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Africa Geographic Travel

The Oxford English dictionary defines a sketch as “a rough or unfinished drawing or painting, often made to assist in making a more finished picture”. So you might expect artists to really enjoy sketching and find it a great way to experiment, build confidence, work quickly and enjoy the great outdoors.

Sketching elephants on an Africa Geographic Art Safari.
Sketching elephants on an Africa Geographic Art Safari.

But all too often it seems that artists forget the differences between field sketching and studio painting, and they expect to create field sketches with the same level of detail found in their studio work. Sometimes they fail to do any sketching at all because they are looking for the perfect subject, like an animal which will remain completely motionless so they can draw it in full, glorious detail. Needless to say, wild animals rarely oblige and are likely to disappear down a hole, up a tree or into a thicket.

So remember, there is no perfect sketching subject and sketches are not meant to be perfect, but there is a perfect time to start sketching… right now!

Lion field sketches by Alison Nicholls
Lion field sketches by Alison Nicholls

You can read about how to sketch, you can buy all the materials under the sun, you can listen to experts and watch them work, but unless you actually go out and sketch, you will not improve. You’ll notice I’ve made this a short post, so that you can stop reading and go out and sketch right now!

If you prefer the motivation of being surrounded by other sketchers, join me on an Africa Geographic Art Safari. We will spend four days in the South African bush sketching wildlife in beautiful settings. You’ll have plenty of time to improve your sketching skills and receive instruction and companionship in a friendly atmosphere.

Travel with us

Alison Nicholls is an artist Inspired by Africa. She teaches guests to sketch wildlife during Africa Geographic Art Safaris and is a member of Artists For Conservation, the Society of Animal Artists and the Explorers Club. Alison donates a percentage to African conservation organisations from the sale of every painting, field sketch and limited edition reproduction.