David Shepherd CBE, FRSA, FRGS is known internationally as one of the world’s leading wildlife artists. He is also a passionate conservationist; he and the David Shepherd Conservation Foundation have raised more than £3million towards helping to save critically endangered mammals in the wild. Prolific in output as a painter of not only wildlife but portraits, landscapes, aviation, military subjects and steam railways, he is also a respected author.
At the age of 20 David was thwarted in his attempt to become a game warden in Kenya. On his return to Britain a chance encounter with the artist Robin Goodwin resulted in his being taken on by the artist’s studio and this vigorous training was to last for 3 years. Afterwards, David began to paint aviation subjects which were prompted by his boyhood experience in London during the Blitz. He received commissions from various airlines and in 1960 the Royal Air Force flew him to Kenya and asked him to paint the local wild life. His first painting was of a rhino, for which he charged £25! From then on he says “My career took off, and I have never looked back”.
In 1962 Shepherd had his first one-man exhibition at the Tryon gallery in London and he also produced a print of his painting ‘Wise Old Elephant’, both of which were highly successful. David is passionate about elephants and steam locomotives for the same reasons; he likes anything big! After a sell-out exhibition of paintings in 1967 in New York he started collecting steam engines that were going to be scrapped. This led to his founding The East Somerset Railway, a registered charity which was opened in 1975. In 1976 David wrote his autobiography ‘The Man who Loves Giants’ and this was revised and updated in 1989. In 1985, ‘David Shepherd – The Man and His Paintings’ was published and this brought together in a single volume a fully representative selection of his work. In 1995 his two latest books, ‘David Shepherd, My Painting Life’ and ‘David Shepherd – Only One World’ were published.