Where are the kids?

I took a photograph of the Red-billed Hornbills a few years back when we visited Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The birds are not only extremely beautiful, but also quite entertaining. When searching for a motive for a new painting I recently stumbled over that picture and thought, “why not”? The composition looked interesting to me and as I hadn’t done birds in quite some time, I gave it a go. As usual, I was short of time: I had only 4 days left and the canvas turned out to be pretty big!!!

On day 2, my daughter Isabella took a quick look at the work-in-progress and said: “You know what? These two guys look pretty much like you and daddy!” She clarified, the one to the right would be my husband. No doubt about it as its beak (-> nose) is much bigger than that of its partner … I initially laughed it off, continued to paint, but then started thinking. … Yes, she got a point … Those two hornbills really looked a bit like we must have looked like when trying to locate our three young daughters who had a tendency to disappear at the most inopportune times: on airports, in restaurants, in shopping malls, you name it.

So, that’s where the title comes from. If you look carefully, you may even spot the kids. (Hint: there are three of them hidden in the green foliage, and they are only symbolically represented) …

Hope you like it!

Cheers, Sabine


red billed hornbills, Botswana, Sandibe, Safari
WHERE ARE THE KIDS? 2018 Acrylic on Canvas, 47×47″

Enchanted Forest

170425_Enchanted Forest

I… don’t like doing environment sketches. At all. Mostly because I’m really not very good at them.

So in order to challenge myself, I did an environment sketch (thank you so much Deanna for the inspiration!)

Pink Briar

It is now almost 4 years ago that I did my last flower painting. Hard to believe … but time really flies. Finally, last week, I had both the time and found myself motivated enough to embark on a new flower project. The motive? A rose. The color scheme? Pink. The reference? A photograph of one particularly gorgeous specimen growing right in front of our house. The original rose has actually a dark red/burgundy type of hue … but since the painting will hang in my daughter Bella’s “pink-themed” bedroom, I changed that to make it match. In the end, I used two main colors – a medium magenta and a dark carmine red – to bring to life the intricate shapes of the petals. The generous use of black in combination with a few white highlights support the illusion of 3-dimensionality I was after.


Pink Briar
PINK BRIAR, 2017, Acrylic on Canvas, 40×40″


I can happily report that Bella is looking forward to hanging it in her room. A friend of mine actually commented,

Lucky Bella, there is so much of her in there and I believe she will feel your love because that is what I see.  She is in there, all her beauty and softness.

What a lovely comment … (thanks, Sandra!) 🙂

Der satanarchäolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch

170212_Der satanarchäolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch.jpg

This painting was inspired by the love I bear my sister. To acknowledge her efforts in reading the German books my mother asks her to (and make it more fun!), I began making small illustrations for each book she read.
The drawing began as a pencil sketch; after numerous thumbnails, I settled on a composition I liked for the following reasons:

  • Dynamic behaviour of characters
  • Movement of the eye goes in a diagonal from the focal point (cauldron/high contrast to background) to the What really encouraged me to complete this image was the success I had with creating a satisfying aesthetic after making the background a green to black gradient. It instantly set the tone for a witchy painting, and made illustrating the work extremely enjoyable.
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Initial Sketch

Sensing that I wanted to spend more time on this drawing than I typically do on a digital piece, I approached it in a modular fashion, adding detail from region to region and exploring how I could bring contrast and character into my painting one step at a time. The fact that with every added detail the mood of the painting changed made this immensely exciting, and I really enjoyed unearthing what I came to see as its spirit.
My sister’s knowledge of the story also shaped the piece, something I found profoundly interesting. I must admit: I was not familiar with the source book of the illustration. I love the author, but for synopsis and a general idea of what was going on in the plot I relied heavily on online summaries and looked quite carefully at existing illustrations, especially those in the book itself. Nevertheless, I was drawing on shaky foundations, and it was my sister who filled in the gaps for me. For example, as I believed that a witch’s cat should be black, the cat was initially black. My sister corrected me, however, as well as insisting on small details such as the ruby ring worn by the male wizard, and through this collaboration I believe we created a piece that truly represents the story it is based on.

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Chiara (my youngest sister) is in midst of an arduous journey to improve her German, a monumental (just kidding, her technical knowledge of German grammar is by now considerably better than mine, and her speaking ability practically fluent) task which necessitates reading many German books — not her favourite activity.

Recently she began reading a book I really loved as a child, Ronja Räubertochter, and to show Chiara that I hugely respect the effort she puts into her work and art my way through the week, I decided to make her a bookmark.

Hopefully, more will follow!

Ronja Räubertochter (Ronja The Robber’s Daughter)

The bookmark is done in a more static style, as I tested my abilities to ink neatly digitally. I was inspired by stained glass windows, and, if you zoom in on the picture, the texture ought to reveal itself.

I made one “mistake”, and that was painting Birk’s hair white-blonde, the way both Chiara and I imagined it to be. As she neared the end, she suddenly came across a description in which his hair was copper-red. Whoops. Therefore, two variants now exist. I  think I still like the blonde one better!

… and here comes the prey

While people may not think that general game such as zebras, antelopes, or giraffes are quite as spectacular as the Big 5, I beg to differ. Yes, they are ubiquitous, but that does not make them any less interesting. We saw them fiercely fighting for dominance, standing around looking cute, running from predators, joyfully jumping about in the water, daring a pride of lions (giraffes can be incredibly stupid!), nursing their young and peacefully grazing. Without them, Africa wouldn’t be the same.


They are scary, impressive and magnificent, nonetheless, there are times when they can be outright cute. Below, I would like to share a few of those moments with you.

The Beauty of Birds in Flight

Birds in flight are fascinating me. The way they spread their feathers, stretch their delicate bodies and show off the beautiful colors and patterns of their plumage – it’s simply mind-boggling. On our last trip to Africa I set out to focus more on capturing this momentary beauty. Enjoy!


Yellow-billed Kite
Yellow-billed Kite
Woodland Kingfisher
Southern Carmine Bee-Eater
Southern Red-billed Hornbill
Marabou Stork
Lilac-breasted Roller
Fork-tailed Drongo
European Roller
Egyptian Geese
Coppery-tailed Coucal
African Fish Eagle



As 2016 is quickly coming to a close, I decided it’s now or never: Let’s paint one more piece!

Now after a 3 1/2 day marathon of painting, I am happy to report that I can add “Brothers” to my collection. The painting is based on a picture I took about two years ago in Phinda, SA. The two young lions looked extremely elegant when they slowly made their way down the steep dam. I planned to turn that shot into a painting for a long time. Happy it finally happened!

Brothers, 2016, Acrylic on Canvas, 48×36″