View Full Version : Gearin' up for that long process in competition...

09-07-2004, 11:37 PM
Wonder if others are this way...but planning to compete in a wildlife art competition for me embraces a resolve to a long process from anatomical studies, sketches, mock ups, color studies and much refinement....

I don't enter into these lightly anymore with so many commitments to galleries, students and so forth because when I do I intend to be obsessed for a time to get it right.

I'm beginning an entree phase for the turkey stamp competition...and this is an example of a typical sketch page of my sketchbook.

graphite and casein...

I will spend time typically filling about 20-30 pages of sketches like this..which ends up developing for me an intuitive sense or feel for what looks right, feels right. Looking for subtle nuances...little quirks that make traits.

I'll come back from time to time to share how it develops...but at some point I might refrain 'till after competition time too as there might be some stipulation about a work being formerly published. Don't know that sharing this on a forum as exposure equates to a thinking that the work therefore has former publishing (which then might disqualify it)...but I'll not want to take chances.


09-08-2004, 04:16 AM
Hi Larry,

Your sketches are beautiful, can't wait to see the finished result!

09-08-2004, 10:24 AM
a great process indeed. find yourself going to a turkey farm, the wild or a petting zoo?
one year i went to a small fair in which they had some turkeys caged up & being so hot...fans blowing on them....anyways, i thought i'd mimick one & being on the other side of the fan...it distorted my call enough that it must've sounded pretty believable to the turkeys cuz they poofed all out & really 'carried on'.
so if ya go out in the wild...bring a little fan, do a little yodel & watch out for the turkey stampede.
we wish you all the best...you'll do a 'Stellar Seiler Job' ;)

09-08-2004, 10:37 AM
yep...can concur to that. I've gone in large deer yard pens where there've been wild turkeys, and if you strut and let out a gobble, the toms usually will respond. It can be quite fun.

I have this knack too....as Jason here could vouch for, where I've been able to mimic many many wild animals, fowl and so forth. I've called river otters to our backyards, deer in the wild, and the craziest is a Cree Native American vocalizing technique that represents a flock of geese, but it works wonders at calling in lone or few geese.


09-08-2004, 12:38 PM
I admire your obsessive attitude to get it right. I would do the same if the situation called for it. I rarely have time to fill 20-30 pages, but if something is either new or stumping me, then I spend time doing various studies to get it right. Like right now, I'm working on an Office Tower that is mostly blue/green glass and it's giving me fits, so I'm gonna have to go find other buildings with similar glass and take photos, study reflections, and coloring to try and get a correct approximation.

Offten times, since I have to create a scene from scratch (I can't go out and observe a building that isn't there yet.), I will use several layers of either tracing paper or vellum, and on each will be various elements of the scene that I can move around, change, and place as needed. Also, like many Illustrators, I keep a reference file that will usually help me to get things right.

I look forward to seeing your duck stamp progress.

p.s. - the only animals that get called around here are "The HOGS" as in University of Arkansas Razorbacks and it's quite a ruckus when it happens! :p

09-08-2004, 01:11 PM
thanks...yeah..it is obsessive in the sense that if one is seriously entertaining entering such competitions, you must go a bit farther than what others are willing to do to make that difference.

Consistency in finishing in top ten positions, and in finalist runner ups means pushing yourself more, finding that little thing that might make a difference.

The artwork in a sense suggests you are knowledgable about something and have something to visually report. Difficult to do that if you are not an expert, thus sketching..making and working with models, skin studies and so forth is first a commitment to become an expert on turkeys. From there you let the art work take over....



09-08-2004, 03:48 PM
I was just thinkin that since you are generous enough to share this process with us, perhaps you could share your thinking as to why you decided to enter this competitiion. From what I have seen in other posts, you seemed to be pretty happy as a plien aire painter and wasn't missing the wildlife genre too much. So, I'm wondering why you would put yourself thru such an intense project with all the other things you have going on?

09-08-2004, 05:47 PM
its a fair question....why would I?

For one...my wildlife art was never mainstream wildlife art. ITs one reason I struggled over the years gaining a publisher. I've shown with Wild Wings and experienced good things...but, I'm not one that wishes to cater to the machine that fuels/drives wildlife art.

I don't like some agent/rep/publisher telling me they need a wolf painting quick and get one to them anyway they'd like...and then hear them turn around and practically tell the public I grew up with wolves, wielding an axe living off the wilds and so have this deep intimate understanding and connection to wolves...just to build a personae to sell.

To know something about me is to know I'm driven, but I have prinicples which I will not go beyond.

I painted wildlife in poses and situations that reflected my personal encounters and observation. I do live in a national forest. I've been charged several times by whitetail bucks, have had encounters with bears and so forth...and often this amounts to much greater impetus to be in the position to rightly portray wildlife than artists that might live in an urban area and wish to compete because reputation and money is exciting to them.

I yet hunt....I yet fish. I have a son that comes up and we bow hunt together...scout for deer movements and new areas and so forth. I grew up with a dad that was a sportsfishing guide.

I just have to do it my way...and the wildlife art world hasn't been all to receptive of what my way has been. There is this perceived notion of how wildlife behaves. A way to present ruffed grouse to the public if you want to sell....

But...I am a story teller. An encounter sharer. As an artist I want to share my experiences.

Perhaps sometimes that rebel in me misses doing a piece of work once in awhile. Part of me likes the idea of winning a major competition followed by everyone's assumption that wildlife art is all I do. I like saying..."hhhmm.. no, I've been painting landscapes on location actually!"

The other thing is...I am often driven by what seems reasonable. Why enter? Well...for one, because I can and I have spent a lifetime developing knowledge and skills that still gives me a good chance to win. If I can win a major national competition....and bring a big chunk of change my way, cool.

Also...what I have found is that letting competitors and competitions know every so often I yet have what it takes...usually leads to doors where oddly enough gets my foot in. Once in....you know of all my art work what the galleries are interested in? My plein airs.

The reputation of wildlife art maintains an awareness of my name in the state and galleries, which in turn gives me a platform to say..."yeah...but now check these out!" at which point I show them my plein air.

My dad is passed on. About 12 years now. Sometimes I enter one in tribute to his memory. The good ole days thing.

I am cynical in a sense of what my capabilities are in that I don't allow the attention it brings to mean anything to me. As you get older...have been at the top a few times, you learn its not all everyone thinks it is. Reputation that is. IF it leads to other doors you're interested in...fine, but as an end to itself like I always say, "reputation and 50 cents will getcha a cup of coffee!"

guess it makes me sound pretty complicated...so I hope that explains some.

Bear in mind too...that I am an art educator. OFten I teach students things I don't myself apply because it may be instrumental to their own eventual success. I mod the animal/wildlife forum for one because I have the technical understanding which may be of benefit to others. Putting yourself intentionally in a position obligating yourself to help others is one way to keep lead in the soles of your shoes, keep you down to earth and so forth! Or tolerable to others I suppose....hahaha...

take care


09-08-2004, 09:57 PM
i must say i am SOOOOO loving your rebellion ("...but, I'm not one that wishes to cater to the machine that fuels/drives wildlife art.") GOOD for you & i support you 100%.
one wonders how this manipulative disease ever started. what ever happened to creativity anyways?

i appreciate your transparency regarding being a true nature lover...my family's always made fun of me doing the canadian geese calls. my weirdest imitation experience was in spotting a wild phesant in a field...so i squatted down...mimicked the sounds & puppeted my hand like a chicken head pecking & scratching the dirt. in a 15 min. that stinker was seduced & came & started pecking the dirt w/ me. i easily grabbed him, hid him in my coat & found my g-pa & after gramps couldn't guess what the heck i had...i flung my coat open & that beauty flew away. i'd never seen his eyes get so big. i now cherish those days of growing up on a dead end road in the middle of 'nowhere'...i now live in the city. back then, everybody in town had a soap opera life...but out in the 'boonies'...i got an every day adventure.
you are envied!

09-09-2004, 12:59 PM
Perfectly valid reasons, to be sure.

but I have prinicples which I will not go beyond.

I agree, maintaining our integrity is important, without it we are nothing.

Early on in my freelancing career, I had a fellow come along and offer me far more than I had ever dreamed and more than I deserved. He had big money investers behind him and wanted to set me up with my own illustration firm with a staff and equipment, the works. But, I had to do his work first.

He said he could do more for me in a year than I could on my own in ten. I came soooo close to jumping on that bandwagon! But, luckily I had just enough foresight to tell him no.

I could just see how much ownership and control I was going to have to give up. I would have been at the mercy of a big money machine that wasn't really concerned for me. It would have chewed me up, spit me out, and left me to rot. The only ones who would have gotten anywhere real were those at the top. And their money would have been made at the expense of others, myself included.

So, yeah, doing things your own way, and finding your own path is definately more honorable. Maintaining your integrity and spirit worth much more in the end. And you can say "I did it my way."

Thanks for sharing!

09-09-2004, 07:10 PM

When doing ANY painting project, I have to research. I have to be so familiar with what I am doing that it makes sense, even if it is a dragon! I think what you are doing is a great way to get it right the first time. Never a minute of sketching and studying is wasted to the trained eye, and hard worker.

I usually do many sketches of just composition work, then I work on the unfamiliar stuff that is in my painting. I have to be better than I was before, so I am now working on getting more invloved at the begining, laying the ground work for the painting.

You should be proud that you will not sacrifice your art, to someone who demands something "yesterday". I don't think many people understand our plight. We are not miracle workers, but when we work hard, it takes a miracle to produce a fine piece of art.

I love what you are doing for the turkey studies. I have an artist friend here who does nothing but wildlife. I have been to her studio. It looks like a wildlife preserve!!!! LOL.

Good luck on your competition.


09-10-2004, 12:20 AM
thanks everyone....
we agree...excellence is not an accident!!! hahaha... :clap:

and that is the truth!

Here's another sketchpage I got at today...some more casein color studies and a sketch....


also...one of my favorite mediums for sketching is the black ballpoint pen. For good exercise I like to freeze the dvd player...do a sketch that is about 2 minutes in length or so...then do watercolor washes over them. Here is one I did quickly from Open Range....(nothing to do with turkeys!!! hee heee)



09-10-2004, 09:31 AM
Thanks for posting these... it's very cool to see your sketches. You've got this neat geometric way of sketching. Sketch work is often my favorite work of any artist. I also learn a lot more from seeing your work this way.

09-10-2004, 01:04 PM
thanks Ted...

interesting you saw the geometric thing...thanks for mentioning it. I suppose if this is true its probably because I did wildlife woodcarving and competitions for a number of years and thought three-dimensionally...


09-16-2004, 07:43 PM
Hi, just a newbie with a few questions:

1. Where do you get your reference material? Are these sketches from a photo? If so, are these photos you took yourself?

2. What's a turkey stamp competition and how does one find out about these? Which one are you entering?


10-09-2004, 09:13 PM
Still waiting for the answers to this, thanks so much!

10-09-2004, 10:28 PM
Hi, just a newbie with a few questions:

1. Where do you get your reference material? Are these sketches from a photo? If so, are these photos you took yourself?

2. What's a turkey stamp competition and how does one find out about these? Which one are you entering?


You cannot copy an image a published photographer took and use in competition, however...in the privacy of your studio you CAN sketch, draw, do color studies and so forth such published images from any number of outdoor magazines....and my advice is to do a gazillion of them so that you develop such an intimate sense of the bird that you are able to project personality and attitude.

Then...you can create your own turkey from acquired accumulated knowledge establishing position, light and rendering, pose, attitude and so forth which won't track back to any one specific photo.

I also work with taxidermy mounts...knowledge of seeing the birds in the wild often...and so forth.

The stamp is a required purchase for sportsmen interested in hunting the wild turkey. Money goes toward habitat needs, management by field specialists and so forth. The stamp is put out with entree requirements such as size, how it is to be presented (in plain white mat) and so forth. Each state will have their own variety of such competitions. Some states only allow resident artists to enter and compete, many invite and encourage artists from other states to enter.

Artists winning (I have won in the past with trout, other species..and been runner up with the turkey) may then with their title of winner produce prints of that print marketed as the winning entree for the state competition.

In past years winning was a very lucrative thing to happen for the artist, but supply and demand, changing interests in the art world and so forth has seen the potential to enjoy a nice monetary purse decline.

The turkey stamp as a competition is sponsored by the National Federal Turkey Association...and they do a good job of promoting and making it worthwhile for artists still.

Hope that helps...

You can do queries online to find what your state has to offer...or other states. Department of Natural Resources is usually your source to inquire from.

I am entering Wisconsin...

take care


10-10-2004, 10:50 PM
Thanks so much for taking the time to reply, that was very informative! :)