Limpopo-Lipadi shareholder and artist, Alison Nicholls leads multiple safaris every year for people from all over the world to teach them how to draw and paint while enjoying the bush and its animals. During her last visit she took her sketching class to the village nearest Limpopo-Lipadi, Tsetsebjwe, where she delighted the children with her guidance in drawing and sketching. Read her full story through the link in bio.

One wall of Tsetsebjwe Secondary School’s art classroom was full of wonderfully detailed drawings, by students who were taking their art exams. The room was a creative, colourful environment and I was glad to have been invited by the art teacher, Mr Leonard Bolesitswe, to teach a class about sketching animals. Bafetsi Molate, who works at Limpopo-Lipadi and is from Tsetsebjwe, was our guide, and took us to visit the school headmistress before showing us to the art classroom as the students arrived. They were a group of 12-year-olds, some of whom also have relatives who work at Limpopo-Lipadi.

The idea behind my sketching class is to teach students to see simple shapes, so that they can learn to draw even the most complex subject more easily. I have created a series of animal drawing cards featuring photographs of African wildlife and domestic livestock, and examples of how each animal can be broken down into simple shapes. I emphasize how important it is to concentrate on the big shapes first, making sure you have the whole animal drawn on your paper before starting to add eyes, horns, ears, or coat patterns. I speak a little Setswana but certainly not enough to explain this, so Bafetsi was my interpreter. For the first drawing, students have eight minutes and can see both the photograph and the examples using simple shapes. The students swap cards for each drawing and gradually the time for each drawing reduces so they have to work faster. For the final drawing they have only the photograph, so they have to find their own shapes without referring to my examples. It was great fun and there are some amazing pieces of art, which improved with each drawing.

I brought all the paper and pencils with me and left more with Mr Bolesitswe to use in future classes. Although there is excellent artwork by the students on the walls of the classroom, art supplies are in short supply for regular classes, so if you would like to help me remedy this, please send a message through this page.

After the class, Bafetsi was kind enough to give us a quick tour of Tsetsebjwe village, including a stop at one of the largest baobabs I’ve ever seen. I’m planning to visit the school again to teach more art classes and hope to add some exciting art programmes to Limpopo-Lipadi’s Motse Community Project. You can find out more about Limpopo-Lipadi’s commitment to social responsibility and the reserve’s work benefitting local communities here.

Alison Nicholls is an artist who is inspired by Africa. She lived in Botswana and Zimbabwe for several years, is a Limpopo-Lipadi shareholder, and returns to Africa regularly to sketch in the bush, work with conservation organisations and lead art safaris. To see more of her work please visit