To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Well!  Now that I have made my digeridoo with PVC pipe and beeswax, (with excellent coaching from Sam at his digeridoo workshop at the Coyote Trails Nature Center) and I've learned to flap my lips like a horse to OCCASIONALLY produce a short burst of the proper humming drone of a didjeridoo (there are numerous spellings of this), I can proceed with my tale of South African adventures in the proper frame of mind.
Pickett calls up a herd of eland

August 5.
This was the day to track the white rhino, but first Pickett took us out on a dawn bushwalk.  We learned a great deal about termite mounds (fascinating!), porcupine scat (pointy tips), what pythons smell like (rank!), all the characteristics of all sorts of tracks
Elands gather in the distance
Pickett called up a herd of anxious eland by perfectly imitating the distress cry of an eland calf. It was astonishing to see them materialize out of the scrub to find the cause of the disturbance. 

In tracking school, instructors circle tracks, then students inspect them and draw their conclusions. 

Tracking instructor methods
Here is an example of a trio of tracks on a dusty road: you can see tire tracks and the encircled tracks of buffalo, giraffe, and (I think) wildebeest (but maybe it's an eland)(they don't label them ~ I did that just now).  We learned to look at size, the shape of each part of the track, and many other characteristics in making identifications.  

Sandy tracks the white rhino
After breakfast, Colin took us out into the bush to begin tracking the rhino.  We were on the trail of a mother white rhino and her calf which Pickett had seen the evening before at a waterhole. Knowing exactly when and who had made the tracks was instructive, and after some coaching on how to proceed, we took turns trailing the two. 

Some flowers in winter
Actually, after joining in intently for some time, I dropped back to the rear to pursue my own interests of exploring and/or photographing the vegetation, insects, other tracks, and whatever caught my fancy. Amazingly, even in midwinter, some flowers were blooming. 

A very sturdy dung beetle!
I tucked small treasures into my bag to draw later since we were moving at a fair clip and there was no time to sit and sketch.  Joe found this dung beetle, and I managed to carry it in my hand for nearly half a mile without crunching it, clawing my way through thorns, scrambling along rocky hillsides...a minor miracle of transportation!

Some sort of lizard
In the afternoon, while the others went out again to study more tracking techniques, I sat on the porch of my cabin and worked in my journal, creating a page to feature Pickett calling up the elands, the baboon tracks we found, and other fascinating things. 

A lovely little lizard visited for awhile, and I relaxed as I sketched in the winter sunshine, lifting my binoculars now and then to spy on go-away birds and fly-catching sunbirds, and a shy but curious tree squirrel. 

That night I spent a long time working on my picture of the dung beetle, trying to get it just right. Dung beetles aren't pushing great balls of dung around during the winter, so I didn't get to watch one in action, alas. 

It was cold that night, in the 30s, and I was fervently glad I'd brought along my thermal underwear ~ I'd almost set it aside to avoid the extra weight, which would have been a major blunder. I wore them almost every day.  Thank goodness for modern-day wash & wear!

In the following days, I'll spend time with warthogs and guinea fowl at the waterhole, sketching  them and the nyalas, vervet monkeys, and a three-banded plover who are hanging around. If I'm to help students make the most of their South Africa experience next year, I'll need to know what is available and possible for them to experience and take advantage of.

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