Studied drawing at Epsom School of Art and etching at Royal West of England Academy, Bristol. In a professional painting career that spans over 50 years, Copas progressed from his first one-man London show in the 1950s, through teaching, scene painting, graphic design and back to fine art. After a number of spring and summer mixed shows at the Passmore Edwards Gallery, Newlyn and the St Ives Group, Cornwall he was commissioned to paint a double triptych for the rood screen of a Cornish church. There then followed a succession of one-man shows in London's West End at the Portal Gallery, the subject matter being mostly paintings culled from his experiences as a boatman and guide for Lord St Levan on St Michael's Mount and also a number of works from 'Under Milk Wood'. Countless mixed exhibitions, biennales and art fairs later, his works now hang throughout the world, from Japan to the USA where they share wall space with Pollock and Nicholson.
A canvas, 'St Francis and the Wildfowl' size 5' x 4', was commissioned from him some years ago by the late Sir Peter Scott and the Wildfowl Trust. It originally hung in the Wildfowl Reserve at Arundel, West Sussex, but is now in a private collection in Munich, Germany. Copas was given an Honorary Life Membership of the Trust in recognition of his work.
More recently Mr Robert Pennant Jones, a sincere patron of Copas's work and an aficionado of Shakespeare, commissioned a massive major work - The Poet and the Painter -incorporating a definitive scene from each of Shakespeare's thirty-seven plays. On completion the painting size 10' x 8' toured the country with the Royal Shakespeare Company art collection and is now installed in the Shakespeare Globe Theatre, London.
The painting also features on the covers of several books, the first Spanish translation of the Complete Works of Shakespeare, published by Debolsillo, part of Random House. There are five editions each featuring a different section of the painting – Comedies, Tragedies, Historical, Romance and Poems.
Failing eyesight in his last years prevented him from working on any new paintings and in November 2017, after a difficult year battling many health problems, Ronnie passed away.
Source references for work: 'Modern Art in English Churches' Michael Day. 'The Innocent Eye' Marion Whybrow. 'PEA 2000' [Painters from Everywhere in Altea, Spain] Wolf Braun. [20th Century British] 'Naive and Primitive Artists' Eric Lister and Sheldon Williams. 'Portal Painters' 1 Eric Lister. 'Portal Painters' 2 Eric Lister.
'Adam and Eve' Willie Rushton.