Sunset quickly fades into darkness, taking the black silhouettes of the acacia trees with it. The sounds of the migration have calmed while the Wildebeeste and Zebra halt to graze after a day on the move. Casting shadows in a circle, our little group pauses amidst the laughter and singing to embrace the magnitude of the silence. Scattered by the whirling breeze, embers from the fire sting my skin and burn this moment into my memory.
As the calendar turned to 2017 my heart may have already been set on our upcoming safari (more about that later), but my head had to stay focused on the opening shows. And fast-paced they were. Coming on the heels of Austin’s Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, a ten-day show ending late on Christmas Eve, preparing for our two biggest shows of the year was a challenge. Even for a couple of kids like us.
Dallas Safari Club’s annual Convention opened early in January with an enthusiasm we hadn’t felt in quite some time. Showing a record number of new works, my booth revealed both the depth and extent of growth in my work. This was the perfect crowd to share it with. An attendance of nearly 60,000 people over four days kept the booth full of friends and new acquaintances as we celebrated our 19th year with Dallas Safari Club. Many of the members of this fine organization have been responsible for helping me realize my dreams in the world of Wildlife Art through their patronage and friendship.
Dallas Safari Club 2017
The trek to Las Vegas for the Safari Club International Convention became a blur after re-loading the trailer and setting up the show. Unlike the friends from DSC, whom we often encounter throughout the year at other Texas shows, this is our ‘once-a-year’ chance to re-connect with these far-flung friends. Every day becomes an adventure of its own at this cross roads of the world as they step into the booth to catch up on the events of the past year.
Dallas Safari Club 2017
Now, about our safari……..! Dare I say it was the best one, ever? Although you might think I say that after every safari, and I mean it each time, this one had so many elements that came together in perfect alignment that it stands out above the rest. In the midst of a devastating drought, we brought the rains with us. Miraculously, it seemed to rain only at night, or just before the arrival of our tightly knit group at each new camp. Turning green almost overnight, the earth was renewed and the great migration was triggered as we watched.
From seeing the vast Serengeti filled with wildebeeste and antelope spread as far as the eye could see, within days we saw the arrival of hundreds of thousands of newborn calves as the herds became one. Imagine, if you can, a ribbon from horizon to horizon of wildebeeste and zebra running toward new grasslands. Add to that 8 lion cubs playing ’keep away’ with a piece of plastic, a leopard strolling out of the grass and directly between our trucks, and a pride of 10+ lions setting up residence overnight in the middle of our bush camp. And did I mention the Elephants? Instinctively knowing the boundaries of their safe havens, in every size they moved around our trucks with teenagers showing off their bravado and tiny new calves discovering their trunks. It was endless entertainment by Mother Nature at Her best.
My Safari 2017 journal/sketchbook is far from completed. So many hurried sketches were slashed onto the pages and are begging to be finished, that it must be set aside while I re-start my serious work for the upcoming Cottonwood Art Festival in Richardson, TX, on May 6-7. Meanwhile, this page from my journal may help as a teaser ……..