Phillip Martin Art

The Africa Collection

When I joined the Peace Corps, I wanted to go to Latin America and learn Spanish. So, naturally, they sent me to English-speaking Africa instead.  Like most everyone else, I had to look Liberia up on a map to find out just where it was located.   Little did I know at the time just how much I would fall in love with Africa.  I lived there for six years in Liberia, Morocco and Zambia and traveled all over to neighboring countries.  Hands down, no competition, it is my favorite place on earth.

I've always loved photography. And, my favorite thing to photograph is portraits of people wearing
traditional clothing, especially on their heads.  Fortunately, there is still a lot of that to see (and photograph) in Africa. 


The Maasai are easy to spot when you travel in Kenya and Tanzania.  Despite an ever encroaching modern world, many of the Maasai have held on to their traditional ways.  Not only are they unusually tall and graceful, they almost always wear deep red clothing.  Frequently their normal attire includes a red blanket draped across their shoulders. 

Men and women alike wear a lot of jewelry.  I was particularly fascinated with what that heavy jewelry did to their earlobes.   And, I found it very interesting that the women shaved their heads instead of the men.

The Maasai people are a nomadic people.  With a lifestyle in harmony with their environment, they herd cattle. The Maasai have maintained their rich culture in the face of colonialism, war, independence and politics.  However, their lifestyle is under threat from global warming, dried up rivers, land grabbing and modernization.  Obviously, this grandmother has a lot to contemplate.

Usually, when I draw a portrait, after the face is completed the rest of the drawing is so easy.  However, that wasn't the case with Maasai women.  They had such beautiful beadwork with everything they wore.  It took a long time to add that detail to the portrait.

Continue on to Africa Image 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6  or back to the Portraits Home Page.