Archived Story

Melby artist adds another laurel

Published 12:00am Friday, August 19, 2005

The world of trout and salmon fishermen will know the name John House in years to come because of last week’s honor from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Mark Ebbers and his panel of five judges picked a brown trout painting by House as the design for their 2006 trout and salmon stamp. It’s an honor that House never dreamed would come his way when he started entering duck stamp contests three decades ago. Having already won the state duck stamp contest in 1999 and the state pheasant stamp contest in 2004, House started thinking about going for a great honor among wildlife honors &045;&045; the Grand Slam of Minnesota stamps. The state issues stamps for ducks, pheasants, turkey and trout. Winning all four gives an artist the &uot;grand slam&uot; title. The challenge for House was the fact that fish were not his bag. &uot;I told myself ‘I’ve got to learn this from the ground up,&uot; said House. House put 74 hours of work into his winner trout stamp. He credits Roger Jensen of Wahpeton and John Kent of Ashby for supplying him with good photos of brownies, which are no native to Minnesota but rate as one of the most successful transplants in state history. House also visited the Duluth Aquarium where he was able to see live brown trout up close. &uot;They have big trout that come right up to the glass,&uot; said House. &uot;I took film, did pencil sketches and paint swatches to match the color.&uot; House’s original idea was to do a painting of a rainbow trout but for design purposes, he went with the brown trout, which has a darker dot pattern. The trout stamp is purchased by 98,000 anglers each year. The state does not offer a cash reward for the winning design but the artist does have the right to print limited edition prints. &uot;Both the duck and pheasant stamps were very good to us,&uot; said House. Having just finished his entry in the federal duck stamp contest, a pair of ruddy ducks, House is working hard on his January entry in the turkey stamp contest. He visited the Vergas area last spring when the big birds were talking and filmed a lot of the flora that is found in their natural habitat. House was second in last January’s turkey stamp contest. The winning artist was Dave Chapman of Minnetonka. Ironically, it was Chapman that placed second to House in the trout stamp design. Every artist who enters a state contest awaits &uot;the call&uot; following the judging to find out if they won. Receiving that call last week was as big a thrill as it was seven years ago when House won the duck stamp contest. &uot;It’s not something that decreases with each call,&uot; said House. &uot;It’s like a trip to Las Vegas.&uot;

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