Many painting in this Ethiopia series were inspired by that magical moment on the road from Maji to Tum when the sun was setting and the mountains glowed as they rolled on all around us.
All of us four painters who were a part of An Ethiopian Odyssey II were glowing, basking in the warmth of a perfect day. We had trekked to a waterfall, saw the vast dramatic expanse of Nafis Bir and brought the Polaroid out in the town square, with many memorable exchanges.
Our truck was bopping along the ever-twisting and turning road and suddenly, this acacia tree was before us, popping out of the landscape like a regal, proud ancestor. It’s given me loads of inspiration, burning the memory even deeper in my mind. This is a joy of painting, to be able to revisit and dig deeper into experience.
The moment this tree, that sky, the mountains, were in sight, I knew I’d be painting it many times several different ways.
In some versions of this image, I added the shepherd and his cattle and sheep. This is such a common sight as the sun sets in this region, and we must have passed at least five or six different groups on this night. So much an experience of the visuals of Ethiopia are these shepherds in their flock, of people walking down the road with something balanced on their heads, that these images find their way into many paintings. Magical! Sigh!