Park West Gallery artist Andrew Bone smiled with pride as he held a copy of his book that was 20 years in the making.
“It’s a proud moment for me to finally see it in print because it’s been a long-time coming,” he says.
Bone announced the launch of his book, “Brush Strokes of Africa,” during a private signing event held on Jan. 19 at Park West Gallery’s Miami Lakes, Florida location.
Bone’s book gives readers a better understanding as to how he became a passionate conservationist and wildlife artist, with first-person accounts of his adventures interwoven with his photorealistic African wildlife artwork.
Prior to becoming a professional artist, Bone worked as a guide in the Zambezi Valley. He says the idea for writing a book about his adventures originated decades ago while conversing with a client.
“I was talking about what happened to me and all the different experiences that I’ve had, and some guy said ‘why don’t you write it down, it’d be quite good reading,’” Bone says. “So I started doing that a little bit at a time and I found I quite enjoyed it.”
When Bone joined Park West Gallery as an artist, he mentioned the book to Albert Scaglione, Founder and CEO of Park West Gallery, and they agreed it would be a great collaborative project. In 2015, Bone finished writing the book and Park West Gallery published it.
The book is full of anecdotes from Bone’s past about growing up in South Africa, his education in a bush school, the dangers of being a soldier in the Rhodesian War and later working as a guide. Readers are treated to tales of canoeing past angry hippopotamuses and close encounters with lions, all of which are accompanied by Bone’s highly-detailed paintings and drawings.
“A couple of them, like sketches and studies, I had to create because of a passage (in the book),” he says. “If it’s mentioned in the book, like the barbets and the horned bulls, I tried to put in art for that.”
Bone’s transition from guide to artist occurred after he and his family moved to the Imire Game Ranch in Zimbabwe. To pass the time, Bone would photograph, paint and sketch the animals that surrounded him. He grew popular with galleries and eventually he decided to become a full-time artist.
Today, Bone has combined his passions of painting and conservation, using his art to spread the message of protecting animals such as cheetahs, rhinos and lions. Most recently, the Park West Foundation donated $15,000 to Bone’s Forever Wildlife Foundation to support a project that will monitor and track five cheetahs in an attempt to grow the population.
His message of conservation is especially poignant and relevant following stories that have grabbed international headlines, such as the controversy surrounding the hunting and slaying of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.
“Through the book, I want people to understand where we are in Africa,” he says. “It’s always been a land of turmoil, and now the turmoil has changed from a one-on-one, tribe against tribe to let’s stop them from totally wiping out the population of elephants…of vultures or the cats.”