safari experts, since 1991
See how we earn 5 starsTrustpilot - 5 stars
Africa Geographic Travel
Alison Nicholls sketching a sleeping lion
The lioness was sketched in pencil and the watercolour was added later that day. I moved the vegetation closer to the lioness and used memory and imagination for the watercolour details © Alison Nicholls

Sleeping lions can make great sketching subjects – especially when they choose to lie out in the open, like this lioness in Botswana’s Chobe National Park. Looking down on an animal can look unnatural in a sketch, but I was far enough away from this lioness that the angle wasn’t a problem.

It took me exactly 5 minutes to create the pencil sketch and I added the watercolour later in the day, from memory and imagination. I also added some vegetation, which makes the finished piece look more natural.

Watercolour painting of lion by Alison Nicholls
Lioness in Orange, 8×10” watercolour & pencil field sketch © Alison Nicholls

In case you are wondering, I filmed this with a GoPro, attached to my sketchbook with a Jaws Flexclamp.

The nice thing about videoing your sketches is that you can look back and see how you sketched, what you would change, and exactly how long each sketch took.

Want to learn my techniques for sketching animals from life? Then join me on an Africa Geographic Art Safari.

Want a glimpse into an African Art Safari? Have a look at Africa Geographic’s Art Safari video, with Alison Nicholls, below

To comment on this story: Login (or sign up) to our app here - it's a troll-free safe place 🙂.


  • Travel with us. Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late and a few kilometres off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity? Browse our ready-made packages or answer a few questions to start planning your dream safari.
  • Subscribe to our FREE newsletter / download our FREE app to enjoy the following benefits.
  • Plan your safaris in remote parks protected by African Parks via our sister company - safari camps for responsible travellers

AG Logo

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.

Subscribe to our newsletter and/or app
[wpforms id="152903"]
<div class="wpforms-container wpforms-container-full" id="wpforms-152903"><form id="wpforms-form-152903" class="wpforms-validate wpforms-form wpforms-ajax-form" data-formid="152903" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data" action="/stories/video-sketching-chobe-lioness/" data-token="9374af9b2a4c97b83e88861a2b8bdeaf"><noscript class="wpforms-error-noscript">Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.</noscript><div class="wpforms-field-container"><div id="wpforms-152903-field_1-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-email" data-field-id="1"><label class="wpforms-field-label wpforms-label-hide" for="wpforms-152903-field_1">Email Address <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><input type="email" id="wpforms-152903-field_1" class="wpforms-field-medium wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][1]" placeholder="Email " required></div></div><div class="wpforms-submit-container"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[id]" value="152903"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[author]" value="234"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[post_id]" value="112258"><button type="submit" name="wpforms[submit]" id="wpforms-submit-152903" class="wpforms-submit" data-alt-text="Sending..." data-submit-text="Subscribe" aria-live="assertive" value="wpforms-submit">Subscribe</button><img src="" class="wpforms-submit-spinner" style="display: none;" width="26" height="26" alt="Loading"></div></form></div> <!-- .wpforms-container -->