Kopje Lookout – Leopard
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30” x 60”, acrylic, 1999

Leopards lurk. Those of us who love to look for wild animals in Africa are always conscious of that fact. We know that leopards see us many, many times more often than we see them. During my first two safaris I saw plenty of lions and cheetahs but not one leopard. On my next two safaris I saw one each time but that was because someone else's vehicle was parked beside a tree that hid a leopard. The eyes of the guides in those vehicles were obviously sharper than mine. In each case I had been driving along the Seronera River in the Serengeti Park of Tanzania.

This is supposedly the best place to find them. You look up into the branches of the yellow 'fever' acacia trees not for the leopard but for the tail dangling down. Their spotted bodies are so camouflaged you can look right at them and not see them as they are pressed against a branch. It is much easier to spot another vehicle and go over and check what they are looking at.

This is why I have placed the leopard in the cleft of the granite cliff in Namibia. So that they are not so easily seen they often lower their nose so that it is concealed and the head shape is less obvious. I have placed the sunlit bare branches of the fig tree in front to help with the hiding. Of course my real joy in doing this painting was to show the light glancing across the texture of the rock and to play with the forms and textures and warm colours. These plus the tree and the leopard speak to me of the soul of Africa.