Art Challenge Day 3 – Field Sketching

Mabuasehube ANicholls

Mabuasehube, watercolor field sketch by Alison Nicholls

Gemsbok ANicholls

Gemsbok (oryx) watercolor field sketches by Alison Nicholls

Cheetah Trio Field Sketch © Alison Nicholls

Cheetah Trio Field Sketch, watercolor by Alison Nicholls

Once I started taking my watercolors out into the bush to sketch I reached a turning point. Gradually my sketches progressed from landscapes with tiny animals in them, to pages with multiple animals on them, to full page sketches which I now sell as finished pieces and as limited editions. During these years I was awarded an Artists For Conservation Flag Expedition. I spent 6 weeks with the Painted Dog Conservation project in Zimbabwe sketching all kinds of wildlife including highly endangered African wild dogs. This period of time when sketching was my top priority for 6 weeks made all the difference. I now knew that sketching from life made me far more aware of the movement and anatomy of animals than working from photos had ever done, and as a result I was able to speed up my sketching and could turn to my sketches back in the studio for inspiration. But, even more critically, I  could create compositions in the studio without any reference material, because I now had images of real, moving animals buried deep in my artistic memory. Now I felt I was getting somewhere!

Tomorrow I’ll show how my studio work progressed to become full of color & space. In the meantime, the next artist I’d like to nominate is Hazel Jarvis. We’ve been on many a sketching jaunt in New York City and Hazel’s work is fabulous, regardless of which media she uses.

Until tomorrow…
Alison

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