Nothing Between Me and Death

As I stood in the tall grass, I watched as the lioness crouched 50 feet away ready to attack. Heart pounding, I was sure this was how I was going to die. Out in the middle of Africa, nothing but grass stood between me and death.

For me, seeing another elephant was like seeing another cat in Jerusalem or another run down building in Detroit.

I would call myself privileged growing up in Africa. For me, seeing another elephant was like seeing another cat in Jerusalem or another run down building in Detroit. It was easy taking African wildlife for granted.

On a road trip across Zambia, I distinctly remember as a kid not even glancing as my mom pointed out a giraffe. Seen It, done it. Saying that, I do love wildlife. One of my favorite things was jumping in a jeep and heading on a Safari.

Created in the summer of 2018, this piece is wood burned on a round basswood.

Created in the summer of 2018, this piece is wood burned on a round basswood.

Now as an artist, my goal is to show through the art of woodburning the beauty of these majestic beasts.

When I found myself standing 50 feet from a lioness, I was on one of these safaris. Since some of our friends from the States were visiting, me and my sister flew with them to the Chipata Province in Southwest Zambia. It was four days of Safaris, games and fun.

Our goal one day, as we headed out on our safari, was to find lions. We had seen many of the "basic” wildlife such as elephants, giraffes, zebras, warthogs, various antelopes etc. but this time we wanted to find the king of the jungle.

A custom piece for a friend, it entails a wood burned lion and lioness complimented by watercolor on oak.

A custom piece for a friend, it entails a wood burned lion and lioness complimented by watercolor on oak.

Knowing this new information, I climbed back into the jeep to guarantee that I would write this story

Finally, after hours of searching, we found a couple of lioness’s and their cubs. With the okay from our guides, we piled out of the jeep and watched these amazing animals. That is when one of the lioness got ready to attack.

Not sure what to do, our guide whispered to me “Don’t worry. As long as the tale of the lioness moves side to side, we were fine. But if the tale moves up and down, it will kill us.” Aware of this new information, I quietly climbed back into the jeep to guarantee that I would write this story. After a couple more minutes of picture taking from our friends, we headed back to our lodge—all people accounted for.

In this piece, I tried to show a representation of all African wildlife outlined by a lion.

In this piece, I tried to show a representation of all African wildlife outlined by a lion.

Looking back now, I should have been more scared than I was. I will never forget the love and respect I gained from seeing these amazing animals up close in the wild. Now as an artist, my goal is to show though the art of woodburning the beauty of these majestic beasts.

Comment down below what your favorite lion piece is.

A Failed Artist

My heart sank as I made the thirty minute drive back home. I had failed. My art career had ended before it had even started. What was I going to do now? Should I just give up? Maybe my art is not as good as everyone says.

This is how I felt as I drove home from my first art show in Greenville, SC. But let me back up and explain how I had got to this point. 

My freshman year of college had began with excitement and enthusiasm. I was making new friends, enjoying classes, and loving my job on campus. The problem? I did not want to wait until I graduated to make a difference in the art world. I had come to realize two things: 

  • Pyrography was not viewed as fine art

  • Pyrography was not readily available for people to enjoy

Although I had no capital to start a business, I quit my campus job in order to change that.

My first art show in November 2016

My first art show in November 2016


I figured that selling at art shows was my best bet in getting my new career off the ground. For the next several weeks I got ready. With a friends help I purchased a huge amount of wood and got to work wood burning. Looking back, I am surprised I was never forced to stop as my dorm room become my office.

The day the art show arrived, I was ready. I nervously set up for the one day event and waited for a sale out. At least that is what I thought. However, my hopes were dashed to pieces as I walked away from my first art show with nothing but the art I walked in with. In disappointment, I never went to an art show for another two years and had to get a different job.

My latest art show in May 2019

My latest art show in May 2019


Although I did not succeed so many years ago, I used my failure to start Xulon Burning where I continue my dream. Not only am I helping pyrography be viewed as fine art, I am providing you with unique wood burnings to create a home you love. My failure became part of my success. That is what made all the difference.

What is an example of a failure that you learned from and turned it into a success?

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