Canada geese on wing win waterfowl stamp contest Baltimore artist's painting selected

March 23, 1996|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

SALISBURY - Five Canada geese flying up from a marsh will remind hunters and others of the need for conservation during the 1996-1997 waterfowl hunting season.

The geese, painted in oil by Baltimore artist David Turnbaugh, were chosen for next year's state migratory waterfowl stamp, which hunters are required to purchase each year for their licenses.

"I think it's interesting that a Canada goose was chosen," said biologist Paul Peditto.

The hunting season for Canada geese was suspended this year along the Atlantic flyway because the number of geese has declined sharply in recent years.

Mr. Peditto was one of five judges for the competition, an annual event held at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury. The contest is patterned after the federal competition but is open only to Maryland artists.

No prizes are given, but the artist retains the right to his work, and sales of prints and posters can bring substantial income.

Mr. Turnbaugh, is a veteran his designs were on the 1985-1986 and 1991-1992 stamps.

"I just lucked out again. It should be a fun year for me," said a clearly delighted Mr. Turnbaugh as he accepted congratulations from family, contestants and judges after the 90-minute judging session ended.

The last time he won, he said, it brought him about $100,000 in business and the need for an office in Baltimore. That office, Maryland Realist Ltd., is on Calvert Street.

His "Canada Geese on the Wing" won against a field of 61 paintings of ducks and geese. Artists can't enter for three years after they win, so it was his first time back after winning the 1991-1992 competition. Although Mr. Turnbaugh has been successful with birds, his first artistic love is boats.

'I'm a skipjack artist," said the 58-year-old painter. "I paint birds when I'm in the mood." He doesn't hunt, he said: 'No heart to kill an animal, I'd rather watch them."

Five judges assigned each painting from one to six points, and a painting had to earn at least 12 points to advance to the next round. The first round cut the field in half. The second round reduced the number to seven, and the third crowned entry 56.

Judges looked for artistic merit as well as scientific accuracy. Any wildfowl could be painted, except the three most recently chosen for stamps redhead, canvasback and mallard ducks. The panel included a biologist, a collector, a decoy carver, an illustrator and a wildlife expert.

"They look for correct anatomy and coloring, habitat. What the judges are trying to visualize is, how is it going to look made into a stamp 2 1/4 inches by 3 1/4 inches," said contest director Gail Fields of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

In the audience was the man who won Delaware's duck stamp contest last weekend.

Richard Clifton's acrylic rendering of a pair of gadwall ducks took top honors. The 34-year-old Milford, Del., man said his interest in painting grew out of hunting. Last weekend marked the 17th time he had won a duck stamp contest. Many states do not require contestants to be residents, and he has won in Florida and other states.

Nearly all states have a waterfowl stamp contest, Ms. Fields said. Maryland's began in 1974 when the General Assembly passed a bill requiring hunters to buy a stamp. Then, the stamps were $1.10; now, they are $6. Revenues are about $400,000 a year, according to DNR, and the money is used to help protect wildfowl.

"As a habitat biologist, I think it's invaluable," Mr. Peditto said. "This is a primary fund source for our agency to manage wildfowl on public lands."

The new stamps will go on sale in July, Ms. Fields said.

All contest entries are on display through April 14 at the Ward Museum.

Pub Date: 3/23/96

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