Featured Artist Tom Shepherd

British artist Tom Shepherd shares a captivating portfolio of light-filled watercolors based on his love of wildlife. See more by visiting his website.

 

watercolor of a cheetah by Tom Shepherd

“Cheetah” watercolor, 22″ x 15″

 

As a child my two greatest loves were art and wildlife. As an adult, things haven’t really changed much!

After finishing a geography degree in 2006, I came to a crossroads. My choices were either some sort of role in conservation, or the even scarier idea of becoming an artist (I had absolutely no formal training or any idea how to even start.) Yes, I chose to be an artist, and sixteen years on, I am so glad I did.

 

watercolor of a blue hyacinth macaw by Tom Shepherd

“Blue Hyacinth” watercolor, 15″ x 22″

 

I began by creating hand painted artwork on musical instruments, plus any design or illustration work that came my way. After a few years I realised I was creating the sort of artwork that I thought I should be creating, rather than what I wanted to create.

 

watercolor of an elephant by Tom Shepherd

“Ellie Splash” watercolor, 11” x 8”

 

Shortly after, I transitioned to more traditional mediums. This is when things really opened up for me.

 

watercolor of a tiger by Tom Shepherd

“To the Light” watercolor, 22″ x 15″

 

I am fascinated by the technical side of painting and am often quite geeky about gaining knowledge. This is always in balance with the excitement, oftentimes frustration, and ultimately pure joy found in exploring the unknown creative side of art. For me, where these elements collide is what really fires me up. This is where I am happiest, in pursuit of that elusive something that is always just out of reach.

 

watercolor of an Oystercatcher by Tom Shepherd

“Oystercatcher” watercolor, 11″ x 8″

 

Strangely, it took many years for my first loves of wildlife and art to meet. Once they did—wow—that’s when I felt I was closer than ever to finding what it was I really wanted to achieve with my art and closer to finding my artistic voice.

 

watercolor of a macaw by Tom Shepherd

“Gold & Blue Macaw” watercolor, 22″ x 15″

 

Whilst wildlife and birds are probably what I am best known for, I do truly love to paint a broad range of subjects. Light, atmosphere and colour are what I am hugely drawn to.

 

watercolor of a rhinocerous by Tom Shepherd

“Colourful Rhino” watercolor, 17″ x 12″

 

After starting with oils and acrylics, it was an injury that forced me into the wild and often out of control rollercoaster that is watercolour. I liken it to trying to contain a wild beast just long enough to get some sort of sense down on the paper, which is exhilarating!

 

watercolor of a duck by Tom Shepherd

“Downtime” watercolor, 15″ x 22″

 

It’s funny how things can come full circle. I am now hugely grateful to be able to use my art to raise funds for, and spread awareness of, conservation issues that are very important to me. Combining my art with conservation has become a vital part of who I am.

 

watercolor of a lion

“Wild & Free” watercolor, 22″ x 15″

 

One of my other joys is teaching. I do this in person through workshops, demos and painting holidays, as well as online in various forms.

 

watercolor of puffins by Tom Shepherd

“Sunlit Pair” watercolor, 22″ x 15″

 

I feel that all I have learned so far is not mine to hold onto. Teaching is a way to pay forward everything I am grateful for. To be able to help and inspire others to pursue their own artistic journey is incredibly rewarding.

I owe so much in my life to the simple act of picking up a brush and some pigment.

 

Artist Tom Shepherd invites you to follow him on Instagram, YouTube and Patreon.

 

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YES PLEASE!

Comments

  1. Tom,
    Hi! I really like your paintings of wildlife. Your watercolors have delightful bright colors. Yet the details of the animals capture their personality. I am a wildlife artist too. I find them so beautiful in the way god designed every detail. I would like to contribute to conservation efforts but haven’t found a niche yet.
    Ann Marie

  2. Cosmas Makunde says

    Self taught hinges on passionate a painting and drawing. It describes my art route too.
    Your freedom in colour use encourages me.
    I am going to revive bird watching.
    Keep it up Tom!

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