On Thursday, April 24 wildlife artist Richard Clifton of Milford was selected as the winner of the 2015 Delaware Waterfowl Duck Stamp Contest. The painting, which depicts Delaware’s native black duck with ducklings against the backdrop of the coastal wetlands of the Delaware Bayshore, will be featured as the State of Delaware’s 2015 Duck Stamp.
To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Delaware’s Waterfowl Stamp Contest program, the 2015 stamp will be a special Governor’s Edition, with 250 limited edition prints signed by Clifton and Governor Markell. Funds from the sale of waterfowl stamps, which act as a license to hunt waterfowl in Delaware, are used to improve waterfowl habitat throughout the state. According to the Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife, more than $2.5 million has been generated from the sale of waterfowl stamps and artwork since the program began in 1980.
“Conservation of migratory waterfowl and related wetland habitats is a key part of what we do, especially along the Delaware Bayshore,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara at Thursday’s event. “The Delaware Waterfowl Stamp Contest not only supports this vitally important work, it’s also a high-profile way to use artwork to recognize the conservation role of hunters and other wildlife lovers, educate the public about waterfowl species and promote the critical need for conservation.”
Growing up in a farming family in Milford, artist Richard 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. A self-taught artist and wildlife photographer, Clifton acknowledges that it took a long time to learn the necessary skills but that it helped him to develop his own style.
“The idea to do the paintings comes first for me which means that I gather reference materials with my camera,” stated Clifton. “Since black ducks are a coastal marsh bird I had a lot of photographs I had taken.”
Over the past 25 years Clifton has won the Delaware Duck Stamp Contest seven times along with 41 wins from other state duck stamp contests around the nation. He has also won a Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. Richard was recently selected as the artists of the South Carolina Duck Stamp for the next two years. Richard finds it exciting that hunters across the state of Delaware will be wearing his painting on their Duck Stamps once again in 2015.
“Since I live in Delaware it is always an extra incentive to win in your home state,” commented Clifton. “Since I hunt waterfowl myself it is neat to know everyone out there hunting has the stamp with my painting on it.”