Watercolors by
  Bill Hudson     
Monthly Newsletter 
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...by Bill Hudson

In 1957 when I was 13, Dad moved our family 25 miles from Baltimore to Bel Air, Maryland, a small farming town with a population of 2,000. In the middle of cow pastures, Dad found a new tract of 15 homes, each on nearly one acre, three miles beyond Main Street in Bel Air. For me, it was as if we changed planets. Instead of 20 kids my age within 100 yards, there were four or five within a half mile. And rather than walk, my brother, sister, and myself had to catch the #59 bus to and from school each day. So, what does a young “city feller” do when he gets home surrounded by cow pastures and woods?

Well, I convinced Dad I needed to trade in my Daisy pump BB gun for a shotgun and do some hunting. Now, Dad grew up a poor waterman who worked the Chincoteague Bay like his ancestors. Fishing, crabbing, oystering, and hunting were a way of life. So, Dad didn’t require much logic to convince him I’d be an asset putting meat on our table. I asked and received permission from our new neighbors, the Umbargers, to hunt on their adjacent dairy farm. Only one word of caution from Mr. Umbarger….‟Billy, be cautious and quick near that bull.”

After a few hunting safety lessons with Dad, I was on my own at age 14. I had access to Dad’s double barrel, 16-gauge, Marlin shotgun, and soon owned a 20-gauge, bolt action Remington ordered direct from the Sears Catalog. It was routine to come home from school, change clothes, put on my hunting jacket with rubber-lined pockets for holding dead game, and walk through our neighborhood carrying a shotgun with an open breech to reveal it was unloaded. Noteworthy is that in the 1930s, the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act restricted shotguns from holding more than three shells. Pump and semi-automatic shotguns capable of holding multiple rounds had to be “plugged” with a one-piece metal filler permanently soldered into the gun which legally limited the shots to a maximum of three. The law addressed market hunting when “there were no regulations curtailing mass shootings of game birds.” For several reasons, I like that law even more today.
I welcomed the succession of seasons. September was the start of squirrel and dove season. Duck season opened in October. My birthday, November 15th, marked the beginning of rabbit, quail, pheasant, and deer season. Crows were open season with no limit. In Bel Air High School, I soon met other guys who also enjoyed hunting responsibly in the great outdoors like myself.
Duck Decoys
I left the east coast shortly after high school but remained in touch with my friend, Skip Long, over the past 60 years. Skip was an avid hunter and gradually became a decoy collector owning 150 or so “working decoys” as opposed to “decorative” or “circus ducks” as Skip calls them. Talking with Skip recently, we agreed to exchange a painting of canvasback decoys for actual collectible pintail decoys.
“Decoys have been a central element of Chesapeake culture for centuries. In the beginning, they were made for one purpose — to lure waterfowl within range of the hunter’s shotgun. Decoys were simple, utilitarian representations of ducks and geese rough-hewn from wood. No one considered them art. Today, decoys lure far more people than waterfowl. One is perhaps more likely to find a decoy adorning a collector’s mantelpiece than floating in a hunter’s rig. Contemporary carvers produce sophisticated works of art with century-old skills that have been passed down from master to apprentice for generations.” (Ref Havre de Grace Decoy Museum)

My painting above contains both the drake and hen high-neck canvasbacks from reference photos sent by Skip. The canvasback is often called the aristocrat of ducks, prized by sportsmen. It is a diving duck, the largest of its genus, fast in flight, that lives entirely on and under the water. In the early 1950s, the Chesapeake Bay wintered 225,000 canvasbacks, or one-half of the entire North American population. By 1985, there were only 50,000 of these omnivores wintering there due to the gradual loss of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in the bay. Although the Chesapeake population stabilized, the canvasback range has shifted south towards the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. 

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I wanted to thank each of you for your continued interest in this Newsletter. I particularly appreciate your responses. If you wish to make any art related announcements or comments that may benefit the readers, feel free to submit them for the next issue.

Discovering Value and Purpose
by Bill Hudson
Released June 3, 2021

Paperback .................$ 18.99
eBook ..........................$ 9.99
Past Newsletters
Past Newsletters are listed chronologically by title in the Newsletter section of my website www.BillHudsonArt.com/newsletter/
Events & Galleries
Singulart, an online gallery selling original art from juried artists with free global shipping and returns. I recommend Singulart for any collector or contemporary artist.
Fine Art America, is an online print-on-demand gallery which sells nearly all my images. These are available in a wide range of sizes on many substrates and objects including: coffee cups, shirts, towels, greeting cards, puzzles, phone cases, and tote bags.
Art Instructor, Laguna Methodist Art Association, Mondays in January, 9:30 to 12:30