On November 7, 1989, a piece
of federal duck stamp history was rewritten. James Murray
Hautman, age 25, became the youngest artist, at the time,
to win the coveted award. In a dramatic tie-breaking vote,
his entry of a pair of black-bellied whistling ducks edged
out Rick Kelley's rendition of a lone red-breasted merganser.
Prior to his federal victory,
Jim already had a fine start on his career in wildlife art.
His paintings had been published in limited edition print
form by Wild Wings, Lake City, Minnesota, and his originals
were selling regularly through Lowertown Gallery, St. Paul,
Minnesota and Meadow Creek Gallery, Wayzata, Minnesota. He
had won three state duck stamp contests: the 1988 Delaware,
1988 Nevada, and the 1989 Minnesota. Since his federal coup,
he has been selected to design the 1990 Australian duck stamp
and the 1991 Minnesota pheasant stamp.
Jim, the youngest of seven children,
was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on April 23, 1964, to
Elaine and Thomas Hautman. Thomas was an attorney, and Elaine
doubled as housewife and commercial artist. Thomas also had
an interest in art; therefore, both parents encouraged all
of the children to develop their artistic skills. The end
result is that Jim and his brother, Bob, are both career artists;
his brother, Joe, a physicist, paints part time; another brother,
Mark, is a carpenter and carves as a profitable hobby. Jim's
sister, Amy, is also a painter and owns her own gallery.
Jim attended St. Louis Park High
School in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, where he was a member
of the ski team. Downhill racing is his specialty and he has
achieved speeds of 60 - 65 miles per hour. His favorite form
of downhill racing is duo format where, although the race
is timed, the skier is racing directly against an opponent
who is on the slope at the same time, as well as against the
clock. Knowing that his competitor is right alongside him
gives Jim that little extra push he needs to win.
Although Jim is soft-spoken and
laid-back to the point of seeming shy, he is a tough competitor.
Besides skiing in a league, he plays forward on a hockey team
two or three times a week. As a testimony to his skill as
a skier and skater, he has had no broken bones and he still
has all his teeth.
Shortly after his design won
the federal contest, he and his brothers, Bob and Joe, traveled
to Kodiak Island, Alaska, for a duck hunt. The purpose was
to acquire as many of the five species of ducks which were
eligible for the 1991 contest. Alaskan guides are accustomed
to providing all of the necessary equipment for big game hunters,
but hunters who travel to Alaska solely for ducks are a rarity,
and the guides tend to be ill-equipped and somewhat ignorant
of this type of hunting.
On one particularly windy day,
Jim, his two brothers, and their guide boarded a nine-foot
rubber raft equipped with an outboard motor and ventured onto
an ocean of heavy swells. As usual, the shooting was good,
but the guide had neglected to supply paddles or oars. Suddenly,
the fuel line on the motor froze and with no paddles, the
off-shore wind and current began taking their little craft
toward the open ocean. Jim thought that their next stop would
be Siberia, but after 15 minutes which seemed like an hour,
the guide managed to thaw the fuel line and head the raft
back to U.S. soil.
Jim always had an interest in
wildlife, but a brush with falconry really set the hook to
the point where his thirst for more knowledge of animals and
their environment is never satisfied. In 1980 he captured
a kestrel and began training it for falconry. All went well,
but after about two months, he decided that both he and the
bird would be better off if he released it. The experience
of being so close to a wild creature over an extended period
of time left him with an intimacy with wild animals that most
people never experience.
Jim and Bob share a house in
a semi-rural area where each has his own studio. Many kinds
of wild animals visit their backyard where the brothers supply
food for them all year long. Much of their reference for paintings
is derived from observing and photographing the myriad of
wildlife right there on their property.
Jim's plans for the future are
somewhat loose, but travelling to faraway places such as Africa
and Australia are definitely among them. His future looks
On February 4, 1995, Jim wed
the former Dorothy Deas. Jim and Dorothy met immediately after
he won the contest the first time. She worked for the Fish
and Wildlife Service in Washington, DC, and mutual attraction
was immediate. Many air miles were logged between Minnesota
and Washington during this long-distance romance.
Although she doesn't hunt, Dorothy
is right at home around guns and enjoys her turn at trap and
skeet. She also shares Jim's love of fishing and, in fact,
has a lot more experience at saltwater fishing than Jim has.
She grew up in southern Alabama on the Gulf of Mexico and
has spent many hours chasing big gamefish. Jim has recently
taken up saltwater fishing, and he and Dorothy have plans
to do quite a bit of it.
In turn Jim is teaching his southern
born wife a northern sport - skiing. Jim is an accomplished
downhill skier, and in time he and Dorothy will share the
exhilaration of racing at breakneck speed over a layer of
new powder on some of the best mountains that the American
west has to offer.
Jim seems to enjoy nearly every
aspect of the outdoors: he plays ice hockey the year around
in three different leagues, skies in Jackson Hole whenever
he gets the opportunity, fishes and plays golf in the summer
(his handicap is a very respectable 7.7) and hunts birds in
One of his most memorable trips
was a month-long sojourn by himself in his Suburban. Starting
in Minnesota in the fall he fished and hunted pheasants in
South Dakota, fished and photographed in Wyoming, fished in
Colorado, met Dorothy in New Mexico where they fished together,
then on to Texas for a quail hunt and finished with a duck
hunt in Arkansas. On the return to Minnesota he stopped for
a short visit with friend and fellow artist, Al Agnew, where
they hunted for Indian artifacts. He has started a collection
of artifacts but only those he finds himself.
Jim credits Bruce Miller, designer
of the 1993-94 federal duck stamp, for getting him hooked
onto saltwater fly-fishing. After Bruce won the federal contest,
Jim, Bruce, Jim's brother Bob, and Bruce's brother went to
the Cayman Islands for bonefish. It was Jim's first try at
saltwater fly-fishing, but he fell in love with it. He has
since been to Belize twice (once with Dorothy), and he has
managed to land both bonefish and permit on a fly rod.
Jim's talent is not limited to
duck stamps, ducks, or even to wildlife. He's been very successful
with his paintings of American Indians. Most of his works
involve landscapes as well as the individual people. He's
executed paintings of the Nez Perce, Cheyenne, and Blackfeet.
Interacting with the various tribal members has afforded Jim
an alternate outlook on many issues. Several of his Indian
paintings have been reproduced as limited edition prints.
For the year following the duck
stamp contest, the winning artist's life is controlled largely
by the mandatory personal appearances and the obligations
as set forth in the contest rules. Along with that comes the
printing and signing of the prints, remarques, and licensing
of the design for commercial uses. For those twelve months,
the artist is under pressure from all angles.
Jim has several "release
valves" for reducing the pressure. One of the major ones
is playing poker. He has found that the concentration necessary
for good poker playing is relaxing and he can temporarily
forget the pressure created by winning the duck stamp contest.
Apparently, he has what it takes to be a good player, for
he has competed in several tournaments and has played in Las
His other outlets include hockey,
hunting, fishing, and a game called bandy. Bandy is a European
game similar to hockey. In indoor bandy the equipment is slightly
different, but it enlists the same number of players, and
the positions are the same as hockey. Jim plays wing position
on Team Rowbike, the team which won the North American Indoor
Bandy championship. He was also chosen in 1998 to be on Team
USA which competed against Sweden, Finland, and Russia for
the Viking Bandy Cup in Finland. The teams traveled throughout
Finland all summer, and the team members experienced European
hospitality and customs to the fullest.