Explore the African Wilderness Through Alison Nicholls’ Paintings

Alison Nicholls’ artwork can be divided into two main categories: watercolor paintings, created in her studio, and quick sketches made on the go. But though her techniques vary, her subjects remain constant—zooming in on the African landscape.

Having lived a number of years in Botswana and Zimbabwe, Nicholls is wholly inspired by the African wilderness, with almost all of her paintings and sketches revolving around African wildlife. As such, her creative process includes conservation sketching expeditions, which allows her to visit African conservation organizations, sketch on-site and learn in detail about conservation issues.

According to Nicholls, while her studio paintings consist of multiple layers, her sketches require confidence and speed. “I usually work in pencil or pen first, then add watercolor,” she explains on her website. “I don’t have an easel or a chair because I usually stand when sketching people, or need to be in a vehicle when sketching wildlife,” she notes.

An added bonus to her work is that it raises awareness and funds for conservation organizations. Nicholls explains that with each sale of her work, she makes a donation to various organizations. “It can be a real challenge to depict complex issues like the human-wildlife conflict in a painting,” she goes on to say, adding that the layers of color add to the layers of meaning and vice versa.