Shuptrine at first wanted to become a veterinarian but changed his major after observing a studio art class in college, and graduated in 1959 from the University of Chattanooga with a bachelor's degree in fine arts painting.
He earned numerous awards as an abstract oil painter in the 1960's and taught himself watercolor painting during an extended family vacation to Maine, in 1970. From then on, he began chronicling the South and its people in images rendered in watercolor. He traveled back roads, becoming the chronicler of the Old South and its threatened way of life. He collaborated with the Southern storyteller James Dickey in the 1974 book publication Jericho: The South Behold
, and published an
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