<font color="#808080">WILSON, John S.</font>

More John S. Wilson:    Federal Duck Stamp Print 

1939 - )

Watertown is a quiet little village in the Northeast corner of South Dakota. John Wilson is an equally quiet man with no interest in the razzle-dazzle of city life. However, his peaceful existence came to an abrupt end on November 5, 1980; his painting of a pair of ruddy ducks had won the federal duck stamp contest. He had become an instant celebrity.

John was born on June 6, 1939, in Sisseton, South Dakota, a place not too far from his present residence in Watertown. Although his parents were no better off financially than many other families during the depression years, John had one advantage: he had access to large expanses of farmland and wilderness where he could hunt and fish.

His fondest memories of his childhood invariably center around the numerous hunting and fishing trips he took accompanied only by his loyal cocker spaniel, Tippy. They shared that special bond which can only be felt between a boy and his dog, and for the entire fifteen years of Tippy's life, they were constant field companions.

At age 17, John enlisted in the United States Air Force and remained there for eight years. He was assigned to the crash rescue teams at Williams Air Force Base near Phoenix, Arizona, and Mark Air Force Base, Nome, Alaska, spending six years picking up the pieces left by pilot error or mechanical failure. At times it was grim and depressing work and he finally worked his way into air installations and then to painting

After his separation from the Air Force, he accepted short term employment with a construction firm as a painter. At the same time he met a pretty, young bookkeeper by the name of Avis Chilson. After a year of courtship they were married and moved to Wahpeton, North Dakota, where John had enrolled in a school for architectural drafting.

While still enrolled in school he left the construction firm and found a position with a sign company in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Later, he arranged a transfer to Watertown and remained with the company for twenty-five years.

John painted for his own pleasure and relaxation at night and on weekends. However, he did not paint wildlife subjects until 1976 when South Dakota announced that the state had instituted a mandatory duck stamp program and was soliciting artists to enter the contest for the first design. John entered a painting of a trumpeter swan; it took second place to a pair of mallards by Robert Kusserow.

The experience fired him with enthusiasm and he concentrated his efforts on painting the wildlife native to South Dakota, particularly the birds. In 1979 the state changed the duck stamp to a pheasant restoration stamp and John's painting of a pair of ringnecks won the top prize. He repeated that feat for the 1981 pheasant stamp.

When he isn't painting, John is usually pursuing his favorite sport-fishing-the walleye being tops on his game-fish list. When pressure builds up and his nerves become a bit frayed, hooking a walleye makes him forget everything except the very personal contest between him and his worthy adversary.

Russell Fink Gallery P. O. Box 250 Lorton, VA 22199
Voice: 703-550-9699 Fax: 703-339-6150