Travels with my Art

Paintings and Photographs inspired by Travels Around the World

Pencil sketches of East African animals – back to the drawing board

After recently leaving my teaching post in Dar Es Salaam to move to Nairobi for my husband’s new job, I now find myself ‘in between jobs’ and consequently at a rather interesting crossroads in my life.

The million dollar question, well, million shilling question is this: Do I continue with teaching Art and English or do try to make a living out of my art?

I enjoy teaching, I can always find work and it brings in regular money, but it doesn’t satisfy me creatively. I love doing painting, photography and textiles, and have generated a lot of interest in my art over the last few years, but it is a huge risk financially trying to ‘be’ an artist. To be honest I don’t even think I know what ‘being an artist’ actually means let alone know how I would go about being one and/ or how I would go about making a living being one.

What I do know, however, as both a teacher and a student of art, is that the best way to improve your art skills is to regularly practise different techniques. I am aware of the fact that procrastination is the enemy of both time and success.

So bearing that in mind, for the time being, while I update my CV and put feelers out into the Nairobi Art scene, I have been polishing up my art skills.

I have decided to go back to the drawing board and focus on my basic shading skills. Everyday, over the last few days, I have done a sketch of an animal from my Tanzanian photographs.

Here are my first few sketches…


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  1. reviewsbyjc August 20, 2017

    Great work, love the dragonfly!

  2. barbdsykes August 22, 2017

    I loved the giraffe. All the pictures are beautiful. Thank you for sharing your honest feelings about your crossroad – creativity or familiarity perhaps both

  3. thewonderer86 August 22, 2017

    I think they are beautiful. Good luck with figuring out the change.

  4. U.S.S.Co of NZ Sydney R.S.A. August 22, 2017

    Ali you need to find a new teaching job, save the money earned for a rainy day as it were. One never knows what the future holds in life and with saved money behind you you can provide some security for your beautiful family. Your art speaks for itself so you don’t need to sharpen your skills. Use your teaching profession to improve any skills to the benefit of your students. Keep up the good work, Good luck.
    Jimmy Australia

    • Ali Dunnell August 23, 2017

      Thanks for your advice Jimmy – my cv is already circulating around Nairobi. The problem I always have is because I am now working abroad, they often want me to work full time which, when I am looking after my three kids too, leaves me very little time for creativity. The best thing would be part time work – but I’ll have to see what options I have. Ali

  5. Pia September 7, 2017

    the paintings are stunning. Great job

  6. Esther Zaga September 13, 2017

    good luck on figuring out your choise, I think you should get a teaching job!, I loved the paintings, specially the zebra!

    • Ali Dunnell September 14, 2017

      Thanks for your advice Esther – I am in the process of sending out my CV for jobs, but in the meantime, doing lots of blogging and artwork. Ali

  7. Anisa & Katherine (@2travelingtxns) September 13, 2017

    Good luck to you. I hope you can find a way to do the art, you are very talented.

  8. orangewayfarer September 13, 2017

    I lov your blog post. i was traveling Kodaikanal few days back and the pine forest caught my fancy. I ended up sketching them on a sheet. i shall preserve them forever. Your paintings are so real and beautiful. Absolutely adore them!

    • Ali Dunnell September 14, 2017

      Thank you so much for your positive feedback. I really do love art so much and have built up my travel sketchbooks over the past 20 years, I feel like now is the time to try and turn them into ‘proper’ art, whatever that is 🙂 Ali

  9. Victoria Buitron September 13, 2017

    I really like the cheetah. Lovely sketches!

  10. Anna September 14, 2017

    Such pretty drawings! The dragonfly is my favorite.

  11. Jessica Corson September 14, 2017

    Wow, gorgeous art! You’re so very talented. Best of luck with your decision going forward – pursuing a passion is so exciting!

  12. This Big Wild World September 14, 2017

    Best wishes! I’ve also recently changed careers so completely understand how difficult it can be. It will all work out!

  13. Louise September 14, 2017

    Wow, I love your sketches! I think you should totally try and concentrate on your art for a while – if it doesn’t work out you can go back to teaching any time I should imagine? You’ll never know if you don’t give it a go….and you can always make more money but you can’t make more time 😉 Good luck with whichever decision you make!

    • Ali Dunnell September 14, 2017

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. When you are an ‘artist’ and a teacher nearly always go back to the safe option of a teaching career… maybe this time I will try and keep at my art, maybe exhibit or sell some. But your comment has really put a spring in my step today 🙂

  14. Nina Danielle September 14, 2017

    I love the cheetah! and think you should do both – Art can be a slow start. Job + side hustle, girl!

    • Ali Dunnell September 15, 2017

      Good advice Nina Danielle – I would really like to get some part time teaching work, which would free up some time for me, while still bringing in some steady cash. Thanks for taking the time to visit my site and for the positive feedback. Ali

  15. The Travel Captain September 15, 2017

    The zebra is my absolute favorite. I believe you should always follow your bliss (passion). I wish you the best of luck

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