|David Shepherd had no talent in art, painting only to escape playing rugger, which terrified the life out of him when he was at school!
David Shepherd's only ambition growing up was to be a game warden in Africa, but that potential career failed before it started. Rather than drive a bus for a living, his father suggested he went to art school, but the Slade School of Fine Art saw one of his early paintings of a bird and told him to go and drive a bus.
So, David's early life was, to put it mildly, a series of disasters.
David Shepherd is sure he must be the classic example of someone being in the right place at the right time. If he had not gone to a certain cocktail party in Winchester in 1951, he would not be where he is now.
David Shepherd was introduced to a professional painter who told him that he had no intention of teaching him, even if he did have talent, because he was so busy.
However, when David showed him the bird picture, he saw someone who was so awful that he had to take David on as a challenge! If David Shepherd had not have met Robin Goodwin, he would be driving a bus up and down Oxford Street!
After training, David Shepherd began painting English landscapes, aviation subjects, steam trains, portraits and all the other things that he is possibly known for, but his career really took off at Heathrow Airport when he was painting aircraft portraits from life.
The RAF noticed these pictures and they invited Shepherd to travel all over the world with them as their guest, commissioning various aviation subjects.
The catalyst in David's new career came in 1960 when he was flown down to Aden. He painted a picture called 'Slave Island' which, when showing it to the Commander-in-Chief, resulted in 48 commissions from, it seemed, everyone in that part of the world.
However, they then offered to fly Shepherd down to Nairobi where the RAF were based in those days. They had saved Â£25.00 and said 'they would like a painting but we don't want aeroplanes because we fly those all day. Do you do animals?' Up to that time David had not even painted a rabbit, but he said 'I'll have a try'.
That very first wildlife painting of a rhino chasing an aeroplane off a runway in Kenya changed Shepherd's life and the rest is history.
With a full order book of commissions as far as he could see ahead since that first wildlife picture, his ambition has been not only to continue painting for people who ask for commissions, but now, through the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, to fulfil his passionate obligation to help so many critically endangered mammals on the brink of extinction who have done so much for him.