Eyes of Africa

"Eyes of Africa"
by Michael Boss
Designed by Sunell Koerner
Acrylic on Panel
30" X 22"
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.

The Eyes of Africa was born out of a conversation with Jeff about how these wild animals, on their home turf, just stood there watching as Jeff took their photo. They didn't run, they weren't afraid, they just stood there and watched as his camera clicked away. The pairs of lions, zebras, and giraffes made for a very interesting composition over Jeff's photo of a gorgeous foggy morning with a reddish dirt road and tall trees in the Ngorongoro Crater area as the painting's background. Even the golden tawny eagle appeared to be watching a s Jeff took its picture. The ostrich, running with its wings outspread, made for an impressive view down below. The gray-green haze and trees, and the breaking light in the foreground, all played the warm colored animals perfectly against the cool background lighting. And it seems like we all had a joke about the baby baboon being akin to Kilroy was here!