Sunday, August 23, 2009

Elephants of Amboseli

This is my latest painting, I have provisionally entitled it 'Waiting for the stragglers'.

Oils on canvas on board - 36" x 11" (92mm x 28mm)

During a stay in Amboseli N.P. Kenya in 1999, we observed these elephants for sometime. They were some way off, but heading in our direction so we stopped and waited. I got my camcorder focused on them and just let the film roll and roll. I love to capture movement and behaviour, something obviously that can't be achieved with just a photograph. Re-watching the footage back home enables me to study the movement and behaviours and the sounds help to evoke memories of temperature and smells; stirring my senses. This all helps me to try and get the feel of the moment so that I can hopefully paint the scene better.

A little way off from us they stopped and I wondered if we were the reason - were we in the way? Should we move on? Pretty soon it was clear that they were, in fact, waiting for more elephants to join them, scattered individuals approaching slowly from far off on their right. Once they had all caught up the elephants moved off together, seemingly after the big elephant at the back moved first. Was she the matriarch?

They unhurriedly made their way towards us, all was quiet in the morning sunshine. A few birds could be heard and the occasional insect buzzed by, but hardly a sound came from the elephants. As they got closer, and with all in the vehicle in hushed awe and wonder, you could just hear the footfalls and sound of skin rubbing against skin as they walked. The littlest ones trotting to keep up at times with the huge languid strides of the adult females. It was truly magical. The only alien sound to ruin it were the whirs and clicks of our cameras, but that was inevitable as we were all trying to get as many photo's as we could.

At the time, as I recorded the video, I was thinking.. one day I'm going to paint this. And finally I have. I started the painting last year and as I have not been able to paint it continuously, it's been done in dribs and drabs. It's good to finally get it finished.

With any luck I shall get prints done of the painting and I would like to sell the original piece so that I can put a good portion of the money towards my Africa fund, to enable me to get out there and paint more elephants for the Elephants for Africa Trust.

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