The Ark turning into wind

David Shepherd


The Ark with mount

"The Ark, turning into wind"
Signed Limited Edition of 850
mint condition,
Published 1980
Image Size 32" x 16"
Overall size with wash/line french bound mount 28" x 42"
(p & p charged at cost)

THE ARK, TURNING INTO WIND "Stand clear of propellers, let pipes and intakes". Lieutenant Commander Flying has just made this pipe over the flight deck communications system.

The Flight Deck of an aircraft carrier at sea has been termed the most dangerous place on earth To an artist whose emotions are stirred by almost everything big, dramatic and exciting, such a place is almost beyond contemplation. Where ever I looked there was activity of a kind that would have produced a thousand paintings. Gannet aircraft were being towed with their wings folded looking like Praying Mantis, Buccaneers and Phantoms were coming up from the inner depths of the ship on lifts, taxying to the catapult for take off. The sight of a 20 ton Buccaneer with its twin Spey engines at full throttle generating as much power as a destroyer, rearing up like a prehistoric monster and straining for release from the catapult, and then accelerating from stand still to 130 miles an hour in a couple of seconds, was almost too much for me! The feeling it inspires beats the rush of adrenaline sports, tops the thrill of having the highest poker hands in a high-stakes game and makes the emotions of a night at the opera pale in comparison.

I was privileged to spend a large part of my time aloft in the Ark's plane guard. This was a Fleet Air Arm Wessex Helicopter which always had to be flying nearby when the ship was launching or recovering aircraft, and I have included a small pencil sketch of my Wessex on the border of the print. Sitting with the door open looking down on the Ark sailing in a calm blue Mediterranean gave me the most wonderful opportunities to study her lines and enable me to sketch her at what I consider to be her most flattering angle. The comment from Rear Admiral Anson, her last Captain who appropriately was the first to see the painting, was that it was a happy picture of a happy ship I would like to thank Admiral Anson, incidentally, for allowing me to play with his ship. Considering that I have never worn a uniform in my life, it was a particular thrill to be able to sit in a helicopter above such a ship and then request the Captain to turn a few degrees to port, please, so that I can see a little more shadow on the hull; and then a few moments later see 50,000 tons of aircraft carrier manoeuvre just for me!

I have painted the Ark turning into wind to launch her aircraft. In such a calm sea she would have to attain a maximum speed of 28 knots to launch her heavy jets It is critical for an aircraft carrier not to remain on a predictable course, when heading into wind launching aircraft do not wait for a second longer than is absolutely essential because then she is at her most vulnerable to submarine attack. The order has already been given, therefore for all aircraft to start engines before the great ship has actually begun to turn into wind. The Gannet in my painting will be the first away from the catapult.

In 1973 my painting Tiger Fire raised £127,000 in six weeks for the World Wildlife Fund. Two years later African Afternoon raised a further £85,000 for the Fund. The formula was a simple one. A single limited edition of 850 signed copies was published of each painting and the Fund was the main beneficiary from the sale of the prints at £150 each. Raising such sums with apparent ease inevitably led to a very large number of charities asking me to do the same for them. I can only manage one such scheme a year and in any case scarcity value is one of the reasons why the formula is so successful.

I owe a great deal of my success to the Services, It was a journey to Kenya in 1960 with the Royal Air Force ostensibly to paint aircraft pictures that led directly to my painting wildlife, and in particular elephants, for the first time. When I received an invitation from the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund to raise money for them, in 1977, it was only appropriate therefore that I accepted with great pleasure. My painting Winter of 43, somewhere in England? which depicted a Lancaster bomber at dispersal being prepared for a raid over Germany was published in a limited edition of 850 signed copies and a net sum of £95,000 was very quickly raised for the Fund; "what proved to be the most profitable single money raising operation the Fund has ever undertaken". Quote from THE DEBT WE OWE by Edward Bishop.

As a direct result of this success I was approached by the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton to do a similar scheme for them, to help meet the enormrous cost of the Museums extension. At about this time HMS ARK ROYAL was coming to the end of her service career and one of my lifelong ambitions had always been to experience life in an operational aircraft carrier at sea. I saw this as my chance to achieve this ambition! As it had been essential to fly in a Lancaster bomber in order to paint it, it was also imperitive to get the feel of the Ark in order to paint her portrait, and so I flew out to Malta on the 15th of November, 1978, where I joined the ship for part of her final journey home. The four days that I spent aboard her were possibly the most exciting of my life.

The Ark, turning into wind will be published in a single edition of 850 signed copies. One third of these must be put aside for normal trade outlets and the remainder will be sold direct from the Fleet Air Arm Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset. As with Winter of 43, somewhere in England an exclusive reception will be held for buyers of the print. One print number will be drawn and the winner can commission me to paint, free of charge, a canvas measuring up to thirty by twenty inches framed, of any wildlife subject.

Six weeks after Tiger Fire was announced all the copies had been sold, and the prints of this painting are now worth a thousand pounds each. Before I had even started my Lancaster painting over 120 copies had been ordered. I am delighted to say that immediately it became known that I had been in HMS ARK ROYAL and that I was going to paint a picture of the ship for the benefit of the Fleet Air Arm Museum over 200 prints were reserved at the Museum long before the painting had even been contemplated in detail, let alone painted!

"It gives me enormous satisfaction to know that I can raise such sums of money with such apparent ease for such worthy causes.Thank you as always."

Biography of wildlife artist, David Shepherd, CBE, FRSA, FRGS, OBE.
Internationally recognized as the world's best wildlife artist. David Shepherd has at all times felt that he had a duty in the form of conservation towards the world and the animals that inhabit our planet. In his lifetime, David Shepherd has painted and drawn many pictures, and is able to share his many tales and experiences with people internationally, often talking at charity dinners and prestigeous social events. His persona lends itself naturally to this cause, as he is a most approachable down-to-earth fellow who enjoys sharing his pleasure of art and his concern over the diminishing wildlife throughout the world. In his early days, he was 'thrown' into the creative world purely by chance, as he wasn't particularly keen about other college activities.

David Shepherd is commonly quoted as saying that upto his late teens his life was not very successful, as he always had an ambition to be a game warden in Africa. So after ending his schooling, David Shepherd left England with the concept of a career within the national parks of Africa. Unfortunately, he was promptly instructed that there was no place for him, and his childhood desires lay in ruins. Throughout school days, his foremost curiosity in art had been as a substitute for the compulsary games of rugby which left him with quite frightened.

Unable to understand what would possibly possess people to roll around a muddy rugby pitch and endure horrible injury, David Shepherd took refuge in the faculty artwork department where he produced a hideous picture of some birds, which he brings along with him to this present day when public speaking.

After his dissappointment at not been given the chance to be part of Kenya's game warden neighborhood, he managed to find a job in a neighborhood resort on the coast working within the reception for one pound per week. David Shepherd started to paint pictures of birds, and by chance managed to sell seven pictures at ten pounds a canvas, which allowed him to pay for his ticket back to England on the Union Castle steamship.

When back in England he saw two possibilities of career for himself. Either David Shepherd could try to make it as an artist, or drive a bus. After careful thought he decided the bus driver choice was by far the safest bet, as it was well-known that almost all artists had little cash or prospects. His father helped at this level and urged that if he actually needed to develop his artistic skills, he would want some training.

David Shepherd set off to the Slade school of fine art in London with his bird picture, unfortuinately he was told that he had no artistic ability and that instructing him would be pointless. Driving a London bus was beginning to appear the extra likely possibility, until by complete coincidence, he met an artist called Robin Goodwin who was regarded as a highly skilled marine artist. He never worked with apprentices, but luckily for David Shepherd, he agreed to see some of his work. The very subsequent day David Shepherd arrived at Robin Goodwin's studio in Chelsea with his 'bird' painting, and to David's sheer amazement Robin Goodwin agreed to help him. It is because of this artist that David achieved the creative staus that he enjoys in the present day, and has at all times a feeling of deep gratitude for the help he acquired from Robin Goodwin.


David Shepherd's first autobiographical book 'The Man Who Loves Giants' was published in 1976 which very quickly became a best seller. This was revised and updated in 1989 as subsequent editions were published. A second book illustrating his love for steam trains was published in 1984 'A Brush With Steam' and in 1985 'The Man and his Paintings' was the first comprehensive book showing a complete spectrum of David's work. 'An Artist in Conservation' was released in 1992 which illustrated some of Mr Shepherd's finest paintings. 'My Painting Life' and 'Only One World' were published in 1995 'Panting with David Shepherd, Unique Studio Secrets Revealed' was published in 2004

TV Documentaries

'The Man Who Loved Giants' was the title for this film of David Shepherd's life story produced in 1972 by the late James Stewart.
The documentary was shown worldwide.
'The Last Train to Mulobezi' tells an exciting story of the survival of an ancient locomotive and railway coach from the Zambezi
Sawmills Railway and their 12,000 mile journey back to England.
The train was given as a gift by Dr Kenneth Kaunda, the President of Zambia, and after raising enough money
through the sale of paintings in USA. A helicopter was bought and given to Zambia to help prevent poaching.
Thames TV produced a series of six half hour programmes titled 'In Search of Wildlife'
Illustrating the plight of endangered mammals throughout the world. These were later broadcast in the USA.
'Nature Watch' with Julian Pettifer began in 1990 and David Shepherd produced the first programme in the series.
Last but not least, David Shepherd has been the subject of the programme 'This is Your Life'.

David Shepherd Awards.

Honorary Degree in Fine Arts by the Pratt Institute in New York.
The Order of the Golden Ark by HRH The Prince of The Netherlands for his services to conservation.
Member of Honour of the World Wide Fund for Nature
The Order of the British Empire for his services to wildlife conservation. O.B.E.
Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia awarded him with the Order of Distinguished Service.
was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
Honorary Doctorate of Science of Hatfield Polytechnic (now the University of Hertfordshire) in 1990.
Officer (Brother) of the Order of St. John.
Granted the Freedom of the City of London.
Awarded a C.B.E. for services to charity and wildlife

David celebrated his 70th birthday on 25th April 2001 with a fundraising dinner at the Natural History Museum,
which raised over £100,000 for's wildlife projects.
He celebrated his 80th birthday with another successful fundraising dinner at the Natural History Museum,
attended by a host of celebrities and many admirers of his work.

One website of great interest, to collectors of watercolour paintings, will be that of the internationally renowned artist Sir William Russell Flint,
his career as one of the world's finest watercolourists has made his work of tremendous investment potential,
and the wonderful paintings of his model Cecilia often depicted in the french countryside, is simply incredible.

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We specialize in signed prints and original paintings and drawings by the world acclaimed artist L.S.Lowry.View here
The demand for his work has now reached record highs, and due to the relatively few signed limited edition prints available,
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We stock hundreds of this artist's signed limited edition prints and always a fine selection of his original watercolour paintings.view
Throughout his life Sir William Russell Flint has spent many years painting beautiful watercolour images of scenes in France,
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