Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Ruddy Study

Hello everyone! A lot has been going on, but not much of it is very exciting. I've worked with a local framer to get a very nice sample frame made up for my print, so that I can photograph it and use it as an example for anyone interested in that. I'll be working it into a really nice brochure in the coming months. Everything takes so long to plan and get together!
I am in the beginning stages of getting the gold-plated medallions started, along with prints and all of the lovely packaging that goes with them. The prints themselves will be made next year. It is going to take a few months, and I must wait to release my brochures until the stamp design itself is made by the Duck Stamp Office / Fish and Wildlife Service. It's all very exciting. We should see things starting to come together late this winter, in early 2015.

Speaking of, I am excited to begin work on a new painting soon, and am spending quite a bit of time researching and planning it out. The idea will be to use it on the PSA issue of the stamp (PSA is the Pressure Sensitive Adhesive version, which has the stamp on a sleeve of  paper, the size of a dollar bill), similar to last year where Adam Grimm painted a beautiful scene of flying canvasbacks.

Here are a few other PSA issues of past Federal Duck Stamps, where photos were used instead:

2013, Robert Steiner's Common Goldeneye

2012, Joe Hautman's Wood Duck

2011, Jim Hautman's White-Fronted Geese

I am thinking of some Ruddy ducks riding some choppy waves, similar to scenes I've seen on the Great Lakes. To this end, I have been doing some studies, at least as much as I can manage to squeeze into my schedule!

Here's a "Ruddy Study" in sort of a vignette style.
Drake Ruddy Duck study, Digital Painting, 2014
(Cross-Posted to Tumblr)

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Local Show

Just a quick update, just for fun. I was asked for some more photos of myself for some
Jennifer and Mildred.  A pair of featherheads.
publicity/publications, and I found that I really didn't have very many! So, my husband and I had an impromtou photo shoot in the yard the other day on his lunch break. The chickens wanted to join in, so here I am with Mildred, one of our cochin hens. She's one of the only ones that doesn't look like a confused porcupine right now, as most of the girls are having their autumn molt!


I also wanted to let anyone local to the WNY area know that I will be showing my work this Saturday, October 11th, in Ellicottville, NY. This does not have anything to do with the duck stamp, and the Federal Duck Stamp tour will not be here! I just thought I'd mention it in case anyone wanted to see any of my other paintings! I'll have most of my original work with me, along with some prints and other things (no duck stamp prints yet, those will be long in the making).

Google Map of show Location

 The show will take place at :

11 Rockwell St
Ellicottville, NY 14731
10am - 5pm

Admission is free!
More details: http://www.thevillagerny.com/local-news/holiday-valley-beer-wine-festival-live-art-show-this-weekend-in-eville/

(cross-posted to Tumblr)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Some Stats and a Schedule

This year's stats on the entries
Yesterday, Dave Goyer (vice president of the National Duck Stamp Collectors Society) was kind enough to send me a few things in the mail-- including a copy of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest program from this year! This is a really cool thing for me to have, since I was unable to attend in person. On page three, it lists some statistics about this year's contest; namely, it gives a breakdown of where the entries are from, what medium they are painted in, age of artist, etc. I thought I'd share it here with you, for anyone else that did not attend and might be curious to see these statistics.

At the risk of sounding like an idealist, I'd love to see more entries overall, especially from lesser represented groups! Now, this is a bit counter-intuitive as a competing artist... less entries means less people to compete against, right? Well, yes. That is true. And it is also true that it can be overwhelming (as a judge) to try to select the 'best' when you are looking at a field of hundreds of paintings. But... I have a great deal of concern that the interest in the contest is waning. For whatever reason, less artists are "into it" than anytime in recent history that I am aware of. Did you know that in the past ( I am looking at the late 1980's and early 90's) that thousands of artists entered every year? In 1987, the year that Daniel Smith won with his beautiful painting of a snow goose, he was one of over a thousand entries.

If you are an artist, maybe you will consider entering? It is a tough competition, but the excitement, enjoyment of painting, the finding of new friends... the comradery and feeling of being part of something big, is pretty amazing. I have made some really fantastic friends and met a lot of cool people through this, way before I managed to win this thing!

Paint a duck, help a duck, make some friends, have fun, and keep the program going. If you need help, my time is very thin this year, but I can try to assist!

A Ducky Schedule

I have received my tentative schedule of events for the coming year. Some of the dates and locations are To Be Determined, and I may attend additional events. To be sure, I will be doing some smaller events, talks, and programs so stay tuned for that.  I hope you might come see me if I end up at an event near you!

November 13-16, 2014: Easton, MD
Easton Wildfowl Festival
Look for me mostly at the Federal Duck Stamp Office booth!

November 21-23, 2014: Redlands, CA

Duck Stamp Art at the San Bernardino County Museum

April 17, 2015: Shepherdstown, WV
Judging of the Jr. Duck Stamp Competition

June 26, 2015: Location TBD
First Day of Sale Event

July, 2015: Olean, NY
Hometown Celebration

September 25 & 26, 2015, Location TBD
Judging of the Federal Duck Stamp

(Cross-posted to Tumblr)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Day with a Printer

After realizing my stamp win, I was left with more questions than answers. A big one was, essentially, "What am I responsible for, now?"

The answer was: A lot more than I had ever realized!

We will talk about the travel, public speaking, and other such things later. For today, we can start talking about prints.
Now, prints need not happen for some time yet. But a lot of things lead up to the Making Of Prints, and some of it can take quite a while indeed. Despite not planning on releasing prints until well into 2015, to better match up with the time of the stamp issue date, there is a lot of footwork to be done in the next few months. I decided to get the ball rolling, in an effort to have things play out smoothly later on.

My knowledge of the duck stamp print was still firmly rooted in those very same Wildlife Art Magazines I mentioned in my last entry. Each-- or nearly each-- carried ads for the current Federal Duck Stamp prints. I remember reading about all of these various publishing houses and it was all very simple in my head. A few things I should have remembered:
1) Those magazines were from the 1980's and early 1990's, and;
2) The economy and market have drastically changed since then.

So, it is very unlikely a publisher will descend from above and offer me vast sums of money in order to print my stamp prints. It's still possible that a publisher will approach me and offer a reasonable, moderate, current-state-of-things price, and I am not going to count this out yet. But, really, it seems that the way to go in this age is to print them myself.

One of three traditional offset printing presses at the shop I visited.
And why offer prints at all? There are a great number of collectors out there that would like them. To not run prints would be unfair to them, but also unfair to any future winning artists. To "Break" a collector's number of prints.. and by this I mean, to create a gap in their collection... well. Well, it can cause a chain reaction and greatly reduce the amount of collecting going on in this genre. Doing that is bad news in general for the stamp program itself. In addition to some wonderfully supportive people that would see me not end up in the negative over all of this, it is... strongly encouraged to run prints.

And so I shall! And I will do my very best by it. Part of this process is finding a good printer that runs a traditional offset printing process.

This is a pretty important print. Some thousand will be run, and they must be of very high quality indeed. To this end, I wanted to start learning about the process and establish a relationship with any printer I may end up using. And since part of this traditional process includes a physical proofing of the output (and any adjusting of printing plates thereafter), I really, really hoped to find someone within driving distance.

I may have, and went to visit them all day yesterday. They were very kind, very experienced. A Father-Son run shop, with a intensely knowledgeable fellow running their presses and many other employees running their other machines, moving huge pallets of paper around, and so on. They do commercial printing as well as fine art printing.

Rough, quick sketches of a displaying Ruddy Drake.
Several reference photos used.
I took my painting with me (as I temporarily have it back in hand) and met with them for some time, talking about my needs for the print and the importance of the program, and the expectations of the collectors in terms of quality and so much more. I had to get some quotes for brochures, the prints themselves, a collector's folio that the print goes into, certificates of authenticity, and a few other odds and ends.

 The quote was a complex one and involved a lot of really custom stuff, so it would take a while. In the interim, I was offered some coffee and I decided to do some sketches. I need to start making a clear and precise mental map of ruddy ducks; several editions of the print will have the option for a Remarque in either pencil or a full color mini-painting. Remarques on prints are simply small, original pieces of art in the white margin of the print, to further add value and the artist's touch to the piece. I want to make sure my remarques, when the time comes, are at the top of my art game. Here's a great example of a color remarque by Bruce Miller (no relation) of his 1993 Canvasback winning stamp print.

In the end, I came home with some great paper samples, some new insight into the process, and a lot more questions. I am keeping my options open and will continue to learn as much as I can before making any decisions.

(Cross-posted to Tumblr.)