RGS Announces its 2014 Print of the Year


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RGS is pleased to announce that artist Chuck Ripper of Huntington, West Virginia was selected to create the 2014 RGS Print of the Year. His painting is entitled Woodcock Double.

2014 Print of the Year "Woodcock Double" by Chuck Ripper

The prints will be available at each RGS banquet in 2014 and as one of the options for banquet sponsors at RGS banquets held this year. Each print will be signed and numbered by the artist. To order Woodcock Double, visit the Ruffed Grouse Society's online store RGS-Mart.

Acclaimed as one of the leading nature and wildlife artists in the country, Pittsburgh, PA-born Huntington, WV wildlife artist Charles Lewis "Chuck" Ripper brings plants and animals to life on his canvas. Up to April 2013, his detailed paintings had graced the covers of more than 100 magazine or catalog covers, including L.L. Bean, Fur-Fish-Game, Virginia Wildlife, Southern Outdoors, North Carolina Wildlife, Pennsylvania Game News and Oklahoma Outdoors; as well as illustrations or paintings for 25 books for publishers including the National Audubon Society, National Geographic Society, Readers Digest Books, Houghton Mifflin, Alfred Knopf, Museum of Natural History (Denver) and William Morrow; and on greeting cards, jigsaw puzzles, playing cards, and even bank checks. The Fall 2006 Hunting catalog marked his 14th L. L. Bean cover having painted many of the classic and most-beloved covers in the 1970s for L.L. Bean. In addition, he has teamed with two daughters to illustrate annual West Virginia Wildlife Calendars. He has also done work for universities and even candy bars and his paintings have been shown in 15 museums and galleries, including the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

He designed 575 conservation stamps for the National Wildlife Federation and the 1977 NWTF stamp print. For his 80 U.S. postage stamps, he painted small as the USPS has a policy for postage stamp artwork that the art can’t be more than five times the size of the stamp.

No matter what the composition of the original artwork is, most commissions lead to other jobs. Roger Tory Peterson, a noted artist specializing in birds, created the first field guide and became the respected editor of the popular field guide series. Peterson was the art director for the NWTF stamp program so he was familiar with Ripper's work and asked him to do the illustrations for the “Field Guide to Pacific States Wildflowers,” part of the Peterson’s Field Guide Series. Paying his dues, Ripper produced 1,492 illustrations of flowers.

Birds are Ripper's favorite subject to paint and his usual medium is gouache (opaque) watercolors but on occasion he does use oil and acrylics.

Born at the beginning of the Great Depression and growing up in Evans City, northwest of Pittsburgh, Ripper spent most of his free time out in the woods and he is an avid fisherman and outdoorsman. He learned art and painting from his father, an amateur landscape painter with whom he spent hours in the woods where he developed a lifelong interest in and respect for the majesty of nature, and that respect has earned him accolades for his conservatism, and from his mother, an elementary art teacher. His formal training occurred at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Before graduating, Nature Magazine published one of his drawings, leading to his first commission. Just before graduation in late May 1949, he received a letter from William Morrow in New York asking him to send some samples of his work for a children’s book. Addison Webb, the author of the children’s book “Song of the Seasons,” had seen his drawing in Nature Magazine. Ripper did the 61 drawings for the book from June to October, thus illustrating his first book before his 20th birthday.

After this, he returned to Pittsburgh and started looking for a job. Stopping by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, one of his favorite places, he started talking to one of the staff artists who knew his father from the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh association. He was eventually offered a commission to do a pen and ink drawing, a skull of the famous tyrannosaurus rex, for the museum’s annual report. After he submitted the drawing, he was offered a job as a staff illustrator at the museum.

Drafted just after his 21st birthday, for the Korean War, he used his expertise in drawing, working as a topographic draftsman for the US Army Corps of Engineers. During his stint in the army, stationed state-side, he met his future wife, with whom he has celebrated over 50 years of marriage. After his 1953 discharge, he took a job as the art director with Standard Printing in Huntington. He and Virginia married that August and moved into a little apartment that he categorized as not much bigger than his current home studio. In 1959 they moved into their present house in West Huntington and his studio and home is filled wall-to-wall with artwork created by various family artists. The bookshelves in his studio are full of magazines and books, some of which he wrote and illustrated, and others just for reference.

He wrote and illustrated a book about every year and a half in addition to working at the printing company. Ripper illustrated and wrote 11 children’s book on wildlife including bats, hawks, the weasel family, ground birds, trout, woodchucks and their kin, and diving birds. The book business opened a lot of doors. While Ripper had learned a lot working at Standard Printing, he left in June of 1965 because the business was going bankrupt. He was already doing work for the National Wildlife Federation and the children’s books. Chosing Huntington as their adopted home, he and Virginia had three daughters, all of whom graduated from Marshall University with degrees in art.

Biographical information obtained from:

Mission Statement

Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is North America's foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.

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