The Chobe River and The Okavango Delta August 20th, 2013
What do you call a herd of Hippo’s?
Cape Buffalo, 15 in. x 22 in.
Cape Buffalo in Chobe National Park, Botswana. Pencil Sketch
“The Tree of Life” Watercolor and Pencil Sketch
A Mokoro is a dug out canoe that is powered by standing in the back of the boat and poling it through the water.
These traditional hand carved wooden boats are called Mokoro’s
After leaving Victoria Falls it was a relatively short drive south west to the town of Kisane in Botswana. From here we went to The Chobe River which cuts through the North east corner of Chobe National Park. We boarded a river boat thinking we would get our first look at some African animals. What we didn’t expect was the over whelming number of elephants, hippo’s, cape buffalo, crocodiles and lots of bird life that come here during the dry season. Being in a larger boat we were able to get up close to the hippo’s in the water which you just can’t or shouldn’t do in a small boat such as a Makoro, which was the next boat we were about to experience.
After this great day we continued on to Maun to start our three day camping trip in the Okavango Delta. The Okavango River flows down from the mountains in Angola and into the Kalahari desert, where the water is absorbed into the sand. The river forms a delta here where we were about to embark on our canoe trip. The trip to our campsite in dug out canoes called “Mokoro’s” took about two and a half hours traveling through pristine landscape. Sitting in the bottom of the boat I am seeing the journey unfold from the perspective of three feet above the water as we ply our way through tall reeds and hippo pools.
Our campsite was on an island in the middle of the delta. From our base camp we spent the next couple of days exploring on foot and by canoe looking for elephants, zebra and hippo. It is an interesting feeling when you are on the ground looking for wild life and your guides are completely unarmed. It makes you feel like you are part of the food chain.
That being said one of the trips we took in the Mokoro’s, took us into this deep water hippo pool surrounded by tall reeds. There we were in our little wooden boats looking at two full grown hippo’s at the other end of the pool about a hundred feet away. After a few minutes of looking at each other one of the hippo’s goes underwater. We realize rather quickly that there is a stream of bubbles coming towards us. The bubbles are getting closer and closer and I am thinking to my self that we are so screwed!
Just when it is looking like carnage time the bubbles start moving away. OK that was fun, lets not do that again any time soon. With all this fun and excitement I did manage to do some pencil sketches and some small watercolour paintings on location. One of the great pleasures of this trip has been the opportunity to paint in exotic locations like this and to share this unique experience with my wife Lyn.
This week I wanted to share with you some of my recent paintings and sketches from the forests here on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. I find that I paint in different styles depending on the subject matter and where I am.
If I am on the road and sketching in a city with lots of people around my working style will be more about line work and simple watercolor washes. The private side of my self is saying “This is great!, I love this, but lets get this done quickly and get out of here”. When I am out in a forest or any place in nature where there are less people I tend to work in a slower more methodical way.
Producing art by its very nature is a solitary process and for me I can settle down into a longer working session with less distractions and delve deeper into the subject matter when I am out in nature.
The picture of Salal bushes in the forest at the top of this post I spent all afternoon painting. It is very easy to get lost in the moment and do this.
Douglas Fir tree on the Sunshine Coast. Watercolor
Lightining Strike on Mt. Seymour, North Vancouver, BC. Watercolor
Along The Varley Trail, Lynn Headwaters Park, North Vancouver, BC. Watercolor study.
Salal bushes on the Sunshine Coast. Watercolor painting
My out door studio.
A couple of years ago I was visiting the Unesco World Heritage site of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is an amazing place to explore. I was hoping to paint some watercolours of this place as soon as I got back. I did some sketches while I was there but soon realized that it was going to be a challenge to paint.
This week I have decided to give it a shot and see what I come up with. Painting moss covered, crumbling ruins requires some thought and a little risk taking. Getting bogged down in all the detail would be very easy to do. I have taken a more impressionistic approach to focus more on the mystery of this place.
I am not finished exploring the possibilities of this picture and so I will paint it over and post the results soon.
The title of my blog “The Paddle And The Paintbrush” is a reference to the adventure
spirit that was instilled in me from a young age. Along with painting in watercolour, I spent many summers working as a white water rafting guide in Western Canada. The picture above shows me guiding in Bow Canyon, on the Bow River in Alberta.
It’s been a few years since I hung up my paddle as it relates to river guiding but the spirit of adventure, exploring and travel lives on. My watercolour paintings and sketches are often scenes of Canadian wilderness, however I also love to paint my travel experiences and adventures world wide. What I hope to share with people is the beauty I see along the way with a special emphasis on Canada.
I grew up with a fascination and respect for a group of Canadian painters called the Group of Seven. They painted Canada in a style that show cased Canada as a rugged land of lakes, rivers, mountains and forest. This is a big part of what Canada still is and I would like to be a part of that tradition of painting this great land.
The idea behind my blog is to share with you my journey of painting in watercolour. When I couple this idea with my love of travel, hiking and fascinating places, I feel their is no end to this adventure. I would like to think that there is value in sharing thoughts and experiences and so I welcome your comments.
Thanks for stopping by!
Sketching at Lake McArthur, Yoho National Park,BC