This Painter Studies the African Landscape

Alison Nicholls’ sketches and watercolor paintings take after the African landscape – a landscape she has come to know quite intimately, having lived in Botswana and Zimbabwe for a number of years. Her work allows her to revisit these African planes and study them closer.

Her process includes visiting African conservation organizations, where she sketches on-site. This way, Nicholls also gets to learn about current conservation issues. Her resulting sketches and paintings are then used to raise awareness and funds for the organizations’ fieldwork. According to Nicholls, she donates a portion of her sales to these organizations.

Quite naturally, Nicholls finds the process of painting in an African conservation, an exhilarating one. While her studio paintings consist of multiple layers, her sketches require confidence and speed. “It can be a real challenge to depict complex issues like the human-wildlife conflict in a painting,” Nicholls explains on her website, “but it has given my art layers of meaning, as well as layers of color.”

“I usually work in pencil or pen first, then add watercolor,” she explains her process. “I don’t have an easel or a chair because I usually stand when sketching people, or need to be in a vehicle when sketching wildlife.”

She might just inspire you to get sketching!