Winning bluebird painting

Mountain Bluebird-Renee Piskorski

This is another of Renee Piskorski’s Mountain Bluebirds, purchased recently by me and my husband.

Published April 25, 2002, in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, “Cheyenne artist earns conservation stamp honor.”

2014 Update: Wyoming Conservation Stamp Art Competition winners are now exhibited in the lobby of Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Cheyenne headquarters, 5400 Bishop Blvd. The annual competition exhibit opens and winners are announced mid-April each year. See Renee Piskorski’s work can still be seen at Deselm’s,

By Barb Gorges

For the first time since its inception in 1984, a Cheyenne artist has won the Wyoming Conservation Stamp Art Competition sponsored by Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Artist Renee Piskorski’s winning portrayal of mountain bluebirds will be printed on 300,000 stamps for the 2003 hunting and fishing season and the original will be framed and added to the gallery of previous winners at the department’s Cheyenne headquarters.

Beginning January 1, anyone can own a print of the winning painting by purchasing the conservation stamp for $10 through the department or any outlet that carries hunting and fishing licenses, or by purchasing a full-size limited edition print.

In addition to being collectibles, the conservation stamps must accompany any Wyoming hunting or fishing license. The fees collected go into the Wildlife Trust Fund for habitat acquisition and improvement, non-consumptive use of wildlife and nongame projects.

Competition coordinator Mary Link said 97 artists from 29 states and Mexico entered and that more Wyoming artists than usual participated, 42 percent.

Of the other entries that placed or received honorable mention, three were from Wyoming, two from Utah, plus one each from Nebraska, Ohio and Connecticut. The judges included art and bird experts.

Piskorski said wildlife artists consider the Wyoming contest to be second in prestige only to the federal duck stamp competition, due to the quality of the competition and the prize money offered ($2,500 for first place).

“It’s important for me to get the correct anatomy and habitat,” said Piskorski, discussing her winning technique for painting wildlife. “I need to go to their environment to view them. I take lots of photographs and study videos. Then I do thumbnails, sketches.”

“For the stamp you have to remember it’s very small. It was difficult to paint them (mountain bluebirds) larger than life. It felt like a Hitchcock movie.”

“I’m always trying to keep in mind the mood I’m trying to create, using the light and the weather. And I keep a color palette in my mind while I’m sketching.”

Piskorski said she has never had formal art training, but has been painting most of her life, and seriously for 15 years, beginning with a request for her paintings from the gallery owner she worked for. Her career snowballed from there. Her entries in the competition in past years received third, fourth, and sixth place.

As a professional artist, she can justify trips to Yellowstone and the Tetons two or three times a year for research, continuing an outdoor lifestyle that began with hunting and fishing trips with her dad, who was an artist himself, an engineering draftsman with a bent for drawing political cartoons.

“In the end I hope the viewer will feel the same emotion that I felt while painting it,” said Piskorski of her work, “and maybe have an even greater appreciation for the natural world and want to preserve it.”

More of Piskorski’s work can be seen at Deselm’s Fine Art gallery.

Her winning oil painting, “Sagebrush Outlook,” will be on display at the Wyoming State Museum, 2301 Central, upstairs with all the other entries until May 25. Then it will travel with the “Top 40,” to Cody, Thermopolis, Dubois and Pinedale. All of the entries, except the winner, are for sale.