There is something about hares that people can’t resist – and that is especially obvious if you spend any time in the studio of artist Kevin Shepherd.
It nestles alongside the workspaces of other creatives at the Ferrers Centre in the picturesque setting adjacent to Staunton Harold Hall.
Visitors wandering by are drawn first to his window and then inside to take a closer peek at his work. Actually it is a wonder he gets any work done as he chats to the admirers of his wildlife paintings.
It is definitely the hares that are the most popular and while I was interviewing Kevin one woman vowed to return to buy three of his prints.
“Is it always like this? I ask after the third interruption in less than half an hour.
“I couldn’t claim that,” he said, “but if the centre is busy then my paintings do get a lot of interest and that’s one of the reasons I decided to concentrate on this work.
“I moved to this studio three years ago after leaving my job as a illustrator in the greetings card industry. I wanted to do something that was completely different to what I had been doing and as I had always loved wildlife it seemed the obvious choice.”
Kevin explained that he had planned to carry on as a freelance illustrator while he established himself as an artist but now, thanks to the popularity of his hares, hedgehogs, owls and stags he spends pretty much all his time transforming his ideas from sketches and photographs out in the field into full-sized canvases.
“I have been painting since I was 16 and spent all my time in the art room at school. Any free period and I was there.
“I left school and straight away got a job illustrating children’s books and later moved on to creating greetings cards. Even then I looked for inspiration in the beautiful countryside around me. But now I am able to concentrate on capturing the local wildlife in its natural habitat.
“My subject matter is quite traditional I suppose, but my paintings give the animals a contemporary feel and I think that is what my customers love about them.”
Kevin stretches all his own canvases in the studio at the Ferrers Centre and prides himself on the fact that the visitors he so readily welcomes can see the whole process from start to finish if they wish.
As well as the original paintings he has limited edition prints and also smaller prints and of course plenty of greetings cards.
n Kevin is exhibiting at the Sock Gallery at Loughborough Town Hall until May 7 and plans to be at the Melbourne Festival in September, the Ashby Show on July 10 and the Dame Catherine Arts exhibition at Ticknall in August. To find out more go to kevinshepherdartist.co.uk