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African Inspiration

Posted by Matthew Bell on
African Inspiration

I love travelling. I have been lucky enough to see many different parts of the world and I always say that travel is one of the best forms of 'life education'. However, still the best part of any trip for me is when the airplane touches back down on African soil. Africa has a very special place in my heart and I know that there is nowhere else I would ever want to live

The African bushveld is one of my favorite places to be and all of the fauna and flora that inhabit it is what inspires my artwork week in and week out. The large variety of animals, birds and trees in Southern Africa ensure that I am always spoiled for choice when it comes to the subjects of my artwork

Camping trips with family and friends to some of Africa's wildest and most beautiful places like the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and the Kalahari Desert have always been a travel highlight and to be able to see the subjects of my art in the wild is always a great experience. While I use photographs as references to draw from I still find it invaluable to spend time observing these creatures in their natural habitat. This helps me to gain a better understanding of their behavior and see the animals or birds moving around and from all the different angles and ultimately helps me to create an artwork that is as proportionally perfect as possible. This also helps me to select the right images to use as references because cameras often distort photographs and having this knowledge of how the subject really looks aids me in selecting photographs that are accurate representations of these animals.

Birding has also been a favorite pastime of mine for a long time. I have always enjoyed observing and the challenge of identifying the vast variety of birds that call Southern Africa home. The bright coloring of many of these birds make them a lot of fun to draw and I aim to complete drawings of as many of them as I can over time. My best seller has always been the Lilac Breasted Roller, and this probably explains why I have drawn six different pictures of them. The vibrant colors of these very conspicuous birds ensure that I use just about every different colored pencil I have to complete a drawing of one of them!

 

 

Many of my drawings are of various different photographs which I combine to create the final drawing. For example the below elephant drawing is three separate images that I collected and then arranged together to draw for the final artwork. Spending a lot of time out in the bush observing elephants has been very valuable when selecting these images and helps me to create interactions between the animals which are extremely authentic

 

 

Before moving to Cape Town I lived in Nelspruit for most of my life. Nelspruit is a town in Mpumalanga province in the north eastern part of South Africa and is less than an hours drive from one of the worlds best game reserves, the Kruger National Park. It goes without saying I have spent of lot of time there throughout my life and this is another aspect of my life that got me hooked on the bushveld

As I write this I am in New Zealand (stranded after I came here to visit family and I could not board my return flight home due to the Covid-19 outbreak). Its been six weeks, and I am very much looking forward to the moment my plane touches down on African soil and I am home!

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