Reflections

I was touched by the beautiful reflections about one of the most talented wildlife artists who has ever graced us with his work... Mr. Simon Combes. And although I never had the privilege to know him, I would like to convey what his work has meant to me as an aspiring wildlife artist. I first learned of Simon's artwork just over a year ago when paging through "Wildlife Art Magazine". He was holding a workshop that they advertised (just prior to his untimely death). Throughout that issue and others, I noticed paintings that took my breath away -- and they were Simon's. I learned more about him through his website and absolutely fell in love with his style and the empathy he felt for his beautiful subjects. It was hard to believe they were paintings and not photographs! It is doubly heartening to hear in these tributes (and read in his books) that he was a humble, down-to-earth and fun-loving person. That makes his paintings even more meaningful and joyful. I will always hold Simon's work up as the ultimate inspiration in my journey as a late-starting wildlife artist (beginning at age 45). Even though he is no longer here where we can see him, his works live on and so does he in those beautiful depictions of the African wildlife he loved. And I've no doubt that he is still creating joy all around him in another realm, surrounded by the beloved wildlife who have gone before us. My heartfelt condolences to Simon's family on this first anniversary of his passing.
- Susan Afflerbach, Wildlife Artist Lebanon, Pennsylvania, USA


In the short few years that we have known Simon, our family has grown to love Simon, first as a very special person who loved to share his tales of adventure, then as an exceptional artist and finally as a wonderful son-in-law, His death is an unbelievable tragedy to the preservation of wildlife , the art world and our family.
- Marvin and Marion Platten, Lubbock, Texas


Simon was in every sense of the word 'Greatness'. Few display this quality. He was a humble, giving, and loving individual that touched the lives of many men and animals. He did not give accolades of himself but at the same time, raised the bar no matter what field one is in. He gave of his time, money and talents. He was loved by many, especially his family and will be missed with a deep sorrow that pierces the heart. The depths of his life and the things he did will be part of history.
- Andrea Haynes (Kat's sister)


I am so sorry for the loss of our friend. He ran with the big cats. He will be greatly missed.
- Will Bullas


Like so many, I was deeply shocked when I too received this tragic and very sad news!
Although I never met Simon, he was a few years 'ahead' of me at school in Kenya, and as I had 'chosen' fine art as my own profession, only some years after leaving Kenya, did I become aware of Simon's talent and dedication. He more than deserved the outstanding international success he enjoyed as a wildlife artist. Simon became and shall remain an inspiration... There are numerous 'wildlife artists' out there, and many good ones too... but in my humble opinion, Simon Combes was one of the few truly great painters of this genre!
- Ian Rossenrode, artist and ex-Kenyan


Simon was, and will always be, a huge inspiration to me. He was an Artist's Artist. I first met him back in 1992 at the Nature in Art Museum in England. I was awestruck by his work and had bought a copy of his book that I desperately wanted him to sign for me, but when I entered the room where he was I lost my nerve and retreated to a nearby table. It's difficult to come face to face with your hero when you are inspired to follow in his footsteps. I almost left without speaking to him but Simon somehow sensed my nervousness from afar and called me over to join him at the table where he was eating. He was extremely kind to me, offering me advice and complementing me on my work. His words meant so much to me that day. Simon was very special, there was not a trace of arrogance in him, he was a completely down to Earth, genuine man, who created some of the most awe inspiring paintings I have ever seen. I say he was an Artist's Artist with some authority. Since my first meeting with him I have met many Artist's over the years and I have always been struck by the fact that everyone had similar stories of how helpful and genuine Simon was. Everyone I ever met who knew him, was impressed by his work and his humanity in equal measure. Simon achieved greatness and at the same time never forgot how it felt to be an aspiring Artist. There are not many of us who perfect both skills so well. Simon was an education to us all. A friend said to me yesterday 'I loved the way he put all his years of experience, his heart and soul into every picture, I used to look forward to each new painting, and I will miss that greatly.'
Thank you Simon, you gave so much, probably more than anyone could ever realize.
-
Eric Wilson, Artist, England


Simon was one of those rare people who achieved so much in their own lifetime, but remained totally 'normal' and never bombastic. I first met him at the Greenwich seminar in Denver many years ago, and since then, over the years bumped into him at various functions both in the USA & UK - he always had time for a chat, and always had some very amusing anecdotes to tell. Just such a sad loss; our hearts go out to all the family.
- Diana & William Sissons, Sissons Gallery, Helmsley, York, England


I have had great admiration for Simon Combes and his work ever since I was introduced to him through a mutual friend from Kenya, John Kingsley Heath. I bought his prints years ago and placed them in the school I own in North Stamford. The children always admire the beautiful elephants and zebras. I have taken the children up to see him work on the Absolute Alaska. A fine artist and person who gave so much to others, he leaves behind a great legacy.
- Virginia Sarvalon, Director, Owner, Canaan Ridge School



I learned of Simon's death about six weeks after it happened. It gave me an empty feeling, although I never met him. He was about my age. His book, An African Experience, leapt out at me from the lending library shelves some years ago not long after I had been to Kenya, a visit which included the Rift Valley countryside of his boyhood. It was the second of (so far) six visits to Africa in my late-life love affair with its wildlife. The book was no longer available for sale in Australia at the time, so I made email contact with Simon in the UK to find where to purchase it. After buying my copy online, I exchanged a couple more emails with Simon. The book is probably my favorite, because none of the illustrations in any of my other African wildlife books, as much as I love them, gives me a lump in the throat as Simon's paintings do.
- John Milbank, www.afrigalah.com


Please accept my deepest sympathy at the loss of Simon. In the early or mid 90s I watched a TV documentary on Simon and his work and I'm glad I recorded most of it. On rediscovering the tape a few months ago I wrote to him asking about his painting techniques and was pleasantly surprised by the warmth and honesty of his response. My intention was to enter into a dialogue with him . . . and so it was with disbelief and shock that I heard of his untimely death on my car radio. Although I had never met Simon he did touch my life.
- Desmond Fernandes, London, England. Ex-Uganda


I had known Simon for several years from the Greenwich seminars but it was not until the print "There Was A Time," we really spent time together. The Greenwich Workshop contacted me to help Simon find a setting for this buffalo painting he was commissioned to do. Doing some initial travel and picture taking of the landscape, I sent Simon 175 photos and he contacted me the day he received them. He was very excited and we set up a time for him to come over and retrace my route. We spent 5 days on this trip and had I had one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I went to Boise to see my good friend Terry Begg of Gallery 601 and to watch Simon work on the painting in Terry's Gallery. Simon came back to Minot for a show after the release of the print and it was fun reminiscing about our experience's researching the print together. I made it to Kenya and Lake Nakuru with Terry Begg but ironically Simon was in the states at the time. It was easy to see where he got his inspiration in the lands around Kenya. Simon had the ability to leave a lasting impression on anyone he met and I am proud to count myself as one of those people. Simon will truly be missed by everyone who had the great pleasure to meet him.
- Tim Greenheck, former owner of Gallery 18, Minot, North Dakota

It is a rare occasion in life when an individual knows of someone, even a continent apart, who is capable of making an indelible mark on one's mind and heart. Simon Combes is that someone. Deep sympathy is extended to his family for their immeasurable loss. Simon will be missed by all who were fortunate to know him.
- J.P. Holden     Fairfield, CT

My name is Lyndsay Harshman, I am a freelance writer and avid traveler. I was blessed enough to meet Simon at a small gallery in Northern California several years ago. I was immediately inspired by his art and touched by his endearing, passionate character. When the chance came my way to spend some time in Nakuru, Kenya this past summer, I jumped at the opportunity. I also emailed Simon and told him that I would be in "his neck of the woods". I was invited to spend time with the Combes' at their home on the Delemere Estate. I was able to capture this experience in an article for Wildlife Art Magazine. What I wasn't able to share were the incredible memories that will always be with me. After meeting Simon in Nakuru, he drove me to the Delemere Estate via the private reserve that was his backyard. Together we spotted waterbuck, warthogs, bat-eared fox, impala, flamingo and jackals. We paused at the edge of Lake Elmenteita as he told me about the evenings that he and Kat shared there, painting and enjoying sundowners. I remember climbing the slight hill to his home in the old Land Cruiser. I kept thinking, that I just couldn't believe I was in Kenya with Simon. After cocktails and a delicious spaghetti dinner that Kat prepared, we visited and exchanged stories. Simon did most of the talking, and I was glad for that. My 25 years certainly haven't yielded quiet the experiences of his lifetime. The cool Rift Valley breezes eventually coerced us inside and together, Simon, Kat, Guy and I watched "Love Actually." I remember being wrapped in the quiet of the guest room that night, just being amazed. I was amazed by my surroundings, the people, the laughter, the stories and the love. The next morning Simon, Kat, Kivuli pup and I walked down onto the reserve. This was my official interview with Simon. He told stories of his life, art and lessons learned. When we stopped walking we were perched on a small knoll looking back at the Delemere Estate and Simon's home. It was a spectacular view. After breakfast Simon took me back into town. On the road back, I asked him to describe his life in a statement or sentence. After a pause he said, "My life has been the fulfillment of many impossible dreams." And my time in Kenya with Simon and Kat was the fulfillment of one of my impossible dreams. The world doesn't know what they've lost. In that short time, Simon became my living hero. And in his death, he will continue on as that. Saying that Simon will be missed doesn't do justice, but it seems that's the only thing that can be said. My thoughts and prayers are with Kat and his children. And I am so, so, so incredibly lucky to have had the time with Simon that I did. It changed me. I know he changed most of us. Rest in peace, Simon.
- Lyndsay Harshman


My name is Beth Cayce. I'm a painting contractor in the Lake Tahoe area and also recently have become a muralist, having always been an artist, though never expressing myself that way. Several years ago, I drove at lunch to a wonderful business area in incline village here at the lake to buy a burger at one of my favorite shops. Iplaced the order, and while waiting, strolled down a few doors to 'Art Attack', an absolutely wonderful art gallery. I browsed the windows, then sort of sheepishly walked in as I was wearing my painting coveralls, not very stylish and hoping not be seen as there was obviously some ceremony going on. Once coming through the door just a few steps, looking to my left, I saw a gentleman some dozen feet away seated on a simple table, his back to me, facing an immense canvas, another small table to his right covered in tubes, brushes and such. the painting was an incomplete, though much worked, detail of a mountain, stream, gorse, gulls and bears. Shocked, I recalled getting my notice from the Greenwich Workshop of a gallery visit by Simon Combes that would last some days. I saw that this was the visit. I stood a few feet behind him, hiding behind displays, as I felt so inappropriately dressed, and watched him paint. the entire world seemed to shift, and I was overcome with an experience of being in a presence of extraordinariness, of the awe that overcomes me when my own fingers paint images that do not come from me, they come from that amazing, indescribable place where great, glorious loving essence shares itself, and I was watching it happen in this astonishing moment. A young gentleman came up to me and asked if I'd met Mr. Combes, and would I like to. I said I couldn't possibly; I was overwhelmed and tears came. Just then Simon Combes stood up and stretched and walked exactly over to me. The young gentleman introduced me as someone admiring him as he was painting. Mr. Combes took my hand, smiled and spoke warmly. I could only say that i felt blessed to be in the presence of his work. Later, I received a card from him, thanking me for my appreciation. I treasure it and always will. He thanked me? I cry writing this. I know where his gift comes from, though my ability is so young and i may never be able to step out of the way enough to allow this gift to flow as beautifully and with such exquisite integrity as he could allow. I
share this hoping to extend a moment of his greatness, and contribute to the immense wonder of the painting of life that he was and always will be.
- Beth Cayce, Lake Tahoe


I first met Simon when we moved to Bushley in 1991 and had the pleasure of being his next door neighbour. He gave so much back to this village and through his exceptionally entertaining talks enabled us to raise money for the local school and the cricket club of which he was a Vice President. I count myself very lucky to have had Simon as a friend and although we have seen little of him in recent years he will still be greatly missed by us all. A great artist but also a lovely person who leaves much for the world to continue to enjoy. Our sympathy goes to all his family but in particular to those we know and love here in Bushley, Susie, Cindy and Guy.
-
John Rule


I first heard of Simon at a model aircraft rally at Elvington, West Yorkshire, where some prints of his paintings were being sold by an Art gallery. I thought if I could get hold of one of the leaflets depicting his brilliant paintings I might be able to try to "copy" some of the animal details onto my own landscapes! The owner had other ideas and told me that if I wanted to paint African wildlife I would have to go to Africa! So I came away disappointed. ( I couldn't afford to go to Kenya and I was only an amateur painter of around 20 years old ! ). Some years later I came across His book " An African Experience" which I managed to purchase from America after tracking it down after another two years! I read the book from cover to cover more than once and it inspired me to continue painting African wildlife. The next time I came across Simon was when he was to appear at a Art materials exhibition at Leicestershire Cricket ground, I counted the days down like a kid does for Christmas! I took my book to see if I could, maybe, get it signed by him - that is if he wasn't too busy. When I finally arrived I left the book in my car just in case this great artist was one of these unapproachable characters. I was of course completely wrong and I broke the ice by telling him that he had just cost me £1500. He looked rather shocked and asked me why. I told him that through reading his fantastic book I had booked a two weeks safari holiday in Kenya just to see if Kenya and the wildlife was as good as he had said it was in the book, and also to take my own photo's of the animals and landscape. He assured me that it was and asked me to bring in the book and he would sign it, with pleasure.That done, we then talked for ages, after I had told him of my love of painting African wildlife and of my use of "his" animals. He gladly gave me lots of advice on his experiences in Kenya, painting and safaris and that he had really enjoyed meeting one of his fans. So when I found out just after Christmas that Simon had died, I was quite devastated. I had only met him for a few hours and yet it was as if I had lost a great friend. I expect it's the same for everybody that's ever come in contact with such a great conservationist and awe inspiring artist. I would just like to wish his family and friends my deepest sympathy and condolences, we and Africa have lost a truly Great man.
- Stephen Simpson. Leeds, West Yorkshire


My name is Bill Gehring. My wife Glenna and I were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of Simon’s untimely passing. We met Simon in Boise, Idaho in 1998. I had the pleasure of spending many hours watching Simon as he painted “There Was a Time” at Gallery 601 in Boise. As an artist, this was something I’ll never forget. Simon was very generous with his time, offering advice and encouragement, even attending one of my shows with his wife, Kat. The world has lost a great artist and a true gentleman. We send our heartfelt condolences to Kat and to the Combes family.
- Bill & Glenna Gehring, Eagle, Idaho


I met Simon Combes near Toronto, Ontario in 1987 when he was on a North American Tour. I was immediately struck by the friendly way that he greated all of us. I purchased a couple of prints which Mr. Combes most graciously countersigned for me. I was, and still am, awestruck by his work and remember that meeting as if it were yesterday. I was also born in England in 1940 so I feel a certain affinity with him. The Art World has been robbed by his passing of a great and gracious man. Thank you Sir, for your legacy of brilliance. I look at my prints with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. God speed.
- John Tatham


Simon will be missed by all of us at The Wildlife Experience. In two years time we came to know him well. His humor and easy nature set him apart from so many accomplished men. It was an honor working with Simon to show-case his spectacular art and to help promote the Rhino Rescue Trust. As an artist, conservationist, and friend, he will be missed but never forgotten.
- Richard Smartt, The Wildlife Experience


I was deeply saddened when informed of Simon's unexpected death. I've had the immense pleasure of getting to know the man behind the phenomenal paintings. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity not only to admire his work but, to witness the joy his talents have brought to the lives of my clients who are as passionate of his works as I am. May his legend continue.
- John Huff, Gallery International


My heart goes out to Simon's family. I had the opportunity to learn and play with Simon and Kat for a few weeks while he was visiting Rowhouse Gallery. Behind the warrior, I remember a warm and sensitive man, a wonderful artist. We are all richer for Simon touching our lives.
- Les LeFevre


My name is Nick Ploysa and I work at The Wildlife Experience museum in Parker, Colorado in the building operations department. I only had the pleasure to meet Simon once when he was out here painting in the upper mezzanine. I could tell by his personality, what kind of man he was and how he loved life through the art of his beautiful paintings. I did not speak to him long, in fact, all I did was bring him a pair of pliers to open a paint tube. I am very sorry for your loss. Simon and his family will be in my prayers!
- Nick Ploysa, The Wildlife Experience


It was our absolute privilege and honor to be amongst those that Simon called "friends". We are devastated by his early passing and will miss him terribly. Kat and all of Simon's family have our deepest sympathies. His lust for life was amazing and we truly felt special being in his presence. The world has lost a genuine treasure.
- Mike and Jane Jones, Keystone, Colorado


To hear about Simon Combes untimely death is devastating. I am so glad I was able to attend his recent show at the "Wildlife Museum" in Denver. The huge exhibit was awesome! I have never seen such a collection of masterworks. To top it off, Simon gave a speech...which was sooooooooo funny! What a sense of humor!! I can now envision Simon.... telling old sea stories... tipping a few and enjoying his old friends... in the next world. What a guy!
- Janet Kemper, Kemper Galleries


I was fortunate to has a ten + year friendship with Simon. His love of animal, especially the cats was refreshing. One of my most fond memories was sitting at night with him watching a leopard at Soysambu. I saw my first leopard in the wild at Nakuru with Simon and Kat. I can remember being so excited, but what seemed so strange was Simon and Kat were just as excited as I was. No mater how many cats they had seen in and around the Park, the excitement was never lost for them. Nakuru has a very special place in my heart because of Simon and Kat. He was a great advocate for conservation and we were working on ideas to help re-post Lake Nakuru National Park just 3 weeks ago. My hope is that his hopes will not be lost. I will continue to push ahead with his hopes and maybe others will follow. We have lost a great man for conservation of animals and I have lost a dear friend. My prayers and thoughts go out to his family and especially Kat.
- Dale Anderson, Sierra Endangered Cat Haven


This is such a loss, condolances to one and all.
- Wildwood Gallery & Frame


I am sorry to learn of the death of Simon Combes. I did not know him, but I’m sure Barb and Louise will be much affected by his loss. My sympathies to you, his family, and all the staff at Greenwich.
- Susie, Royce Galleries, Ltd.


We are all devastated. Our thoughts are with Kat and Cindy and Guy. We should all feel priveledged to have shared the time that we did with Simon, he was a great man. He will carry on living in my memory for a long time.
- Anthony Cheffings, Onsafari (K) Ltd


On be half of Art Barbarians I'm very sorry to hear of the death of Simon Combes. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family, friends and all of you at Greenwich who had the privilage of knowing and working with him. He was a fantastic artist and from what I've heard a great person and will be deeply missed by all.
- Adam Kayser, Art Barbarians

Simon was the liveliest, most fun artist ever. Seminar will be very quiet without him. He was also a fabulous artist. We really are going to miss his talent and his personality.
- Tina, Hog Hollow Art Gallery


Although our Gallery was not a purchaser of Simon's work, we did appreciate the talent of this man and we are very sadden by his passing. The world will miss such a man, who obviously painted his passion and isn't that what life is all about. To see his paintings, was to appreciate much more, the beauty of those most magnificent animals. He leaves a wonderful legacy behind, which will stand forever to a man who was involved in the love of his life, Africa. Please pass our deepest sympathies to his family, on this most tragic news.
- Bruce & Wendy McIntosh, Wild West Gallery of Australia


I am so sorry to receive this news. Simon was such an interesting person as well as a gifted artist. Know you must be receiving many letters but just add ours to the list of people that are truly saddened by this tragic news. It is with heavy heart that I write this e-mail. He was a blessed man and he gave back so much.
- Sandie, Frame-Art Gallery


I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Simon at Greenwich events and host 2 events at Gallery International. I am deeply saddened and know the world has lost a wonderful human being. As an adventurer, artist and friend he will be missed by the many people who's lives he has touched throughout the years. I am sharing this message with several gallery clients that I remain in contact with that are collectors of Simon's work. They too are saddened by this news.
- Joann Lacy, Peppertree Gallery


I am very sorry to hear this news. I had the privilege of meeting him several times at your seminars and found him to be a wonderful person. He didn't just talk the talk as they say, he walked the walk! It is a great loss to us all!
- Don Kelley, Kelley Frame & Fine Art Galleries, LTD.

 

If you would like to share you memories or thoughts about Simon, please email here.