My husband went up to Nxai Pan in the Makgadikgadi some years ago to check out the site of a possible project. On this trip was an amateur photographer who took several shots of a lone elephant which had been dusting itself with the salty white sands of the pan. The project was an eco lodge – David was part of the team putting the tender document together and I was asked to add illustrations and tart it up a bit in the hope that it would get noticed above the others. The cover was a glorious photo of the elephant – ‘that,’ said David, ‘is the painting I want.’
And so began a long drawn out attempt at a huge wildlife painting in oils for David’s fiftieth birthday. It should be noted that I paint mainly in watercolour. I do not paint animals. I do not do big. Of course I didn’t get very far….. birthdays came and went and finally I started a watercolour for his sixtieth. The struggle with the elephant went on: how to convey the isolated majesty of that huge beast within a bleak but beautiful landscape?
I had and still have many distractions that keep me from the easel – but an invitation to be part of a group show in Gaborone sent me back to the half finished work. Incredible how a deadline sharpens the focus and clears the mind of non-essentials! Finally, in his sixty third year, David has his Elephant at Nxai Pan. I really have to pick up the pace a bit…..!