I am an artist inspired by Africa. Originally from England, I have traveled extensively my entire life, but moving to southern Africa allowed me to begin painting in earnest. From 1994 - 2002 I lived in Zimbabwe and Botswana, and although I now live near New York City, I return to Africa frequently to sketch in the field, work with conservation organizations and lead Art Safaris for Africa Geographic.
Africa is a continent of diverse peoples & cultures, huge cities & dusty villages, vast deserts and thick forest, hot swamps and cold highlands, along with some of the most iconic wildlife species on the planet. Africa defies generalization, but here are some of my most enduring memories – deep sandy tracks winding endlessly into the distance; the calm rhythmic clank of a cowbell as the cattle return home; cumulus clouds towering over the thirsty bush; the shocking shrieks of a francolin waking me in the morning; the snapping of branches as elephants feed nearby; and the haunting cry of a black-backed jackal above the crackle of the campfire. I’m wishing I were there right now!
My years in Africa allowed me to travel widely and camp in remote areas, observing and sketching the wildlife. Field sketching requires confidence and speed, but has taught me incredible lessons. I generally work in pencil or pen first then add watercolor. I don’t have an easel or a chair because I usually stand when sketching people, or need to be in a vehicle when sketching wildlife. Decisions about light and composition must be made quickly, as the person or animal I am sketching may get up and move away at any time. In this respect field sketching is a life drawing class in the purest sense of the phrase! In addition to being great fun, it allows me to meet fascinating people, has given me a great understanding of wildlife anatomy and behavior, and is the best way I know to improve my artistic skills.
My studio paintings consist of multiple layers of transparent color which I use to both obscure and reveal the subject of each piece. Building up the layers allows me to create effects of light, dust and heat, but I use color to convey a mood or a time of day, not to mimic the colors of nature. I eliminate unnecessary detail from my compositions and often use a limited palette of colors to create a tranquil atmosphere, in which people and animals go about their daily lives, undisturbed and unaware of the viewer. Areas of ‘quiet space’ have become prominent in my work, although this was not a conscious decision, but developed gradually as I spent time under the huge skies of the Kalahari and Namib Deserts. These quiet spaces balance the areas of detail and leave room for interpretation and imagination.
In addition to being a Signature member of Artists For Conservation, I am also a Signature member of the Society of Animal Artists, a member of the Explorers Club, and an artist member of the Salmagundi Club in New York City. My art has been widely exhibited, including at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, Connecticut; the Botswana Mission to the United Nations, New York City; and the US Department of State used my art to promote the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking initiative. I lead Art Safaris in South Africa for Africa Geographic and frequently lecture about art, Africa, wildlife and conservation. Past lectures have been at the Explorers Club and Salmagundi Club in New York City; in schools; for private organizations and for volunteers at the Bronx and Central Park Zoos. I am English by birth but live in Port Chester, New York, with my husband, Nigel, and German Shepherd dog, Chase.
Even before I began to paint, I was intrigued by the natural world and interested in conservation issues but as a professional artist I now have a means of raising funds for conservation on a much more personal level through my art.
In 2007 I was awarded AFC's 5th Flag Expedition, which I titled Painting the Painted Dogs - Artistic Study of an Endangered Hunter. I spent 6 weeks with Painted Dog Conservation near Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, traveling with PDC staff searching for elusive African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), known as painted dogs in Zimbabwe. I also spent a great deal of time learning about community involvement and educational aspects of PDC’s work. On my return home, I created a traveling exhibition & lecture series, with the aim of raising awareness of the dogs' plight and funds for their conservation. The exhibition visited 5 venues in 3 US states and I have given numerous lectures about the dogs and PDC's work to support their continued survival.
I wanted to repeat the experience of the AFC Flag Expedition so I conducted a similar Conservation Sketching Expedition with African People & Wildlife (APW), based on the Maasai Steppe in Tanzania. I visited APW in 2011, 2013 and 2014, for 2 weeks on each occasion, sketching on site and learning in detail about the organization's work ‘finding the balance’ for people and wildlife in Tanzania. I used the resulting sketches and paintings to raise awareness and funds for APW’s field work, and was also inspired to create a body of conservation and environmental-themed paintings. It can be a real challenge to depict issues like human-wildlife conflict in a painting, but it has given my art layers of meaning, as well as layers of color.
I support African conservation organizations by making a donation from the sale of every original painting and limited edition reproduction.