Maasai Mara 2014
The Maasai Mara in Kenya is one of my favourite safari destinations. It is also one of the best places on Earth to see wild elephants, buffalo, leopards, lions and cheetah in addition thousands of wildebeest.
In addition to the great wildebeest migration in late summer, the Mara has wildlife in abundance and is one of Earth's best locations to see game. All the usual species are here plus stunning bird life. It is popular with safari tourism but if you know where to go there are many areas where you feel like you are the only person there! For me there is a treasure trove of subjects to paint and of course, perhaps my favourite subject - light - is there in abundance too.
A small selection of paintings from the Maasai Mara
Sketching by the river
This is me posing for the camera at the edge of the Mara River near Governor's Camp. Sketching wild animals from life is not the easiest occupation and I used to take all my painting gear with me to Zimbabwe (Hwange) and Zambia (Kafue) when I was younger. See the photo below. These days I use digital photography and sometimes I still sketch but more for fun. All the photos on this website are my own - and after nearly 30 years I can tell you I have collected quite a few!
I recall that I tried to paint elephants from life once many years ago in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. I set up my full painting easel by a waterhole and I tried to kid myself that I could paint a herd of elephants as they drank at the waterhole. It was a farce! I just managed to paint what vaguely looked like an elephant for the camera. I still have that sketch but it will never see the light of day!
I also painted a few landscapes in various parts of Africa which were far more successful, as in the old photo below.
Painting in Africa in the 1990s
Me painting on location in the late 1990s. It's hard to think now that I took a lorry load of equipment with me in those days. I remember having trouble at the airports - especially Harare in Zimbabwe - when my luggage was over weight and they wouldn't allow me through! I don't think I ever thought of taking a small easel like the one I use today (such as in Venice) because that wasn't professional enough!
I saw TV programmes of artists painting in Africa when I was a kid and thought that I'd do that one day. I had no idea it would lead to a 30 year career in wildlife painting. I also had no idea how to dress on safari. Nobody told me about safari clothing!
I look back on these early days with great affection and it gave me a solid grounding for the work I do today.