Well it's all been said and done and the 2020 Federal Duck Stamp contest is in the books. Congratulations to the winner Richard Clifton for a job well done; your image will make a beautiful stamp! As is customary, it was an exciting contest and as usual I feel a little drained but satisfied. The contest brought the typical rollercoaster ride of emotions as 138 art entries were viewed, classified, and scored by a panel five judges. New rules from the duck stamp office required this year's art entries to include a hunting-related accessory or scene to illustrate the special “waterfowl hunting heritage” theme. For the artists the addition of this element increased the degree of difficulty required to create a preferred design, and for that reason it was considered an added challenge as those accessories and themes are somewhat limited in scope. Yet, for at least 138 artists including myself, it was deemed a possibility. I struggled with finding a design I was satisfied with; the last thing I want to battle in painting a duck stamp entry is lacking confidence in my design. I chose to go beyond the accessory inclusion and wanted to incorporate a hunter in my image, but shortage of good personal reference material that included hunters, dogs, duck blinds and equipment like boats to work from really slowed my decision on the final image. That coupled with a very late posting of the new rules, the COVID fiasco, and recuperating from an injury really put me behind the eight ball; I felt like passing for this year! Thankfully my ever-faithful wife, Darlene spurred me on and prodding from my daughters Christine, and Sarah encouraged me to stick with it. This is a photo of my rendition of a Red-breasted Merganser complete with a hunter taking a shot at some passing birds with his his faithful retriever by his side anxiously awaiting to fetch another duck. I'm not sure where or how I placed among my peers yet, but my entry was called back from being eliminated from the first round of judging and was allowed a second consideration; for that alone I am very grateful to to judge who called me back ... thank you! I'm already looking forward to the 2021 contest and hopeful that maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to come up with something worthy of a win. A big heartfelt thank-you goes out to my darling wife Darlene, our loving daughters, all my family members, friends and loved ones who encouraged me through the daunting task of entering this year's contest despite the multitude of challenges I faced. Most of all, my highest praise and thanksgiving goes to Almighty God for His grace, provision, and support along the way ... see you next year!
2019 National Duck Stamp Collectors Society Conservation Stamp- Eleventh Issue by Matt Clayton
2016 Ohio Ducks Unlimited Sponsor Print
Matt was recently honored when “Bufflehead on the Cuyahoga," his rendition of a perky little bufflehead plowing through the waves on the Cuyahoga River, was chosen as the Ohio Ducks Unlimited “Sponsor Print of the Year” for 2016. The bufflehead painting also placed second just behind Christine in the Ohio contest, as well as third in North Carolina a few weeks prior. Limited Edition Artist Proof prints are available. Remarques are also available. Please CONTACT here for more information.
For as long as he can remember, Matt has had a fascination for anything with fur, fins, or feathers. Following the example set by his father and grandfather, he developed a deep abiding love and respect for the outdoors and all that it had to offer. He also inherited the skills to work with his hands, a trait possessed by several generations before him and now by his daughters, Christine and Sarah. This gift is evident in his ability to portray his subjects with life-like accuracy. Matt has also worked in fine jewelry design, manufacture, and repair for nearly 25 years and only began to make a serious attempt at painting wildlife several years ago at the recommendation of his wife and two daughters. Matt looks forward to future projects as time allows, and plans to broaden his variety of wildlife subjects to include song birds, upland game, deer, bear, and elk.