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Walks of Life with Cannon Winkler

Cannon’s story starts off not too dissimilar from ours. A passion for nature growing up eventually led him to do a professional field guide course with Ecotraining in South Africa. The one major difference was probably that Cannon went over to South Africa in January 2020, on the eve of the pandemic and ended up getting locked down at a bush camp with his fellow students, an experience in and of itself as he describes it. Being able to spend days and months in the bush allowed him to slow things down and focus on the smaller things.

Above: Cannon pictured enjoying a lovely white rhino sighting

Watching a golden orb web spider build its web is something in particular that he remembers. He also says that although he loves the ‘big animals’ like elephant, rhino and lion, he could easily spend a whole afternoon watching a group of monkeys or baboons. We both agree that certain animals tend to get overlooked on a lot of safaris.

Working in various camps in South Africa over an 18 month period, Cannon took major inspiration from the bush and the various shapes and forms he found on a day to day basis while out and about exploring. Animal tracks in particular stood out to him.

Above: Cannon noting the size of a lioness track in the sand

By creating moulds of tracks using plaster of paris (a quick setting plaster), he was able to take tracks from the bush home. Using acrylic paint, he put them onto canvas. His Bushveld series is a collection of abstract paintings that represent moments, times of day and concepts from the bush and are nearly always created by compiling various types of animal track from the South African bush.

Above: A mold of a large male lion

The paintings are not just a way that Cannon expresses himself artistically -though he does so extremely effectively- they are also being used to drum up money for conservation. At the time of the podcast recording, Cannon had raised well in excess of ten thousand US Dollars through his paintings, small sums as he says, when put into the context of what he hopes to still achieve.

Above: Cannon in the process of creating a piece titled "Poacher's Moon"

The funds are currently being raised for an organisation called African Parks, a largely philanthropy-driven organisation that strives to protect and conserve large portions of land in areas, where the correct resources are not necessarily always available. Cannon values African Parks’ sustainable conservation model and the fact that local communities are also taught about the importance of a protected area and its species. People from these communities are also regularly employed by African Parks, where they would have often historically hunted in these areas.

Above: Cannon with one of his paintings

When asked about his next adventure and his next art series, Cannon has quite a different area in mind, though one that is also largely influenced by African Parks. He aims to spend several months in the Congo Basin at Odzala and to focus and draw inspiration from the forest habitat and it's natural inhabitants. Getting these tracks will likely be a lot more tricky due to the abundance of leaf litter, though the challenge of this is one that he relishes.

Above: One of Cannon's finished pieces, titled "Inhale"

To see more of Cannon’s art, to learn more about what he's doing, and to buy any of his works, go to or follow him on Instagram


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