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“I could paint an elephant 20% 'wrong', and it's still an elephant…”

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I love painting animals, after the relative restrictions of painting F1's rigid forms and logos, wildlife is a release. I can really relax and just go for it, concentrating far more on the overall effect rather than accuracy. I mean, I could get an elephant 20% wrong and it's still recognisable as an elephant... Unless it's your elephant, I guess. Literally carving three-dimensional fur and scales with my pallet knife, formed from thick oil paint. I grew up in rural England, right on the Welsh border as it happens on a hill farm, surrounded by countryside and wildlife. Pheasants everywhere... which I still maintain are the stupidest animals I've ever met despite their photogenic looks, but a school trip to Bristol Zoo, aged 10, was the inspiration that hit hardest. So, when 30 years later I'm discussing show concepts with my Bristol-based gallery partner, creating a huge wildlife series and partnering with Bristol Zoo on the project, didn't take me long to imagine. We were between studios at the time in 2014, and the whole 19 artwork ROAR! gallery show was painted in our 8ft square kitchen.... even the 8x4ft life-size elephant portrait. Yes, it's still a portrait and, similarly as with human portraits, it's all about the eyes.

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