Lyme artist's image wins Connecticut Duck Stamp contest
Lyme — Over his 50-year career as an artist, Chet Reneson has distinguished himself as a painter of hunting and fishing scenes, winning numerous awards for his detailed watercolors.
Now, at age 83, he’s added another distinction. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced this week that his painting of surf scoters flying over the mouth of the Connecticut River is this year’s winning entry in the annual Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp Art contest. It will be the image for the 2018 Connecticut Duck Stamp.
His painting, which shows Saybrook Jetty and Lighthouse in the background, is the first time a Connecticut artist has won first place in the contest, which began in the 1990s, DEEP said.
“This is the only time I ever entered that contest,” Reneson said Wednesday.
He recalled that he painted the winning scene in 1962 for a federal duck stamp contest, but it was not chosen as one of the winners. For years it hung in his home in Lyme, until a visitor a few months ago noticed the painting and encouraged him to submit it to the upcoming Connecticut contest. To meet the contest requirement that the scene include a recognizable Connecticut element, Reneson added Saybrook Jetty and Lighthouse to the background, then submitted it.
The painting was one of 22 entries from artists across the country, including 12 from Connecticut. DEEP said it hopes Reneson’s win will inspire more Connecticut artists to enter the contest in future years.
Judges considered six categories for the entries: suitability for reproduction, composition, habitat suitability for that species, anatomical correctness, eye appeal, originality and whether a recognizable Connecticut landmark or habitat was used.
Reneson said he grew up on a pheasant farm in Durham and Colchester, and began painting when he was 9 years old. After high school, he worked on a farm for four years, then went to Hartford Art School on a scholarship. He worked as an illustrator at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, then launched a career illustrating animals for children’s books. He then began painting watercolors of hunting and fishing scenes that have been highly sought by collectors and sportsmen. His work has been recognized by Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited and the Atlantic Salmon Foundation, among other organizations.
An avid hunter and fishermen himself, Reneson still hunts upland game birds and fishes for landlocked salmon and brook trout, according to DEEP.
Reneson’s winning painting, along with the second- and third-place entries, will be on display through the end of September at the DEEP Wildlife Division’s Sessions Woods Conservation Education Center, 341 Milford St., Burlington.
The Connecticut Duck Stamp program was created to generate revenue for wetlands conservation. Under the program, anyone who buys a hunting license to hunt waterfowl and other migratory game birds also must purchase a Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp. The funds are used for the purchase, development, management, maintenance, preservation and conservation of waterfowl habitat and wetlands.