Roller wire

Keeping the West African theme going, here is a Broad-billed roller that conveniently perched
on a wire opposite the garden wall just long enough for a quick scribble in my sketchbook.
There is a three year gap between that observation and this painting. I kept the rendering lose and simple,
giving the flat blue sky some interest with vertical brush strokes, and showing off the subtle mauve and
maroon colours of the plumage. A fairly common site along roadsides in Nigeria, this species has the
brightest yellow bill that stands out against any background.

Broad-billed roller acrylic
Broad-billed roller, acrylic on canvas 16×20 inches, 2017

Monkeys in the Grove

MonaMonkey
This painting is of a Mona monkey, part of a troupe that visit the Osun Grove regularly, where they are tame enough to accept bananas fed by staff and locals. Painted using acrylics, plenty of colour and the use of energetic brush strokes evoke the vibrance of Osogbo, the serenity of the forest and my excitement at being there.

Previously I have experimented with the faces of these monkeys with a view to producing some designs for t-shirts or whatever. Something that’s on the back burner, which is piled high…

 

Recycling parts of a failed watercolour painting into collage

Sketches from three years ago used as reference for this paper collage. Agamas, though absolutely
everywhere in Nigeria, never let you get close, and these two females looked down on me with
confidence, verging on smugness, knowing they could dash away at lightning speed.

agamas
Agamas on top of the wall. Drawn from life in the garden, Osogbo, Nigeria
agamas watercolour
Taking the sketches a bit further with some colour.
“Has he seen us? Yeah I think he’s seen us…”

I’ve recycled pieces of what was a ‘failed’ watercolour painting (we’ve all got them…), in this case
a landscape of a wheat field and evening sky, to hint at the texture and colour of the lizards atop
the garden wall in Osogbo. I omitted the actual wall, as I wanted to concentrate the viewer’s
attention on the lizards under the huge banana leaf. It may have been interesting to include
some shards of glass for a spot of urban realism, but I decided against it. For the impression
of bright sunlight bouncing off of every surface, it seemed ‘less is more’ was the way to go.

Agamas, collage 2017
Agamas, paper collage, 530 x 350mm approx. 2017 Placing the minimum of elements still seemed to take nearly all day until I was happy with it.

 

A house in the country

After two days in Abuja, we drive Southwest to Osun State and the town of Oshogbo, where my hosts for the trip have their family home. It’s a ten hour drive, made worse by some bad potholes and some crazy drivers. Some driver’s decisions seem so wreckless they become comical, but the many overturned heavy lorries and abandoned vehicles serve as a sobering reminder that safety is held with scant regard here.

For almost the entire journey the highway is flanked on both sides by forest and bush, beyond the small scale agriculture and the odd village and settlement, and (frequent) petrol stations.

petrol-stationA pair of hornbills is often seen flying across to the high trees, and the occasional hawk or small eagle is seen wheeling in the middle distance. The raw sienna coloured soil fits perfectly with the lushness of the greens, and the moody grey skies hide the sun but not the humidity.

We arrive after dark, the streets in Oshogbo are still busy with trade, and even with their kerosene burning wicker lamps, I wonder how anyone can see quite what they are doing.

lines-at-dusk1The call to prayer from the nearby mosque wakes me at five, the cockerels are crowing at six, and the gospel singing is rousing at seven…but there is no intention to stay in bed, there are new things to be discovered out there.

Stepping outside, the first thing you notice are the agamas. They are literally everywhere, so much so that I don’t remember even taking a photo of one. I did do some sketches though, and I was intrigued by their slight air of superiority, always one eye on you, knowing as they do that they are always going to be one step ahead of any predatory move by a slowcoach human!

 

agamas-2agamas1

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