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.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Here we are in January 2018 and we're having a freak winter freeze on the coast here in Texas.  The fall  of 2017 has been a whirlwind for my art and writing world along with the demands of teaching high school young artists.  The biggest challenge this year has been our fundraising efforts to try and get some of my art students to Africa this coming summer.  
With my art this year has seen a first place and Best of Show  in the Galveston Art Show and then a grand Placing in the NSA National Show this past fall.  I have judged 4 professional shows and met so many new friends at each outing along with quite a few speaking engagements and demo presentations.
With my writing, I promoted my 2016 book, The Ten Secrets of Love, and finished writing my first nonfiction book, after 15 years of research, Art History 4 X 4 (teaching Art History in the High School Classroom).  This new book will be available this year, 2018.  
Following my students amazing success of 2017, I hope we can stay the course, with 50 Gold medals at the Regional Visual Arts Scholastic Event and our wonderful First Place Win at the Charter School Art Fest Best in Texas!  This year we have almost 60 entries and an overwhelming amount of highly detailed inks and scratchboards!  
Fundraising has been tough, in our area, but we have had garage sales, shoe drives, painted palm frond fish, raffles, painting with a twist, and have completed quite a few murals!  All of this hard work for few money returns -so we stay at it!  Our murals were also featured on FOX 26 NEWS Houston as we painted for the Senior Citizens at Brookdale Center, their Secret Garden Mural, and the Children's Center at Mall of the Mainland Mural of Characters, the World Gym Gorilla mural at World Gym, and now the Kung Fu Panda mural.  Our art is featured in the Museum of Science in Houston with our life size African Elephant mural and we produced 12 new Zoofari Camp murals for the Houston Zoo.   My students were also involved with painting with me the eight foot tall San Marcos Mermaid Sculpture and attended the Mermaid Festival for the unveiling!