National Parks) website says, Bushveld Camps “provide accommodation in smaller, more remote restcamps…do not have shops or restaurants….access is restricted to overnight visitors with reserved accommodation…open verandas often serve as kitchen/dining room.” Some of them have dirt roads that are only accessible to guests at the camp, so you can drive quiet roads and see the bush as it is supposed to be seen – alone!

Why not join me on an Art Safari in the Klaserie (a private reserve which is part of the Greater Kruger National Park), then spend some time staying at a Bushveld Camp in Kruger? Is this your kind of safari? Let me know!

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

Elephants Browsing in the Bush, watercolor Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2016

New Elephant Field Work by Alison Nicholls

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

Elephants Browsing in the Bush, watercolor Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2016

Elephants Browsing in the Bush, watercolor field work by Alison Nicholls ©2016

This new sketch shows a more muted palette of colors than usual, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I decided to use more grays, usually mixed from 3 primary colors. This piece started with a Naples yellow wash, which can still be seen on the elephants, so I mixed the background gray from the same yellow plus alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue. (I never use black and white to make gray. In fact I never use black at all and just removed it from my field box. I use white occasionally, usually with cerulean blue to get a subtle sky blue.)

Using the gray to paint the negative shapes around the elephant made them really stand out, and I finished off the piece with same mixture but with more crimson added to create a lovely subtle brown. I used my rigger brush to pull some of this brown out in the foreground as sticks, and also used it to emphasize some of the features on the main elephant. 

I think another reason for my muted palette is the severe drought which has affected most of southern Africa, leaving bare, parched earth devoid of vegetation. Many grazers and browsers are struggling from lack of food, and their poor condition leads to fairly easy pickings for many predators. Elephants are able to strip trees of their bark, dig up tree roots and even eat unpalatable-looking sticks and thorns, but their search for food can be hugely destructive.

I hope this year’s rains will be slow, steady and long lasting, so the vegetation can recover. On my next visit I hope to be painting with more greens – which also look great with grays and yellows.

Until next time…enjoy the elephants.
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.

 

Elephant bull, photo by Nigel Nicholls

Oh No – I’m In An Elephant Sandwich!

On safari, its not generally a good sign when someone starts videoing your vehicle, because the chances are you are about to star in a viral YouTube video about a dangerous or scary incident. So when the people in a car in front of us turned around to video us and an elephant, I was not very happy!

Elephant Sandwich - the 1st Bull.

Elephant Sandwich – the 1st Bull. Photo by Nigel Nicholls ©2015

We were in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa and instances of elephants using cars as scratching posts have been fairly common. In the notes on the park map it even says that if you come across a bull elephant walking down a road towards you ‘do not pull over & allow the elephant to pass’ as this may encourage the elephant to take an interest in your car.

One morning we came around a blind corner on a dirt road and found a big bull elephant munching calmly on a bush. After a couple of minutes he started walking down the road, away from us, so we gave him a good head start and slowly followed, as we were going in that direction. This continued for several minutes until a car appeared behind us. They seemed keen to see the elephant, so we let them pass us. They were sensible, not getting too close to the elephant, who was still ambling down the road.

Elephant Sandwich - the 1st Bull. Photo by Nigel Nicholls ©2015

Elephant Sandwich – the 1st Bull. Photo by Nigel Nicholls ©2015

After a few more minutes of our slow procession, my husband looked in the rear view mirror and saw a 2nd bull elephant behind us on the road, coming in our direction. So now there were 4 of us in the procession – in front was the 1st bull, next was the car that passed us, after that was our vehicle, and in the rear was the 2nd bull elephant. Unfortunately, the elephant behind us was moving faster than the 1 in front, so we were slowly being sandwiched together!  This continued for a few minutes and as the road contained many blind corners, we kept wondering if we were going to come around and find ourselves between the legs of the 1st elephant, if he decided to stop for another snack. Luckily for us, he didn’t.

The people in the car in front wondered why we were catching them up, until they saw the bull behind us. This was when they started videoing our vehicle, and I started imagining becoming famous online, for all the wrong reasons!

After a few nervous minutes, the elephant behind us disappeared off the road. Then we came to a junction and the 1st elephant took the other turn. With our elephant sandwich now broken apart, we decided to stop and have an early lunch!

Until next time…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Elephant Bull by Alison Nicholls

African Wildlife Sketch #21 – Elephant Bull (sold) by Alison Nicholls

This final sketch from my new series is another from Mana Pools. This was an elephant bull who definitely had right of way through our campsite, looking for delicious seed pods around our tents. Behind him you can see the Zambezi River and Zambian escarpment – a typical view of this beautiful park in northern Zimbabwe. I thought this would be a great sketch to end with – showing a little of the landscape, along with an orange and green elephant!

Elephant Bull © Alison Nicholls 2015

Elephant Bull field sketch (Sold), 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. 

This Original Field Sketch is sold, but 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.

My latest visit to southern Africa was one of my most productive sketching trips so far, and over the next few months these sketches will inspire a new body of studio paintings. Thank you for taking this trip with me through the amazing wildlife areas of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe!

Until next time…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Browsing Elephants Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls

African Wildlife Sketch #17 – Browsing Elephants

Watching these browsing elephants was so interesting. They used their feet to dig up roots, picking them up with their trunks, the bashing them on the ground to get rid of the dirt. Then they leaned casually against a small bush and uprooted it completely. A little later, one of these elephants was following us down the road, while another was in front of us, walking away. Yes, we were part of an elephant sandwich! More of that soon, but in the meantime, enjoy these relaxed elephant bulls browsing their way through the African bush!

Browsing Elephants Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls

Browsing Elephants Field Sketch 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 also 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 Mana Pools in Zimbabwe.
Until then…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Kwando Lagoon © Alison Nicholls 2015

African Wildlife Sketch #15 – Kwando Lagoon by Alison Nicholls

Kwando Lagoon is an amazing place to be. Not only is there a wonderful view from the bar, the dining table and even your bed, but that view is liberally sprinkled with elephants. I stopped to count them one morning, and there were more than 60 elephants visible from just 1 of the large mesh windows in our huge, beautiful, room. Add to that the vocal pod of hippos, the fruit bats hanging in a tree, and the numerous birds, and it was barely even necessary to go out on a game drive. On a couple of occasions it was impossible to leave our room because of the elephants munching on vegetation around us. Photos of that will follow soon, but in the meantime, enjoy this view from the bar, and think about a visit!      

Kwando Lagoon © Alison Nicholls 2015

Kwando Lagoon with elephants field sketch byAlison 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. 

This Original Field Sketch is sold but Limited Edition Giclées are also 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 elephants at Kwando Lagoon.
Until then…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Bull Drinking © Alison Nicholls 2015

African Wildlife Sketch #12 – Bull Elephant Drinking (Sold) by Alison Nicholls

From behind, an elephant can appear to be just a very large, fairly indistinct, object because most of the details – trunk, ears, tusks etc – are at the front end of the elephant. To indicate that this is a sketch of a bull elephant, I needed to include just a glimpse of the trunk, tusk and ears, but this was a difficult angle to sketch, because the elephant constantly lowered and raised his trunk to drink. As I began the sketch I was hoping he was planning to drink for at least a couple of minutes, so I could finish the sketch. Luckily for me, he obliged. I used the bold color scheme to emphasize the bulk of the bull elephant by first painting around him, then adding touches of color on the elephant to highlight the important details of his tail, spine, trunk and tusk. I think the combination was very successful!    

Bull Drinking © Alison Nicholls 2015

Bull Drinking field sketch (Sold) 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. 

This Original Field Sketch is Sold, but Limited Edition Giclées are also 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 2 cheetahs preparing for a hunt..
Until then…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Elephant Drinking Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls

African Field Sketch #2: Elephant Drinking by Alison Nicholls

Sketching a drinking elephant from this angle can be difficult, as you can see straight into the elephant’s mouth, and there is some serious foreshortening on the trunk.  But I decided to go ahead, and I thought the 2nd elephant, facing the opposite direction, made this an interesting composition. The browns and greens reflect the colors of the water in the muddy waterhole, and there is always a blacksmith lapwing (plover) present at every waterhole, so I added him too.

Elephant Drinking Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls

Drinking Field Sketch 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. 

This Original Field Sketch is watercolor & pencil on watercolor paper, 11×14″, priced at US$300. Limited Edition Giclées are also available, priced at US$120 each. Only 10 copies are available, printed using archival inks on watercolor paper, 11×14″, 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 you will see Painted Dogs (African wild dogs)!
Take care
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