In 1969, he was persuaded to stage an exhibition of his work in Nairobi`s New Stanley Art Gallery. The show was a near sell-
out and an idea about an alternate career began to form in Combes` mind. Someone made the suggestion that he paint wildlife and the creative seed was sown. In 1974, Combes said
farewell to the army, bought a small house on the outskirts of Nairobi and setup shop as a freelance artist.
In the two decades since, he has achieved worldwide success, countless commissions and many prestigious awards—including the Society of Animal Artists` Award of Excellence. He was chosen "Artist of the Year" for the 1994 Pacific Rim Wildlife Art Show. The success of his work has aided Combes as he seeks to raise awareness of wildlife conservation; he has made contributions and served on the councils of several conservation organizations.