Hello! More than one person has asked me if this trip was “worth” it. Not sure how you could put a price on seeing elephants in their home, and not in a zoo. If the leopard in the nearby tree doesn’t make your heart skip a beat when he stands up to check out your vehicle, then I have to wonder if you are even alive. Or how about seeing exotic birds that aren’t caged? Hippos in the river next to your lodge?
Yes, it was more than I normally pay for a vacation, but hello, it’s AFRICA, and who knows if I’ll ever get back? (Although, I’m definitely hoping for a return visit!)
One thing I can say about this trip is that I came home truly inspired. The experience seems to have opened up some creative faucet, and I hope it doesn’t turn off for a while!
Here are a few of my recent works:
Top left: Yellow- billed stork. Top right: Helmeted guineafowl. (With one of their feathers!) Middle left: Kingfisher (grey-headed?) Middle right: Hippo. Bottom: Little Bee-eater
These are all ink and watercolor on Arches 7×10 cold pressed paper
With Zambia temperatures in the high 90s, the heat and dust made me wish for cooler weather. Waking up back home in upstate NY, the cool rain was exactly what I needed.
But – Africa, right? It’s now in my heart and in my dreams.
There is a lack of focus in these posts, so let’s blame it on jet lag, okay?
I’m not sure where to start, to share parts of this experience. It feels like words aren’t enough to describe it. Well, of course there are sketches, but maybe I’ll start at the beginning.
When you’re my seat mate, or in an airport, know that you are fair game to be a sketch subject.
Arriving at Thornicroft Lodge near Mfuwe, we had a perfect view of the river, with hippos and various birds.
Our safari rides into South Luangwe Park started on Tuesday. My dream on this trip was to see elephants, and they did not disappoint! So as not to overwhelm you, I’ll only post some of the sketches today. There were many fantastic opportunities to sketch, and we took advantage of them!
Yes, I’ve been busy, buying special clothes and repellant and whatnot for the upcoming Zambia trip. But on a quiet night recently, I thought it might help to practice sketching elephants, so I turned on a documentary, and here’s the result:
Pasted the stamp that arrived on my Zambia info packet, then realized I had plenty of room to sketch!
I also thought I’d try on an “outfit” while holding a sketchbook, and did a selfie sketch.
Yep, I’m a nerd! But you probably knew that.
I really should be practicing other animals, but… I have no idea what we will end up seeing!
For now, I’ll just practice sketching – anything, just to keep the pen and pencils and colors moving!
It really feels that way, it just didn’t happen in this lifetime.
Over a decade ago, I was collecting and painting things related to Africa-
A journal and a box of saved letters
A few of my earliest watercolor efforts, “The Blue Men of Africa” attempted twice, the second time with ink and watercolor.
Blue men of Africa in watercolor
Blue men of Africa in ink and watercolor
I scanned old National Geographic magazines for images that appealed to me:
A holiday card image one year
I’d love to imagine that these previous longings and efforts will prepare me for my upcoming Moroccan adventure, but I know better. When I arrive, the sounds and people and activities can overwhelm me. My best chance to feel like I’m “home” will be to find the silence: of the desert, or the Atlas mountains, or even just a quiet corner away from the hustle and bustle of the marketplace.
The journal pictured above is empty. I plan to bring it and fill it with words and images that belong in it.
I’ll start with the word “wonderment”, and continue from there.
Ok, I’m spilling the beans. I’m headed to Morocco.
I’m going with artists who take other artists to beautiful locations around the world.
While they are making art, and possibly trying to tutor me, I’ll be doing my usual scribbles, then adding color to them.
For those who have forgotten their geography lessons – here’s where Morocco is. I’ll first get to Madrid, then head over to Marrakesh, then a car ride to Essaouira.
The reason I’m blabbing is because I just saw something that makes me believe that
I’m going on a journey to an apparently magical place.
Why magical? Well, one of the trip coordinators told me to google “goats in argan trees.”
I mean, here, our goats just chill on the ground. Where I’m going, they hang out in trees!
Seen on google maps!
Really? So, obviously, I then wondered about the so-called Marrakesh express and was it a real train, or was it “magical” (or smoke induced) taking you to see magical things like goats in trees.
But apparently, this song is a straightforward description of an actual train ride Graham Nash took in North Africa.
In the beginning, as a wealthy Englishman, he was travelling first class in a luxurious private suite. But after a while, he decided it would be more interesting to move to another car, where ordinary Arabs and poorer tourists ride.
In the back cars, the ordinary Arabs really do travel with their livestock. Nash found that he had a lot more fun travelling among the working class Arabs and lower class tourists than with other rich people. Disclaimer: This may or may not be true. I found it on the World Wide Web. 😉
All aboard that tra-a-ain.
Just know that when I return, and I’m sharing sketches of goats in trees, and magic carpets and purple camels (I just made that up), it’s probably not drug induced, or from those worms that crawl in your ears and slowly eat your brain, although now that I’ve thought about that I might wear earplugs at night. Just in case.
“Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water.” – W. C. Fields