A journal is a funny thing. Half musings, half recollections, it is a blend of experience.
Time constraints will not allow me to make entries everyday, but I will be making them from some exciting locations. This artist will endeavor to share the journey that takes me to the bush, sketchpad in hand, facing the wild models that inspire me as well as the people who share that amazing environment. Sometimes we'll have photos, "worth a thousand words" and sometimes a sketch. In any case, I hope to illuminate a process akin to that of the artists who traveled with Lewis and Clark , or Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle, and others- except probably funnier.......
Pensacola Newspaper Article
When staring down a dangerous 400-pound adult lion, Anne London does what comes naturally. She pulls out her sketchbook and starts drawing.
In the savannahs of Africa, on the coasts of California and in her own backyard in St. Mandeville, La., London has been painting wild animals in their natural habitats for more than 40 years.
“I follow a compulsion,” she said at her tent in Seville Square for Sunday’s Art in the Park festival. “Making art is an accident along the way.”
A jury from the Pensacola Museum appreciated the detail in London’s work and awarded her the best in show award for this year’s festival for her painting of a lion, “Ke Gosi Tav,” which translates to king of lions in a native language spoken in Botswana.
London started out painting animals like bears, dolphins and whales in the Los Angeles area. But she wanted to be more involved with animals and their well-being, so she began juggling her painting with conservation work.
Her work with the Black Rhino Foundation, the Ann Van Dyke Cheetah Center and other wildlife preservation organizations have taken London all over the world. Everywhere she goes she carries a small sketchbook with her to record what she sees.
A large easel is out of the question for an artist whose subjects — big cats, gorillas, elephants and the like — can only be found roaming African grasslands or Asian jungles. She never knows when one of her temperamental models might force her to retreat to her vehicle or up a tree.
“You can’t work large in the bush because the animals are watching you too,” she said.
It can be far too easy to attract unwanted attention from a subject. Sometimes even the sound of charcoal on canvas can be enough to pique a big cat’s curiosity.
“They will get up and move toward me like, ‘Oh, are you edible?’ ” she said.
But London’s up-close and personal experiences with wildlife give her a perspective that many other wildlife artists lack. She knows first hand that no two animals are exactly the same, a fact she takes pains to capture in her work.
“They are portraits of unique individuals,” she said.
Jim Hart, London’s husband, said that attention to detail is what makes the paintings resonate with audiences.
“A lot of pictures of animals look like a mugshot or a driver’s license photo,” he said with a laugh.
Stephen Vela and his daughter, Brienna , of Navarre, said that the King of Lions and the other paintings in London’s stall each had their own presence.
“It’s like you can almost see what the animals are feeling,” Vela said. “It’s pretty amazing.”
Brienna agreed, saying, “It really does seem like they are actually there.”
South Lake Friends and Jazz fest
The South Lake Dallas show was wonderful. Beautiful weather and lots of old friends showed up. We stayed with our friends Mike and Ann and enjoyed visiting them in their Dallas “hideaway”.
The New Orleans Jazz Fest was great fun but quite a mud pit. Wonderful food, great music, and Jim ran into many old friends.
Miami and Naples Shows and mini adventures
We just returned from South Florida where we attended the Coconut Grove show in Miami and the Naples International Art show. Although we had to set up in pouring rain the sun came out, and we had a wonderful show. The air was crisp and cool for Miami and the temperature plummeted to 46° the 1st night we were there. But the days were gorgeous, and we got to see many of our old friends. On the last day, we were approached by one of our collectors from Argentina, and asked to work on several new commission pieces for his new home in Coconut Grove. It is a beautiful, unique home, custom-built for 2 architects and featured in Architectural Digest magazine. That will be a wonderful challenge.
A highlight of the trip was visiting our old friend, Ron Magill, communications director of the Miami zoo. Since we are working on a poster for his new cheetah ambassadors, he invited us to spend the day at the zoo and really treated us like royalty.
We also got to attend a special Valentines event at the zoo. It was called "Sex and the Animals", and it was a presentation utilizing Ron's years of photographing mating animals to discuss the intricacies of wild animal mating and sexuality. It was both hilarious and fascinating.
Our trip to Miami ended with a lovely dinner overlooking Biscayne Bay, with the lights of Miami shimmering off the water with Ron and his beautiful wife Rita.
In between shows, we spent some time exploring the Florida Everglades by kayak and the 10,000 Islands area south of Naples.
The Naples show was beautiful and the weather was more like what you would expect in South Florida.
My first Mardi Gras
For some reason, this is really been my 1st opportunity to go into New Orleans during Mardi Gras and experience its magic. Jim grew up with this insanity and, sort of ,takes it for granted. We were invited by our neighbors to go into the garden district of New Orleans and watch one of the night parades during the nights preceding Mardi Gras day. For 2 weeks before fat Tuesday, different Krewes put on extravagant parades with their members. Some Krewes or well over 100 years old and their parade becomes a mobile party for the people of New Orleans. Kids grow up attending the parades and competing for beads, unusual novelties, and trinkets thrown to them by the masked people on the floats. They learn to yell the traditional," throw me something Mr.", chant, and wave their arms with a big smile. It's all part of growing up in this unique culture. Our friends, Glenn and Laura, took it upon themselves to show me what it was all about. The love and connection of the local people to their city really becomes apparent during Mardi Gras. unfortunately, we have to leave for the Coconut Grove show in Miami and won't be able to go down to the French quarter Mardi Gras day. maybe next year!!!
Our Cozumel DIVEHEART Adventure
Jim Has been working with a foundation called “DIVEHEART" for the past several years. It is an organization that teaches disabled children, adults, and veterans to scuba dive. After learning to dive, they are taken on a dive trip to use their new skills. Although I was very nervous, I accompanied Jim to Cozumel in the 1st week of December to do what I could on this Diveheart sponsored trip.