Local artist paints 41st annual state duck stamp

Scorching Springs artist Clay Connor unveiled his artwork for Arkansas’ 41st yearly condition duck stamp during a ceremony with Gov. Asa Hutchinson in attendance in Stuttgart June 4.

The piece identified as “Sunlit Mallards at Slick’s” illustrates the minute when ducks descend as a result of gaps in the timber and hunters need to make a choice on what action they are going to consider.

The painting depicts 4 ducks over water in the foreground in very clear detail with a much larger team of ducks earlier mentioned the treeline. Proceeds from the stamp help conservation in Arkansas, and in the latest yrs duck stamps have elevated extra than $1 million in The Purely natural State.

“To be selected for the Arkansas stamp is anything that is so vitally important,” Connor mentioned. “In precedence I put the Arkansas stamp in advance of genuinely the federal. Currently being decided on to do the Arkansas duck stamp is a lifelong desire.”

Connor labored collectively with a group of folks to come to a decision on a scene that would certainly illustrate a instant in Arkansas duck looking.

“That scene would be for me environmentally friendly timber,” Connor stated. “What can make you feel extra of environmentally friendly timber is mallard ducks. The scene that we utilised was a really personal compact timber gap. The birds are dropping straight in, so that’s where by the inspiration came from.”

Connor shot source product at the time he resolved on a scene and commenced to lay out the lighting when also arranging the place of the birds. He moved the ducks all around and made the last touches to his sketches ahead of likely to operate on the real painting.

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“This timber gap was extremely compact, so birds are not likely to sail in,” Connor reported. “They’re likely to arrive in and generally drop straight down. So as you see in the painting alone, birds will have their wings back in what they call the angel posture and dropping straight down.”

Arkansas Sport and Fish Basis President Deke Whitbeck stated the goal of the stamp art is to established a scene every hunter can relate to when it will come to duck searching.

“Just the stunning backdrop of the bluebird sky,” Whitebeck mentioned, “the ducks slipping into this gap, truly he captured the essence of what it is when we are out in the woods searching and looking at these attractive birds appear in and do the job the woods.”

Connor will work whole time as vice president of promoting at Xpress Boats, so truly the only time he spent doing the job on the duck stamp artwork was on the weekends.

“Friday, Saturdays and Sundays have been really fast paced,” he explained. “I would almost certainly paint somewhere between 12 to 15 several hours a day. I experienced a deadline. What was the whole quantity of several hours? Guy I couldn’t notify you, but it can be a lot. I paint slow.”

Connor produced the artwork for the state quail conservation stamp in 2020, but generating the Arkansas duck stamp was even extra of a particular job for the artist.

“It was a single of all those items aspirationally talking, it was just a dream,” Connor claimed. “It really is been a aspiration of mine to do this and to be a single of a excellent listing of phenomenal artists that ended up my heroes expanding up.”

Connor introduced his art at Callapalooza 2022 in Stuttgart in entrance of a crowd and with Hutchinson on phase throughout the morning on June 4.

Connor also unveiled the piece to his good friends the evening ahead of at a shut occasion at the location wherever the scene on the stamp was set, Slick’s Looking Club.

Jim Ronquest of Drake Waterfowl, a fantastic buddy of Connor’s, was in attendance along with Duck Commander’s Justin Martin.

“I instructed my spouse Sunday night I reported, ‘I genuinely loathe to see it appear to an close,'” Connor claimed. “It was these types of an outstanding weekend. It was filled with so numerous friends of mine that traveled from South Carolina, northern Missouri and southern Louisiana. Just long-time mates that we have been brought together by ducks.”

Connor illustrates his enjoy and appreciation for wildlife through his artwork, and he desires to make sure that the topics of his images and paintings do not go absent at any time before long.

“Join a conservation group now, so the visuals that we produce are not a memory or reference for tomorrow,” Connor explained. “What I signify by that is I certainly believe that the ecosystem — our full wildlife heritage — is fragile at most effective.”

Despite not coming from a loved ones that was included in waterfowling, Connor produced an interest in wildlife art and images when he was all over 8 or 9 yrs aged.

“When I should’ve been finding out, I was drawing ducks,” he claimed. “I should’ve been shelling out far more focus to my schooling. It was anything that I was drawn to.”

Connor is not at first from Arkansas and would commute to perform in The Normal Condition from Memphis. Having said that, the artist made his waterfowling historical past in the course of the location by going hunting all close to Arkansas.

“When I imagine about waterfowling, my heart’s in Arkansas,” he mentioned. “Six several years in the past my spouse and I moved to Very hot Springs comprehensive time, and we really like it.”

Connor’s grandfather had a position on Horseshoe Lake in Crittenden County, and whilst he questioned to go duck searching though he was escalating up, it just in no way occurred.

Connor is not rather certain how he developed the like he holds for ducks and the sport immediately after coming from a family not truly concerned in waterfowling.

“I have thought about that a large amount,” he mentioned. “I have no thought. … The enthusiasm was generally there. The fascination was there. I you should not know if it was because of the chicken, the beauty of the hen, the flight of the bird, the spot of the fowl — I you should not know.”

Connor recalls vivid reminiscences of his early sketches of geese, ducks and other waterfowl. All those early sketches could not have been the best high quality, but Conner place in the get the job done more than time and now finds himself the artist of the 41st annual Arkansas state duck stamp.

“Gentleman, I am continuing at 60 decades previous finding out and getting ideally better every single and every single day,” he said. “I was not gifted as a phenomenal artist like so many of these other individuals. I’ve worked very tough at it. It’s been a prolonged journey, but it’s been entertaining.”