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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > September 19 > Observation, memory & imagination

Observation, memory & imagination

Wildlife artist and traveller Mary-Anne Bartlett reveals how she captures wildlife convincingly in watercolour in situ and then works up a painting in the studio

It was early October – the hot dry season – and a fantastic time for wildlife. A herd of elephants was dawdling on the banks of the Luangwa River in Zambia as I watched and sketched from our open vehicle. Then one elephant appeared close to the vehicle and cautiously descended the steep bank to join the herd, scattering white fronted bee-eaters, in a splash of exciting colour and action.

Never lose a moment

Sometimes I sketch lightly in pencil; sometimes I draw with the brush using a water brush dipped straight into my palette (squeeze out water to flush out the brush). I choose a simple colour range. Often when I arrive in a new environment I do a colour chart of the typical colours. Here I had the full range I needed in my sketch: green light, golden, cadmium red light, cobalt blue. I often prepare a colour chart while I’m waiting for action, or have one from an earlier painting session.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our September issue, packed with inspiration, demonstrations and practical advice for all artists, covering all your favourite media. Our artist-contributors show you how to paint sunlight and shadows in watercolour, capture the effects of sparkling light on water in acrylics, create a balanced composition, while Amanda Hyatt shares her top ten tips for painting rivers and lakes in watercolour. There are also demonstrations on how to paint buildings, capture the texture of fur when painting animals, how to create a simple but dramatic linocut and showing why oils are great for developing still-life compositions in the studio. Seasoned exhibitor Nicholas Poullis offers advice on how to give yourself the best chance of selling your work, Steve Hall urges you to step out of your comfort zone and try a new medium and Haidee-Jo Summers encourages you to take up the #DrawingAugust challenge. Share your sketches with us, too, to win a prize and see your work published in The Artist. There's plenty more too, including the latest news, views, competitions to enter and our test report on the new Winsor & Newton Cadmium-Free watercolours.