Monday, January 24, 2011

A leaping and a hopping over Kubu Island


Kubu Island, situated in the Magkadigkadi pans, somewhere near the center of Botswana is a strange place. You could almost imagine you were on another planet. It’s an island populated with baobab trees that eke out an existence between the white boulders and rocks. Standing out in the white expanse of the salt pan while gazing at the island, it’s easy to imagine waves crashing on the rocky shores of Kubu Island, while hundreds of noisy sea birds gathered on the rocks. Today the only reminder of that much wetter period is the smooth pebbles around the base of the island and the rocks that are stained white by bird guano. Equally interesting is the evidence that man once lived here, stone walls are found, clearly evident, some with small window holes that look out across the never ending white salt pans. If you look carefully in some areas, you might be fortunate as I was to find bits of broken pottery and ostrich egg shell beads hidden among the dust .As little as 50 or 100 years ago boys would be leaping and playing among the rocks.Women and girls might have spent time making necklaces of ostrich egg shells, while the men could have been returning from a hunt carrying the meat of some antelope over their shoulders.
My visit to this strange island was not without excitement…
1st, I was very sick when I arrived, the worst I had been in seven years. (Which I think was caused by the Bully beef sandwiches and some crème of tartar that I ate from a baobab tree).
2nd it rained that night and then the following day after exploring and taking photos of the island we (my friend Dean, and I) decide to take a new route across the salt pans to a village called Letlakane and then the start of a tar road.
This turned out to be on of the most exiting and at times scariest trip I have ever been on. Although we knew never to cross the pans during the rainy season we didn’t think twice since it was the dry season .However we quickly realized that the unseasonal and little rain we had during the night had been much more over the open pans. What started off as just a few centimeters of rainwater on the surface of the pans soon changed to a couple of feet, with a very mushy feeling beneath the wheels when we slowed down.
Looking at the map I realized that it would be 32 km before we reached solid land .It was comforting to note that there wasn’t even a tree in sight that we could attach the winch to if we did get stuck. Instead as far as the eye could see, it was just water, sparkling in the sun. Stories started to flash through my head of whole vehicle getting stuck and then slowly sinking down until they disappeared leaving the occupants to walk for hours and in some cases when lost ,for days before they found help.
We soon found that we had a couple challenges, first we had to keep the land rover racing along at 60 km an hour, slower and you could feel the vehicle start sinking. Second the faint track that we were following at times disappeared and was extremely difficult to see which way we should go, third the water at places would abruptly become deeper causing the land rover to slow down almost to the point of stalling and in turn coming closer to getting stuck. White knuckled and on the edge of our seats we urged the land rover on until 32 km later we drove up out of the pans onto solid ground. The Landover was covered with white mud and the only clean bit was where the windscreen wipers had kept cleaned. Half an hour later we pulled up into a typical village car wash at Letlakane where the land rover was attacked with water, soap and not a little elbow grease.
Despite having spent only a few hours on and around Kubu Island I came away with more than just a few photos .I took back with me good memories, an urge to captured Kubu Island with brush and paint, and a desire to return again

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thabo"s first ride

Finally I have finished the painting of the two boys riding donkeys,I was thinking of a title like, Cousin Thabo visiting the country.If you look at the painting closely you should spot who cousin Thabo is.I have already got a prospective buyer for it ,even though it was not finished when he saw it he said he would like the first opportunity to buy it.Well I do hope he does,whether he does or not I will be Exhibiting this painting with two others at our local Museum for the Maun Masters Art Exhibit.I will post the other two pieces of art that i will be exhibiting so you can have a look,and let me know what you think.
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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Painting the second donkey

Well after getting home from work , I felt very tired ,and was not feeling up to painting ,but after a piece of chocolate cake and a cup a tea I felt much better and managed to motivate myself to start painting.Since I don't have a studio at the moment or even a separate room for painting,I start by covering my bed with a large white sheet so as not to get oil paint all over my bed.Pulling my easel up to the edge of my bed,as well as placing all my tools within reach ,brushes,turps,tubes of paint ,cleaning rag, etc I am ready to start.Sitting on the edge of my bed I started painting ,and after 20 mins all tiredness was forgotten as I got absorbed in mixing the correct colors and applying careful brush strokes.Before I knew it it was Ten o clock ,and time for bed, that's if I wanted to get to work tomorrow or not.So when I woke up this morning was glad to see the second donkey almost finished,the wet paint still shining.The next few days I will be flying into the Okavango Delta for work so you will have to wait till I come back so as to complete the painting.
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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Current painting 8/01/2011

Here is the painting I am currently working on ,I started it in December, however since I am working part time I only have the weekends and evenings to paint so progress has been a bit slow.The painting is based on some photos that I took near Toteng .The river flows into lake Ngami which was visited by David Livingstone in 1849. The past few years has seen the rivers and lake return to their former self as they had been dry for many years.Below is some detail of the painting that is almost complete,I will post further photos of this painting , showing its progress.
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The leopard stare

Leopard in a tree.This painting I did some years ago when I was 20 .I really enjoyed painting this one. I did not want to go into to much detail and so the unfinished look in some areas . I also highlighted the purple and white of the tree trunk which give it a unique look.
Feel free to give constructive criticism ,ideas and suggestions.Questions are welcome as well.
I will soon post one of my paintings that I am currently working on, its for and upcoming Exhibit.Its a painting of two boys riding donkeys with palm trees and a river in the background.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Exhibit at Thapong Visual Center and Awards

Here are two paintings that I recently( November2010 ) displayed in Gaborone (which is the capital of Botswana) at the Thapong visual art center.The event which is held each year is for all the artists resident in Botswana.Each artist is able to display two works of art , and awards are also given to the best artist of the year, first ,second and third prizes are also given as well as a prize for the best young artist in Botswana.This was quite exiting for me as I decided to enter and travel by bus 1000 km from Maun to the event in Gaborone.It was well worth my effort and time, as I sold both paintings .The small painting (The little bird song) was sold to a private buyer and the big painting (Black oxen and cart) was bought by the University of Botswana where it is now displayed in one of their halls.I also unexpectedly received a monetary prize for the best young artist in Botswana. So this was very encouraging ,and I have been greatly motivated to keep creating .

Creating these to paintings took a bit of thought since I had so many choices and ideas.However after going through my photos ,videos and sketches I finally made a decision. The Little bird song was inspired by a video that my younger brother and sister made of two little girls dancing and singing in Tswana .The song was entitled ,the song of the little bird .The hut and the boy watching from the bench was added to create a better composition.

The black oxen and cart was based on a photo that a good friend of mine named Dean ,took near a small village in an isolated area called Shorobe.This is the second painting I have done based on this photo , and I have a commission to do another one just like it.Painting a subject for the second or third time needs much discipline , as the excitement of creating something new for the first time is lost.So I normally change the composition quite a bit and add new elements so that I still have that enjoyment when creating.The palm trees you see in the painting is typical for that area .The local people make beautiful baskets from the palm leaves which are then adorned with colourful designs.Both paintings are done on canvas and are in oils.
The above photo is of the event  which was held at Thapong Visual center in Gaborone ,where the opening speeches were being given.The red carpet was for the visiting dignitaries ,one of them the minister of youth and culture who also gave a speech.

Below is a photo of my 2 pieces of art work displayed ,if you look closely you will see, next to each title of the painting a red tab,denoting that they had been already sold.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My first large Acrylic painting that I sold when I was 17.

My first large acyclic painting that I sold was based on three different photos that my dad had taken on a family holiday in Hawange national park in Zimbabwe.These I  used as reference material and then created my own composition.I wanted to portray 3 elephants that had just been disturbed ,hence the posture and all the dust.Still new at using acrylics the dust is some what more misty looking than dusty, anyway I was very happy with it and it was soon being displayed in an art gallery called African Art and Images in Maun which is located just opposites the Airport.However it was not sold as soon as I had hoped.We (my Mom, Dad ,two brothers and sister ) then moved to Kasane and this painting was then displayed at a art gallery called African Easel where within  a few weeks it was sold for what I viewed to be a large sum of  money P1800 ,half of that went to the gallery as commission.Following that sale I was motivated to keep on painting wildlife,African landscapes and Botswana village life.Many more paintings were sold through that gallery,and many thanks go to the owner and staff who worked there.

Elephant art