Thursday, December 27, 2012

The simple things of life

This will be my last painting of 2012, it has been a busy year, and just like others has flown by in a blur of activity. Finding time to paint has been a challenge, and it looks as if I will continue to find time only in the evenings and on the weekends to paint. Of course there are other important things that I need to put first, and this makes my time to create even more rare, precious, and enjoyable.

After painting this boy I noticed that one can find great pleasure in such a simple activity (Pushing an old tyre around) It made me realise I too can focus on the simple things of life. In fact most of the happiest people whom I have met have been those living a simple and uncluttered life.

Unfortunately many of us have been brought up to believe that our wants, are actually our needs. Advertising bombards us with visual images of the so called good life, and we assume that if we don’t get that item, we will be unhappy. It does not take long to realise that real happiness has never come from the things we own, but rather from enjoying and sharing the simple things of life with those whom we love, and even with those whom we don’t know.

So I will be trying to simplify even more, and to focus on the more important things in life, rather than on the things that are here today, but gone tomorrow.

Our Life is frittered away by detail….simplify, simplify.
Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cape Buffalo Bull

Pen Drawing on A4 Paper

Here is a sketch that I did tonight , it is of a buffalo bull that I saw near Baines Camp in the Okavango Delta about a month back. I wanted to paint it, but just didn’t have the energy after a long day at work so I decided to do a Pen Drawing instead. I used three different pens to do this, a BIC ball point pen, a NS Liquid Ink Roller and a Staedtler Lumocolor permanent marker to fill in the large black areas. It took almost 2 hours to finish, but I would still like to do an oil painting of this.

Buffaloes are one of my favourite animals to see in the wild from a vehicle, but not on foot, since they have a reputation of charging first and asking questions later. It is not uncommon to hear reports of people who have been injured or killed by these beasts. Normally this happens when people are traveling on foot and happen to surprise one of these animals. It should not be strange that they are aggressive, since lions view them as prime game, and so it is only natural for them to go on the defensive and even to attack.
I remember the first time I saw some buffaloes on foot , which was while I was staying in Kasane.

 It was early in the morning, dew was still clinging to all the vegetation, which meant I was more interested in dodging the foliage so as not to get wet than paying attention to my immediate surroundings. That is why it came as a surprise when I thought I saw some cattle in the thick bush, but on closer inspection, turned out to be a herd of buffalo with calves. In order to get a better view, as well as to feel safe, I climbed a tree and spent some minutes watching them. Despite my good vantage point the wind was not in my favour and it was not long before they detected my presence and melted into the bush.
It is experience’s like this , when a person is alone with the wild, that one starts to cultivate a deep respect and awareness of nature. I still enjoy walking and exploring the bush when I have the opportunity to do so, however I am very careful, and never do it in areas where there is a high risk of meeting dangerous animals.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mozambique river boats

The use of colored pencils is often thought by some, as a medium only used by the beginner artist.However today, pencil art has taken a respected place among other well established art mediums.Although I prefer painting in oils,I still use other mediums such as colored pencil to express myself,and to capture the moment,and colors quickly.The benefits of colored pencil is that they are portable,they are not messy, and don't require any water or turpentine to clean up.

However if you do want a little bit of that watercolor effect,you should try using watercolor pencils.I was looking through my sketch books this evening and I came across some of my old watercolor pencil sketches such as the above.Although I looked around for these pencils I could not find them,but I hope they might still be packed in some box somewhere.Anyway I thought it would be better to post this drawing than continue searching for something that I didn't have a clue where they may be.

One artist that that amazed me with her colored pencil art is Nicole Caulfield ,her use of this medium is really inspiring.Another pencil artist Katherine Tyrrell who also maintains an excellent blog ( Making a Mark ) has written and provided some links for those interested in making a mark in watercolor pencil.Read two of her articles if you are interested in this medium watercolour pencils ,and ,watercolour pencil techniques .

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Donkey Cart


I have finally managed to make some time to finish this painting, and it is now ready to be framed today .If all goes well I will send it together with Late for School and Water in a pink bucket tomorrow to Gaborone.They will hopefully be part of the 2012 Thapong Visual Arts Awards Exhibition (2012 Thapong Awards- bigger and better).


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Flying around the Okavango Delta

My neglected painting which is sitting on my easel

Flying around the Okavango Delta is what I have been doing,during the last few weeks. As a service provider my work sometimes involves me flying out to different camps situated in the Okavango Delta .The drawback is that many things back home in Maun get neglected ,such as my unfinished paintings. I can't complain though, as this does take me out of town and into the wilderness. After the work is completed I am sometimes able to enjoy, a game drive or a boat cruise.These rare opportunities provide me with the time to sketch and take photos ,which form the foundation of my future paintings.

Since the Okavango Delta has become a popular tourist destination there are many lodges and Camps scattered across an area of about 17,000 square km. Today I got back from a Lodge in Kasane called Chobe Chilwero , which is situated on the edge of the Chobe River. The trip there and back was taken in a 6 seater  Cessna plane, and took an hour and a half. I have lost count of how many times I have flown in these small planes, but nevertheless each trip is different and unique, 

Since northern Botswana is so flat there is no fear of crashing into a mountain, however there are risks ,which require the pilots to learn a repertoire of other skills .Pilots will have to cultivate skills such as, dodging vultures and other large birds, flying through violent storms or landing on a bush airstrip that is either flooded or really corrugated. This trip was fine, although the pilot did make some sudden manoeuvres to avoid hitting a vulture and later on a fish eagle. It was only two months ago  a vulture hit one of these small planes and made a hole through the tail,fortunately the pilot was able to land the plane safely .

I was at Chobe Chilwero for three days , and it was at times a little frustrating to be working ,while in the distance I could see vast herds of buffalo, and elephants .I was therefore excited that on my last day I was invited to join a boat cruise on the Chobe river, and managed to take some great photos of buffalo which were part of a large herd of 150 animals.I hope that soon I will have enough time to develop these into some exciting paintings .

The Okavango Delta can be breathtakingly beautiful.

Most of the camps are in isolated areas surrounded by floodplains,which means the only way to get to these places is by small planes.Maun airport is one of the busiest airports in the world due to this fact.

Sunset on the Chobe river, Botswana.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Revisiting Kubu Island

A quick 20 minute watercolor and pen sketch of one of the Baobab trees on Kubu Island.Baobab trees can live to be a few thousand years old . Wikipedia .Baobab tree/Adansonia.

A week ago my brother, four friends, and I took a break so as to visited Kubu Island.It is my second visit to this isolated island dotted with baobab trees.You can read about my first adventure to Kubu Island here .

Its an island not because it is surrounded by water,but because it is surrounded by an expanse of flatness as far as the eye can see.Since it is isolated,and arid it is also not an area to visit unprepared.Although there are campsites, these consist of nothing more than an open area to place your camp and a long drop, (A toilet that does not flush) Since there is no water there, we packed about 45 liters of it, as well food, firewood and camping equipment. After four hundred kilometers ,twenty seven ostriches, and hundreds of zebras we arrived.

My brother and I decided to spend the two nights sleeping next to the fire under the stars, this would have been even better had it not been a full moon so that we could have enjoyed the stars.In fact he moon was so bright that I had to go beneath my blankets just to sleep.However the full moon did create an eerie atmosphere around this island of rocks and twisted baobabs which added to to the experience. But the light from the moon allowed us to take a midnight walk over the island so as to search for porcupines,and it also provided me a chance to experiment with my camera.
During the day it was so hot that we took shelter beneath the little, if not only green tree in the area which fortunately was in our camp. Since we were there only for a short time, I did not manage to get as much sketching done as I would have like to and instead  ended up using my camera .

During the middle of the day the wind really blew and we went through a couple of sandstorms.All we could do was remain sitting in our chairs with our backs to the wind ,because if we got up ,our chairs would blow away.Although it was a bit windy we were acually happy,as it kept us cool and blew the flies away which which was far worse that the dust.

Aside from the thousand year old baobabs, its isolated location ,Kubu Island has two other interesting things.The first one, is that thousands of years ago, Kubu  was really a Island sticking out of a super lake or a small sea.There are two reasons why we have come to this conclusion first , the rocks are stained white by bird guano, second around the base of the highest points of the island there are smooth rounded pebbles.

The other interesting thing is that after the lake had long disappeared, maybe hundreds of years ago people used to live here,confirmed by the stone walled enclosure and bits of pottery and ostrich eggshell beads that you can find here.Some of us spent quite a bit of time searching the ground in the unfulfilled hopes of finding something like an arrow head, or even a stone flint.

Those of you who know the TV show Top Gear can also see their trip to this strange place at Botswana adventure part one-Top Gear-BBC

I still plan on doing a painting of Kubu Island and it has now joined my long list of things still to paint.


On the way to Kubu Island we came across quite a big Baobab tree,so we took a 5 minute break.

The remains of the stone walls can be clearly seen,even though many parts have collapsed.The wall only stands about a meter and a half high but up to a meter or more wide .There are two small windows or peep holes that can also be found in the wall.Not sure why these were created since they are very low down, maybe to secretly watch any who might be approaching the area.Some people believe that this walled area was only used for initiation rites or ceremonies.

A stunning end to the day seen from the empty pans.

Early morning sunlight bathing the rocks and the Baobab tree in a warm glow.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Maun Artists

A stunning  painting of a Kudu ,by a local young artist Mr Moruakgoma.

The recently formed Okavango Artist Association held an Exhibition  a couple of weeks ago, showcasing Maun Artists , and which can still be enjoyed,at our Local Museum.Some of the artists were exhibiting for the first time ,others were more experienced .I thought I might display a little of that talent .

A painting of baskets 

A photo of a sleepy lion by Stuart

Stuart James Arnold is a fine art photographer ,and he displayed a number of his works.Found out today that he is also on blogspot also visit his website

This painting was done as a wall hanging,by a young new artist who was exhibiting for the first time.

Generally the northern part of Botswana which includes Maun is famous for its baskets.Visit Botswana Craft Gallery to see more examples of Botswanas Baskets and the intricate designs they carry.

We also have a local sculptress, Christiane Stolhofer who creates stunning abstract art work out of beautiful woods. Visit her website or view her online gallery at bush memory art gallery

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Late for school


I have just finished my most recent painting (Late for School) last night.It was done on Masonite board ,which I first painted with white primer.I found the surface very different to canvas,and although I have painted on such a surface before I had forgotton its texture.It is much soother than canvas, but I liked the way its texture can show through thinly painted areas.

I wanted the boy to appear as if he had just woken up, and was hurriedly looking for his school uniform.In order to portray this, I painted him holding a school shirt in one hand and a shoe in the other.The dilapidated house and the shadow of the boy I also filled in from my imagination.I started off by dividing my board into thirds,then placing my main subjects along the points of focus.To add some more color I painted in the washing line.

I really had fun painting this one,probably because I love creating stories using my art. Any new ideas for a title ,I initially thought of calling it (Late for school), but then last night ,after realizing I had painted a pair of trousers on the line I thought of calling it (Where is my trousers?)

I had fun drawing,or scribbling childishly on the wall.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Late for school (work in progress)

This is what I am working on now,I will fill you in on further details later. I am having fun painting this one , and am on a roll , already have another idea for my next painting as well .Still quite a way to go to finish , hopefully will do so tonight.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Water in a Pink Bucket


It is not often that I paint smaller works in oils, so this was a good change for me. I purposefully went for a more painterly feel in this one, and I enjoyed it immensely. I was able to complete this in two sessions, which was nice, since I did not have to wait for weeks until I could enjoy the finished work.

Maun can be a terrible place to live in, if you want a reliable source of running water. The town’s water utilities have now set up a couple of watering points, these consist of large green tanks, which water trucks top up when empty. There is always regular activity found at these watering points. As people come and go, some carry the water back home in buckets balanced on their heads, while others use donkey carts, or wheelbarrows. It was at one of these watering points that I saw these two sisters, the older one with a pink bucket of water on her head.

Fortunately we are living on the banks of the Thamalakane river, and we pump water directly from the river so are not affected by the lack of water as others are. However that does not mean we do not have our own water problems. We are using an electric water pump, which works very well. But the filter on the end of the pipe, which is situated about 20 meters from the shoreline sometimes gets blocked with water lily stems, and other aquatic vegetation. The pipe is very heavy and cannot be pulled out easily, which means someone has to wade in, and manually unblock the filter. My brother normally does this bit (I mean what younger brothers are for?)However, at the time he was in another town.

Now normally I do not mind swimming in rivers, or dams, in fact I love swimming. However, there were a couple of things on my mind when I went in to unblock the pipe. My first thought was Crocodiles! It had only been a month ago, that a crocodile had killed some dogs, not far from where I was now busy splashing about. My second thought was Hippos, a large Hippo had visited the very spot where the pipe ended only a few days before while munching water lilies, was he still around?

I must have been dreaming when I thought that I would wade in, fix the filter and be out in 5 minutes. Therefore, it was a little alarming when the water started lapping around my neck and I had still not reached the end of the pipe. I also discovered that there was enough aquatic vegetation beneath the surface to feed Ten Hippos, which I wondered why they had not eaten more of, as I was, became hopelessly tangled in the stuff. Anyway, after much wrestling with the heavy pipe, while trying to stay afloat, and scanning for crocodiles all at the same time, I was able to bring the end of the pipe to the shore. I then spent the next 15 minutes shivering while I cleaned the filter and unblocked the valve, which was blocked full of weeds. It took another 5 minutes to take the pipe back into the river, after that it was simply a matter of priming the pump and switching it on. Therefore, it was music to my ears when I finally heard the water cascading into our tank, bringing with it the realization that I did not have to re-enter the river and do it all over again, well at least not for today. The things we do for water!

Monday, August 13, 2012

On the way home.

Here is the finished painting of the Herero Lady and her son.This was based on some photos taken in Bodibeng Village which is about 120 km west of Maun.Very likely they had just arrived back from Maun with food supplies which she is carrying on her head and paraffin in the blue bottle that will be used for their stove and lights.I loved the evening light in this painting and the contrasting shadows.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Orange teapot dress

Last night was the first time I have done some serious painting since my exhibit in Gaborone.It is of a Herero lady and she is part of a much larger painting ,which I will reveal when it is all finished.

The Herero people live mainly in Namibia a country that borders on the Western part of Botswana.The Herero spread into Botswana during 1904 after they rebelled against the German rule of that time and were defeated.About 2000 fled into Botswana ,however without any cattle or livestock they had to worked for the Tswana until they once again amassed for themselves their own herds of animals.

Today many Herero are big cattle farmers,and are known to take good care of their livestock thereby contributing to Botswana's beef industry. The Herero woman are easily identified by their long dresses,these outfits are made by themselves are are only worn by married women.The Victorian style of dress was influenced by the German colonization in Namibia during the late 1800 century .The outfit also consists of some kind of headdress (which I call horns) and it normally matches the dress.This style of dress has change little over time, except for the fact that you can now find them in all kind of bright colors, and even with teapots on them.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Botswana through my eyes (Solo Exhibit)

Savuti Elephant which is one of my older paintings that was also on display.

You have probably wondered what has happened to me, as I have not updated this blog for some time. Well I have been busy preparing for my Solo Exhibit (Botswana through my eyes) which I finally had Wednesday night at the Frame Gallery in Gaborone. This was a real learning curve for me and I have learnt how much work is involved in preparing for a solo exhibit. Making brochures, sending invites, preparing the paintings, getting them framed, buying drinks and snacks, and then hoping that you sell something. However there are many benefits such as increased publicity and advertising . Brown to Exhibit at the frame gallery (Gazette NewspaperDaily News

Although I have had a solo exhibit before this was my first solo exhibit at a gallery with an opening night,so I did not really know what to expect.However it was great to see that 30 people turned up for the opening night, which was good as I was able to speak to most of them . I always enjoy receiving feedback from different people who viewed my work as it gives me an idea what people like.
The evening went well, before we had officially opened the exhibit; one man walked in, looked at my Botswana herdboy and cattle painting and said he wanted it .So the evening started on a positive note . Selling that painting meant that all my expenses for the exhibit could now be covered and I would even make some profit as well. The exhibit will run for 2 weeks so I hope that I will sell some more artwork during this period. All in all the exhibit is already a success and well worth all the effort.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On my way to do the washing (completed)

I have finally finished (On my way to do the Washing) This was based on a photo of this girl and her younger sister both wearing hardly any clothing ,I think it was all in the bag on top of her head.They were on their way to a communal village tap where they would wash their clothes and then take them back home to hang up to dry.Due to the lack of accessible water they probably had a week of family washing in that bag,it would have taken them some time to wash that all by hand as well!Thats something to think about the next time we throw our washing into the machine:)


Monday, June 4, 2012

Washing Day (in progress)

This is what I started working on during the past Saturday and Sunday,that is after stretching my own canvas.I was hoping to buy ready stretched canvas on Friday ,but living in Maun ,means that one is not spoilt with choice.So after looking at some expensive ready stretched canvas ,that was as crooked as the back leg of a dog, I decided I would be far better off making my own Canvas.Not only am I happy with  my DIY stretched canvas but I have also saved some money.The prices for canvas here in Maun is exorbitant ,and the quality is often poor.I will certainly be stretching more of my own canvas from now on.If any of you are interested in also Stretching your own canvas and would appreciate some basic instructions I would be glad to post my efforts?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 Wildlife Artist of the Year - Selected Not Hung

It was very rewarding and exciting to see that my painting (An Uncertain Encounter) had passed the final judging and had been selected to be included in the folder that will be available during the 2012 Wildlife Artist of the year exhibit.Due to the high amount of entries that they received from around the world it would not have been possible to display them all ,and I suppose that is why they introduced the folder .Although these paintings were not hung, they are never the less stunning, have a look at some of these in the  2012 Wildlife Artist Of The Year Folder 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sunset,dust and cattle

After the last painting of Sue, which was very detailed and required plenty of attention,I wanted to do something which was simple and easy.Once again I have used a couple of different photos as reference material.I even threw in my sisters dog Patrick.

Now Patrick has a story, he is a real bush breed, and came to us 11 years ago when his mother decided to have her puppies under our caravan.She was no ordinarily dog ,she was a stray and had terrible wounds on her body which caused her to yelp and scream.It was a sad situation because at that time there was no active SPCA or animal welfare group in Maun who could help.Anyway after she decided to give birth under our caravan we tried feeding her but she was very frightened,and would often leave the pups during the day.One day she decided not to come back, and after two days my mom and sister decided to remove the puppies and give them needed attention.It came as a shock to find 4 scrawny puppies that were covered in fleas and maggots.And so started (operation puppies) which include weekly washing's, treatments for the fleas , maggots,and frequent feedings.
We found homes for all the pups,and since our sister had fallen in love with puppies we had to keep one as well , and so that is how Patrick became our dog. He seemed to have inherited from somewhere a special ability to warn us when there is a snake around.Living here in Botswana we have had numerous experience with cobras and puff adders.Unlike other dogs ,especially fox terriers which will rush in and attack the snake, Patrick would keep his distance and bark in a very strange way.We called this the snake bark,and each time we heard it we would go and investigate and sure enough every time there would be a snake.
Aside from surviving snakes he has also survived being hit by a car,gored by a buffalo and narrowly escaping a leopard attack.He is truly an African dog and that's why he probably looks at home in this painting.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My first portrait in oil paints (Sue)


Can you believe it I have never done a portrait in oils yet.This is my first portrait done in oils.I have painted people before but they have always been part of a much larger painting.I have done portraits in pencil and have even sold quite a number of them.I think I have just been more focused on portraying wildlife,and village activities.So this is what I did this weekend, starting on Friday,I spent a few hours each evening working on this portrait.

When I started this painting I actually thought it would be easy to complete,but half way through,I realized my colors were just not coming together .Loosing all confidence I ended up painting very thin layers and carefully blending them together until the right colors were achieved.It seemed a slow and painful process,but it made me realize the challenge of achieving that perfect likeness of someone you know.I am glad to say that it turned out better than I thought it would .


 Just a few progress shots of Sue.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Botswana Herd Boy and Cattle Finished

I have finally finished this painting (Botswana Herd Boy and Cattle).This painting made me realize that the way I am using oil paints is changing , I am starting to apply the paint a little more thickly than before. In the past I would dilute the paint with Turpentine and linseed oil and and use the paint thinly and sparingly.

I Think this change has been prompted  by the things I have learnt from other Artists on blogspot , and I feel that I have grown as an artist during the past year.Here is just a sample of the many artists ,that through their blogs have had a positive influenced on my art, Karin Jurick , Arto Isotalo  ,  Adebanji Alade ,and Antti Rautiola  go  see some of their work and feel inspired!