Chicago Tribune, 02/16/08
“Africa: An Artist’s Safari,” Maverick Brush Strokes, $39.95; ISBN: 978-0-9787084-0-5
Fred Krakowiak is a wildlife artist who is formally trained in the ancient art of sumi, an old Japanese practice where a weasel-hair brush is used to paint. This technique allows him to capture animals in motion. Krakowiak points out that Africa’s game reserves are the largest on the planet: nearly 1,600 species of mammals and about 2,300 species of birds. And yet things are changing. There are only 30 white rhinos left in Botswana, he says; the cheetah is becoming rare, and there are only 600 gorillas remaining out in the wild. Much of this depletion is because of several factors, including the expanding human population, poaching and government mismanagement involving wildlife issues. Thus, Krakowiak felt he was running out of time if he wanted to observe the animals in their natural habitat. In this oversize book, he paints what he sees: leopards, elephants, lions, hippos, cape buffalo, crocodiles, giraffes, cheetahs as well as trees unique to Africa.
Tucson Citizen Review, 12/06/2007
Krakowiak’s artwork is distinctive and can be found in galleries throughout the country. Blessed with an artist’s eye, he is able to detail every nuance of an animal’s very existence by mastering a technique called sumi. The technique allows an artist – if gifted – to capture animals in motion.
Krakowiak, who has had a lifelong passion for the wildlife of Africa, has captured all of the excitement of going on safari in his superb new book.
“Africa: An Artist’s Safari” is more than just a showcase for artwork, however. The incredible illustrations are supplemented with personal stories about close encounters with animals and they capture the rich traditions and culture of Africa and its people. For example, we discover such things as the daily life of a guide and even the meals that are prepared along the way. The result is part memoir, part travelogue that serves up a rich and multilayered perspective.
This is nothing less than a tribute to the beauty and mystery of Africa and its animals. Inspired, perhaps, by the awareness that one day his artwork may be all that remains of many of these endangered species, Krakowiak takes great care to present them as lifelike as possible. The breathtaking illustrations seem to leap from the printed page.
He was assisted in this project by Barbara Balletto, an award-winning travel writer who wrote much of the text, and Sandy Bell, the designer responsible for this handsome book.
This is a publication that is visually pleasing and an absolute must for those who thrill to the prime viewing of such exotic creatures as lions, cheetahs, elephants and zebras. Through the exceptional artwork and highly readable text, we become – if only for a brief period of time – guests on the continent of Africa. The experience is the next best thing to actually being on safari and it is an experience that should not be missed.
Krakowiak, who studied at Arizona State University, lives and paints in Scottsdale.
Arts & Humanities Library Journal, 6/15/2007
Travel in Africa as romantic adventure has been represented in Euro-American literature and popular culture for more than two centuries, from the diaries of Victorian-era explorers to memoirs by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway. Most of these works focus on viewing, hunting, and depicting Africa’s wildlife; indeed, numerous non-African artists have made careers of sketching and painting these animals. Krakowiak, who studied with a Chinese master and is formally trained in the ancient art of sumi, is one of the latest such artists. Here he accompanies the narrative of his experiences on an African safari with sketches and watercolor paintings of the animals he saw there. He also includes reproductions of pieces he painted on such varied materials as bronze, copper, rice paper, and silk. Considering the contemporary realities of Africa—e.g., nation building, the AIDS pandemic, and the humanitarian crisis in Darfur—it is hard not to see this book as an odd anachronism. Recommended for general readers interested in wildlife art and exotic travel.—Eugene C. Burt, Seattle
Fred Krakowiak’s Outstanding Book “An Artist’s Safari” Drawing Global Raves
While Fred lives in Phoenix, Arizona, like ourselves his heart is in Africa. Amazon describes it as follows: Part memoir, part meditation, this intimate portfolio is a collection of vivid stories and evocative images that honor this immense and wild land. Through breathtaking illustrations and a well-informed narration, the collection captures an Africa full of color and texture, energy and motion, passion and hope. In addition to sketches drawn while trekking, the book features reproductions of final pieces painted on a variety of materials &emdash;bronze, copper, rice paper, silk &emdash;and expressed through the ancient art of sumi. Accompanying sidebars reveal facts about the various African animals&emdash; lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, water buffalo,and the like&emdash; such as their markings, size, behavior, gestation, life span, predators, defense, and conservation measures being taken to save them.
AFRICA: AN ARTIST’S SAFARI, by Fred Krakowiak
A stunning coffee table portrayal of a safari by a wildlife artist.
Leading American wildlife artist, Fred Krakowiak, shares his experiences and adventures in Africa with not only beautiful prose, but sketches and brilliantly coloured paintings. Formally trained in the ancient art of sumi, an ancient Japanese art form, Fred uses this throughout the book as well as portraying his sense of awe and love of animals in dramatic rich oils on copper. His paintings done in ink and watercolour on rice paper are delicate, capturing the movement of the wild animals. Fred traveled to the Okavango Delta, and explored the plains of Botswana before moving on to Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. He writes about what he saw and experienced,gives fact boxes of the animals he learned to love, and together with his evocative paintings brings to life a very special part of Africa.
Africa: An Artist’s Safari, by Fred Krakowiak. Scottsdale: Maverick Brush Strokes, 2007.
The painter, trained in classical Oriental technique, turns his weasel-hair brush here to rendering African wildlife. The odd blend of style and subject is magical (a confrontation between two lions, penned in ink and watercolor on rice paper, for example, shimmers with tension and expectancy) and the paintings are hypnotic. Suggestive brush strokes on a luminous rice paper background, areas dark then light then translucent inform this work, and the animals, oh!, the animals. Fierce, intelligent, cautious, playful, dangerous; they swoop and run and bend and sit with an elegance that belies their wild natures. These are beautiful pieces, enhanced by a series of full-color oil on copper paintings of an elephant, a cape buffalo, a giraffe, a lion, a cheetah, a hippo. Krakowiak’s mission is to capture these gorgeous beasts before poaching and “civilized” encroachment move them to extinction (or to paid wildlife parks for tourists’ amusement). He provides good information about the animals, the people who live with them, and the habitats in which they reside, but it is the power of the paintings that will bring you back to this book time and again.
– David T. Gies – Commonwealth Professor of Spanish and former chairman of the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese at the University of Virginia.
Africa: An Artist’s Safari, by Fred Krakowiak, with Barbara Balletto. Maverick Brush Strokes, 2007. $39.95
In his introduction, artist Fred Krakowiak tells us that he traveled to Africa to see the wildlife in its natural habitat, before that wildlife is totally destroyed by pressure of human population and activities. As he traveled on safari in Zimbabwe and Botswana, Krakowiak kept an artist’s travel journal, which he shares with us in this book. The text is not scientific by any means, but is a very personal view of the safari experience. The author offers the reader fascinating anecdotes of Africa and presents information about the animals or the African people in sidebars. One of the more valuable features of the book is a detailed chapter on how an artist prepares and packs for such a journey; this narrative will be very useful for the artist-in-training. The final chapter discusses Krakowiak’s training and history as an artist.
The most dominant aspect of this book is the artwork that fills its 133 pages. It is a feast for the eyes. Having traveled in Africa myself, I was most impressed by the artist’s skillful and emotion-filled work. Krakowiak is a gifted artist and offers the reader his perceptions of the sights of Africa in a variety of media, including charcoal, ink, watercolors, and oils. The illustrations include sketches, working paintings with notes, and finished paintings.
-Jean L. Cooper – Associate Director, Interlibrary Services University of Virginia Library
Both reviews appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review (the literary magazine for the University of Virginia) and on their website.