South Dakota teen wins National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest

Dan Crisler
Dakota Media Group

WALLACE — In the next year, many will see an illustration of a drake wood duck floating lazily on a body of water.

As the duck has his head cocked to the side, perhaps looking beyond the reef next to him, the water and all its ripples perfectly captures his reflection.

One could be forgiven for initially mistaking the illustration to be a photo. In reality, the illustration is an acrylic painting done by 13-year-old Madison Grimm of Wallace in Codington County.

Grimm’s painting proved so striking that judges awarded her the top $1,000 scholarship prize in the National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest.

This is the second time that Grimm has won the duck stamp contest. She first won it as a 6-year-old in 2013.

“It’s a big surprise,” Grimm said. “I felt like I would at least place. But when I found out I won, I was really excited.”

Grimm had to overcome some stiff competition in the form of approximately 14,000 submissions to win the contest a second time. To her knowledge, Grimm is just the second person to win the contest multiple times.

Living in a rural area, Grimm said her art is inspired by the nature scenes that surround her and her family’s home. She said she based her winning painting on multiple photographs she took of nearby drake wood ducks, which are her favorite birds.

“We have them all over out here,” Grimm said. “I think they’re one of the prettiest ducks there are. They have so many colors and are so vibrant.”

With the photographs not capturing everything that Grimm put into her painting, she took some artistic liberties to pull off the water’s ripples and the duck’s reflection.

“In my reference pieces, I didn’t really like the reflection so I had to make some of those of things up on edge,” she said.

Although gifted in multiple painting styles, Grimm said she chose to paint the duck using the acrylic technique.

“Acrylic paintings blend a lot nicer. They dry fast so you have to be really careful about what you paint on. Once it’s dry, you can’t get anything off easily,” she said.

Having worked on the painting for a few hours per day between her studies, Grimm said she finished her painting in about one month.

“I really like painting. It’s very peaceful. I just sit in our little studio by myself and listen to music while I paint,” she said.

It will be a while before Grimm gets to enjoy seeing her original painting that netted her the top prize. Grimm said her painting will go tour along with the other duck stamp paintings that placed until possibly next May.

The work will also be featured on the 2020-21 Junior Duck Stamp, which raises funds to educate and engage young people in wildlife and wetlands conservation and outdoor recreation, according to a news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Madison Grimm, a 13-year-old from South Dakota, took top honors in the Service’s National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest with her acrylic rendition of a wood duck.