George Shipperley and his wife of 55 years, Lois, have lived in Aurora, Illinois, since the 1950s. Together they raised 3 daughters, and now have an extended family that consists of 8 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Born on April 25, 1938, George graduated from East Aurora High School in 1956. He was awarded a scholarship from the Art Institute of Chicago upon graduation, but was unable to enroll at that time for financial reasons.
As a young adult, George served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany. Upon leaving the service, he and Lois returned to Aurora where George pursued a 33-year successful sales career with an international manufacturing company. During this time, George and Lois operated Henrich Art Gallery and Custom Frame Shop in Aurora, which they opened in 1977. The couple closed the operation in June of 2011 after 34 years of successful business.
It was only after his retirement from sales in 1994 that George dedicated himself full-time to the pursuit of his true passion: painting! Painting quickly evolved into a second career for George, which proved to be much more fulfilling and enjoyable than the first. For the past 20+ years, George has focused solely on his art and continues to develop, cultivate, and advance his talent and reputation. Lois continues to support her partner’s passion with her talent for skillful framing.
An artist with an emphasis on originality, creativity, and color, who is accomplished in multiple mediums with a full range of subjects, George specializes in oil pastel and oil stick mediums. The initials “OPS” after his name stand for the Oil Pastel Society, an international community of artists that was officially established in September of 2004.
The use of an artist’s high quality crayon was first introduced in 1921, and further refined in 1949 upon the urging of renowned artists Henri Goetz and Pablo Picasso.
It is George Shipperley, however, who holds the distinction and prestigious honor of being the first awarded Signature Member of the Oil Pastel Society.
George Shipperley has been a strong advocate and promoter for the medium of oil pastel throughout the Chicagoland and northern Illinois region, as well as Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, and New Mexico. His paintings have become part of the corporate collections of Amoco Oil Company, Chicago; Aurora University; Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois; the City of Elgin, Illinois; Dreyer Medical Clinic in the Fox River Valley of Illinois and Mayo Clinic of Rochester, Minnesota; Messenger Library, North Aurora, Illinois; Norris Cultural Center and the Q Center of St. Charles, Illinois; Rich Harvest Farms & Golf Course, Sugar Grove, Illinois; and Robert Morris College, Chicago.
Essentially, George is a self-taught artist, although he was blessed by being able to study under exceptional masters, starting as early as high school, where he took classes from local watercolorist, Stuart Sewell. He was also a student of the popular local artist, Adrienne Frazier. Interestingly, the easel George uses to paint today was a gift from his mentor, Marianne Grunwald-Scoggin, who was a neighbor to artist Carl Krafft. Carl passed his easel on to Marianne, who in turn passed it on to George.
George’s preparation and training as an artist also included painting classes at Aurora University with Ruth Van Sickle Ford (a 2002 Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame inductee) and coursework at the Art Institute of Chicago. At the Palette & Chisel Academy of Chicago, he participated in life drawing/figure studies with Max Ranft and attended demonstration painting with Richard Schmid and other artists.
George Shipperley has earned countless awards and recognitions since devoting himself to painting full-time. Among his numerous top honors are:
Best of Show, 43rd Annual AAUW Art Showcase, Elgin Area Branch
First Place Pastels, Naperville Women’s Club Art Show, 2002
Best of Show, St. Charles Fine Art Show, 2002
Best of Show, Geneva Fine Arts Show, 2003
Best Naperville Area Artist, 2003
Best of Show, Naperville Riverwalk Art Show, 2004
First Place Pastels, Naperville Riverwalk Art Show, 2005, 2006, and 2007
Best of Show and Honorable Mention, Oil Pastel Society, Annual Competition, 2008
Featured artist, “George Shipperley,” The Artist’s Magazine, January-February 2011
Profiled artist, Fox Valley Magazine, February 2011
Second Place, Landscape (of 7,000 entries), The Artist’s Magazine, Annual Competition, 2011
First Place, The Oil Pastel Society, Annual Competition, 2011
Second Place, The Oil Pastel Society, Annual Competition, 2012
George Shipperley’s experience and work history is sprinkled with a variety of teaching assignments. He’s been an art instructor with the DuPage Art League, Wheaton, and the Fine Line Art Academy in St. Charles and served as an art judge and juror for the Naperville Art League. George has given live demonstrations of painting technique in numerous venues and has led workshops at the Peninsula School of Art in Door County, Wisconsin, among other locations.
Artistic accomplishments are numerous for George as he is a frequent participant in periodic group shows at the Palette & Chisel Academy in Chicago. He also has been a regular exhibitor in the group shows at Edgewood Orchard Gallery in Door County during the past decade. Other shows and exhibits, in addition to the ones listed above, where he earned awards, include: Benedictine University, Lisle (one-man); Chicago Vicinity Shows, Norris Cultural Center, St. Charles; DuPage Art League (one-man); Elgin A.A.U.W. Art Show, 2003; Oswego Art Show (inaugural year); Palette & Chisel, Chicago (one-man); Paramount Theatre Grand Gallery; “Mind Images,” Aurora University, February-March 2002 (one-man); “Color Expressions,” Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, January 2006 (one-man); Marmion Academy, Dr. Scholl Exhibit Mezzanine, April 10 to May 6, 2005 (one-man); “Unlimitations,” Aurora Public Art Commission, January-March, 2009 (one-man); Artisan Gallery, Paoli, WI, September 13 – November 3, 2013 (one-man); Wheaton Art Show; State of Illinois Building, Invitational, Chicago.
In the past, George’s artwork has been featured in galleries in Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, and New Mexico. Currently, his paintings may be viewed and purchased at the Edgewood Orchard Galleries, Fish Creek, Wisconsin; Maggie Black Gallery, Galena, Illinois; Proud Fox Gallery, Geneva, Illinois; the Artisan Gallery in Paoli, Wisconsin; and Shipperley Art Studio/Gallery in Aurora.
George’s artwork and teaching techniques have been shared in a wide variety of publications, both print and online versions, including educational and teaching guides, art calendars, and professional trade journals. The Artist’s Magazine, in which he was the first oil pastelist featured, has international circulation. He appeared in the December 2010, January/February 2011, December 2011 issues, and again in the July/August 2014 issue.
George was the focus of Deborah Secor’s article, “The Poetry of Trees,” published in The Pastel Journal in February of 2007. Other print materials where George and his artwork have been featured include:
• “100 Ways to Paint Favorite Subjects,” International Artist Publishing, featured Artist #59, Vol. 1, Verde, Nevada, 2004
• “The Artists Calendar,” F & W Publications, 2008
• The Complete Photo Guide to Creative Painting, contributor, Paula Guhin and Geri Greenman, Minneapolis, MN, 2010
• Annual calendars published by Edgewood Orchard Gallery, Fish Creek, WI, art featured, 2008-2014 (distribution 60,000)
• Edgewood Galleries cookbook, 2009; all proceeds benefiting children’s charities
In 2013, George Shipperley won The Artists Magazine Over 60 Art Competition. Author B.J. Foreman made this observation about him in her article entitled “Familiar Sights That Never Were, “For an artist who had to put his dream on hold, Shipperley is going full speed ahead these days” (The Artist’s Magazine, July/August 2014).
In addition to her intimate narrative about the artist, Foreman stated, “Over the years, Shipperley has become less interested in the subject and more interested in the design and suggestiveness of the subject. He has allowed himself the luxury of being strictly arbitrary in color selection. As he puts it, ‘Creating color is more important to me than attempting to imitate it.’” Accompanying the 8-page feature story was a visual description of the step-by-step process George utilizes to create an image.
Teaching classes, hosting workshops and demonstrations, and mentoring, both locally and in the Door County, Wisconsin, and Galena, Illinois, vicinities are among the extensive services and contributions George Shipperley has provided to the arts community for more than eight years. He would be one of the first to tell anyone that inquired that “a true artist never paints just to sell,” and that “by teaching,” he is “giving back some of what was given” to him.
Every Saturday morning at Jake’s Bagels in Aurora, George serves as a mentor to area artists with fellow artist, David Hettinger. Their “Palette Talk” gathering meets from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., with 12 to 20 artists bringing artwork to be critiqued by David and George. Both artists donate their time and expertise. George noted, during a recent gathering, “It is usually very difficult to criticize a painting that is good.”
In a letter to the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame, Joseph Jacobs of Jake’s Bagels said this about George, “George is easygoing, unpretentious, intelligent and highly engaging. It is easy to fall into a deception that George is just a retired salesman, until you see his works; then you soon realize that this man has a mind that is exploding with creativity…George Shipperley is arguably one of the top visual artists that this area has ever produced.”
“As an artist,” George Shipperley has commented, “I feel like I keep getting better, but I never feel I’m as good as I could be.” This is a typical remark for an artist as humble as he is. He still finds it hard to accept being recognized. Yes, he’s added a beret and later a goatee, but appearance aside, he never takes a show or a patron for granted.