David Shepherd paintings

The subjects of David Shepherd’s paintings varied throughout his career as his reputation grew and passions changed. David’s artistic career began with aviation commissions for the military. He then progressed to his true passion of wildlife art, before discovering steam trains. He also painted landscapes and portraits. 

David Shepherd aviation art 

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In 1953 David started his career as an aviation artist, setting up his canvas on the tarmac of Heathrow Airport.

Here David met the Chairman of BOAC, Sir Miles Thomas, who commented that David can never have flown judging by the way he painted the clouds and promptly got him on a test flight. This resulted in several new commissions, one of which was ‘A Pilot’s Eye View.’

David became the official Royal Air Force (RAF) artist, a position he later handed to his daughter Mandy Shepherd. During his time with the RAF they commissioned over 100 pieces. 

It is hard to believe that initially David used to give away his aviation paintings in the hope that he would get commissions in the future.

David Shepherd wildlife art 

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David’s aviation work took him all over the world. One such trip was to change his life. The RAF flew him from Mukulla in Aden to Kenya in 1960 and David was commissioned to paint his first-ever wildlife painting – a rhino on a runway.

David Shepherd train paintings 

David Shepherd is often referred to as ‘the man who loved giants’ – not just his iconic giant elephants but the mighty steam trains that he loved and painted so beautifully. David captured the final days of steam in his wonderfully atmospheric artwork and campaigned to save some of the last working steam engines.

“A great man who will forever be credited as one of this country’s greatest pioneers of railway preservation.”

Julian Birley the then Chairman of the North Norfolk Railway 

David Shepherd portrait paintings  

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David was perhaps less known for his portraits, which include subjects as varied as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, HE Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi and ‘Rambo’ a Cornish fisherman. Perhaps the most significant of his portraits was his vast portrayal of ‘Christ on the Battlefield’ which hangs behind the altar in Base Chapel at the Ministry of Defence Lyneham.