Namibia Painting Commission

Namibia Painting Commission

I am honored to have been the recipient of a Namibian Government commission for the creation of two paintings of Namibia for the new permanent residence of the Namibian Ambassador to the United Nations in New York. It was such a joy to paint these scenes while wandering through so many wonderful memories of the 23 years I lived in Namibia.  It felt as though I had never left and as if I were continuing a commission I received many years ago to document life in Namibia at that moment in time. Back then it took the form of 30 paintings which were later published as the book “A Moment in Time: Glimpses of Namibian Life”

Painting of Namibia by Mary Jane Volkmann
“When” 40″ x 60″ acrylic on canvas by Mary Jane Volkmann

How well I remember my move to such an arid country, watching, after long and dry months, those first and long anticipated clouds, holding my breath and wishing and hoping like everyone and everything else that they would become thick and heavy and begin to pour down upon the earth, but seeing instead a single cloud unleash its water, only to have it dry before reaching the ground. It seemed as if everything would sigh as the rest of the clouds evaporated, hopefully, but never certainly, to return another day.

How can I describe those moments of astonishment, being in the quiet peace of the countryside and suddenly becoming aware of a majestic kudu backed up under a tree in the shade, its nose pointed into the wind, waiting for the heat of the day to die down or perhaps observing something which might be approaching?

Above all, I remember the incredible, magnificent expanse, whether looking across the landscape or watching the breathtaking stars overhead at night, wondering if this is the closest I could ever approach infinity.

painting of Kavango village by Mary Jane Volkmann
“Kavango Village Scene” 20″ x 30″ oil on canvas by Mary Jane Volkmann

And I couldn’t help but paint with a smile as I revisited the Kavango, a place teeming with life, traditions and lively, friendly people.  I could hear the chatter of the women and the laughter of the children as they walked home from the field, their baskets laden with mahango (millet) as their bare feet softly brushed the earth and grass.

These two paintings are being installed as I write.  I hope that the Namibian Ambassador and visitors will enjoy these paintings as much as I did when I painted them. For me, it’s been like meeting an old and dear friend I haven’t seen in many years. We hug, catch up, and it seems like no time has passed at all.



18 thoughts on “Namibia Painting Commission”

  1. How incredibly beautiful both these paintings are MJ. Your words and memories are all encapsulated within these paintings. They are so lucky that they will be able to grace their walls with your paintings. I am still amazed and astounded when I look at any of your paintings and am able to call you our friend.

  2. Oh Mary Jane … your words and you paintings feel like the spirit of the Africa I always dreamed of visiting. They are beautiful and wonderful.

  3. Dearest Mary Jane,
    I just shared your beautiful paintings and the background story to them with dear Mutti. We are both in tears, and so happy for you that you were commissioned to do this work. Your art and your words bring the images to life.
    How grateful we are to have shared many special moments with you here in Namibia!! And hopefully one day you can come back for a visit – for sure it will be as if we never parted!!
    With much love from Gerda and Brigitte


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