David Shepherd - "to start with, my life was a series of disasters". Growing up in the 1930's, his one ambition was to be a game warden in Kenya and so, on leaving school, he went to Kenya and was promptly told by the National Parks people that he was not wanted. On returning to England, David was faced with two choices. One was 'to drive a bus for a living' and the other was to pursue the only other possibility: painting. However, he admits that he had very little interest in art and certainly no talent; for he was promptly rejected by the Slade School of Fine Art as 'untrainable'.
By chance, he met Robin Goodwin, a professional artist, who took him under his wing, David believes 'as a challenge'! After three years with Robin Goodwin, he started his artistic career pursuing his first two loves, steam engines and aviation. It was the latter that led him to the Royal Air Force who began to fly him around the world as their guest and it was a trip to Aden in 1960 which changed his life. It seemed that almost everyone wanted a painting, but, more important still, the Royal Air Force flew him down to Kenya where he was commissioned by them to paint his very first wildlife painting and his career never looked back from that moment. It was on that same visit that he became a conservationist after finding 255 dead zebra around a poisoned water hole.
On returning to London, he had his first one-man show of wildlife paintings. The exhibition sold out in the first twenty minutes and he has not looked back since! Apart from the tremendous demand for his originals, a number of which he donates to wildlife through The David Shepherd Conservation Foundation, to pay back what, in his own words, is my enormous debt to the animals I paint, his published work is avidly sought after.
David's passion for steam locomotives is well known, and in 1967 he purchased two 120 ton main line steam locomotives, 'Black Prince' and 'The Green Knight' and founded The East Somerset Railway, at Cranmore, Somerset, a registered charity and fully operational steam railway. His latest venture is the presentation to him of a 15F Class locomotive, even larger than 'Black Prince', by South African Railways as a free gift.