Rhino – As told to Glenda Salley –
I always wanted to travel to Africa so that I could witness there the many exotic creatures designed by God. Sometimes I think He sought to be diversely creative, thinking up limitless animal possibilities with which to pepper the wildly savage landscape. It is amazing how precisely each animal there fits into its own eco-system.
The rhino, one of my favorite beasts, surely personifies the word unique with his stout body and loping gait. He can handle the undaunting rays of the sun and the choking, white dust of the African plains. He regards countless adverse elements thrown at him as just a day’s walk in the jungle.
Since my own ramblings in Africa afforded me time for picture taking, I had captured some very impressive shots of the great-horned creatures. Anxious to start a painting project, I wanted to use my best photos to capture the magic of these powerful brutes, but I felt unsure about how to approach the subject matter.
At the time of my dilemma, I was living in the Raeford Resort, where I was a houseboy. My friend, Ruth Ann Edwards, was working on a structural addition to the Raeford. Being an animal lover, she thoroughly enjoyed my nature photos. One afternoon, she was flipping through my African snapshots and ran across the rhino pictures. It was “love at first sight” for Ruth Ann, and her fresh interest inspired me to begin this painting. Little did I know what lay ahead.
I had just bought a different type of paper to work with—a watercolor board on which to try egg tempera. My frustration level was running high because I had felt the board should be both bigger and smoother. I was less than pleased with the way the egg tempera was adhering to the board, but because this paper was so expensive, I simply would not trash it.
As a last resort, I thought about trying acrylics on the unreceptive board. Not having used this particular type of paint made me question its ease of application. As I have always done when I start a new project, I read everything available on acrylics. From that point, I set out on a most interesting new artistic adventure.
Though I ultimately fell in love with this new paint, it was not instant chemistry. I had problems with the type of brushes I was using, I changed to another brush, a step which made a real difference. Still, even the paint was uncooperative, refusing to coat like the familiar watercolors and unable to soak easily into the paper. Despite the apparent lack of cooperation from the supplies, I forced myself to plod deeper into this painting. Before I knew it, I had finished one of the most important stepping-stones in my art evolution. I could not believe my own creation—praise God! Painting in acrylics ended my love affair with egg tempera, and I don’t know whether I will ever choose that medium again.