Dave Sheppard passed away suddenly in the early morning hours of December 13th 2020. Born on May 18th 1950, Dave is survived by his wife of 40 years Cindy Wexler, and by his brother and sister-in-law, Barry and Monica Sheppard; nieces and nephews, Brandy Sheppard and John James, Patty and Tim Seeright and Richard Sheppard Jr. Dave is also survived by two of his mother’s siblings, Roger Rae of Virginia and Barbara Lessard of Florida. Dave was preceded in death by his older brother, Richard Sr. and parents, Lawrence and Marjorie Sheppard. Known since his high school days in St Petersburg, Florida as airbrush Dave, Dave Sheppard lived the sort of life most people dream of living - he discovered his passion for art at a young age. In school Dave's artistic ability kept him busy doing projects like painting scenery for plays, making signs for pep rallies and drawing comic strips and cartoons for the school newspaper. Dave was a contentious objector to the war in Vietnam and spent two years working for Goodwill Industries. In 1969 Dave went to work for Carl ‘Big Daddy Rat’ Smith at his shop in Daytona Beach, Florida painting silk screen designs. In the mid-seventies Dave went solo setting up shop in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Dave painted anything people wanted on a t-shirt for $3. Around this time Dave discovered Renaissance festivals and was instantly hooked on the format of hanging out in the woods making and selling art. Dave spent over 10 years with his wife Cindy selling his painted shirts and sculptures to patrons on the Renaissance Festival circuit, and gaining a reputation as a top-notch artist. Dave's art was so pleasing to the eye that he was welcomed at the major Renaissance Fairs in Florida, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, and Texas. Dave built several versions of his Mr. Tree booth over the years on Renaissance Festival sites around the country. They were superb examples of Dave’s design wizardry. One remains, on the grounds of the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsviille, Maryland. Dave was a master sculptor and model builder. By the late 1980s Dave was burning out on t-shirt painting. He was commissioned by the Texas Renaissance Festival to paint a full-size reproduction of Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper. Over the course of three years, Dave researched and worked on that project. On festival weekends, dressed in garb appropriate to Leonardo DaVinci, Dave lectured and demonstrated the techniques and details of his (and Leonardo’s) masterpiece. Dave's successful reinterpretation of DaVinci's iconic painting combined with his entertaining and informative performance as Leonardo made him a big hit with the audience and the Texas Renaissance Festival management. During those years, Dave became the Festival de facto art director, designing, building and maintaining a wide variety of attractions and features, including new heads and hands for the Festival’s puppets troupe, fun photo facades, murals, signs, faux finishes, architectural sculptures and many other projects. Outside the Festival grounds, Dave completed commissioned work including heraldic crests for the TRF staff and for Festival owner George Coulam. Recognizing the difference between art for money and art for love, Dave opened The Original Satyr Horns, hand sculpting popular costume horns - a business that provided him both time and money to pursue making the art he loved. He was a gentle, humble man who kept himself busy with prolific creative output. He loved Japanese models of robots and spaceships, and built beautiful dioramas to photograph and display them. He also loved mentoring younger artists, sharing his skills and ideas willingly. He often said “I'm the kind of guy who needs something to do while the glue dries.” His talented presence will be missed by all.
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