ELLSWORTH — The reason David Shepard’s paintings often have a solid background? “I’m lousy at background. This solves the problem,” he said with a laugh. “Lately I’ve been doing just black.”
Whatever the reason, the result is striking: a dramatic, chiaroscuro effect that sets off a poppy’s deep red petals or the white bark of a birch.
“I work from real life,” said Shepard, who studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia but is at best ambivalent about his schooling.
“I think it takes away from your ability to think; you lose all your personal feelings.”
Shepard pushes back against consistency and keeps himself engaged by working on just about whatever he feels like.
While he paints in oils (“I like oil because I can push it around”) mostly inspired by the natural world, his pencil drawings are irreverent, mischievous and often a bit dark — like the one of two faces, one appearing mid-wail, the other with eyes squeezed shut, titled “We are just kids,” or “Pill head,” of a skeleton face with a partially-exposed brain, pills spilling onto the folds and emerging from the eye sockets and between the teeth.
“I keep on trying to do different stuff.”
To see more of Shepard’s work, visit https://dshepardpaintings.com/.