Category Archives: Watercolors

Yellow-billed Hornbill by Alison Nicholls

Every Camp comes with a Hornbill

It seems that every camp comes with a hornbill in African reserves. You only know you’ve truly settled in when you see one (or more likely several) of these big-beaked birds bouncing around.

Yellow-billed Hornbill by Alison Nicholls

Yellow-billed Hornbill III, ink and watercolor on 6×6″ cradled board. Available on Etsy, $180

They come in different sizes and colors but the 2 you are likely to see in camps in southern Africa are the yellow-billed and red-billed hornbills. They can be difficult to tell apart. OK I’m kidding – these 2 species, unlike many others, have been given sensible, descriptive names!

They both have the same long eyelashes, the same habit of quizzically angling their heads, and the same ability to pick up the tiniest seeds with their over-sized beaks. They also add a lovely soundtrack, a background conversation almost, to hot afternoons in camp.

One final note – they’d both be absolutely terrifying if they were the size of an ostrich!
This artwork is available on Etsy, priced at $180 with free shipping in the US.
More next time.
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Sketching in my Car

What do I Sing when I Paint?

I realized recently that I sing when I paint.
But first, I talk to myself. It seems that I talk when drawing, and sing when painting. Of course! 

I talk to myself when I’m figuring out my sketch, looking at the light and shapes and getting them down on paper. I use lots of phrases like ‘Right, let’s see, what’s next?’.

Sketching in my Car

My setup for painting watercolors in my car. If the weather is good, I sit outside instead.

It seems that I sing (or hum, as there are rarely words) when I’m painting, especially when working on detail. I’ve been sketching in my own neighborhood recently and it’s been cold, so I’ve been working from my car. So what I sing is likely to be whatever I last heard on the radio. If that last song was something particularly appalling, I might have to leave the radio on, until I hear something better. Interestingly, I don’t sing-along when the radio is on – I only sing when the radio is off. If I can’t get a song out of my head and want a new one, I often go to something by my all-time favorite band – The Waterboys. 

Of course sometimes I leave the radio on (not the engine, just the radio) but it automatically turns off after an hour (you get to know these features of your vehicle when you sit in it to sketch). I turn it back on. Another hour goes by and it turns off again. I’m usually nearly finished by then, but it takes me a little while to pack up. Then I drive home. Or, as happened a couple of weeks ago, I try to drive home and find the car battery is totally dead. This shouldn’t happen from 2 hours of radio use, but it did. So at that point my singing turned into talking again – but with a much more aggravated tone! 

Keep on singing, humming or whatever it is that you don’t realize you are doing.
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Black-backed jackal by Alison Nicholls

Black-backed Jackals

For me, black-backed jackals are synonymous with the Kalahari Desert. Their jaunty trot carries them here and there within their territories as they expertly hunt and scavenge, surviving in one of the toughest places on Earth. Then night falls, and their howls pierce the darkness – a beautiful sound, but sharp and cold as the starlight above. 

Black-backed jackal by Alison Nicholls

Black-backed Jackal III, ink and watercolor on acrylic, 5×5″ cradled board

The other image of black-backed jackals that sticks in my head is when jackals converge on an area where lions are feeding on a kill. If there are too many lions and it’s dangerous to try stealing, they wait patiently, curled up under different bushes nearby, until the lion pride moves on. Then they all dash in (along with the sharp-eyed vultures which have also congregated) to grab their share of the meat. They eat nervously, frequently scanning the area in case the lions return. Then, when they’re done, off they trot.
Jauntily, of course!

Black-backed jackal by Alison Nicholls

Young Jackal, ink and watercolor on acrylic, 5×5″ cradled board

Both these artworks can be purchased from my Etsy store, and I’ll donate 25% of the price to Cheetah Conservation Botswana.
Until next time, stay jaunty!

Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Hyenas and Vultures by Alison Nicholls

Hyenas and Vultures

If you spend enough time in the African bush, it’s inevitable that you will come across a carcass and, if you’re lucky, hyenas and vultures. Finding a carcass can provide amazing sketching opportunities, as long as you can sit upwind!

Here’s a video I took in South Africa of a hyena and vultures feeding on a dead zebra. Most of the vultures are white-backed but you may see a larger, paler bird, which is a Cape vulture (when the vultures are all over the carcass, look for it standing on the left). 

I would happily sit and sketch beside a carcass all day (or until the wind shifts) but usually I’m traveling with other people and weirdly, many of them would rather see a live animals than dead ones. Ah well…

Hyenas and Vultures by Alison NichollsThis is the sketch I created after I finished taking the video. Spotted Hyenas (there were 2 at one stage) and White-backed Vultures, watercolor on paper 11×14″  

Just for the record, spotted hyenas are very good hunters and are not the cowardly scavengers they are often made out to be – they are one of animals I most look forward to seeing when I’m in the bush. Vultures are true scavengers, feeding only on carrion, but they too are an absolutely necessary part of the food chain. Without vultures, rotting carcasses would pollute waterways and spread disease. In recent years there have been devastating incidents where carcasses have been laced with poisons and in some instances over a hundred vultures (plus hyenas, jackals, raptors and numerous other species) have been killed. Poachers may poison carcasses to actively rid the skies of vultures (whose circling can alert anti-poaching units to the presence of poached animals) or farmers may poison a carcass to kill predators who threaten their livestock. The use of vulture parts in traditional medicine is also a threat, as are collisions with electrical cables. So think better of the vulture – it’s existence saves lives, even if it eats the dead. 

To learn more about the vultures of southern Africa, visit Project Vulture.

Join me for more sketches and stories soon.
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Hippo Day!

Its World Hippo Day! And who wouldn’t want to celebrate hippos – those jolly, rotund, playful, animal caricatures?  I’ve seen an immature hippo playing in a tiny waterhole with a stick, ducking it under, rolling on it, retrieving it, even tossing it in the air, and obviously having great fun. But, as is usually the case, there is another side to this story, and it involves an intimidating, potentially-dangerous river monster. 

Hippo Plunge

Hippo Plunge, ink and watercolor by Alison Nicholls, 9×12″, $80

During the day, the hippos of the Okavango Delta in Botswana, tend to be in the lagoons, and if you’re in a mokoro (dug-out canoe) your skilled poler avoids them by crossing these areas of deep water quickly, and at the narrowest points. On a typical mokoro-ride as a tourist, you spend most of your time in the maze of narrow, shallow trails (made by hippos as they leave the water at night to graze on land). These channels can be only a foot wide and just inches deep, or they can be 6 feet wide with water a couple of meters deep. They are often edged with grasses and reeds several feet above your head, and in the narrowest channels they push in on you from all sides. The water is clear as can be, filtered by all the vegetation, and the drifting lily pads are beautiful. The sounds can be mesmerizing – rippling water, the swish of reeds, and plops as frogs drop into the water beside you.  Then comes a loud bellow or grunt from a hippo, a mocking laugh of a sound, and suddenly you remember the the gaping mouth and the unexpected speed and agility of these huge beasts. For a while you imagine what you would do if one appeared beside you right now. Your heart beats quite a bit faster!

One day I remember that we returned to camp close to dusk, and had to to cross one last lagoon. The beautiful open stretch of water that we gazed at daily from camp suddenly took on a more menacing air. The dark waters merged with the darkening sky. Splashes and explosive grunts were the only clue to the pod of hippos close by. Our poler held us back in the grasses on the edge of the lagoon, watching and listening for a good time to cross, and I wondered if the amazing mokoro trip we had experienced had been worth this anxious last few minutes. Then we took off, smoothly poling through the waters, straight across the middle – where I closed my eyes, envisaging the approaching tidal wave of a plunging hippo. But we made it to dry land, and a lovely can of dry hunters too.

Although I’ve spent many hours on mekoro and in self-paddled canoes (definitely a more treacherous situation given my inability to travel in a straight line for long), luckily I haven’t met a really disgruntled hippo. However, the stories I’ve heard remind me that although messing around in boats might be fine, messing with hippos is something you definitely don’t want to try. 

Enjoy World Hippo Day!
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Limpopo-Lipadi Botswana

Watercolor Wash

I tidied a corner of my studio recently and found this piece of writing:

“A watercolor wash is beautiful to look at and satisfying to produce. You take a large brush, submerge it in watery paint then drag the brush across the surface of the dry, dimpled paper until the paint thins and the band of color breaks and cracks. Then you refill the brush with that color-quenching paint, and the white expanse of paper waits for whatever might be… When I’ve been away from Africa too long I feel like the brush which needs reloading with paint. I need to go back, to flood my senses again with the color and sensations of Africa.”

Limpopo-Lipadi Botswana

Sunset in Limpopo-Lipadi, Tuli Block, Botswana

I wrote this many years ago – I’m not sure exactly when – but it still rings true, especially after a year when I couldn’t visit.
Take care.
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Trotting, painted dogs, acrylic by Alison Nicholls

Three is a Crowd-Pleaser

Following on from my previous posts, Boraro – Painted Dogs and Three Painted Dogs is Not a Crowd, here is Three is a Crowd-Pleaser. I didn’t originally intend to write a series of 3 posts, but after a little research I found that we humans like thinking in patterns and 3 is the lowest number we consider a pattern (if something happens once we think it’s chance, if it happens twice it’s coincidence, but if it happens 3 times we think of it as a pattern). So maybe my series of 3 posts is not an accident afterall. As IQ Doodle School’s post explains, the Rule of Three is part of “how we think, make sense of, and cluster information”. Groups of 3 are common in our language (ready, steady, go), music (choruses often occur 3 times), plays (3-act structure), art (rule of thirds) and film-making (trilogies). 

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds grid is useful in art & photography to create interesting compositions.

In art you’ll often come across the Rule of Thirds grid. The idea is to divide your canvas into 9 equal sections and use the lines and intersections to help create a more interesting composition. For example, in landscape paintings you will often see the horizon line one-third or two-thirds of the way up the canvas, rather than half-way. Or, if your painting doesn’t have a horizon line (mine often don’t) then you can use the red dot intersections as guides for where to place items of interest. If you look at my paintings, you’ll see that the animals who are the focus of attention are usually left or right of center and often high up or low down on the canvas (close to the red dot intersections on the grid). After a while this becomes second nature so you don’t even think of the grid when you compose a painting.  

Trotting, painted dogs, acrylic by Alison Nicholls

Trotting, painted dogs, acrylic by Alison Nicholls

In case you’re not convinced, here are 3 more interesting sets of 3’s: 
I often use only three colors in a painting. There are 3 paragraphs in this blog post. And African wild dogs have tri-colored coats!

Stay well
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Boraro, painted dogs by Alison Nicholls

Boraro – Painted Dogs

Boraro means ‘three’ in Setswana, the main language spoken in Botswana. My painting compositions often contain 3 animals because somehow it just works (more about this in my next post “Three is not a Crowd”).

Boraro, painted dogs by Alison Nicholls

Boraro, painted dogs by Alison Nicholls

A couple of days after I signed this painting, I decided it wasn’t finished. So I added an extra wash of quinacridone gold over the existing gold stripe at the top and, on a whim while I had the brush full of color in my hand, I added shadows beneath the dogs. Even as I painted, I realized the shadows could also be reflections, as if the dogs are standing on wet sand.
Which do you see – shadows or reflections? 

My newsletter readers always get to see my art first and this painting was sold as soon as I put it in my July email newsletter.  I am donating 25% of the purchase price to Painted Dog Research Trust in Zimbabwe.

Painted dogs greeting card by Alison Nicholls

Painted dogs greeting card by Alison Nicholls

Boraro – Painted Dogs – was inspired by the greeting card above. Since the start of the pandemic I’ve been painting greeting cards and sending them out to my newsletter readers and Art Safari guests. I  paint several greeting card backgrounds at one time, so each set tends to have its own distinct look. Some have traditional washes as backgrounds, some have zig zag lines, some have circular motifs and some, like this one, start with horizontal lines. After the backgrounds are dry I use watercolor and/or ink to add animals, or occasionally people or trees. The cards have been fun to create and have allowed me to experiment, so you can expect to see more greeting card-inspired paintings in the future!

To receive my newsletters and see all my new art before it appears online, just click here. If you add your mailing address you’ll also receive one of my original watercolor greeting cards.

If you’re already a newsletter reader – Thank You!  – but if you’re not sure whether I have your mailing address, you can click the Update Profile link at the end of any of my newsletters to find out. Or you can send me an email and just include your mailing address. 

Read the other 2 posts in this series:
Three Painted Dogs is not a Crowd
Three is a Crowd-Pleaser.

Stay well
Alison

Learn more about Painted Dog Research Trust in Zimbabwe.
Visit my website:
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica

Kambaku Art Safari

2021 Art Safari

We’re now taking bookings for my 2021 Art Safari.  There are 6 spaces available and we’ll be staying at the wonderful Kambaku Safari Lodge in Timbavati, South Africa. (Both my 2020 safaris are full but have been postponed until 2021.) The dates are August 26-30. To whet your appetite, here are a few photos from the 2019 Kambaku Art Safaris.  See full details here.

The 2021 Art Safari price is inclusive of all accommodation, art tuition, twice-daily drives, meals, laughter and wonderful wildlife!
See full details here.

Remember to get in touch soon if you’d like to reserve your place.
See you soon and stay well.
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

May 2020 in Art video by Alison Nicholls

May 2020 in Art

Every month I make a short video featuring paintings, sketches, studio shots & snippets from my life. May was still a lockdown month but the pandemic was overshadowed by the callous killing of George Floyd, and when I looked at the dates, I found there were long stretches where I hadn’t recorded anything. Here’s May 2020.

Stay well.
Listen. 
Change.
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Endangered Species Day 2020

Support People on Endangered Species Day

We need to support people and wildlife on Endangered Species Day. Everywhere people are suffering physically, financially and mentally from the pandemic and obviously this includes many Africans who work in tourism, wildlife research or conservation.

Endangered Species Day 2020

Endangered Species Day 2020

Much vital conservation work involves people rather than wildlife. Reducing human-wildlife conflict, conducting anti-poaching patrols, or helping rural people find sustainable income-generating opportunities are all conservation activities that help people but also ensure the continued existence of endangered species. Endangered Species Day is May 15, and I hope you will consider helping me support people and wildlife through art.
From May 15 – 22:

~ Every order of my art will include a special free gift, as a thank you from me.

~ Shipping will be free within the US, and half-price to all other destinations.

~ I’ll donate the following amounts to African conservation organizations: 50% from orders of Daily Sketches; 40% from original acrylics on canvas, 25% from limited edition prints; and 30% from original watercolor field sketches.

~ My donations will go to African People & Wildlife (Tanzania), Painted Dog Research Trust (Zimbabwe) and Cheetah Conservation Botswana.

Crash - Rhinos on Endangered Species Day

Crash – Rhinos on Endangered Species Day (photo features my painting, Thandi the rhino and Dr Will Fowlds of WFA).

Speaking of endangered species, last month I was able to donate US$2000 to Wilderness Foundation Africa in South Africa, from the sale of Crash – Rhino Poaching in South Africa. I’m delighted when my conservation-themed paintings help fund efforts to conserve species under threat, and South Africa’s rhinos definitely fall into that category. Read more about the painting and rhino poaching here.

Check out my art for Endangered Species Day!

Stay well.
Alison

Read more about:
Wilderness Foundation Africa
African People & Wildlife
Painted Dog Research Trust
Cheetah Conservation Botswana

March 2020 in Art

March 2020 in Art

Here’s my March 2020 Art video. March was the month the Covid-19 pandemic became a reality for those of us in the US. I tried to continue as normal but this month definitely felt disjointed and I felt distracted. Take a look.

Stay healthy, stay positive, stay put!
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Streaming from my studio

Streaming from my Studio Every Wednesday

Yes, I’m streaming from my studio live every Wednesday at 2pm EST (7pm UK time).
If you’d like a look behind the scenes; a view of what’s on my easel; a glimpse of my German Shepherd; a peek at my art materials; or a sneak preview of my next painting, join me live on my personal Facebook page.

Streaming from my studio

I’ll be here, come rain or shine, every Wednesday at 2pm EST (7pm UK time).
If you missed the earlier sessions, here they are:
March 25, 2020
April 1, 2020

Tea Stall sketch by Alison Nicholls

International Women’s Day

On this International Women’s Day, I would like to highlight Mama Helena Mbarnoti, an inspiring Maasai woman from the village of Loibor Siret in northern Tanzania (mama is a respectful term for a married woman in Tanzania).

Tea Stall sketch by Alison Nicholls

Mama Helena at her tea stall, painted in watercolor by Alison Nicholls

African People & Wildlife’s headquarters, the Noloholo Environmental Education Center, is built on land donated by the surrounding community, where Mama Helena lives. I met her each time I visited APW and over the years have seen her strong support of APW’s work with her community. She is now a member of a women’s bee-keeping group, supported by APW, and the delicious honey produced by wild bees is sold, bringing the women their own income.

On one visit to APW, Mama Helena invited me to sketch her in her tea stall at the weekly market (above) and on my latest visit I sketched her at a meeting of the women’s bee-keeping group (below). I send copies of my sketches to everyone who features in them and when I returned to Loibor Siret in June 2019 she showed me the copy of the tea stall sketch, which she keeps at home.

Womens Meeting sketch by Alison Nicholls

Women’s meeting (Mama Helena on left) in northern Tanzania, by Alison Nicholls

All around the world women are doing incredible things (Dr Laly Lichtenfeld, co-founder of APW is another obvious example) so lets celebrate that each and every day, not just on International Women’s Day.

Mama Helena Photo: African People & Wildlife/Laura Milton

Mama Helena Photo: African People & Wildlife/Laura Milton

More next time!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Read more about APW and Mama Helena

Alison Nicholls Sketching

1 Second Everyday

I discovered 1SE (1 Second Everyday) a couple of years ago and it works exactly as it sounds – you select 1 second (of video or a photo) for every day and add it to your timeline, then you mash the seconds together to create a video. There’s also a Freestyle option, which doesn’t associate each entry with a date. We all know that video gets far more attention online than photos, so even if I have a selection of photos of artwork I can combine them to create a video. It’s really helpful in marketing my art and Art Safaris. I just got the Pro version ($30 annually) which allows you to remove the ISE branding and date stamp, add music etc (should have done this long ago!).

Here’s my January in Art video…

It’s also great for personal videos and it’s amazing how much 1 second of video can do to remind you of an event or day in your life. So check it out. You might just become a convert like me!
More soon.
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Buffalo in Delta field sketch Alison Nicholls 2012

Watercolors featured on Artsy Shark

My watercolors featured on Artsy Shark last week. If you’re an artist you may know this website, as the founder, Carolyn Edlund’s mission is to inspire every artist to build a better art business. I saw a call for featured artists and submitted my work. In addition to a spot on the website as the featured artist, I also received a nice pdf of the feature too.
Have a read and enjoy my recent watercolors from Africa!

Featured Artist Alison Nicholls

All my watercolors are for sale, priced between $250 and $350 depending on the size. Please take a look and let me know if you would like to own one. I donate 25% from the sale of each one to African conservation organizations.
More next time!
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Paws Trails Explorer article about Alison Nicholls

Paws Trails Explorers

I and my art inspired by Africa have been featured in the beautiful Paws Trails Explorers digital magazine. The article is in the Wild Arts Showcase and focuses on my watercolor and ink work created from life in the African bush. I talk about why sketching from life is so important to me; how I gathered the courage to start; which materials work well and which were disastrous; how my work changed when I connected with conservation organizations; and how my art now benefits those same groups.

Paws Trails Explorer article about Alison Nicholls

To read the Paws Trails Explorers article, click the image above and go to page 92 or you can find it online here at http://www.pawstrails.com/  (Dec 2019 / Jan 2020 Issue #20). The photography in the magazine is quite stunning and I’m delighted to have my art featured in the Wild Arts Showcase section. You might want to consider joining the Paws Trails Explorers mailing list so you receive future issues.

Enjoy!
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

 

Elephant and Impala by Alison Nicholls

Elephant and Impala

I’m quite proud of Elephant and Impala (though I say so myself!). Its a typical waterhole scene where the big bull elephant makes everyone else wait until he’s finished before they can drink. I sketched this in pen, concentrating on the elephant bull and adding feint markings for the landscape features and impala rams.

Elephant and Impala by Alison Nicholls

Elephant and Impala, 8×10″, $200 by Alison Nicholls

The watercolor I added later that day, from memory and imagination. I used just 3 colors – my favorite combo at the moment – Naples Yellow, Cerulean Blue and Quinacridone Magenta. I kept the warmest colors on the elephant bull, to draw him closer, and allowed the distant vegetation to fade into the background.

25% ($50) from the purchase price will be donated to African People & Wildlife in Tanzania. So, let me know if you’d like it, before I decide to frame it and hang it on my own wall.
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com
Learn more about African People & Wildlife in Tanzania.

Sunlit Elephant by Alison Nicholls

Pros and Cons of Joining My Mailing List

In these social media saturated days, what are the pros and cons of joining my Mailing List?
Here are the Pros:

1.Preview my new Paintings
Yes, before I even post them on social media or put them on my website, you get to see all my new paintings in my newsletter. Which means you can snap up your favorite piece before the big wide world even knows it exists!

2.Win a Watercolor
If you Join My Mailing List before December 1st 2019, your name will be entered into the draw to win Sunlit Elephant – an original 10×8″ watercolor, created from life in Africa and valued at $200. Using some ingenious method, a subscriber’s name (hopefully yours) will be selected at random. The winner will be emailed and she/he replies within a week, Sunlit Elephant will be shipped free to the winner, anywhere in the world (if the winner doesn’t reply within 1 week, another winner will be selected at random). All current subscribers are automatically entered into the draw.

Sunlit Elephant by Alison Nicholls

Win this Watercolor: Sunlit Elephant, 10×8″ watercolor and pen by Alison Nicholls.

3.Art-filled monthly newsletters
In my colorful newsletters you’ll see paintings, photos, news about conservation organizations, information about my upcoming exhibits and lectures. Usually you’ll get just 1 lovely, colorful, email each month but around the holidays you might get a couple more. For example, on Black Friday you’ll receive my Colorful Friday email. And at New Year you’ll get my animal-themed, hopeful, New Year message. I certainly won’t bombard you with emails and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

4.Contests and Surveys
You can take part in my occasional contests and surveys, helping me make my newsletters even better in the future.

5.Insightful Content
Your newsletters will contain my insightful witticisms, bad puns and photos of my dog!

Here are the Cons:

1.Insightful Content
Your newsletters will contain my insightful witticisms, bad puns and photos of my dog!

So, having (hopefully) decided that the Pros outweigh the Cons, here’s where you can Join My Mailing List!

Good Luck in the draw for Sunlit Elephant!
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Kambaku Art Safari

2019 Art Safari Video II

In August I led two Art Safaris in South Africa for Africa Geographic. Here is my short video of the second Art Safari.

Both safaris were held at Kambaku Safari Lodge, in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, part of the Great Kruger National Park. Kambaku was a great place to hold an Art Safari as we had amazing wildlife sightings, beautiful accommodations, great food and wonderful spaces for daytime workshops.

2020 Art Safaris
We’ll be returning to Kambaku for 1 of my 2020 Art Safaris and we have only 2 places remaining, so if you’d like to join us please let me know. We also have only 2 places available on the 2nd 2020 Art Safari, which will take place at Pungwe Safari Camp in Manyaleti Reserve, also part of the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa.

2020 Art Safari Details

We welcome only 6 guests on each safari and they may have any (or no) experience of sketching. We also welcome non-sketching friends and partners.
So if your idea of fun is spending time in the bush with wildlife, art and like-minded travel companions, sign up for 2020!
Alison

Kambaku Art Safari with Alison Nicholls

Art Safari Video

In August I led two Art Safaris in South Africa for Africa Geographic. Here is my short video of the first Art Safari.
 

Both safaris were held at Kambaku Safari Lodge, in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, part of the Great Kruger National Park. Kambaku was a great place to hold an Art Safari as we had amazing wildlife sightings, beautiful accommodations, great food and wonderful spaces for daytime workshops.

2020 Art Safaris
We’ll be returning to Kambaku for 1 of my 2020 Art Safaris and we have only 2 places remaining, so if you’d like to join us please let me know. We also have only 2 places available on the 2nd 2020 Art Safari, which will take place at Pungwe Safari Camp in Manyaleti Reserve, also part of the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa.

2020 Art Safari Details

We welcome only 6 guests on each safari and they may have any (or no) experience of sketching. We also welcome non-sketching friends and partners.
Enjoy the video and watch out for another video next week!
Alison

Elephant and Impala by Alison Nicholls

New Botswana Watercolors!

Here are my new Botswana watercolors.
In the past I’ve usually sketched in pencil (then added watercolor), giving a myself a little room for error as I could erase any incorrect lines. However, these pieces were all sketched from life in pen. I’m a real believer in simplicity, making as few lines as possible on my paper, so trying to work like this in ink can lead to a lot of frustration and can be an easy way of getting through lots of paper when things don’t work out. At the beginning of my trip, in my 1st sketchbook, I was being too tentative (and was sketching a leopard, which I find one of the most difficult species) so I ended up tearing 2 pages out of my book and burning them. But as time went on, sketching with pen became a fun challenge, and I found myself wondering how how much I could say with a minimum of lines.

Elephant and Impala by Alison Nicholls

A large bull elephant makes impala wait for a drink as he stands at the waterhole, painted in watercolor by Alison Nicholls

In these two pieces, you can see how simple my pen sketches were. The elephant is sketched in a just a few lines, with no shading, and the impala are really only identifiable by their horns. I know that the addition of color will make all the difference so I don’t need to overdo the sketching. Similarly, on the piece below, I’m only concerned with sketching the simple shapes of the jackals and the stunted trunk of the bush one of them lies under. I know that watercolor will be better for the coloring on the jackals’ coats and for the leaves of the bush, so I don’t sketch those with the pen.

Black-backed Jackals by Alison Nicholls

I didn’t expect these jackals to hang around for long but it turned out they were waiting patiently for lions to leave a kill.

Knowing which materials will be best for which purpose is key. I can keep my pen sketch simple because I know where I will use watercolor to complete the sketch.
See you next time.
Alison

www.ArtInspiredByAfrica.com

Elephants at Water IV

Sketch For Survival 2019

Its Sketch for Survival time!

And you can bid on my donated painting, sketched in watercolor from life at The Bush House in South Africa.  Here’s I am, slightly speeded up, painting the watercolor.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t have eyes as sharp as an eagle – the camera angle just makes the elephants and zebras look much further away than they really were! 

Bids on this painting start at $75 and all the money raised goes to Sketch For Survival’s 2019 conservation beneficiaries – Ape Alliance, Giraffe Conservation Foundation, Painted Dog Conservation and the Mariamma Charitable Trust.

Elephants at Water IV

Elephants at a waterhole, painted from life in South Africa

What is Sketch for Survival? It’s an annual exhibition and sale of wildlife art in aid of conservation. The art, donated by leading wildlife artists, illustrators, cartoonists, celebrities, explorers and photographers, comprises sketches, studio art, illustrations and cartoons depicting endangered wildlife. The exhibit will be shown in the UK in Bristol, Harrogate & Norwich before appearing at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Thursday 14 November. Special guests will include Ian Redmond OBE from Ape Alliance, renowned for his work with both Great Apes and Elephants, Dr Julian Fennessy from Giraffe Conservation Foundation, and representatives from Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe. The online auction will finish on Sunday 17th November, 2019.

So go on, place a bid on my painting now and see all the other artwork too. And if you’re in the UK, visit one of the venues and see the artwork in person.
Take care,
Alison

Read more about Sketch for Survival and Explorers Against Extinction.

 

Soccer Game in Botswana

The Soccer Game

Soccer (or football) is huge in Africa. Almost every person has a favorite team, often from Europe. So when we heard there was a soccer tournament going on at Limpopo-Lipadi while we were there, we wanted to go along and support the team. I decided to sketch the game too. It was extremely hot and my paint was drying very fast, which made it quite challenging, but it was fun. Unfortunately, the Limpopo-Lipadi team (in green) lost to the police team (in red). Or maybe that was just as well!

I photographed the sketch and gave it to Limpopo-Lipadi to hang in the office. As a result, the photo of the finished piece isn’t great, but you get the idea. There’s something about live sketching like this that inspires me so much. Of course I can always see vast improvements I could make in the sketch, but when I look at it I remember the heat, the dust, the shouting and laughter. Magic!

Learn more about Limpopo-Lipadi game reserve and their wonderful Motse volunteering and community program.

Alison Nicholls
Art Inspired by Africa
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Sketch of rural women in Tanzania, by Alison Nicholls

Women in Tanzania

Rural women in Tanzania usually have a fairly low status in society and are often completely dependent on their husband, even though women do much of the work in rural households.

Loibor Siret Womens Meeting

Loibor Siret Women’s Meeting

African People & Wildlife (APW) works in conjunction with many rural communities in Tanzania, and together their initiatives are helping women become financially independent, giving them a voice in the decision-making of their families and their communities. Bee-keeping is one such initiative and has the added advantage of protecting habitat because Tanzania has a strong Bee-Keeping Act which ensures that land cannot be farmed or cleared around beehives.

Sketch of rural women in Tanzania, by Alison Nicholls

Women’s Meeting, ink and watercolor sketch from life by Alison Nicholls

Learning about the bee-keeping initiative, which involves more than 1200 women, and being able to sketch after a meeting of the Loibor Siret women’s bee-keeping group, is a thrill. There can be few things better for a sketch artist than sitting in a rural village, surrounded by the sights & sounds of everyday life, while sketching a group of women chatting under a shady tree. This was my 4th visit to APW and it is wonderful to be recognized and greeted enthusiastically by women I have sketched on my previous visits.

Mama Helena sketch by Alison Nicholls

Mama Helena Beading, ink sketch from life by Alison Nicholls

Mama Helena, shown beading in the sketch above, invited me to sketch at her homestead afterwards, and sent one of her grandchildren to fetch a sketch I did of her last time I was in Tanzania, 5 years ago!

Alison Nicholls Sketching

Alison Nicholls sketching in Tanzania

Sketching with an audience is something I am completely used to and it’s fun to see the children’s faces as the sketch progresses and they recognize the person I am sketching.

Alison Nicholls Sketching

Not all my sketches go to plan!

I’m making copies of my sketches to be sent back to Tanzania, but I hope my next visit to APW will be in the very near future.
Alison

Learn more about African People & Wildlife.
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com