Born in 1954 in the North of England, Ralph Shephard spent the first five years of his life living in the northern city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. Having spent much of his childhood travelling around the UK, Ralph completed his Art Foundation course at Norwich school of Art in 1970, returning to West Yorkshire to study A fine Art degree at the then Leeds Polytechnic, now known as the University of Leeds, over 16 years later.
In the summer of 1972 Ralph found the inspiration, which to this day still fuels and excites his work, while on his travels across America. The young impressionable artist fell in love with the what he describes as the landscape of, "road culture… of Diners, Gas Stations…Jesse James and big sky landscapes…" Adding, I was very inspired by some of the more off the beat places I came across…". As Shephard began to look at the work of, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, Fredrick Edwin Church, and the Photo realists of the 1970's, American Art also began to have a considerable influence on his painting. Shephard also became interested in American road movies, which have now become synonymous with American culture and the image of America to the world. His short time spent in America began a life long passion with the landscape.
On his return to Britain, Ralph Shephard began to draw on influences closer to home. " There was a part of me which hankered for a more gothic and pastoral British nostalgia." says Shephard. Adding, "I've always had an equal interest and huge admiration for the works of the Pre Raphaelites, especially Waterhouse, Holman Hunt, and the paintings of other British artists like Stanley Spencer, Samuel Palmer and Lucien Freud." Shephard has recently completed a 'faithful rendering' of Boreas (1903), a John William Waterhouse painting. John Waterhouse's work is regarded as the finest in the late Victorian era to be influenced by British Pre Raphaelite painting.
Creating two different genres of work, his landscape paintings, and his portrait paintings, concurrently in his studio in Huddersfield, Shephard specialises in Acrylic on canvas - seeking out the beauty of the landscape that surrounds him. " I love the quiet sleeping mysteries of unannounced secret locations in the landscape, which thankfully go unnoticed by most; so their mystery remains untouched and waiting, just below the surface." He Says, commenting, "I find my inspiration through trips out into the wilds in the middle of nowhere, trying to find more unusual anomalies, not twee picture postcard type scenes."
His portraiture work, although holds the same haunting tension of his landscape painting, aims to engage with the viewer on a slightly different level.
Ralph Shephard believes that the process of painting a portrait should be both powerful and spiritually uplifting. "There is a linking of souls for a while…I really try to capture the soul and the physical persona of the sitter". "Part of what I set out to achieve when I paint a portrait is that the subject in some way engages with the viewer, almost like a flirtation which often emanates from the eyes. This is to me a very crucial aspect of the work, and means the difference between succeeding or not. If the work holds the viewer's attention then I feel I have achieved something. There is a lot of rhetoric language in the work and I like the skill and effort to be acknowledged. I like it when viewers get the same feelings that I felt when putting the image together in the first place."
Granted honorary membership of the British Society of Painters in 2004, Ralph Shephard was also made an Associate member of the National Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Printmakers in the same year. The British Society of Painters was founded in 1987 and is dedicated to promoting and preserving the craft of the traditional artist. Other Fellows include Pietro Annigoni, Rowland Hilder OBE, Terence Cuneo OBE, CVO, and David Shepherd OBE.
Shephard has exhibited with The British Society of Painters, The National Society of Painters, and the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. He has participated in numerous exhibitions across the UK including, The White Room Gallery, Huddersfield, The Portland Gallery, Manchester and The Gulbenkian Gallery, Newcastle.
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to view Ralph Shephard's general exhibition pages and figuartive work.
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to view Ralph Shephard's landscape paintings.
Ralph Shephard is one of Londonart's Portrait Painters and is available for Portraiture Commissions with us. Please view his work in the Commission a Portrait