Florida Artist Wins 2022 California Duck Stamp Art Contest

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A painting by John Brennan of Lutz, Florida was chosen as the winner of the 2022 California Duck Stamp Art Contest. The painting, which depicts three Canada geese, will be the official design for the 2022-2023 stamp.

The judges praised the anatomical precision of the geese and the realistic quality of the painting, remarking that it looked almost like a photograph. They were impressed with the attention to detail, especially in the feathers and the reflection on the water, and noted the contrast between the birds and the simplicity of the background. They also liked the composition – the decision to use three geese was unique and created an artistically pleasing image.

Brennan decided to enter the contest when he learned that the Canada goose would be this year’s species.

“I find them to be a very elegant and versatile subject to paint,” he said, “given their high contrast heads and cheeks and warm body tones.”

He had the chance to photograph these geese for reference in Yellowstone National Park. The glassy water created some very interesting reflections and plays of light. He decided to keep the composition clean and simple, so as not to distract from the beauty of the animals.

Artists from across the country submitted entries for the contest, sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Buck Spencer of Junction City, Oregon placed second, Jeffrey Klinefelter of Etna Green, Indiana placed third and Michael Patrick Bailey of Los Angeles, California received honorable mention.

The top four paintings were recently exhibited at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association’s annual Classic Wildlife Art Festival in Sacramento on July 16-17.

Since 1971, the California Duck Stamp Program’s annual contest has attracted top animal artists from across the country. The competition is open to artists from all 50 states to ensure a large pool of submissions. All proceeds from stamp sales go directly to California waterfowl conservation projects.

In the past, hunters had to purchase and affix the stamp to their hunting license. Today, hunters are no longer required to carry the stamps because California’s modern licensing system prints proof of additional fees paid directly on the license. However, CDFW still produces the stamps, which can be requested on the CDFW website at wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps.

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