Tag Archives: Africa

Celebration Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls

Celebration Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls

This sketch does not feature your typical US Thanksgiving Day celebration!
In fact it is a sketch of Maasai men dancing at a wedding in Tanzania.

But all around the world, people everywhere celebrate important events. So I would like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving by sharing this sketch with you, from a celebration of a different kind that I was lucky enough to attend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Yes, it is still that time of year!
So here are my Seasonal Offers #4 and #5.
(You can find #1, #2 & #3 in my previous post here)
My usual donations to African conservation organizations apply to all purchases. Browse or graze your way through my offers then find one that works for you!
Surprise Gift with Every Original by Alison NichollsBuy any Original Painting or Field Sketch and you will receive a special Surprise Gift from me (I’m not giving any clues)! My usual donations to conservation organizations apply. Offer expires 12/31/2014. Free Shipping Offer also applies (see below).

 

3 prints for 300 by Alison Nicholls

Buy any three 11×14″ Limited Edition Reproductions and pay only US$300. Although you are receiving a discount, my donations to African conservation will be made as if you have paid the full price. This offer will expire after 10 buyers have redeemed the offer or on 12/31/2014. Free Shipping Offer also applies (see below).

Free Shipping by Alison Nicholls

Free Shipping on all artwork mailed to a destination within the lower 48 states of the United States. Half-price shipping on all artwork mailed elsewhere, including Internationally. Combine this offer with any of the other offers shown below! Offer expires 12/31/2014. My Last Shipping Date will be Wednesday December 17 (with guaranteed delivery within the US by December 24).

Thank You for spending time browsing or grazing!
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Yes, it is that time of year again!
So here are my Seasonal Offers #1, #2 and #3.
Later this week I will reveal offers #4 and #5.
So enjoy the start of the silly season and remember, if you purchase from me you are helping to support African conservation organizations, as well as me!

3 prints for 150 by Alison Nicholls

Buy any three 8×10″ Limited Edition Reproductions and pay only US$150.  Although you are receiving a discount, my donations to African conservation will be made as if you have paid the full price. This offer will expire after 10 buyers have redeemed the offer or on 12/31/2014. Free Shipping Offer also applies. Free Shipping by Alison NichollsFree Shipping on all artwork mailed to a destination within the lower 48 states of the United States. Half-price shipping on all artwork mailed elsewhere, including international shipments. Offer expires 12/31/2014. My Last Shipping Date will be Wednesday December 17 (with guaranteed delivery within the US by December 24).

Gift Certificates by Alison Nicholls

The perfect choice if you want to give a gift of art but are not sure which piece would be most  appreciated. Delivery of Gift Certificates is free whether they are mailed or delivered online to the recipient. Choose your design from my artwork, write a personal message and choose a value from $60 upwards. The Free Shipping Offer will remain in effect until the end of 2015 for those redeeming Gift Certificates. My usual donations to conservation organizations apply when Gift Certificates are redeemed.

Thank You!
More Offers on Friday…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Artist Alison Nicholls

I begin my daily art marathon…

These tweets by David Sandum and Jo Parry inspired today’s post:

https://twitter.com/JO_PARRY_TWEETS/status/500793096033275904

They got me thinking that being an artist is like being a marathon runner. In the spirit of full disclosure I should mention that my experience as a marathon runner consists of watching the New York Marathon on TV every year and then checking on the training progress of my neighbors, several of whom are horrifyingly active and have run the real thing! So, with my mountain of personal experience now laid bare, here is how I think being an artist compares with being a marathon runner.

Before attempting to run a marathon it is best to put in a little training (!), hours and hours of training, a lot of it alone, pounding the streets, building your stamina and strength. As an artist you also need training, years of it, learning about your materials and building your skills, with much time spent alone, developing your style and work habits.

Then comes the marathon. The first few miles are plain sailing, with the crowd lifting your spirits and your legs feeling strong but then, later in the race, psychology is all important. At some point it is just about you, your legs and your mental strength. Sometimes it is only mental strength that actually keeps those legs moving, despite the persistent voice in your head telling you how tired you are and how you could hop in a cab. Once again, there are comparisons with the life of an artist. We also have that persistent voice in our head, telling us how mediocre our work is and how much better and more successful other artists are. But unlike the marathon, where people line the course to encourage you, as an artist you sometimes feel like the entire world has lined up to encourage you to quit. It’s ironic that most people consider artists to be sensitive types and yet we have to develop a very thick skin in order to deal with the rejection we experience on a fairly regular basis –  from competitions we fail to be accepted for, grants we fail to receive or galleries who don’t want to represent us. Most marathon runners don’t enter with the plan to win the race. they enter with the plan to finish the race, and if they are a sucker for punishment, they enter to improve on last years’ time. Artists need to think the same way. It is the constant progression of your own career that matters, not how you compare to other artists and their careers. Easier said than done, I know!

But there is one major difference between art and marathon running. In art there is no finish line. At the end of my daily art marathon, no-one has ever cheered, held up a placard with an encouraging message or wrapped me in a nice shiny blanket!

But wait…there is one more similarity. Marathon runners speak of a running ‘high’, a zone in which pain disappears and the joy of running is everything. Artists feel that too. It is what you aim for and hope for and can’t describe. It is addictive. If it wasn’t, why on earth would I run an art marathon every day?

Ready? Set. Paint!

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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5pm acrylic on canvas 11x14 by Alison Nicholls

5pm acrylic on canvas 11×14 by Alison Nicholls

Many of my paintings make use of effects of light, but I rarely include the source (sun or moon) in my work. So 5pm, above, is a little different. I will definitely be adding the shimmering sun into more of my work as it allows me to leave the animal subjects a little less defined, something I always enjoy. Interestingly, the best way to paint a really bright sun is to leave it white and surround it with pale lemon yellow. I’m using Fredrix watercolor canvas, which is bright white, so the sun is just the natural color of the canvas.

The title of the piece comes from the time of day and the fact that in the dry season the sun retains its heat until the last possible moment.

Until next time
Alison

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Lions sketch demo by Alison Nicholls

Lions sketch demo by Alison Nicholls

In my latest blog post for Africa Geographic, I showed how I create a pencil field sketch. When I’m sketching in the African bush I don’t have time to photograph the stages of my pencil sketches because I need to finish them before the people or animals I’m sketching move away. I sketch using very faint lines, which will become almost invisible when I add watercolor, but these lines are very difficult to photograph outdoors. I also work without an easel, constantly moving around to find different subjects, all of which makes it difficult to document my technique as I’m sketching. So I recreated a sketch in the studio, using pen instead of pencil.

You can read more and see the stages of the pencil sketch here.
See my other posts in the Africa Geographic Art of Africa blog series.

Until next time
Alison

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Leopard photo by Nigel Nicholls

Leopard photo by Nigel Nicholls © 2013

In the last few weeks, almost every person I’ve met has asked me this question:

“Will you be going back to Africa while there is still an Ebola outbreak?”

In answering the question with a resounding “Yes”, I have tried to explain the size of the African continent and the huge distance between West Africa, where the Ebola outbreak exists, and the safari destinations of East and Southern Africa. As the crow flies, London is actually closer to West Africa than Nairobi in Kenya! It is very easy to find alarmist reports in the media wherever you are in the world and the other day I received an email from a friend in South Africa who was concerned about my husband traveling into New York City for work because she had heard of the healthcare worker here who had been infected while working in West Africa!

Tourism is vital to the economies of many African countries and plays a large part in ensuring the continued existence of wildlife and wild lands. If you value this and want to help both the people and wildlife of Africa, please think very carefully before canceling your travel plans to the continent. Consult your travel agent by all means, but remember that the main safari destinations of East and southern Africa are literally thousands of miles away from the outbreak in West Africa.

Before I end I do want to say that Ebola is a terrible disease and my thoughts are with the people of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea who are caught in this outbreak. The dedicated healthcare workers from these and other countries are heroes and should be treated as such. I hope that the outbreak can be controlled quickly without the loss of more life.

Until next time
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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5pm acrylic on canvas 11x14 by Alison Nicholls

5pm                                             acrylic on canvas 11×14 by Alison Nicholls

If the random words in the title are of interest to you, come join me in Vermont for my next Art exhibit, featuring my sketches and paintings inspired by my visits to the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) in Tanzania. APW is a Conservation organization which works to conserve species like the Lion, by working with local communities.

My exhibit is at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, Vermont. The reception is 2 – 4pm on Saturday November 1 and my talk is on Sunday November 2, also at 2pm.

I hope you will join me. and I promise to speak in full sentences!

Learn more about the African People & Wildlife Fund

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Expressions watercolor by Alison Nicholls on Dogs In the Daylight album by Jeffrey Martin

Expressions watercolor by Alison Nicholls on Dogs In the Daylight album by Jeffrey Martin

My music career goes back decades. It started when I attended a new elementary school where the children had already learned to play the recorder. I was given a recorder and told by the teacher to ‘join in when I felt able’. Needless to say, I never played a note. And that’s where it all ended for me. The world should be grateful.

However, the world should be equally grateful that Jeffrey Martin did pursue his music career. I’m thrilled that my painting Expressions, showing 2 African wild dogs, is on the cover of his album, Dogs In the Daylight. I am not a music critic but I love it. Here’s what James Carlson of Roots Music Examiner had to say:

“I am sure I won’t be alone in my assertion that Dogs in the Daylight is as close to a masterpiece as a folk album by an emerging singer-songwriter can get.”

Quite a review I’d say. So take a listen and prepare to be a fan!


http://www.glidemagazine.com/121982/song-premiere-jeffrey-martin-dogs-daylight/

Check out Jeffrey Martin’s Website

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Lake Mist, South Salem New York by Alison Nicholls

Lake Mist, South Salem, New York by Alison Nicholls

On Sunday I was heading up to South Salem to teach a sketching session at the Wolf Conservation Center when I ran into a bank of fog. I couldn’t see a lake I knew was only feet from the road, but I was on the off ramp of an Interstate so I decided it wouldn’t be a good place to pull over. A little further up the road the fog lifted and another lake came into view so I stopped to take this photo, above.

Walking back to my car I looked up and saw that it was one of those mornings when even the power cables are worth a photo – glistening like strands of a rather large cobweb. I wouldn’t like to see the spider that built this!

Cable Lights by Alison Nicholls

Cable Lights by Alison Nicholls

Surrounded by the spectacular colors of fall, I arrived at the Wolf Conservation Center with a big grin on my face. What a way to start the day!

Until next time…
Alison

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Alison Nicholls with Charles Trout

Alison Nicholls at The Explorers Club with Charles Trout, Director of Programs at the African People & Wildlife Fund. Charles introduced Alison’s lecture: African Conservation through the Eyes of an Artist.

I recently gave a lecture, African Conservation through the Eyes of an Artist, at The Explorers Club in New York City. The lecture was very well attended and I was fortunate to be introduced by Charles Trout, Director of Programs for the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania. Charles gave a wonderful introduction, speaking about my visits to APW and the effect my art has had on APW’s educational programs and work with the local community.
Explorers Club Alison Nicholls lectureExplorers Club Alison Nicholls lecture
Here are a few images of the pre-lecture reception. It was a lovely evening so we were able to make use of both the library and the outdoor terrace. The lecture was also live-streamed on the club’s website and I was delighted to receive comments from those who also watched it online. The recording of the lecture will soon be available online and I will include a link to that very soon.

Explorers Club Alison Nicholls lecture

Alison Nicholls with her parents, Margaret & Rob Cross, at The Explorers Club

The evening was made even more special by the fact that my parents, who live in the UK, were visiting and were able to attend. All in all it was a great experience and I hope that I can continue to use my art to raise awareness and funds for some of the great conservation organizations doing such valuable and inspiring work across Africa.
Explorers Club Alison Nicholls lecture
Until next time…
Alison

Learn more about The Explorers Club.
Learn more about the African People & Wildlife Fund.

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Living Walls, acrylic 29x29" by Artist Alison Nicholls

Living Walls, acrylic 29×29″ by Artist Alison Nicholls

Living Walls
Acrylic 29×29” by Alison Nicholls

Human-wildlife conflict is increasing across the globe as the human population expands and people compete with wildlife for land, food and water. People usually prevail and wildlife is squeezed into ever smaller ‘islands’ of protected land, but there are places where these trends are being reversed, where people and wildlife share natural resources for their mutual benefit. On the Maasai Steppe in northern Tanzania, the African People & Wildlife Fund consulted with local communities and created Living Wall bomas, fortified corrals, in which families keep their livestock overnight.

Traditional bomas are built of piles of thorny acacia brush which must be replenished every few months, often leading to deforestation in the area. Even then, predators can get into a poorly constructed boma, or their presence can panic livestock who break out into the bush, where they are more vulnerable to attack. In the past, people might retaliate against predators by tracking and spearing the animal responsible for killing livestock, but today livestock carcasses can be laced with lethal agricultural poisons which kill any animal, bird or insect that feeds from the carcass. For this reason, predator numbers have been plummeting (along with those of vital scavengers like vultures). If livestock can be kept safe in bomas at night, when most attacks occur, then people will have no reason to retaliate against predators and their numbers can recover.

A Living Wall boma differs from a traditional boma in several ways. It is made of chain-link fencing held up by living fence-posts cut from native Commiphora trees. The trees are not killed by the cutting of thick branches for fence-posts, and the chain-link wire ensures that the livestock cannot break out of the boma. My Living Walls painting shows a cow, a goat, a sheep, a donkey, a spotted hyena, a leopard and a lion, linked by the crossed lines of the chain-link wire. Some of the lines are shaped into the distinctive branches of the Commiphora, with their trifoliate leaves (leaves with 3 leaflets). Vegetation of all types grows up and around a Living Wall, creating an impenetrable barrier so that the Living Wall cannot be breached and livestock and predators cannot see each other, which is why the eyes of each animal in the painting are covered with Commiphora leaves. The fact that the painting shows livestock and predators as being physically close and linked together by the Living Wall, mirrors the situation on the Maasai Steppe, where they share the same land and the future of both are interlinked.

400 Living Walls are now in operation on the Maasai Steppe, protecting 75,000 head of livestock nightly. The walls are in great demand and no livestock protected by a living wall have been killed since the program started in 2008. Living Walls are installed in areas where livestock depredation is high, so the installation of just a few Living Walls can lead to a drastic reduction in attacks on livestock. Local monitoring shows predator attacks have dropped precipitously, as have retaliatory killings of predators by livestock owners. Living Walls are changing attitudes to predators and they allow the Maasai to continue to live with lions, an animal of vital cultural importance.

The original acrylic painting of Living Walls is available for sale, priced at US$4800. If it is sold privately I will donate 40% of the sale price to APW. If it sells during an exhibition where the venue collects a commission (usually between 10-40%), APW will still receive a minimum of 10%. Limited edition giclées are also available with a 20% donation to APW from the sale of each piece.

To see this painting, join me at The Explorers Club on September 29th to hear about my conservation-themed art based on visits to the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania and Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe. If you can’t make it to the club you can Live Stream the Lecture Here at 7pm EST.

Until next time…
Alison

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Artist Alison Nicholls

Artist Alison Nicholls trying to say Conservation Conversation 10 times quickly!

A great deal of my conversations are about conservation (try saying that fast 10 times!) and they often lead to topics that seem depressingly impossible to resolve. Climate change, corruption, poaching, human-wildlife conflict…I could go on. As James K. Sheppard, a conservation scientist with the San Diego Zoo, told mongabay.com “conservation biology has arguably become the most depressing of the sciences”. He noted how potential conservationists of the future with optimistic personalities may be discouraged from joining the ranks of conservationists by the general doom and gloom that can pervade discussions in the field.

But the article by Jeremy Hance went further than this and aimed to highlight some of the great achievements in conservation biology today. And, if you look, there are many. So if you are feeling full of despair, read this article and take hope:

Mongabay.com: Why conservationists need a little hope

And if you’d like more evidence of conservation successes, join me at The Explorers Club on September 29th to hear about my conservation-themed art based on visits to the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania and Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe.

Until next time…
Alison

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Sydney Opera House from Farm Cove, watercolor 11x14" by Alison Nicholls

Sydney Opera House from Farm Cove, watercolor 11×14″ by Alison Nicholls

Every now and again I need a complete break from painting my usual African subject matter, and my recent trip to Australia provided exactly that. So here is my watercolor of the Sydney Opera House, painted while I sat in glorious winter sunshine, looking out at Sydney Harbor from Farm Cove, with cockatoos flying overhead!

It is a beautiful building both inside and out. My husband works for Arup, the engineering company who worked with architect Jorn Utzon to create this iconic structure, so he particularly enjoyed the tour we took inside the opera house. I know there are many ideas about the inspiration for the shape of the opera house and perhaps the best known is that of ‘sails’, mirroring the many yachts found in the harbor. But when I took these photos below, from out on the water, you know what they reminded me of?

Sydney Opera House photos by A Nicholls

Sydney Opera House photos by A Nicholls

The Eyes of a Crocodile!

Until next time…
Alison

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Elephant!, acrylic 20x30" by Alison Nicholls

Elephant!, acrylic 20×30″ by Alison Nicholls

My body of African conservation-themed art is steadily growing, and you can see and hear about it by joining me at The Explorers Club for my upcoming lecture. I’ll be showing a newly completed piece based on the Living Walls being used by the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania, along with art featuring human-elephant conflict, East African pastoralists, and African wild dogs in Zimbabwe. I will talk about how I take a conservation or research issue and turn it into a completed painting, then how I use the paintings to raise awareness of the issues and money for conservation organizations.

So come and be part of the Conservation Conversation!

The Explorers Club
September 29. Reception 6pm. Lecture 7pm.
Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 212 628 8383.

Until next time…
Alison

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PleinAir Today

PleinAir Today

In the US, plein air events (painting in the open air) attract numerous fantastic artists and produce some of the best art I’ve seen. Although painting in the open air is exactly what I do when I’m field sketching, I don’t generally think of myself as a plein air artist because plein air is very much dominated by landscape artists. But I’ve decided I need to stop thinking this way. So I’m really pleased to be featured in PleinAir Today – the weekly email you see above (click the link to read the article).

Find out more about PleinAir Today, Plein Air Magazine and Outdoor Painter.

And, if you would like to hear more about my plein air painting (!) and conservation-themed artwork, join me as I speak at The Explorers Club in New York City on September 29. Reservations are required.

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Painting in my Sleep

Some essential supplies required for painting in your sleep.

Whenever I am really struggling to get to sleep at night, there is one thing that usually manages to send me off to the land of nod – thinking about painting. That might sound weird. After all, as an artist, shouldn’t painting be the thing that keeps me up at night? Shouldn’t new ideas be straining to get out? Shouldn’t I feel the need to leap from my bed and get those ideas down on canvas while they are still fresh in my mind? As it turns out, this is not how I work. If I leapt from bed to paint, those ideas would probably be gone faster than a bar of Lindt chocolate left in our fridge.

I find the half-awake, half-asleep hours the best for painting ideas. I can think of a specific animal, lets say a giraffe, and a color scheme, lets say pink, then I see how they could come together. Its difficult to actually describe how this works because I’m only half-awake, but quite frequently I have one of those aha moments (actually more like a…h…a… because I’m half asleep). Recently I came up with a great idea for my next giraffe painting this way.

I’ll give you a heads-up when the painting is finished, although you may instantly recognize it. Afterall, just how many pink giraffes do you see on a daily basis?

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Ivory by Alison Nicholls

Ivory by Alison Nicholls

Writing about painted images can be as difficult as writing about music. How do you convey one art form in another? As a reviewer I can see that this could be difficult, but as the artist who created the painting, it should be easier. Especially when you start your paintings by writing about them, as I often do. On occasions when an image has not already popped into my head, I start by noting what I want to accomplish with the painting, the mood I am aiming for, maybe even some color ideas, or the conservation message behind the art. For me, words and images are inextricably linked.

Here are some of the notes I wrote before starting Ivory, shown above:
A different view of an elephant. Still needs to show bulk, detail of skin. An interesting composition, with space an important element. Hold your breath as an elephant quietly but impressively saunters by. Limit detail to head and top of trunk. Fade detail towards bottom of trunk. Yellow ochre and blues?

Once the painting is complete, some of those initial notes may still be relevant, but generally the painting will have taken on a life of its own and gone well beyond the (always hand-written) notes. So once again I write about the painting, this time creating a label, to be displayed alongside the art in an exhibit:

Ivory
Original Acrylic on Board,  26×18”
In areas where elephants are relaxed around people & vehicles they will often walk very close. Then you really get to see the size and strength of the animal. It makes me hold my breath for a second. Unfortunately, this relaxed behavior is normally only found when elephants live in protected areas like national parks. In the Maasai Steppe elephants are far more likely to be wary of people due to poaching and incidents of human-wildlife conflict.

*****

So my question to you is, do you want to read about a painting as well as see it?
Does the text enhance or destroy the experience?

Let me know!

Until next time…
Alison

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I’m roaring ahead with plans for extra conservation donations for World Lion Day!
And I’m trumpeting my plans for World Elephant Day on August 12!

So here is my plan..
from August 8 until the end of August 12, if you purchase any painting, field sketch or limited edition reproduction of a Lion (or Lioness) or Elephant, I will donate 40% of the sale price to African Conservation organizations.

The donation will go to either the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) in Tanzania or the Painted Dog Research Trust in Zimbabwe, depending on the artwork and where my inspiration for the piece came from.

Just to give you some ideas, here are a few pieces you might like…

Young Male Lion, original field sketch 11x14"

Young Male Lion, Original and limited edition available

 

From the Rocks by Alison Nicholls

From the Rocks. Original and limited edition available.

Hide of an Elephant. by Alison Nicholls

Hide of an Elephant. Original and limited edition available.

Remember, 40% will be donated to African Conservation!

You can use these links to see Original Paintings, Field Sketches, and Limited Edition Reproductions.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Trunk calls accepted!

Until next time…
Alison

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Milking Time Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls © 2014

Milking Time Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls © 2014

Milking Time was the 2nd of 3 sketches, created in just a few minutes while the Maasai women milked the cows in the morning. I asked them not to pose but just to go about their usual milking routine, so my time was limited for each sketch. I confess I had no idea that they could milk a cow so quickly, but lack of time is a great motivator and the sketches really did flow from my pencil.

Before I began sketching I did attempt to milk one of the cows myself. As I expected, it shied away from me. After all, I do look & sound completely different to the Maasai people it knows. But the reaction of that cow did save me from being exposed as being completely incompetent in the milking department. I think I’ll stick to sketching…

Thanks go to the African People & Wildlife Fund in Tanzania for arranging this sketching opportunity for me. I was visiting APW for the 3rd time, learning more about their work with the communities of the Maasai Steppe. I’ve just sent copies of all my sketches back to Tanzania for the people who featured in them. To find out more about my visits to APW and to hear about my conservation-themed artwork, join me as I speak at The Explorers Club in New York City on September 29. Reservations are required.

Until next time…
Alison

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Sleeping Elephant by Cross Culture Images © 2014

Sleeping Elephant by Cross Culture Images © 2014

I grew up in a military family so I’m used to change and regular moves between countries and continents. Some people hate the idea of this, but it’s perfectly normal if that is the way you grew up, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. So I guess it wasn’t a big surprise to my family when I announced that my husband Nigel and I were leaving the UK to move to Africa. It also wasn’t a surprise to us when my parents planned to visit us there. Several times in fact! So far we have traveled together in Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, creating some more interesting and often amusing travel memories to add to the family album.

Are you wondering why there is a photo of a sleeping elephant above and an injured zebra below? Read on…

Injured Zebra by Cross Culture Images © 2014

Injured Zebra by Cross Culture Images © 2014

When, after about 9 years, Nigel and I decided to leave Africa, I remember someone in the UK commenting that my parents must be happy we were heading back to the ‘developed’ world. I remember saying ‘ no, they actually wish we were staying longer, because there are so many places they still want to see in Africa!’. But not to fear. Our departure from the African continent hasn’t hindered their travels there too much! Since we left they’ve visited 4 times on their own, most recently returning from Zambia (somewhere I’m ashamed to admit I have not yet visited). These are a few photographs from their recent visit. Their photograph titles are shown below the images but I think these images could be called Glad to Rest (snoozing bull elephant), Glad to be Alive (injured zebra) and Glad to be a Giraffe!

Giraffe Dance by Cross Culture Images © 2014

Giraffe Dance by Cross Culture Images © 2014

My parents are Margaret & Rob Cross, who live in the UK.
You can see more of their photographs from around the world (including various African countries, Nepal, France, and the UK) on their website: CrossCulture Images.

Until next time…
Alison

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Family Diabetes Day at the Bronx Zoo with The Children's Hospital at Montefiore

Family Diabetes Day at the Bronx Zoo with The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore

I was delighted to join the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore for their Family Diabetes Day at the Bronx Zoo last week.
The weather was not particularly kind, with thunderstorms threatening, so we sketched indoors. Even so, it was great fun and the children had created a large pile of great sketches by the time the morning ended.

Thank you to Dr Rubina Heptulla for the invitation, to Jeniece Trast for all her help and to the friendly families and children who attended. I look forward to meeting more enthusiastic young artists next year!

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Learn more about the great work of The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore.

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Women receiving Micro Grants from APW in Tanzania   photo by African People & Wildlife Fund/Deirdre Leowinata

Women receiving Micro Grants from APW in Tanzania (photo by African People & Wildlife Fund/Deirdre Leowinata)

I live in Westchester County, near New York City. It is classic commuter belt territory, where there are many families with children. So when I meet someone new, the question “do you have children?” often comes up. When I answer “no, just a dog” the conversation usually comes to an end. People are too polite to ask why I have no children, perhaps thinking it wasn’t possible for me to have any, so I often say “I chose not to have children”, just so they don’t feel uncomfortable.

In rural Tanzania (and most rural parts of Africa) a related but slightly different question comes up: “how many children do you have?”. My answer is also slightly different. I just say “none” and smile broadly because I know that the next question will be “why not?”, accompanied by a horrified expression. When I say I chose not to have children I get exactly the same response again, “why not”, still accompanied by a horrified expression. Then I have to explain how different my life is and, frequently, the women I am speaking to will offer to give me a child. I’m never quite sure how serious they are but I’ve noticed that they always offer me a young girl, never a boy, because boys are considered more valuable (that is whole other blog post in its own right). We all laugh but I know that they now have serious questions about my sanity!

Anna Flam, an intern at the African People & Wildlife Fund was with me during one of these conversations, and she has written a great post for APW about this issue and about an inspirational Maasai woman, Joyce, APW’s Conservation Enterprise Development Officer. You can read the full post here and see why I describe Joyce as inspirational:

Noloholo Environmental Micro Grants – Empowering Women for Big Cat Conservation

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Nicholls Wildlife Art

I know a magical place…

Where the dry thirstland of the Kalahari Desert…

Okavango Delta photo by Alison Nicholls

photo by Alison Nicholls

Meets the spreading waters of the Okavango River…

Here lies the Okavango Delta – the World’s 1000th World Heritage Site!

photo by Nigel Nicholls

photo by Nigel Nicholls

There are 1000 reasons to visit…

Here are a few of mine…

Okavango Delta, Botswana, photo by Nigel Nicholls

Walking among the wildlife. Photo by Nigel Nicholls

Okavango Delta, Botswana, photo by Nigel Nicholls

A birder’s paradise! Photo by Nigel Nicholls

Okavango Delta, Botswana,photo by Nigel Nicholls

Amazing sunsets. Photo by Nigel Nicholls

Okavango Delta, Botswana,photo by Nigel Nicholls

Floating flowers… Photo by Nigel Nicholls

Okavango Delta, Botswana,photo by Nigel Nicholls

Mokoro trips. Photo by Nigel Nicholls

Okavango Delta, Botswana,photo by Nigel Nicholls

Did I say amazing sunsets?! Photo by Nigel Nicholls

Okavango Delta, Botswana, photo by Nigel Nicholls

Herds in the dust. Photo by Nigel Nicholls

Alison Nicholls sketching in Botswana.  Photo by Nigel Nicholls

Great sketching! Photo by Nigel Nicholls

You can find the full article about the listing of the Okavango Delta on the IUCN website here:

But don’t just visit the website, visit the Okavango!

See my African Field Sketches, including some from the Okavango Delta.

Until next time…
Alison

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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Nicholls Wildlife Art