February 22, 2011

The Okavango

The Okavango Delta is a place of beauty. Tucked away in the heart of Botswana, it is a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. We traveled to the island, where we would set up camp, in mokoros; hollowed out tree trunks which are punted through the shallow waters of the delta, keeping a leery eye out for hippopotamus. If we were thirsty we would dip a cup over the side of the canoe, and drank deeply, having been told that the water was pure.

Cape buffalo looked up as we passed by, water dripping from their mouths and elephants cautiously watched us, sniffing the air with their trunks.  It was exciting as well as very idyllic.

After we had set up camp under a Sausage tree that would occasionally drop an enormous torpedo-like pod to the ground, the men in the group went down to the water to fill the jerrycans, while we, women, watched.

A fisherman stood thigh-deep in the shallows, while he fanned out his hand-made net and threw it into the darkening waters. All was well with the world. But wait, what is that I see? What do the weights of his net resemble? Batteries, large flashlight batteries! I waded out to take a closer look and saw that the batteries had holes drilled right through to attach them to the net. In my mind's eye I could see the cadmium oozing out into the pure waters of the Okavango, that I had drunk so deeply and without a care.

That night, as I made my last stop behind a bush, I watched closely to see if my pee didn't glow in the dark, but was distracted by another enormous sausage whizzing past my ear to drop to the ground with a thud and hastily made my way back to my tent by the light beaming from my eyes.

I am cleaning out memorabilia, and found some wonderful old postcards that my family had sent each other while they lived in Africa. I used a card by C. Barry to draw this wonderful wise woman. I drew with pen and nib and Indian Ink without setting up a sketch first. Wanted to see if I could sketch without an eraser.


  1. Great drawing and a great story too!

  2. beautifull drawing. apparantly you don't need an eraser :-)

  3. Oh but I do. Only I will never learn if I don't try. Stuur je me een gevuld eitje?

  4. Heb reuze trek in een tompoes. Dat hebben ze hier niet waar ik woon. Voorzichtig inpakken hoor ;)

  5. What a gorgeous drawing! And it's so nice to read the story as well.

  6. Lovely drawing! Amazing that you were able to do it without any preliminary pencil sketch.

  7. You are so talented! I love the hair and the eyes especially. Very inspiring.

  8. Really expressive linework. Terrific job!

  9. Well done without the eraser! And I really enjoyed hearing the story; sounds like a real adventure!

  10. It's a beautiful drawing and a great story. Now you'll be able to draw in bed at night without disturbing anyone with those eyes of yours! lol nancy

  11. Hello Elza,

    What a wonderful drawing...Bravo!
    No matter what a lot of artists say, I still think a kneadable/putty eraser is one of an artists best friends 8-)
    Come to think of it so is Blue-tac.

    But then again, it looks like you have no need for such devices - I myself use them in graphite to lift out light areas.

    Also, as Raena says, what an astonishing story. It made me think of the time that I tested a battery by putting my tongue on the terminals while I was building a time machine...what a buffoon!

    Please call round my studio/laboratory any time - of course tea, coffee and cake always available .(we won't mention the port/sherry...wink...)


  12. And you did! It's a powerful sketch. Nicely done.

  13. this one has so much expression and power, one of the best (:



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