Friday, July 2, 2021

HISER ART during the Pandemic 2020-21

 This is the first post in a LONG year that we have all experienced.  A very productive year for my art and books but a disappointing year for travel.  

This was also the year 2021 that i just retired from teaching high school art and all that meant was that i became busier than ever before with my own professional art career and the career of being an author.  

I hope we are coming out of the long dark time and hopefully within this year can can travel internationally again.  We hopefully look forward to going back to Africa in 2022.  I wanted to go back to costa Rica this year but sadly it is not an open country yet.

I qualified for the third year in a row for the amazing ARTISTS for Conservation Art Festival in Vancouver with my ink piece Zebra Crossing but it is still not known if we are able to travel and attend as Canada has not opened to international travel yet.

The December 2020 publication of my epic fantasy 555 page novel Midnight Jungle has been a hit and all 5 star reviews so far.  It was a long journey from those first days i began the task of writing such a complex and huge book.  I am proud of it because it is exciting and unique, filled with adventure and imagination and true love and monstrous creatures.

from 2020 to 2021 I produced to Public Turtle Art Sculptures for Galveston and Jamaica Beach, won the Artist Boat design with extinct birds painting barrel, did well in many art shows so far and achieved 1st, 2nd, and honorable mention in the Lone Star Art Guild Convention.  

The many ZOOM presentations were successful from scratchboard demos to author talks but Next month i get to do a live ink demo in Conroe and a workshop live in august.  In July we will be conducting a LIVE Owl and Lizard summer camp for youth at the Baytown Art League.

The Murals we have finished during this time has been overwhelming when i look back on them.  The Cheetah Mural for Namibia Cheetah Conservation, The six walls of the Jungle Book mural, The FIVE background murals for the Houston Education Raptor Center flight enclosures, The 100 Texas Birds mural for Audubon, the four freshwater Fish for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and we are in the process of completing the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge Animals of the Marsh mural at the nature center.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Summer 2019 Nova Scotia to Tanzania Africa

We began our summer wildlife journey in Boston, Massachusetts, traveling first to Bar Harbor, Maine, hiking to the top of Bar Island and then enjoying Lobster at Stewards Lobster Pound.  
The next day we traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia and visited the Hope Animal Shelter, where the famous talking crow, Tilly, resides.  We visited Lobster fishermen with the catch of the day and a ten pound lobster.  Along the coast I saw my first Eider duck.
The next day we came to Sydney Breton Isle, hiking the town and chasing large ravens trying for decent photographs.  Later that evening we watched the performance of a live orchestra performing to BBC's Planet Earth II series.
Prince Edward Island the next day was a magical experience where outside of Charlestown we spend the day learning Falconry with Harris hawks and Gyr Falcons.  The birds of prey landed on our gloved hands and took their bit of meat and then soared up into the sky again and again.  We late explored Quebec City and flew home from Montreal, Canada.

Our next excursion was to Arusha, Tanzania by way of Kilimanjaro.  The art gallery in Arusha that features artwork by John Banovich is interested in representing my animal art.  Our first safari was in Tarangire park where we saw our first ground hornbills.  We watched in amazement as a sparrow hawk struck a dove in midair.  Tarangire Osupuko lodge was a nice stop with plenty of elephants, along with a leopard that had an impala stashed in a tree.  Bush bucks and vervet monkeys were plentiful.

The next day we drove to Ngorongoro Crater and the first sighting we get to watch a Serval hunting mice for quite a while.  Running by was a hyena with a warthog head in its mouth.  A bull elephant charged a bunch of lions that had circled a wounded buffalo.  So much wildlife today and we arrive near dark at Ndutu lodge outside of the Crater.

At Ndutu camp there was so much wildlife.  Genets were in the rafters at dinner and bats flew low in the sky.  Dik DIk antelopes in camp and so many colors of birds they looked like spilled skittles in the waterhole.  In the morning we had an amazing game drive experience, with a hunting cheetah running full speed after a herd of Impalas.  Later that same day we photograph bats, and lizards, and then we find eight lion cubs playing and tumbling together for hours.  That evening on the way back to camp we stopped on a tall hill and toasted the day with champagne and a surprise tin of popcorn for Gayln from our fantastic guide, Mathew.

Sunrise game drive to Lake Masek filled with flamingos.  Today was the day i got my special pizza made by the chef and it was incredible!  After the morning drive we headed for the Serengeti.  We encounter lions and steenbok, and a leopard killed a monkey on a kopje rock with her cub.  Our first hartebeests and Topis of the Serengeti.  

The next morning North Serengeti with large herds of elephants, and buffalo, zebras and many herds of the giant elands.    In the afternoon we arrive in Central Serengeti with the Rock and Tree Hyraxes.  The rocks had plenty of Agama lizards fighting, and on top we found a pair of klipspringers.  

The next morning and afternoon was spent watching and waiting on the great migration -massive herds of wildebeests lined the riverbanks of the Mara River filled with hippos and crocs!  That morning we got to see our first ever Bat Eared Foxes!  A herd of Elephants crossed the Mara River.  Plenty of giraffes and then later that night our first Bush Baby.  

The next morning i found a dead zebra and before long 4 species of vultures began to descend from the sky and find it too.  Within minutes hyenas came running from all directions.  Thirty minutes later the hyenas pulled an unborn zebra from the dead mother and then the carcass was stripped clean by at least fifty vultures and ten or more hyenas.  We drove alongside a massive herd of buffalo with many old battle scarred bulls.  That night we found lions fighting in the tall grass and on the way back to the camp our first white tailed mongoose.  

Driving along the next morning we came across a line of all old bull elephants in a bachelor herd.  Huge and impressive creatures passing in front of our vehicle.  We spent the noon hour at a high point on Lake Manyara for a lunch stop.  Our guide Mathew sang Masai songs to us on our drive back to Arusha.  
The next morning near Kilimanjaro Gayln was on a mission to get photos of Pied Crows, and she did a great job!  Two days later we finally arrive back in Texas, worn out from the best trip to Africa of all our four trips!  

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Winter-Spring 2019 Hiser Art Studios

Spring is approaching with Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes flowers blooming.  My favorite time of year.  This year has been the busiest for me judging more art shows than usual, about one good show a month.  
My High School Art Students exceeded my expectations by winning 48 Gold medals at the Visual Art Scholastic Event competing this year with 2/3 of the entries by freshman Art Ones.  We also have FOUR State qualifiers, one from each grade, 9,10,11,12.  Proud of those dedicated students.
I began the commission for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Boot Sculpture back in November and delivered it to NRG stadium where it was installed for the greatest rodeo on the planet.  My six foot tall golden boot was painted with sixteen rodeo bulls portraits and was seen by millions of rodeo fans across the globe.
This year, 2019, I have taught two workshops, and a couple of demos and speaking presentations but the busiest times have come from all the dozens of murals my students and I have been working on-too many to list here.
This Spring there are many larger art show coming up and I have eight art pieces qualified for the National Art Show in May.
I finished editing and creating two new covers for my epic fantasy novel THE MIDNIGHT JUNGLE-which should be published this year.
During Spring Break Gayln and I traveled to the Hill Country of Texas, Mountain Home, Kerrville, San Marcos, and spend a few days exploring and hiking the area of the Y. O. Ranch.  Exotics species were everywhere and we enjoyed our adventures with swans, longhorns, buffalo, kudu, oryx, nilgai, and many more, including a rare white buffalo.  Quintana and the Brazoria and San Bernard wildlife refuges were frequent journeys for us photographing birds, alligators and sandhill cranes. 
Recently my birder girl, Natalie and her sister, Mel, had a long day of disappointing nature when we found out the Baytown Nature Center was closed do to the fire and spill nearby and we ended up exploring Sheldon Lake which seemed to only be a place filled with bullfrogs and very few birds.
The highlight of our nature hiking was when Galyn and I spotted two bobcats at Brazoria and captured many photos, Gayln's first ever bobcat wild sighting!  

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Fall-Winter 2018 Hiser Art Studios

So much has happened since we returned from Kenya this past summer.  Me and Gayln traveled to Vancouver, Canada and as an Artist for Conservation helped unveil the largest bird mural in the world Silent Skies.  We had great nature trips with Thomas and Theresa in Canada.

My art student painters and myself completed the Santa Fe City Hall Mural, Ten Feathers. 

 I painted quick draw birds at the Audubon and HGA Art Show, Dickinson Art in the Park and my Brazos Art League Painting workshop.  

Me and Gayln and Natalie have had a few great successful birding trips this fall and encountered amazing things, beautiful roseate spoonbills, close up deer encounters, even touching a wandering armadillo nearby and a speckled kingsnake biting the lens of my camera.  

MY students and I participated in the amazing art weekend in downtown Houston, Via Colori where we created a very cool piece of street art.  We also began an ambitious project of filling the walls with Art History parody murals in the Art Room at HGA.

Abby and myself spent a day in nature and at Gator Country holding snakes, lizards and Alligators.
The last day of school I had Zoofari visit my art students with a kangaroo, a red ruffed lemur, a fennec fox, a genet, a skunk, and a vervet monkey.  

My art production was quite proficient as i created many paintings, inks, scratchboards and countless drawings, while teaching art and art history getting my students ready for competition.

I am also finishing up on my Public Art secret commission for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo which will be seen by millions this February and March.

Saturday, June 16, 2018


Hiser Art Safari group met at Houston Intercontinental Airport on Monday afternoon, June 4th.  The girls, Abby, Bianca, Natalie, Alva, and Gabby, were excited as Gayln and I got ready with our tickets to start the boarding process for the long flight.  Finally Wednesday morning we arrived in Nairobi and were picked up by Classic Safaris and began the long drive to Mount Kilimanjaro and Amboseli National Park.  On the way, the Art girls got to see their first wild Giraffes, white necked Ravens, and Zebras along the roadsides.  

Day One at Kibo Camp Amboseli and our safari vehicle broke down, dead battery, we had to get out and push to restart it a few times.  On this day we had plenty of zebras, wildebeest and ostrich up close.  The Crowned cranes were abundant, coucals, thick knees, baby plovers, Thompson's Gazelle, Grant's gazelles, and yellow necked Francolins, and a pygmy falcon all highlighted the first drive. We saw some of the biggest Tusker ELephants I have ever seen in my life and one huge bull decided to bluff charge us a few times.  That night I sat by the fire and reflected on the the first day with my art students in Africa.  Their eyes were shining when they saw the first herds of elephants in Amboseli.

Day Two at Kibo Camp we enjoy an early breakfast and listen to the rumbling sound of a nearby zebra herd running from something, maybe lions, which we heard in the night.  Driving along, Natalie yells and she spotted a big hyena sleeping next to the road, we had already driven past it.  He was only a few feet from our window and finally he jumps up and disappears.  Today we arrived at the lake and were lucky to get good photos of flocks of Greater and Lesser Flamingos along with Buffalos, vervet monkeys, baboons, waterbucks, bush bucks, and our first lions.

Back at Kibo camp for lunch we saw bee eaters and paradise flycatchers.  Gayln was visited at our tent by a dwarf mongoose, while some of us visited the nearby Masai village.  Abby, Gabby, and Ms. Chang danced with the Masai and we toured their village learning their medicine, prayers, and bargaining skills.  Gabby and I were charged by a Masai Bull but managed to side step as a warrior chased it away with a long stick.  Birds on this game drive included, Spur Geese, Egyptian Geese, hammerkop, crakes, jacanas, storks, cranes, and a hoopoe.  This drive also produced the girls first hippo sighting.  

Day Three we depart Amboseli and arrive at Lake Naivasha Sopa Resort.  Very impressive lodge with zebras and waterbuck roaming the grounds and giraffes at the entrance.  The girls were excited and amazed.  At night it was dangerous to wander about because hippos from the lake came ashore to graze and we spotted them with flashlights.  That first day we took a boat trip to Crescent Island and observed African Fish Eagles fishing and plenty of big hippos fighting in the lake.  Arriving on Crescent Island our guide took us on a walking safari getting extremely close to wildebeests, waterbuck, zebras, giraffes, gazelles and impalas.  That night our meal was grand and the beauty of the lodge was so relaxing.

Day Four at Lake Naivasha and vervet monkeys were running everywhere.  This morning we headed off to Lake Nakuru to find big herds of zebra, impala, and buffalo.  Widowbirds showed off their long tails in the tall grass.  Driving up the hill to reach the Baboon Cliffs-true to the name we find baboons hanging out.  The overlook is awesome with the view of Lake Nakuru and I am astounded at the difference of when I was at this exact point in 2012.  The Lake has expanded in size so much.  Agama lizards showed off their exotic colors of blue and green and orange and pink heads on the rocks and Abby actually touches one-so tame for wild lizards.  

Along the way we were lucky enough to find two leopard tortoises, and a baby gazelle.  Spinning our tires and almost getting stuck in deep mud, it started to rain and that's when we found the white rhinos.  Two of the rhinos in the rain came right next to the vehicle and of the five, we saw that one had a baby rhino.  Getting that close to wild rhinos made the day for me.

Back at Lake Naivasha lodge Gayln and I take a walk and find a herd of zebras that she walks along with.  We then found four tall giraffes and get really close up.  While walking along the lake we encounter angry hippos grunting at us and to be safe we turned around and headed away from the water.  Hippos are too grumpy to take chances with.  That evening at dinner we were tired but the girls were excited about their day.

Day Five was a day of driving "hell" with horrible roads and long long hours in the truck.  The highlight of the morning before we left were the troop of Colobus monkeys at Lake Naivasha camp which were a great find!..My favorite monkeys and the girls enjoyed their beautiful black an white fur.  We saw pied kingfishers, waterbucks and yellow billed storks on our nature walk before we departed.  Hours and hours later we arrive in the Mara, of course, bombarded by Masai women pushing their handfuls of beads at our windows, so persistent, not a pleasant experience.  The first animal we find on the Mara was not what you would expect, FROGS.  

The tall grass hides many animals but we found two big male lions, five cheetahs sleeping under a tree, our first herds of Topi, and hartebeests.  Great encounters with some of my favorites, Secretary birds, GO Away birds,, Kory and White belied Bustards, Snake Eagles, Vultures, and Helmeted Guineafowl.  and baboon troops walking along the dirt roadway.  A big male surprised everyone when he attacked Gayln through the vehicle window, grabbing at the camera.  Luckily he missed her but we all jumped and got a good scare with his big canines flashing and those long hairy arms grabbing at her.  The sunset that night was incredible as we finally arrived at Ashnil Mara Camp .

Day Six we have a quick breakfast and set out for a game drive into the Mara.  I had no idea of the what we were about to find.  We first spot a Suni antelope, my first, very similar to a Dik Dik antelope, along with huge herds of Topi, Impala, Grant's and Thompson's gazelles.  Along with huge herds usually comes the predators.  We were not disappointed with the arrival of a big leopard stalking through the tall grass.  The big cat was beautiful and even crawled up underneath a truck to rest in the shade.  We spent some time with the big leopard and then left, to let him hunt in peace.  He approached very close for good photos.  A few minutes later we find two lionesses and have some good viewing time with them too.  Two big buffalos wandered nearby and then we returned for a lunch at the lodge with many crocodiles and hippos in the river below our lunch deck.  The open air lunch area had plenty of visitors, like bulbul birds and mousebirds.  
After lunch Abby , Bianca, Galyn, Alva, Natalie, and Gabby all relaxed at the pool creating the word: "Africa"-- with our bodies and arms in the cool pool water.
That afternoon we drove out to the place on the Mara River where some of the Great Migration takes place, they were crocodiles waiting along the banks and the river was filled with hippos.  Great close up encounter with a silver backed jackal who didn't seem to mind us at all.  

Day 7 leaving Ashnil on a LONG drive back to Nairobi.  The bumpy road known as the Kenyan Massage seemed to never end.  Once back in Nairobi, hours and hours later, starving, we eat some familiar food, KFC and PIZZA HUT for a quick lunch.  Our next stop that afternoon was the Giraffe Center.  Gayln and I had been there before but the girls first experience went grreat !  Gabby was kissing endangered Rothschild''s giraffes on the lips and a big male decided to hook my shoulder with his horn.  We saw the famous Giraffe Manor which is booked up--two years in advance.  
Nest stop was to see Ambo, our adopted baby elephant at the David Sheldrick Orphanage for baby elephants.  We met their orphaned black rhino who is blind and can never be released back into the wild.  Gabby got to meet her giraffe she adopted named Kiko.  The baby elephant running parade was great and we adopted more babies.
That evening we concluded our night with a meat eaters meal at the famous CARNIVORE restaurant.  The girls had their first taste of Ostrich, Ox balls, and crocodile.  We celebrated our last night in Africa.
The time in Africa went by too quickly and I enjoyed every minute of spending time with my art students as they experienced their first trip to the dark continent.  We made memories, found the big five, and learned so much.  

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Whirlwind of Spring Art 2018

Let me sum it all in one statement--It was a Whirlwind!  Taking winning ribbons in the Baytown Art Show with my first Scratchboard ribbon-African Buffalo, and my students tearing it up at the Visual Arts Scholastic Event in February with our highest Gold medal total of 52 out of 54 students and three State qualifiers, such a blast !!
The NSA Spring Art show was rewarding when my largest watercolor to date-The Elephant and Cheetah Waterhole-took a first place and my second scratchboard Curiosity, African Wild Dog took a first in Drawing.
In March that win was followed by an award in the Houston Visual Arts Alliance Show with my complicated ink piece, Durer's Dream getting a check and news coverage.

SPRING BREAK was amazing, taking a break from teaching and art to travel to Dana Point California with Gayln on a photographic animal journey in search of whales and dolphins and other Pacific coast wildlife.  The highlight of our trip was being surrounded daily by pods of over 400 common dolphins! 

Coming home that next week I was the judge of the North West Art League and it was the best art show of the year, with so much incredible talent.  The  hardest show yet to judge because of such high caliber work.  I was very impressed with the amazing pieces there.

The Spring of 2018 also was great for our art because were made it into the select pool of Houston Min Mural artists and I look forward to where that leads.  Later that month the Texas City Art Fest was a big disappointment with the best of show winner -a small photograph and i'm never going to be happy with photography beating fine art in any art show.
The next weekend Gayln and I were nature guides for Canadians in search of birds during Galveston's Featherfest and we exhausted ourselves in finding them as many species as possible all over this gulf coast region.  
My students attended the State Visual Arts event and took 2 out of 3 Gold medals and discovered so many new things of the Texas Hill country, Pedernales Falls, Enchanted Rock, Wimberley and San Marcos.  
The next month Galyn and I traveled to Marble Falls for the Paint the Town Festival where I was the guest speaker at Marble Falls High School and I found my new friend-the Pronghorn antelope mount, his name is "Birdie".  We also hiked the Balcones Canyonlands and got a lifer for my bird list, Golden Cheeked Warblers.
Last week our spring started to wind up as summer approaches with my wild night as Event speaker at the Houston Audubon Society in Houston.  Abigail and Paola did a wonderful job as my assistants and I donated my Aplomado Falcon painting to the Houston Audubon Society.

My students High School graduation is next week and in June we are hosting the Hiser Wildlife Safari Kenya 2018, bringing my art students to Africa on safari for their very first time.  That last year and a half of fundraising for this trip was  a herculean undertaking mixed in with all of the things I am involved in -not to mention teaching art each day, but now the payoff and it will be so rewarding to watch my students fall in love with Africa.