Maynard Reece1920 -
Born: 1920, Arnolds Park, Iowa
Growing up on the marshes of northwest Iowa, Maynard Reece began drawing and painting with pencils and barn paints. His seventh grade teacher introduced him to watercolors, and he decided to become an artist. Having no money for college or artistic training, Reece moved to Des Moines after high school and worked for the Iowa Museum of Natural History. While at the museum, he met J. N. "Ding" Darling, an avid conservationist, who helped him with the accuracy of his wildlife paintings. Reece joined the army in 1943, and while training in New York, he met Francis Lee Jaques and James Perry Wilson. Both of these artists had an influence on Reece's artistic work. After serving a tour in Europe, he returned to the United States to work as a freelance artist.
In 1947, Reece was invited to participate in the National Wildlife Federation's Duck Stamp competition. He won the contest in 1948 and went on to win four more in 1951, 1959, 1969, and 1971. In 1951, he provided the color images for Iowa Fish and Fishing, which led to commissions from Life magazine to paint North American game fish and saltwater fish for special color articles. Throughout his career, his work has been printed in The Saturday Evening Post, Sports Illustrated, Audubon, National Wildlife and many sporting magazines. Reece wrote and illustrated two of his own books, The Waterfowl of Maynard Reece (1985) and The Upland Bird Art of Maynard Reece (1997).
As the only artist to win the Federal Duck Stamp five times, Reece is known for his accurate and simple compositions. He has traveled to the Arctic, Antarctic, Europe, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, and Africa, researching and observing wildlife. He takes photographs on his travels to use as reference material when he returns to the studio, but he never copies the images. As an artist, Reece is especially concerned with the effect of lighting. He owns an extensive natural history library that he references in order to achieve accuracy in his paintings.
"The more intimate you become with animals, the better you can paint them. I have feelings for the freedom-awe and respect and compassion for nature. I spend most of my time outdoors. Everything I paint comes from there, so why shouldn't I spend my time there?"
Madson, Chris. "A Brush with the Wild: The Art of Maynard Reece," Wildlife Art(September/October 1997): 22-25.
Van Gelder, Patricia. Wildlife Artists at Work. New York: Watson-Guptill, 1982,144-161.