Local wildlife artist Richard Clifton of Milford was selected as the winner of the 2013 California Duck Stamp Contest. The painting, which depicts two American wigeons in a marsh, will become the official design for the 2013-2014 stamp. As in many states, California Department of Fish and Wildlife produce the stamps even though hunters are no longer required to carry the stamps with their license. According to the Sierra Sun Times, the three judges of the contest complimented Clifton’s winning painting, “praising its painstaking anatomical accuracy and a ‘soft, appealing feel.’”
“I like to make things appear realistic but pull away enough for it to look like a painting, not a photograph,” commented Clifton when asked about his art. “Photographs can lack feeling and paintings should include a feeling of that artist.”
Growing up in a farming family in Milford, Clifton always had a shared love and respect for nature as a child. His favorite hobbies included birdwatching, waterfowl hunting and drawing songbirds with his childhood watercolor set. As a teen at Cape Henlopen High School, Richard read outdoor publications such as Ducks Unlimited and Field and Stream as he became interested in featured wildlife artists including David Maass,Maynard Reece and Jim Killen.
After high school Richard worked on the family farm and made time every day, before his 6 am start, to paint duck stamps that he would place in contests around the country. In his late twenties Richard began to pursue a life as a wildlife artist full time living as a self-proclaimed minimalist.
“I had a lot to learn, being self-taught it took a long time but it helped me to develop my own style” commented Clifton. “I worked so hard studying techniques, observing others and learning through trail and error.”
Over the past 25 years Clifton has won the California Duck Stamp Contest three times along with 36 wins from other state duck stamp contests around the nation. He has also won a Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. Created in 1934 as a federal license required for hunting migratory waterfowl, the Federal Duck Stamps today generate funding for wetland conservation.
“When I am trying to recreate photographs of songbirds, waterfowl or birds of prey I want to do that species justice,” commented Clifton. “They are such magnificent birds and I want to create a true representation of what they are.”
Richard will continue to enter his art in Duck Stamp Contests and feature his paintings in gallery events around the United States this year. Clifton’s studio is located at 9397 Cods Road in Milford, Delaware and can be visited by appointment by calling 302-684-4747. Examples of Richards art can be found online at http://www.richardcliftonwildlifeart.com.