Monday, April 28, 2008

Before the Hunt

The Lion (Panthera leo)is the second largest living cat after the tiger. Large males can weigh in excess of 250 kg. This apex predator of the African continent typically roams the grassland and savannas but are not uncommon in bush and forest areas.

These social cats live in prides that vary in number, made up of relatives, consisting of females, cubs and a few young males. They can live for between 10 and 14 years in the wild.

The lionesses hunt in groups and can reach speeds of nearly 60 kilometers per hour for short bursts, which means they have to stalk their prey to get fairly close before launching their attack. Male lions don't normally participate in the hunt unless the pride is hunting large prey like giraffe or buffalo.

Bachelor males evicted from prides generally hunt their own prey and have been observed to hunt as a team. The male lions primary function within the pride is to protect their territory which can be as large as 100 square miles of grassland scrub and open woodlands.

Unlike the endangered Asiatic lion, the African lion is considered a vulnerable species, with numbers declining by between 30% and 50% in the last two decades. They once roamed most of Africa and parts of Asia and Europe. Today they are only found in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and a very small population in India's Gir Forest.

Game farms and reserves are a favourite attraction for most tourists who visit Africa and it would be a tragedy if these majestic animals could no longer be observed in the wild by future generations.

This water colour depicts a lion and lioness at dusk and I have called the painting "Before the Hunt"




Friday, April 18, 2008

Barnyard

This painting is a little different from the birds and animals I have been painting the past few months, wondering about the simple life without the crime and grime of urban existance. The last week or two have been very difficult with Graham being away on business for a few weeks, I have had to take care of all the Entrecard drops, it is no fun dropping for three sites.

To add to my woes our local electricity supplier has brought in load shedding, which means my power is cut off for a few hours a day. The worst part is it is cut off at different times of the day and when I check the schedule, our suburb is not on the list. So!! right now electricity is a luxury. Added to the problems EC have had I suddenly get cut off in the middle of the drops.

Whats really annoying is that the power supplier can sell power to all the neighbouring countries and supply big business with power at below cost, but the normal resident "Joe Soap" has to foot the bill. Now they want a fifty percent increase in tariffs in order to fund the building of new power stations which will only come on line in five or six years time. Bad planning.... bad management.. greed... all so typical of Africa.

When the new government took over there was an excess of power produced , so they mothballed half a dozen power stations and paid the new management millions of dollars in performance bonuses to really screw up an effective and well run system. If this was a political blog I would really make a meal of this article, instead of skirting around some of the more pertinent issues that have lead to this crisis .

Not that any of this has anything to do with my art, other than the fact that it makes life as I have become accustomed to very difficult. I suppose Africa is no place for sissy's and I am starting to wonder what I am still doing here. My family is fragmented and living in other parts of the world, they probably saw the writing on the wall a long time ago.

Maybe the rickety old windmill depicted in the above water colour painting will generate electricity as well as water, then I would not have to worry about the greedy corrupt management and government running our electricity supply .

Oh well! "I suppose I am allowed to dream" of facilities that once were considered normal, mundane, routine functions of a supposed modern, progressive country as somewhat of a luxury, reserved for the privileged few who get paid obscene bonuses for their inadequacies and mismanagement of public utilities.

Ok! now that is off my chest I hope you enjoy the painting.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Impala Water Colour Painting.

The graceful Impala antelope is found from Southern Africa to East Africa and can be identified by the thin black stripe that runs along the center of the lower back to the long tail. They also have a distinctive black stripe that runs down each thigh. They have a tuft of long course black hair that covers their scent glands located just above the hoof on each hind leg.

These slender medium sized antelope are only 28" to 36" inches tall and inhabit grassland and light woodland areas. The scent glands are used to mark their territory and herds of between ten and fifty are presided over by dominant males who rub scent from face glands and create dung heaps to mark that territory.

Their natural predators are lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs and I suppose man.

Over the next few weeks I will be painting whatever I feel like at the time. I am not sure why the baboons back looks white on the photo the painting is more of a greyish black colour.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Black Naped Oriele


















This beautiful little bird comes from South Asia, resident in the Adaman and Nicobar islands and migrates to the southern part of India.

It was once common to Taiwan but is now rare and endangered there due to the loss of habitat and the cage bird trade. It is now legally protected by law as a category 11 conservation species.

The Oriole is well known for raiding smaller birds nests, what remains a mystery though is whether it is for the eggs or just a territorial thing.

I am starting to sound like a regular birder, which I am not. I just love the beautiful colours and the challenge of painting these amazing creations of nature. These past few months, painting birds has given me an enormous amount of pleasure and I suppose added to my general knowledge.

Mans greed though never ceases to amaze me when I discover just how many of these beautiful birds are on the endangered species list. I also wander just how many of the rarer species of bird will be around for future generations to enjoy.

I still have a few bird sketches and unfinished paintings but I think I will try my hand at a few other subjects in the near future. I have started a painting of one of our local buck which I will probably finish tomorrow or the weekend.

For those of you who left comments on my accident, thank you for the concern. I was reading up on concussion on the web, and... well I guess time will heal.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Common Sea Gull


I guess its been a while since my last post. An unfortunate accident about 10 days ago put me out of action for a while.

I decided to wash the windows in my apartment and to reach the top of the windows I stood on my sofa to do the Job.

I had just finished the last window and stepped off the sofa on to the tiled floor on which I had spilt a little water. My feet slipped out from under me and I cracked my head on the tiled step which caused a 2 inch laceration on the back of my head.

I had never seen so much blood in my life and thought I was about to kiss this world good bye. After xrays, six stitches and a bald patch on the back of my head I figured it was not my turn yet.

The stitches are out and my hair has grown over the bald spot but the headaches persist and I have this constant buzzing in my one ear. The Dr. says its Tinnitus and will go away on its own.

Concentration has not been my strong suite since then, so I chose an easy subject to paint. While I was painting this gull, I realised that even though I live right by the beach I seldom see any gulls around. Though Durban is a fair sized city with miles of beautiful beaches recent tests on the water have shown that it is not safe to swim in because of the pollution levels.

I imagine the gulls realised long before we humans that the water was not safe and moved on to cleaner water. I could write a chapter on whats happening to our beautiful city, with a local government who does not seem to give a damn about our natural resources and the tourists they are chasing away, but I won't turn this into a political tirade. Instead I want to dedicate this water colour painting to the common gulls who no longer grace our beautiful coastline.