Friday, July 11, 2014

PAINTING AFRICAN NGUNI CATTLE

I think it was in the nineties when I first picked up the book, "The Abundant Herds"  at our local library. Written by acclaimed author Marguerite Poland and social anthropologist David Hammond-Tooke, describing the almost poetic names that Zulu people gave to their Nguni cattle, beautifully illustrateded by Leigh Voigt.

The Abundant Herds


I  was stunned by the quality and quantity of watercolor and oil paintings adorning the pages, currently in the Oppenheimers' Africana collection.

It was a couple of years later when I was asked by a lady from Ubombo, who was part of a project called MAMA AFRIKA, to paint Nguni cattle onto plates, which she would then glaze and fire.










This, of course, sparked the idea to paint some Nguni cattle in oil. These were my first two Nguni oil paintings:






They sold within two weeks of putting them on the Internet, so... many followed!

My husband, who takes a keen interest in my art, and is often a very helpful critic, prompted me to paint some Nguni with the Ubombo mountains in the background:









I did a series of numerous  Nguni watercolours, of which below are a few examples:




I also printed and sold these as greeting cards.

In 2012 I did my first 'big' Nguni painting.

This was the reference photo I used (I took it one morning after returning from the Curio Shop at Shakaland, Phobane Lake):




I often prepare my painting digitally before I paint it, which is what I did in this case. This way I sort out the composition, eliminate unnecessary detail, focusing on the subject of interest, using harmonising colours in the process:




Some of the animals were dehorned, so I had to give them horns. I also changed the ears of the beast in the front, as pure-bred Nguni don't have hanging ears like that. Once I started painting, I had to tweak the background a couple of times, before it worked.  This was the result:




"Coming Home", 1500 x 900mm,  Oil on Stretched Canvas (SOLD)
I've since done two other big Nguni paintings, both from photographs supplied to me by local journalist, Larry Bentley, which he took at the Tugela River.

"Reflections", 1500 x 900mm, Oil on stretched Canvas.

"By Still Waters", 1600x800mm, Oil on stretched canvas. 

The latest group that I did, was a smaller one:


"On the Road", 1000 x 350mm, Acrylic and Oil on Stretched Canvas. (SOLD)

For other recent Nguni paintings, as well as prices, see my website

Follow me on FB to see paintings as they 'come off the easel'.

I've recently taken some beautiful photos of Nguni herds in the Nkandla area and am itching to transform them into paintings. It is a very mountainous area; here is a typical scene:




My next Nguni painting will be Nguni painting number 61!

 
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