William Alan Shirley was born and raised in Northern California. He studied the arts, writing and philosophy at Mt. Diablo Valley Jr. College in California, the New School of Social Research in New York, and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France. He attributes much of his expression to his studies of the great masters’ works in the galleries and museums of Europe and America.
He worked as a freelance artist for all the major record companies and film studios in Los Angeles and New York City, and then went on to focus solely on his forte in portraiture. In recent years his further studies in art and philosophy have developed and expanded his work in many styles and mediums.
Most of William’s portrait commissions in oil have been a result of a joint venture between he and artist Vala Ola. This collaboration forged a great and longstanding dynamic that lasted a decade.
William’s artworks are owned by Mr. and Mrs. Steven Rockefeller, John Travolta, Marlon Brando, Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty, Andre Previn, and Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Davis, among others.
Works for political dignitaries include President Jimmy Carter, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, the Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin, Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher, and Attorney General William P. Barr.
Currently he is creating a series of 12 works, The Virtues, and is an entrant for the World Trade Center Memorial competition.