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Photo of the waterhole that inspired the painting, "Paradise by the Waterhole"

Photo of the waterhole that inspired the painting, “Paradise by the Waterhole”

During my African adventure, waterholes were always a prime location for me to sit by and enjoy nature while watching the amazing animals of the bush interact. One of many benefits to driving and guiding myself on this trip was the freedom to go whereever I wanted and stay as long as I wanted. If I had taken a guided game drive, this would have all been decided by the guide and others in the group, and I’m sure that I would never have been able to capture the photographs I did, or discover the incredible inspiration that I found. This what inspired my abstract landscape painting, “Paradise by the Waterhole”.

“Paradise by the Waterhole”, 2016, 85 x 85 cm, Abstract Landscape painting, Inspired by a self drive safari in Africa.

Often, upon finding an interesting waterhole, I would park at a strategic location, get my camera in the ready position and wait with open windows, usually writing in my journal during the quiet moments. There was always great anticipation and surprise as to what animals would show up next. And, as the herds would come and go, I realized each had their own distinct way of approaching, and scouting out potential danger. Baboons organized themselves with front and rear scouts sitting on top of high vantage points as the rest of the troop would follow in a military like fashion. Giraffes were much slower in their approach, but they too seemed to have a system where some would hang back and scout for danger as the others spread their long legs wide to crouch down and quickly drink. I could sit by these waterholes for the entire day in pure wonderment. It was truly a paradise, watching the beauty of nature that surrounded me.

From one of my journal entries while sitting by a waterhole:

Three elephants wallow in from the distance as I sip warm, freeze-dried coffee from a tin camping mug. Heavy clouds are scattered across the horizon, remnants of last night’s brief rain–the wet season creeping closer. The massive beasts, their wrinkled skin covered in red dust, lumber closer towards the water’s edge. With each step, they flap their ears in a syncopated rhythm, as I suddenly realize how out of place such creatures are at a circus. A wildebeest there drinking, startled by the big bull elephant’s approaching shadow, jumps away mid sip, water spraying from its mouth as he gallops off.

Lines of baboons, approaching in a military-like clan, carefully scour all directions as they make their way to drink. A few of the group fall back, taking up strategic positions atop tall termite hills, surveying the sandy terrain in a ready stance. The lions I heard outside my tent only a few hours earlier were nowhere in sight. Were they already sleeping away the day’s building heat, or sinisterly bending in the background, obscured by the shadows of the African bush in wait?

While staring out into the distance with gleeful anticipation of what would appear next on the horizon, “Paradise by the Waterhole” already started to take shape in the canvas of my mind…

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