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This painting, my first winning Federal Duck Stamp Design, completely changed my life.

After seeing so many Federal Duck Stamps that looked similar in design, I had decided that I wanted to do something that if I won, would stand out. I was inspired to do this painting while watching a hen blue-winged teal on a South Dakota slough. I was struck by the subtle attractiveness of this brown little duck. Normally, the more colorful drakes get all the attention but when this hen teal raised up to flap her wings after bathing and the golden sunlight was drenched across her wings, back and head, she was in all her glory. It was then that I realized that the beauty I had witnessed, had more to do with the way the light draped upon her then the bird itself. It didn’t take me long to realize that the pose and light would work well for the mottled duck (one of the eligible species for the Federal Duck Stamp competition that year). After all, it is also a mostly drab, brown duck. I started working on sketches right away. I really liked the finished painting but I knew how many good artists there were that enter. So I packed it up said a prayer and sent it off. Finding out that I won was an indescribable moment. My career dream had just come true but it seemed more like a dream then ever.

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