Neil (Shep) Sheppard died this week. His death was sudden and yet we had known it was coming sooner rather than later. Neil had fought and succeeded against the cancer that pursued him many times. This time he did not succeed.
Neil was a painter, an art educator and student, a generous patron of Kangaroo Island art. He was a bloody good bloke.
Neil began to paint in 1998 after another life as a teacher. He developed his realistic style of painting over many years and the technique he perfected allowed him to ‘churn them out’ – making up for the R&D investment without product. In his prime he would paint about 500 pieces in a year. Landscapes, seascapes, birds, plane views of towns. They were bright and colourful, vivid and appealing. They were very popular.
The Shep’s Studio website shows more of his paintings in their many forms.
Recently Neil completed a ‘Digger’ series exhibited in the State Library of South Australia in Adelaide and at Kingscote Town Hall. For an anti-war and anti-glorification of war person, I was surprised by my immediate and admiring response to these pieces.
I think it was that the focus was on the person, not on the occupation nor the actions the occupation demanded. Each was a work of genuine humanity, displaying the humanness of each digger. The dozens of paintings, from the small head shots to the vistas of many soldiers, were all about the people.
I believe they were his best work.
Farewell mate. The arts on Kangaroo Island will miss you. I’ll miss you. Thanks for everything.