Home, bedazzled by zebras

by Mary-Anne Bartlett on March 23, 2018

In the deserts of Namibia, Mary-Anne and guests dazzled the zebras (or was it the other way round?), then blazed a colourful trail through Botswana and painted wet on wet at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

This February’s Art Safari was an extraordinary journey – from the dry Namib desert to the Zambesi in full spate.  With us were several regular urban sketchers who along with the others in the group rapidly took to the challenges of drawing wildlife and to the awesome landscapes and riverscapes of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.  

Imagine a group of artists huddled on a ridge, painting the pre-dawn shadows on sand-dunes that reach 300m tall, waiting for washes to dry in the cold desert air.  

Imagine struggling with the stripes of zebras in Okaukuejo waterhole as they drink (disturbing terrapins & dabchicks in the water) only to be so engrossed in the drawing that we didn’t notice a big bull elephant arrive.  

Imagine drawing  the flat horizon of Etosha Salt Pan, broken by two large groups of elephants, playing happily in the wet grasses, then a jackal trotting by as two bulls do battle.  

Imagine sketching a lion just metres off the track, with flamingos and other wading birds in the water just beyond him.  Imagine painting the hippos lolling in the waters of the Chobe as a line of Egyptian geese walk past. 

Imagine the impossibility of painting under the full spray of the Victoria Falls, one of the wonders of the world and laughing as our paint washed off our pages.

We were royally looked after in all our lodges, and had wonderful guides with us.

On our last day at Victoria Falls we took a walk with our sketchbooks, accompanied by elephants.

I stood beside a great bull who was gently flapping his ears – even though I have spent the last 19 years in the company of elephants on Art Safari, I had never stood so close to a fully grown elephant, right under his chin and his enormous ears! 

I had never felt the velocity of the wind produced by their enormous cooling systems – it was impressive indeed.


What a fantastic group we had on this Art Safari and what an amazing painting holiday this has been in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.  We will be back again.

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