The Artist Who Wants To Put You In The Picture
Afer 35 years working as a fine artist, Derek Shapiro, is considered to be one of the UK’s leading traditional landscape, still life, animal and portrait artists.
He paints in oils and watercolours, using traditional nineteenth century methods that give his work a timeless quality which is difficult to date; it is hard to say if they were painted in this century or the last.
Over the years, Derek has painted many different subjects including classic portraiture, still life and landscapes of rural England to domestic animals, beloved pets and wildlife.
Derek is particularly respected for his attention to detail especially in his still life work and it’s these little personal touches that make his work so popular with collectors and people who visit his working gallery, who have labelled his paintings as ‘modern masters’
It’s an approach that’s proved very successful as Derek is inundated with commissions for his very ‘personal paintings’.
“I believe that the key to a successful painting is to find a connection with the person you’re working for and if possible, to include something memorable to them in the piece”, he says. “It really can be anything so long as it is special and applies particularly to a still life picture”.
In the past this has included items such as trophies, jewellery, a button, the three wise monkeys, French knives, favourite bottles of wine and cheeses.
'By the Kyle of Lochalsh' is a classic Scottish landscape painting which illustrates Derek’s obsession for realism, light, space and richness of colour. The work features the romantic and iconic Eilean Donan Castle with Highland cattle wading in the water under a forbidding sky.
‘Basket of Peaches’, a classic still life, is an oil painting of a basket of peaches with a glass of peach brandy, and a French Laguile knife on a stone slab set within a dark background. Often the truth is hidden in the shadows, hence the dark background. Peaches are symbolic of the silence of virtue and of a virtuous heart and language. A peach can also symbolize truth. As well as its aesthetic quality, there is more going on in this work than one at first realizes.
‘Watch with Mother’ is an example of Derek’s sensitivity with wildlife and depicts a group of three cheetahs – a mother and two of her young – each surveying their immediate surroundings. It’s a painting in the true traditional sense with the detail of a photograph and the soul of a painting.
“As I specialise in commissioned work, it comes with a variety of different subjects, and offers a real challenge in creating something which is personal to the client. Besides, I’d hate to be labelled as the man who paints stick figures”. After consultation with the client, Derek likes to get at the source of everything that he paints. “Still life work is a little easier”, he says, as inanimate objects can be set up in the studio. Working on other subjects, requires a different approach, where he will use a combination of sketches and photography as a reference source.