Local artist wins state game bird stamp design contest
I’ve long admired the artists of Southern Maryland. They observe the quiet beauty around us, and through their gift, render that beauty to canvas with a magical spark that delights the eyes.
Several local names come to mind, such as Jeanne Norton Hammett and George F. McWilliams, among several. If you are not familiar with their work and enjoy the beauty of our area, I have to suggest you look them up. You might find a new favorite artist of your own.
My first foray into buying art as a young adult starting out was at Annmarie Garden’s Artsfest, which showcases many local artists each fall. Over the years, as I got married, moved from an apartment to a house and raised my family, my collection of local landscapes and maritime scenes grew.
In fact, after 12 years of blissful marriage, we are almost out of wall space, which is not a good thing because I just found out that local Hollywood artist Richard Menard won the Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp design contest held last month in Ocean City with his painting “Brothers” that depicts two northern shovelers.
I gave Menard a call when I found out about his win and he was very gracious to answer a few questions. As it turns out, he wasn’t born in Southern Maryland, but rather in Vermont and was brought to Southern Maryland in 1983, like so many other residents, by the Navy.
As a child growing up in Vermont, Menard spent a lot of time outdoors with his father and brothers hunting, fishing and trapping where he began to appreciate the beauty of nature. While every hunter spends a lot of time observing the natural environment, the hunter that becomes an award-winning artist takes that focus on observation to a new level. He sees details that escape so many of us.
After moving here he met his wife, who comes from the long and storied Thompson lineage that can be traced back to the Ark and Dove. As it turns out, his fatherin-law is Rodney Thompson, renowned St. Mary’s County auctioneer. When I mentioned this fact to my husband, he recalled how Thompson headed up many charity and school auctions when he was growing up. Menard followed in his father-in-law’s footsteps and has been an auctioneer the past 25 years.
While working and raising five kids in Southern Maryland, he understandably didn’t have much free time to work on his drawing and painting skills. Nowadays, though, he is semi-retired from auctioneering and has more time to devote to his artwork, spending one to two hours each day painting and honing his skills. He finds inspiration by hiking our beautiful parks and imparts his love of nature through his art.
Unlike a lot of hikers, Menard will sit for hours in frigid January weather, waiting on the ducks to come so he can watch and photograph them. Gilbert Run Park in Dentsville and St. Mary’s Lake are two of the places he spends a lot of time looking for ducks and geese to study. While he used to spend a lot of time hunting, these days he does most of his hunting with a camera.
From a childhood spent outdoors to his current hiking efforts, Menard has gained a deep appreciation for nature, birds and wildlife. He uses that passion to paint beautiful and realistic waterfowl scenes. He said “being a part of the history of waterfowl hunting and promoting conservation” is the best part of winning this contest. There’s no monetary award for winning the contest although he retains the original copyright of the winning entry.