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AFC Flag Expedition #5:
Painting the Painted Dogs - Artistic Study of An Endangered Hunter
Expedition Artist: Alison Nicholls
Purpose: To raise public awareness of and provide tangible support for the plight of the endangered Painted Dogs.
Location: Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, Africa
Scheduled For: August 2007
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About Alison Nicholls
About the Painted Dog
About Zimbabwe
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Nicholls has traveled extensively her entire life. Her travels have taken her to Nepal and Namibia, Hong Kong and Poland, Italy and New Zealand.  While all of these destinations are beautiful and varied, it was southern Africa that captured her imagination and this is where she began to paint in earnest.

Between 1994 and 1996 Nicholls lived in Zimbabwe and then moved to neighboring Botswana until late 2002. She now lives in New York, but returns to Africa on a regular basis. Her years in Africa have allowed her to travel widely, camp in remote areas, and gain a thorough knowledge of the numerous wildlife species that abound there.   Says Nichols, “As far as I am concerned there is nothing quite like camping in the African bush, falling asleep in your tent listening to hyenas whooping, elephants breaking branches nearby and the calls of distant lions. It is pure magic and as a result I now paint only the African wildlife I have come to know through hours of observation and sketching.”

As a self-taught artist, Nicholls has developed her own style and has discovered the intricacies of her wonderful and demanding watercolor medium by trial and error.

Nicholls writes a quarterly newsletter featuring her latest paintings, exhibits, slide talks and trips to Africa.
 
Support for Conservation
Even before Nicholls began to paint she was intrigued by the natural world and interested in conservation issues, but as a professional artist she now has a means of raising funds for conservation on a much more personal level by donating her artwork.

“There are so many deserving projects and conservation groups that deciding which ones to support can be a daunting task,” says Nicholls.  “As an African wildlife artist I have a special relationship with the southern African region which I know best. I try to support small, grass roots conservation groups focusing on that region, especially those which involve local communities, giving them a stake in the future of the wildlife and habitat that surround them.”

Donating artwork is one means of raising funds and Nicholls frequently donates pieces for silent auctions at fundraising events.   Raising awareness, however, is just as important and in 2005 she began a series of slide talks about southern Africa which she hopes will help to highlight some of the misconceptions held about Africa, its people and its wildlife. Nicholls charges a fee for the talks and donate 75% to the Painted Dog Conservation project based in Zimbabwe.

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