Tag Archives: giraffe

Shepherd's Tree and Giraffe

Shepherd’s Tree and Giraffe

Trees, rocks and landscape features will be making more of an appearance in my upcoming paintings and here’s a great example – Shepherd’s Tree & Giraffe.

Shepherd's Tree and Giraffe

Shepherd’s Tree and Giraffe, 24×16″ acrylic on canvas by Alison Nicholls. Sold.

Shepherd’s trees are not tall but can be very sculptural, and they’re frequently browsed by giraffes, which of course also have elegant lines. I took the giraffe silhouette from a sketch I made in South Africa, and the tree shape I created in the studio, after studying my Shepherd tree sketches from Botswana.

The painting has a limited palette of only 3 colors – Naples yellow, cerulean blue & quinacridone magenta. Naples yellow is one of my favorite paint colors and I’ve added it to my field sketch kit too as it’s perfect for dry season grasses and the coats of many animals. These 3 colors make a wonderful range of grays, browns and pinks and even greens.

Shepherd’s trees have tiny leaves which spiral around the spiky branches but the overall effect is that the branches themselves often look green. I knew I needed to paint them boldly and left them until the end because I was afraid of ruining the painting at this late stage. To try and prevent that potential disaster I practiced painting the leaves on a separate piece of canvas, then dived in and painted them in bold strokes.

I’m delighted with this painting and would love to hear your opinion too. My newsletter subscribers always see my new work* before I post it on my website or on social media, and this painting sold when it featured in my October newsletter. So if you want first view of my new work, you can subscribe here. I’m donating 25% of the purchase price to African People & Wildlife to help in their ground breaking work in Tanzania.

See you next time!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

* except my 10-minute daily sketches, which are posted to my Etsy storeInstagram and Facebook.

Learn more about African People & Wildlife.

Giraffes fighting photo by Alison Nicholls

Its World Giraffe Day!

Lets celebrate World Giraffe Day by watching giraffes in South Africa. These 2 bulls are practicing their fighting techniques. When its serious, their huge, bony heads hit each other with a ferocious force which can knock a giraffe off its feet. Not the kind of behavior you’d expect from a giraffe, right?

I’ve seen a real fight only once, and it was very short, but violent. It was in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. The bull on the left quickly realized he was out-matched and made a run for it, but only after a few heavy blows meted out by his opponent.

Giraffes fighting photo by Alison Nicholls

On this World Giraffe Day, remember that although giraffes can fight each other, they can’t fight habitat loss or poaching. So consider a donation to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation to help this amazing species.

Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

 

Giraffe Bulls Browsing by Alison Nicholls

Giraffes – Paintings in Stages by Alison Nicholls

Giraffes are unique in so many ways – which makes them perfect for painting. As you’ll see in this video, I started with simple washes of fluid acrylic on watercolor canvas. When they were dry I looked at the washes from every angle and suddenly the compositions jumped out at me – 2 bulls browsing in the narrow gap between tall shrubs, and a cow and her calf gazing off into the distance.

A donation will be made from the sale of these paintings to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. The original paintings are currently on view at the Rye Arts Center in Rye, New York, until April 21. You can also see them on my website here.

Read more about the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
The Rye Arts Center is located at 51 Milton Road, Rye, NY 10580.

Take care
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Generic Giraffe & Other Pitfalls

Field-sketches-by-Alison-Nicholls

Field-sketches-by-Alison-Nicholls

After sketching in the African bush for a number of years, I know the shapes of many of the commonly seen species. Right now, from memory, I can create a quick drawing of a giraffe, elephant, lion, leopard, painted dog, cheetah, kudu, impala, spotted hyena, buffalo, gemsbok, zebra, wildebeest, white rhino, baboon or aardvark (OK, I’m kidding, I’ve never seen, let alone sketched, an aardvark).
 
This knowledge helps me immensely when I’m sketching in the bush and catch a brief glimpse of activity that I want to capture in my sketchbook. If I see a young elephant chasing guinea-fowl or lion cubs pouncing on each other, a particular turn of the head or twist of the body might attract my attention so I quickly sketch it, but then, using my knowledge of the anatomy of the animal, I can add further details to complete the sketch.
 
But recently, I questioned whether this knowledge also leads me to sketch a generic giraffe, a standard spotted hyena, a basic buffalo or a common cheetah. Am I now doing what I always tell students to avoid – drawing what I think I know instead of what I see?
 
If I do fall into this trap (it happens to us all at times) then at least I’m aware of it, so this year in Africa I will be tutoring myself as well as my students. We’ll just have to see who follows instruction better!
 
Do you have any bad art habits you are prepared to share?
Go on, make me feel better.
Alison
 
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Gigantic Giraffes!

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

Browsing Giraffe Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2015

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

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

Giraffes, 6×4″ watercolor. Original Sold.

Stages of a giraffe sketch by Alison Nicholls

How to sketch a giraffe. Photo by Nigel Nicholls.

We all know what a giraffe looks like, right?
Well I challenge you to sketch the giraffe above.
Now, tell me, aren’t giraffes put together in a strange way? Its amazing that they can stand up, let alone walk or run anywhere. Or drink.
As with so many large mammals, their numbers have been dropping far too fast in recent decades due to habitat loss & the bushmeat trade among other things.
So, I’m donating 25% from the sale of my remaining Browsing Giraffe limited editions (see above) to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). One of the limited editions has been donated to Longnecks for Longnecks a fundraiser for GCF in Orlando, Florida on Thursday. So join them for an evening out in support of gentle giants!
Alison
www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com
Browsing Giraffe Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2015

African Wildlife Sketch #5 – Browsing Giraffe

When I sketch giraffes I realize just how strangely they are put together. Whereas circles form the basis of most of my animal sketches, with giraffes there seem to be more triangles involved. Their necks look ridiculously thin from some angles, their knees and feet are huge when seen up close, they have an amazingly long tongue and big males often have faces covered in lumps. Somehow, despite all this, they manage to be one of the most elegant animals in the African bush!   

Browsing Giraffe Field Sketch by Alison Nicholls ©2015

Browsing Giraffe 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 was sold yesterday, but 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 zebra in mopane scrub.
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

Giraffes by Alison Nicholls ©2007

Giraffes At Play – by Alison Nicholls

When you think of a giraffe you think of elegance and that long graceful strides – even when giraffes run they look like they are moving in flowing slow motion. But one day in Hwange National Park in northern Zimbabwe, I saw a different side to giraffes.

Giraffes by Alison Nicholls ©2007

Giraffes by Alison Nicholls ©2007

2 female giraffes arrived at a waterhole, each with a very young calf in tow. After a few moments looking at each other, the 2 calves realized this was an opportunity not to be missed and immediately set off on a ridiculous romp; chasing each other around a tree; stopping; setting off again; obviously having the best time of their lives. Their mothers looked on in something approaching disgust and decided it was time to leave. The calves paid no attention at first, but as their mothers headed off in different directions, they realized their game had come to an end. Reluctantly they went their separate ways, no doubt to resume their training to become stately, graceful giraffes!

Until next time…
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

Giraffe by Alison Nciholls

The Ungainly Elegant Giraffe by Alison Nicholls

The first time I sketched giraffes, I realized how strange they are, with protruding triangular chest bones and huge boney knees. When you see a giraffe close up, you see just weird their proportions are. And when you see a giraffe skull, you realize just how dangerous a giraffe fight can be – with 2 males using their heads as battering rams, trying to knock the opponent off their feet.

Giraffe by Alison Nciholls

Giraffe acrylic on canvas 10×8″ by Alison Nicholls

So it is ironic that the giraffe is considered one of the most elegant of African animals. Until you see them gracefully arch their necks to browse from the top of a thorny bush; run in that slow-motion manner, covering astonishing amounts of ground in one stride; or just stand still with neck held in a beautiful curve. Then it is completely clear why the giraffe is considered so graceful.

As an artist, when I create a wash of simple, elegant color, I almost inevitably think of adding a giraffe to the scene. Which is how this painting came to be. I put it aside for a few days, wondering whether to add another giraffe to the piece. But I decided 1 simple, elegant giraffe was all that was required.

Until next time…
Alison

www.ArtInspiredbyAfrica.com

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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Nicholls Wildlife Art

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

Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
Visit my Website
Join my Mailing List
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Nicholls Wildlife Art