Portrait of Colonel David Bates

February 23, 2017 21:08


Oil on linen, 90cm x 70cm.

In the mid 1960's I was eight years old and lived with my military family in Aden in the Yemen. We were being forced out by the Arab Liberation Organisation with machine guns and genades and lived within a barbed wire compound protected by the British Army. Outside school and work hours we would go to the beach where the Red Sea met the Indian Ocean and swam protected by shark nets; Hobson's choice! I did a lot of drawing there, mainly soldiers and sharks.

A mile down the road lived a five year old boy called David Bates. One day as he was having Sunday dinner with his family he asked his father why they were crying, "Tear gas son", replied his father. That is the event that later made him decide to join the Bitish Army Nursing Corps as a private. He has recently retired from the army having risen to the rank of Colonel and running the Nursing Corps.

It has been a privilege to get to know him and paint David in his full military regalia. It has also been fun to return to drawing soldiers. Perhaps sharks will follow. 

I am available for portrait commissions and more of my portraits can be veiwed on my website at


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