Although I had painted landscapes and wildlife, I never thought I was interested in painting or sketching people. But as I got to know Botswana better, I did try my hand at a couple of pieces. However, I was never comfortable sketching people without their permission and was too shy to ask. As with so many things in life, it was only after I left Africa that I realized what a chance I had been missing all those years. But luckily for me, it was also at this time that I became familiar with the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) in Tanzania and arranged with Dr Laly Lichtenfeld to spend time at the project sketching. While I was there I learned about APW’s work with the local communities and saw firsthand some of the complex conservation issues facing both people and wildlife. I knew I wanted to include these issues in my work and began composing some conservation-themed paintings which show issues like human-wildlife conflict.
My visits to APW grew out of my visit to the Painted Dog Conservation project back in 2007, but with APW I moved into the realm of painting people. Frankly, when I first visited, I had absolutely no idea how much I was going to enjoy this! The conservation of wildlife and habitat depends on the decisions that will be made by people who share the land with wildlife. If their lives are made easier by the elimination of wildlife then it will be difficult for wildlife to survive and roam freely. The work of conservation organizations can help to provide workable solutions, but it is the people who will make the ultimate decisions – which is why I am pleased to finally incorporate both the people and wildlife of Africa in my art.
These days I make a donation to African conservation from the sale of every original painting, original field sketch and limited edition giclée and I aim to use my work to explain complex conservation issues and highlight solutions which are being used in the field.
Thank you for following my week of Art Challenge posts, I hope it gave you an insight into my artistic journey. Life as an artist has its ups and downs but I never want to do anything else. Its been a wild adventure so far. Long may it continue!