With our son in a research camp in the Okavango, my imagination returned to African themes. I have painted deer and antelope quite frequently but none of them have the distinctive straight horns of the Gemsbok. That was a challenge.
When you see them, the first thing you notice are those wicked long rapier like horns diverging in a vee on their heads and then the rather comic facial markings reminiscent of the Bontebok. Maybe the way they travel around in groups and the protection given by those horns makes them nonchalant, but it seemed to me they let you get quite close in the open scrub I found them, before running off as they are here.
I wanted to play down the normal patterning of their coats: grey bodies and black legs with white socks - too gaudy - so I imagined them being lit by a low sun that would make a strong contrast between the lit and shadow sides. To emphasise the herding I moved my eye point above them so that I could both merge and individualise them, so there is a string on the left side while the one on the right is picking a slightly different line. I bonded him to the other three with an area of dark shadow.
The picture would have been too stark if I had shown them in a dusty environment so I imagined the ground as it might look in Spring with all the desert flowers blooming.
Gemsbok Original Painting
90 X 60 cm | Oil on canvas