A painting by John Brennan of Lutz, Florida has been 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 accuracy of the geese and realistic quality of the painting, remarking that it looked almost like a photograph. They were impressed by the attention to detail, especially in the feathers and reflection on the water, and noted the contrast between the birds and the simplicity of the background. They also appreciated 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, “considering their high-contrast head and cheeks and the warm tones of their body.” He was lucky enough to photograph these geese for reference at Yellowstone National Park. The glassy water made for some very interesting reflections and play of light. He decided to keep the composition clean and simple, so as not to distract from the beauty of the animals.
Artists from around 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 will be displayed at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association’s Annual Classic Wildlife Art Festival in Sacramento, July 16-17.
Since 1971, the California Duck Stamp Program’s annual contest has attracted top wildlife artists from around the country. The contest is open to artists from all 50 states in order to ensure a wide pool of submissions. All proceeds generated from stamp sales go directly to waterfowl conservation projects within California.
In the past, hunters were required to purchase and affix the stamp to their hunting licenses. Today, hunters are no longer required to carry the stamps because California’s modern licensing system prints proof of additional fees paid directly onto the license. However, CDFW still produces the stamps, which can be requested on CDFW’s website at wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps.