Herald’s career as an artist started in Arbroath but he soon realised the limitations that a small town presented in terms of training. Rather than going to Edinburgh, he enrolled at the Art School at Bushey, Hertfordshire but stayed only one term. However, the move brought him closer to London and its galleries and into the milieu of his fellow Scot, James Pryde and William Nicholson who were enjoying critical and commercial success as the Beggarstaff Brothers.
He shared lodgings with both of them but was quick to develop this own highly individual style and technique both in watercolour and pastel. His watercolours have often been compared to Arthur Melville but Herald’s technique is wetter and his colour, particularly in these London views, is more diaphanous.
After spending some years living in Croyden, Herald returned to Angus shortly after the turn of the century and settled in the harbour town of Arbroath. He was a prolific painter of the harbours of that coast and, although he continued to produce good work, he did not prosper. In a letter dated 30 January 1915, a year after his brother’s death, William Herald wrote to John Ewen that “the final days were pathetic in the extreme. He confessed to me a few days before the close that he had made a “mess” of it. Fortunately he was spared the agony of a long illness and died simply as he had lived”.