A traveller’s art diary

The great thing about travelling regularly is you expose yourself to different cultures and experiences, and you learn a lot. Of course, if you’re an animal nut like I am, you can actively seek out what you are looking for.

I was thinking the other day about the last couple of major trips overseas that I’ve had and how much art I’ve produced as a direct result of them. The following pictures are just a few from my own references in Egypt, Malawi, Namibia and Zambia.

Here’s a waitress from Zambia

Lions I managed to interact and play with

I called the next one “I wish I was a leopard”. Lions are good climbers but are terrible descenders. They get into all sorts of trouble when they come down out of the tree and look very little like a leopard, which would be totally at home in a tree. They make a lot of noise and seem to have little in the way of coordination, until they are back on the ground and then they look like they totally belong again. This is a young lion which still has remnants of the juvenile spots of that species, which make it look like a wannabe leopard even more.

Here are some kids from South Africa and Namibia

“Hope for Africa”

“The leader of the dance”

“Too cool for school”



“Cool kid from Langa”

“Old men of Springbok”

These beautiful birds, red-billed hornbills, are camp pests in Etosha National Park. They are welcome to be pests wherever I go as they are delightful

Here are a couple of people and a homeless cat from Egypt

Hmm, this guy looked very dubious, and I’m afraid he was too. He was a camel herder but I think he would have herded all our money if we gave him chance

Here’s a lovely lady from Malawi

Although I’ve seen a lot of tigers in zoos, I’ve never seen them in the wild. The following two scratchboards came from meeting someone (whilst I was travelling last year) who had some great tiger reference material on his camera which he shared with me. That’s another serendipity of travelling, you get to meet people who have done things you haven’t done and you can benefit and learn from them.

And while we are at it, I’m not one of those people who see more of the world than their own backyard. In fact, I refuse to be one of those people. Very few Australians have been to all their own states and territories but I have, most of them multiple times. It’s a fascinating continent and one which I love exploring. It’s been responsible for some of my all-time favourite experiences. As such, I always keep my eye open for people, animals and birds to paint or draw. Here are a recent couple.

Something else went through my head the other day too. I counted up all the countries I’d been to and it came to 53, more than quarter of the world’s countries. They range from places like the United Kingdom many many times as my family lives there, to way out spots like Mongolia and Burma, Iceland and Bulgaria, Belarus and Leichtenstein. The map below is what my world travels look like at the moment. Of course, it always looks better than it actually is. I’ve explored some countries quite well (six months in Canada, five months in New Zealand, three months in the U.S. and other decent efforts), but the map fills in a lot of red in Mexico considering I nipped over to Tijuana for an afternoon, and I also went from London to Hong Kong by train once, which meant I went through a lot of Russia, but I branched off to to Mongolia about halfway along the country yet to look at the map, you’d be excused for thinking I went all the way to Vladivostok. And because I’ve been to the U.S., the map fills in Alaska. I wish!! Maybe one day. My list of countries also includes both West and East Germany as the first time I went there, that’s what they were. Now of course, it’s only one country.

So why don’t we all set some goals to travel more, either locally or overseas, and to share those travels with our friends and hopefully inspire each other. And if you are so inclined, record your travels in a visual journal.