Where are they now? Shane Neal
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Where are they now? Shane Neal


After playing golf for one year at Lipscomb University, Michael Shane Neal turned his focus to his artwork. Now a well-known portrait artist Neal has worked with many people including former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, Senator Bill Frist and Federal Chief Judge Anthony Scirica. He is currently working with his first client from the UK, Lord Sir Malcom Colquhoun and the founders of the Meijer grocery corporation, Fredrick Meijers and his wife Lena. With his studio located in Nashville, Neal still makes time to play golf, and even participated in the Lipscomb Baseball Golf Scramble this year. This week he sat down with lipscombsports.com to share a little bit about his days at Lipscomb.

What sport(s) did you play at Lipscomb? What years? Who were
your coaches?

      “I played golf from 1987-1988 under coach Ralph Samples.”

      What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?

      “I loved all the practice rounds at Temple Hills, and I love playing golf, so having to regularly practice on a great course each week was terrific.”

Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at
Lipscomb? How?

      “I had a short-lived college golf career! I was the eighth man on an eight-man team. Coach Samples and Mrs. Samples treated all the players like family. I will always be deeply appreciative of the coach letting me dream a little and giving me the chance to go out for the team. It was a great year. I was a five handicap at the time, not bad but not great. It was an amazing experience to practice with guys who had such awesome talent. To practice alongside seasoned competitive golfers taught me so much about my game and the game in general.

“A few years ago I was given the Avalon award for creative alumni of Lipscomb.  Coach Samples came to the dinner. After the ceremony, he came up to me and, with a smile, said that I had made the right decision pursuing art over golf!"

What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?

      “When I was a senior we had a competition in the art department for different subjects, and I wanted to enter every category and wanted to win first place. I entered all the categories and won first place in every category except drawing. My future wife ended up winning that category, and it was actually the only category she had entered.”

What was the most valuable thing you gained or learned while at Lipscomb?

      “Colossians 3:23-24 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

      “Service is a big thing. You have to find what you love to do and then figure out how to serve the Lord while doing it.”

Who was your favorite professor? Why?

“Dawn Whitelaw, who was my first painting instructor, inspired me like no other professor.  She was a working artist who took time out to teach and share. She gave you the feeling that you could succeed if you worked hard enough and loved what you were doing. She had huge success with students becoming professional.”

Where do you live now?

      “I live a few minutes from campus in Nashville, Tenn.”

Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?

“I am an artist, and I mainly paint portraits. My job combines two things I love, art and working with people. I get to meet many different people and travel around the country and beyond. With painting portraits I’m getting do something that really pleases people. You make a little difference in their life because ultimately this is how they are going to be remembered.”

Tell us about your family

“I am married to Melanie Merritt Neal and we have two children Mattie Ree, who is 9, and Lilly Kate, who is four. Both are enrolled at David Lipscomb Elementary.”