It’s that time of year again for the International Society of Scratchboard Artists to hold their annual exhibition, this time in Maryland USA. I sent two pieces over from Australia, entered into the Masters category and am delighted to say that for the second year running I won the “Silver Award”, this time with my Meerkat Montage, below.
This is a real honour because I am exhibiting next to some of the world’s greatest scratchboard artists – in fact some of the finest artists in the world full stop. It’s always a great show for the public and artists alike. I attended the 2012 show in California where artists gave workshops and demonstrations and I certainly learnt a lot.
In this post I’m adding a few pieces of recent art below, both pastels and scratchboards.
This first scratchboard of a Namibian girl (from one of my trips to Africa) is completed entirely with the use of tattoo needles.
Here we have a meerkat created with an airbrush and the fibreglass brush I use so much, a great tool for creating a soft look. I was particularly drawn to the backlighting from one of my photographs of meerkats at the Adelaide Zoo. I started out with a white board. Normally I use black boards where black India ink has been sprayed onto the clay by the manufacturer but you can also buy clayboards where you put the ink on yourself.
Perhaps an unusual subject for me, done again with tattoo needles. It was a birthday present for my bodybuilder son and is of Shawn Ray, one of the world’s best ever bodybuilders.
With this group of zebras in scratchboard, I’ve tried to use composition as a tool to tell a story. I’ve cropped them closely and called it “Our world is closing in” in reference to the fact that, even in Africa, the game parks are being encroached on by such massive human population growth that even relatively common animals like zebras are being driven further and further away to escape those pressures. The zebras are drinking in a formation where they can still see the dangers around them which can be an analogy for this world that they are being forced to live in.
This is a pastel of a backlit zebra and following that a pastel of a meerkat, both quick studies for larger works to come later.
I’m a regular bush walker and this weekend I had one of those moments that will live with me forever.
It was a stinking hot day in an area that generally gets a lot of walkers but because of the temperature there was no one else at all. I saw this wild koala at the base of a tree and when it heard me it scampered up the trunk until it was out of any danger that it may think I could cause. I took a few photos, below is one of them…
I left the area to finish the first part of my walk and when I got back about an hour later the same koala was back at the bottom of the tree. This time I approached very slowly and it climbed only to my waist level and stopped. I stopped too, sat down and waited a while. I also talked reassuringly. It looked very hot and parched so I took my water bottle out and gingerly advanced a few more steps, sat down, waited some more, advanced a bit more again until I was eventually within arm’s reach. I held out the water bottle and poured a few drops onto the ground so the koala could see what it was. I then leaned in and poured some water onto its nose and straight away it started to drink. It eventually drank about half my remaining water and at one time it even took the bottle off me but then dropped it. I was a wonderful experience and it even let me pet it a little. I shouldn’t have but simply couldn’t resist it. It’s great when an animal trusts you enough to allow you this close and to hopefully even help it. I’ve seen this koala up the same tree once before so it’ll be interesting to see what happens if I ever see it again. Check out the following photos.
Following on from my previous blog I’ve recently been invited to join “Artists Against Extinction”. Firstly this is one heck of a cause. It gives artists the opportunity to come together under one banner and do something about the current situation regarding poaching or habitat elimination/degradation. As wildlife artists we want to find any opportunities to give back. Artists tend to be passionate people and we direct that passion towards our subject matter, in this case wildlife. I have a few pieces of art up on the site and the sale of each piece gives me chance to support one or more organisation.
Where would we be without the wonderful wild creatures that we draw and paint? Well, if we do nothing we may soon get a chance to find out.
Karen Laurence-Rowe, a wonderful artist from Kenya and winner of the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the year award 2012, put this group and website together and this brings me to my second point. I get the opportunity to be involved with something worthwhile but with people who are heroes to me. Some of the other artists are legendary names in our world. I also have two things in common with Karen. We were both born in Uganda and we both lived in Kenya (though she still lives there).
The link to the website is below. Please browse some of the brilliant art and get to know more about this excellent initiative, and if you wish to purchase something, do so in the knowledge that a large portion of the money will go to a worthwhile cause. Everyone is a winner!
It seems like it’s all bad news these days about elephants. One elephant is slaughtered every 15 minutes for its ivory to serve unscrupulous scum, mainly in the far east like in China and Vietnam. (By the way, those countries themselves have good people fighting the fight but they are sadly outnumbered and out bidded). That’s 35,000 plus elephants gone every year. However, I like to focus on the people who are doing some good and I count many of my wildlife artist friends among that number. Check out this page from Julie Askew and feel free to search out the following artists who do such great work
Anyhow, with this in mind, I have a small scratchboard completed. It’s of an elephant I saw in Chobe National Park in Botswana. I’ve tried to create the high contrast of shiny wet hide on the elephant as it is in a river drinking.
My previous blog was about a march for elephants and rhinos to highlight the old yet growing problem of poaching. Again I reiterate the catch cry “Not on our watch”!!! Let’s make a difference.
On October 4th 2014 people from over 130 cities around the world marched to raise awareness for elephants and rhinos. Some horrifying statistics – over 35,000 elephants and over 1,000 rhinos are slaughtered each year for their ivory and horns. This is a tragic state of affairs. I took part in the Adelaide walk which, despite the topic, was a good natured walk where like minded people got together to do something. When we are asked why elephants and rhinos (and other species) should be protected we try to justify things by placing an economic value on them – such as the revenue they bring in through tourism and the iconic status they give host countries, but how about these three reasons?
They have as much right to be here as us!
They are magnificent!
They are large animals, and that means if we protect them in parks, they need large tracts of land and this in turn protects huge numbers of other species!
We adopted the slogan “Not on our watch” meaning we are going to be part of the change that needs to occur in the mentality of this greedy world.
There were a few hundred of us and here are a few photos from the march in Adelaide.
I’m the guy in the lower left of this photo with my arms crossed. As I said, despite the seriousness of the subject, we had a fun day
We posed by the iconic Adelaide Mall’s Balls
And here I am reflecting in the balls. Talking of balls (and not trying to be too crude), for some reason some very stupid people in some countries think that rhino horn taken in powdered form increases one’s sexual prowess. I could cut my fingernails and sell that to them – it’s basically the same stuff! That way I could live and get rich and the rhinos could also live.
Here I am with Emma Still who has organised art exhibitions which I have supported for a few years, proceeds going to painted dogs in Africa. Emma’s an awesome person!!
And finally, here’s my latest piece of art, a scratchboard of a zebra done at a demo I did for the Pastel Association of South Australia.
I’m delighted to say that I won the Silver award in the Masters category at the third annual International Society of Scratchboard Artists exhibition in Cary, North Carolina. That’s a big win and a nice boost. I only wish I was there to see the whole show. The piece that won this award is my “Grazing” zebra.
In the past I’ve done my emus, called the “Birdy Bunch”
and my kangaroos called the “Kanga Crew”.
Well, now I have my Meerkat Montage which, like the others, is an image made up of nine different scratchboards of meerkats. I’ve really enjoyed creating these as meerkats are such marvellous creatures, and I’ve learnt a lot about how different they are in both personality and looks. First image is how they will look when I’ve framed them and then the individual scratchboards follow.