A Dream Comes True

A very smart person once said that if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. I confess that ever since I decided to take art a bit more seriously I’ve dreamt about being a finalist in the Wildlife Artist of the Year competition.

This competition is hosted by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and has run annually since 2008. David Shepherd established the competition as a fundraiser – a way to use art for wildlife conservation and has raised a small fortune for the work the foundation does all over the world. Not only is it a worthy cause – with half of every artwork sold going to aid nature conservation – it has become the Oscars of Wildlife Art.

If I have to risk a further confession – I wasn’t going to enter this year. I had lined up a lot of commissions and was running far behind my anticipated schedule. Its difficult being a mom, wife and artist. My sons keep me extremely busy and while I thought I’d have more time as they grow older, it seems my time diminishes with every school term. Long and short – I had nothing to enter, I had no time to draw anything and the closing date was only two weeks away.

It was after a phone call with my amazing arty friend Coleen that the little wheels in my head started turning…and finally, one day later, as I was enjoying a glass of red wine while looking through my reference images, inspiration struck. There are moments that you laugh about later, and suffice it to say this is one of them…because not only did I decide to enter, I decided to enter the largest piece I have ever drawn with only two weeks to get it done (and that is with two commissions overdue!).

In the end, despite my trepidation, I managed to finish ‘Hope’ a 70cm x 100cm artwork in panpastel and pastel pencil the day before the closing date.

‘Hope’ is inspired by the plight of our Rhinos. As we stay only 30km from the Kruger National Park, I often pop into the Park with my camera to take my own reference images. Of late it has become quite clear to me that their numbers are dwindling drastically. Even though the news seems quiet, I have noticed that we hardly encounter these majestic giants these days. It scares me to thing that I might have to show a drawn image of a rhino to my grandchildren one day.

It was one one of my trips that I found two rhinos quite close to the road, but both quite jittery and darting left and right as if they were trying to decide where to go. I snapped quite a few images and as I sat that evening, looking at the morning light falling onto her back, Hope was born. It might be a bit contrived – but I envisioned her running into the light, escaping the dark of extinction…hopeful.

My dream came true.

One sunny morning I received confirmation via email that Hope was selected as a finalist in the 2020 Wildlife Artist of the Year competition…

Its been quite a ride since then – with Covid-19 stopping all of us in our tracks – the exhibition was subsequently cancelled and will now take place as an online exhibition. I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of this event with my work showcased next to some of the Wildlife Superstars who are my idols and thankful that I can hopefully contribute to conservation in my own little way…

‘Hope’ 70cm x 100cm Panpastel and pastel pencil on pastelmat.

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