Indiana artist wins 2020 California Duck Stamp art contest

A painting by Jeffrey Klinefelter of Etna Green, Indiana, has been chosen as the winner of the 2020 California Duck Stamp Art Contest. The painting, which depicts a pair of canvasbacks, will be the official design for the 2020-2021 stamps.

Klinefelter previously won the California Duck Stamp Art Contest in 2009, as well as the California Upland Game Bird Stamp contests in 2019, 2018 and 2017.

The overall eye-appeal of Klinefelter’s painting immediately drew the judges’ attention. They noted the contrast between the background and the subjects, admiring the brightness of the birds that, when paired with the more muted colors of the scenery, created a composition that would “pop” on a stamp. The judges’ highest praise, however, was for the anatomical accuracy of the canvasbacks, something Klinefelter found challenging to achieve.

“Personally, I find canvasbacks one of the harder species to paint due to the difference in their bill and head structure,” Klinefelter said.

He went on to say that while he has taken many photographs and painted multiple depictions of the species, he wanted to create a completely different scene for this painting. He imagined the birds being hit by the first light of the morning sun, illuminating their plumage and casting a vibrant reflection on the water.

Artists from around the country submitted entries for the contest, sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Allen Copeland of Leesburg, Georgia, placed second, Rebekah Knight of Deepwater, Missouri, placed third and Dennis Arp of Culbertson, Nebraska, received honorable mention.

Traditionally, the top four paintings are displayed at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association’s Annual Classic Wildlife Art Festival in Sacramento, but the festival was cancelled this year due to COVID-19.

Since 1971, the California Duck Stamp Program’s annual contest has attracted top wildlife artists from around the country. The contest is traditionally open to artists from all 50 states in order to ensure a wide pool of submissions. All proceeds generated from stamp sales go directly to waterfowl conservation projects throughout California.

In the past, hunters were required to purchase and affix the stamp to their hunting licenses. Today, hunters are no longer required to carry the stamps because California’s modern licensing system prints proof of additional fees paid directly onto the license.

However, CDFW still produces the stamps, which can be requested on CDFW’s website at