1998 - Northern Pintail 1999 - American Wigeons 2000 - American Wigeon 2004 - Fulvous Whistling-Ducks

"Morning Watch"
2004 Jr. Duck Stamp

2001 - Blue-winged Teal 2002 - Hooded Mergansers 2003 - Redheads

The Junior Duck Stamp competition was one of the highlights of my beginning years as an artist and was one of the major factors which influenced the growth of my interest and skill in wildlife art and birdwatching.

I first got involved after seeing a short advertisement of the competition in the 'Missouri Conservationist' magazine. It combined my interests in birds and art and so I immediately became interested. The first step in creating a piece of artwork is finding reference materials and I decided to try to go straight to the source. I remembered seeing live 'wild' duck varieties at the Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, MO and so we called and asked where they obtained them. We were given contact info for a breeder and I bought a pair of Pintails and a pair of Redheads. I then spent the summer down at the pond feeding and photographing them. This was my first real experience with photography and I slowly began to improve my skill with a camera.

After gathering some reference photos, I set to work on drawing. I completed four drawings before the deadline required me to turn one in. A month or so later, I recieved a call informing me that I had won Best of Show in Missouri! My surprise was only exceeded by my brothers whose feelings were expressed in this quote: "Wasn't there ANYONE that did a better drawing than Adam?" The competition was just getting started in Missouri and so the level of quality was not nearly what it is today. Looking back now, I can see that it was through God's grace that I won that year, thus permanently hooking me on the competition and giving me the dedication to keep entering every year.

With the prize money I won, I added a few new species to my collection and started work on the next year's entry. My skill gradually improved year by year and I started working with paint rather than colored pencil.

I finally reached my last year of high school and therefore my last entry. I had been very impressed with the dramatic lighting from Jim Hautman's 2003 entry to the Federal competition and so decided to attempt a similar lighting style in my entry. I also decided to try acrylics instead of gouache paint. After finishing the entry and sending it off, I tried not to think about it until the judging. Since it was my last year in the competition, I really wanted to place at the national level. It was by far my best piece of artwork at that point, but I had no idea what the competition would be like so I had to try to keep my mind on other things. I soon learned that it had won the state level and was advancing to the nationals and also recieved a bit of encouragement from our state coordinator who stated that it was going to win the national competition. We were driving home from TX on the day of the competition and when we arrived home there was a message on the answering machine that let us know that I had won the national level!

The prize for the national level included a trip to the first day of sale for both the Jr. and Federal Duck Stamps and a trip to the judging of the Federal competition. I was awestruck at the new level of quality of the Federal entries and became just as fascinated with the adult level of competition as I had been with the Jr. level. I have since attended every competition and have been working towards reaching the level of quality necessary to win the competition.

For more information on the Federal or Junior competitions, visit www.fws.gov/duckstamps