I worked on this painting until I couldn’t face it any more! There’s something about the expression on this face that makes me wonder. Both affectionate and contemplative, I like to think of myself in that way – however, when it comes to looks I think I lose to old hairy hands.
Recently I took my lad to Colwyn Bay zoo; not the best I must admit, but they had a number of chimpanzee’s in a hill enclosure – they were lying about on the grass higher up, snoozing in the sun – oozing intelligence, but without the table manners. I wish I knew more about this curious animal.
This cat was a young male giant of a cat, he had a great deal of energy and was growing into a tiger. It’s a shame when a life is cut short, but humanity has a reckless spirit and this can get in your way sometimes.
My son went through a phase of loving everything to do with pirates and this is kind of where that ended I think. He still picks up his pirate toys sometimes, but I wonder if I stepped on it a bit when I put it down on canvas! This painting added a few years onto his face but narrative and adventure is high up on the agenda and it’s a bit of a character trait.
I grew up in the Welsh hills wondering how I could find the goats that I knew were roaming the hills nearby. It took me until I was almost out of Uni to meet them and it was worth the wait. In the foothills of Snowdonia, Cwm Bychan, I met a single goat standing on the other side of the river Artro. I chased it with my camera and a Kodak film through the trees and out onto a plateau looking out over the Rhinog Mountains – I had discovered the elusive nature of this shaggy beast.
Years later I am still curious about these lovely animals. I next met them en masse as I traipsed the wilderness of the same valley. They were sitting in a large group – I counted 21 this time. There was a combativeness about these, rutting with one another – I was impressed by the strength of their horns – something I had considered mainly ornamental previously.
I think, in all, I have only met these creatures five or maybe six times – but they’re there, living amongst the hills, an entirely nomadic independent existence.
A number of years ago I had the fortune to visit many beautiful towns and villages around Northern India. Perhaps the most memorable place I visited was the Punjab where we stayed in a small village. The locals welcomed us with open arms and I went to a wedding and met many people, this is one of the characters I kept bumping into.
Because of the nature of the Sikh people, the men come across as warrior types – they wear turbans and have thick belts with knifes at their sides. Always I felt a sense of admiration for this culture, which seemed so authentic at its heart. On its suburb however, was the youth element, young men looking at me suspiciously and wondering what I was doing in their town. I had conflicted thoughts during my stay and the Bangra festival with its angry undertones and loud night time shouting made me feel really uncomfortable. The poverty of this place made me wearier than perhaps I needed to be, though to conquer this fear I took a few late walks and made myself accustomed to the winding streets.