Category Archives: Painted Dogs (African wild dogs)

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

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).

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

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 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.

Playtime, painted dogs, by Alison Nicholls

Painted Dog Playtime by Alison Nicholls

Playtime is based on my recent sketches and memories of painted dogs in Botswana playing around a tall clump of buffalo grass. So where is the grass, I hear you asking? Well the composition did originally contain the grass, but I removed it because I felt that the obvious playful energy of the 2 dogs was the real essence of the painting. You can see from their raised tails, raised ears and general body language that they are ready to run and chase each other, they are just waiting to see who will make the first move.

Playtime, painted dogs, by Alison Nicholls

Playtime, painted dogs, acrylic 24×30″ by Alison Nicholls

The playful nature of painted dogs (African wild dogs) is just one of the reasons they are so wonderful to watch. They exude a real joy in being part of a pack, having close companions, and in celebrating their successful hunts. My choice of colors – magenta and cyan – reflect the joyful, energetic nature of the piece and the layered washes of color create distance between the 2 dogs (so I was able to remove the grass from the composition!).

Playtime was very loosely based on some of my recent field sketches, including this piece, created in Zimbabwe when I spent time with Dr Greg Rasmussen of the Painted Dog Research Trust in Mana Pools.

Playtime Field Sketch, watercolor by Alison Nicholls

Playtime Field Sketch, watercolor by Alison Nicholls

Playtime and several more of my new paintings & sketches will be on display in Wildlife Art: Field to Studio, an exhibition at the Flinn Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut. The exhibit features work by 7 artists, several of whom are personal friends of mine, and all of whom are Signature members of the Society of Animal Artists. We work in a wide variety of media –  watercolor, acrylic, oil, digital media & sculpture; in a variety of styles – contemporary, whimsical & realistic; and we undertake our field work in different parts of the world – Africa, Mongolia, Alaska, the Rocky Mountains, India, Central America & the Long Island Sound. It promises to be an exciting exhibition and at least 5 of the artists will be present for the opening reception and weekend programs for children and adults. My fellow artists and exhibitors are Susan Fox, Sean Murtha, David Rankin, Karryl, Kelly Singleton and Carel Brest van Kempen. The exhibition was curated by Lillian Lum, Alice Sherwood and Claudia Schipper.

Please join me for the Opening Reception or one of the programs associated with the exhibition.

Flinn Gallery Events
Opening Reception: March 31, 6-8pm
Children Sketching Wildlife: April 2 (details tba)
Artists Talks: April 2, 2-3pm.

The Explorers Club Lecture, New York City.
April 4, 6pm. Registration is required.

Until next time…!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredByAfrica.com

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

Painted Dog (African wild dog) playing, by Alison Nicholls ©2015

This Is Not A Drill – Art and Fire Alarms!

I’ve been working on my latest painted dog piece for over 2 weeks now. And something is definitely wrong. The composition and drawing are good, but I’m finding excuses to leave my studio. Every time I come back in, I try to evaluate the painting with fresh eyes, but in my head, alarm bells are ringing.

Painted Dog (African wild dog) playing, by Alison Nicholls ©2015

Detail of painted dog piece by Alison Nicholls

Its like a fire alarm going off. First, you think its a false alarm, so you can carry on with what you are doing. But it doesn’t stop, so you wonder if its real or just a test. Eventually you realize you will have to leave the building, whether the fire is real or not.

Late yesterday afternoon, I finally paid attention to the alarm bells, decided to abandon this version of the painting, and metaphorically ‘left the building’.

Since then I have experimented with a subtle gray color, and now I have the inspiration and desire to start the piece again, with fire extinguisher in hand!

Until next time…
Alison
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

Dog Pack Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls 2015

African Wildlife Sketch #20 – Painted Dogs in the Morning by Alison Nicholls

We had searched unsuccessfully for painted dogs for a couple of days, then one morning this pack appeared right outside our Mana Pools campsite in Zimbabwe. They relaxed for a few moments then got up, greeted each other and immediately set off hunting. Within 5 minutes they were heading off to the right, then reappeared running in the opposite direction in hot pursuit of an impala ram, which they caught by the river. This sketch was the calm before the storm!

Dog Pack Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls 2015

Painted Dogs in the Morning 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 an elephant bull.
Until then…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Crashed Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls 2015

African Wildlife Sketch #16 – Crashed – Painted Dogs by Alison Nicholls

As you probably know, Painted Dogs (African wild dogs) are highly social. They rarely fight, even over food (unlike most other predators), and will regurgitate food for sick and injured adults in their pack. During my recent travels in southern Africa I saw 4 different packs, and that included a lot of pups. Every time they finished playing they would all flop down together, in a pile. There were heads on backs, feet on heads, tails in faces and ears everywhere – a perfect expression of their highly developed social nature, and a perfect painting composition!    

Crashed Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls 2015

Crashed field sketch, Painted dogs, African wild dogs, in 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 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 browsing elephants.
Until then…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Playtime Field Sketch, watercolor by Alison Nicholls

African Field Sketch #10 – Playtime – painted dogs – by Alison Nicholls

I believe that Painted Dogs (African wild dogs) are one of the most difficult sketching subjects in the African bush, because when they are active, they are hyper-active! The better I know an animal, the better my sketches will be, so by the end of my most recent trip to southern Africa, having seen 4 different packs, I was able to capture some of the more entertaining, playful moments. While the dogs were playing, leaping over grass and chasing, I was watching rather than sketching, but I am then able to create sketches of particular moments, from my memory, a few minutes later. That is how this sketch was created.

Playtime Field Sketch, watercolor by Alison Nicholls

These field sketches were created during my Aug/Sept 2015 African trip. 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 and pencil on watercolor paper, 11×14″ and 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’s sketch is of carmine bee-eaters!
Until then…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Crashed Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls 2015

African Wildlife Sketch 7 – Crashed (painted dogs)

These painted dog pups (African wild dogs) were sketched in Botswana. They were nearly 4 months old, beautifully colored (not actually purple!) and full of life. Everywhere I looked were pups running, leaping fallen logs, falling off logs, chasing each other and then cautiously approaching the vehicle in a crowd of long legs and huge ears. Soon after, they all collapsed in heaps under bushes and trees. That’s when I was able to create this sketch. I added the watercolor back at camp, which is where my artistic license crept in with the coloring!  

Crashed Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls 2015

Crashed field sketch. Painted dogs (African wild dogs) in 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 watercolor and pencil on watercolor paper, 11×14″, and 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’s sketch is of another sleeping predator – a male lion.
Until then…
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Dog Pack at Rest Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2015

African Field Sketch #3: Painted Dog Pack At Rest by Alison Nicholls

Painted dogs (African wild dogs) are one of the most intriguing of species, and one of the most difficult sketch subjects in the African bush. During the day they tend to lie in the shade, and they have such a lean build that when they lie flat out, they look pretty flat! Once they have finished napping, the pack becomes alive with activity – stretching, yawning, greeting each other, playing, then they are off on a hunt and virtually impossible to keep up with. However, during my September trip to southern Africa, I was lucky enough to see 4 different painted dog packs and spend considerable amounts of time with them. This sketch was created after the pack had hunted, killed and eaten an impala. As they rested for a moment nearby, I got to work! 

Dog Pack at Rest Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2015

Dog Pack at Rest Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2015

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, and this painted dog pack is currently trotting off to their new home in North Carolina! However, 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’s sketch is of a pod of hippos.
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