4+1 = Africa Big 5

"4 + 1 = Africa Big 5"
by Michael Boss
Designed by Sunell Koerner
Acrylic on Panel
22 X 30
From the Collection of Jeff Tate, Cincinnati , Ohio

In 2009 Jeff Tate threw Sunell Koerner and me a really nice curveball. Jeff vacationed in the United Republic of Tanzania, Africa in 2005. His trek found him beginning in Kilimanjaro and ending at Lake Victoria during the Great Migration of the herd animals. The expedition included Lake Manyara , the stupendous Ngorongoro Crater, Oldupai Gorge and the Great Serengeti Plain.

Jeff had great photos from his African adventure. We had earlier created a montage painting of Machu Picchu , another one of Jeff's memorable vacations. (see under Blue Planet Memories web page) Knowing that his favorite memories are brought back every time he walks past that painting, Jeff asked us to create a montage of his Africa trip. Photos are great, yet they usually gather in a drawer and are rarely brought out to enjoy.

Going through Jeff's images, Sunell talked with him about the memories that meant the most. Out of these memories, two montages developed. After agreeing on each of her two designs, it was up to me to pick up the brush. Before that though, I wanted to see these great creatures for myself to better understand and get a feel for their individual structure and personality. Sunell and I took a sketching and photo trip to Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure Park , six miles west of Salina , Kansas . We were ready to rock.

During the conversations with Jeff about his photos, Sunell learned that there are five animal sightings that make for the perfect African adventure. There was the lion, the African elephant, the cape buffalo, and the leopard. One was missing. Jeff's trip failed to yield the black rhinoceros. In a pleasant surprise for Jeff, thats where Sunell's idea for the second painting came in. If you look closely, very closely, you will find the elusive black rhino ghosted into the painting. It was a bit of a job to make the transitions throughout the painting, but with patience, perseverance, and words my late mother Lois said I really shouldn't use, I made it through! And today, Jeff can look at the painting hanging on his wall and see the one that got away!