Mountain Gorilla Juvenile With Left Hand Missing

Detail of “Mountain Gorilla Juvenile With Left Hand Missing”– This is the state of the (upper half of) the painting at the moment. I’ve been working on the piece for a while, one of those paintings that just seems to hang around the studio in order to get resolved at some point.

I encountered this youngster on one of my gorilla treks in Rwanda. His hand had been caught in a poacher’s snare– the hand shriveled as the wire cut to the bone. Eventually, the withered hand fell off. This little guy– quite young, but somehow seeming very very old to my eyes– was lucky to escape with his life. He also has a “lazy eye”–strabismus– a condition exacerbated by inbreeding. The mountain gorillas live on a literal island in the clouds– a small postage-stamp remnant of the natural world completely surrounded by humanity in one of the most densely populated regions of Africa.