Born in Arnolds Park in April, 1920, near the shores of Lake Okoboji in northwestern Iowa, the son of a Quaker minister, Maynard Reece combines a love of nature and a talent for art which have made him America's foremost wildlife painter. He is considered one of the founding fathers of wildlife art as we know it today.
In 1940, Reece went to Des Moines to work as an artist for the Iowa Department of History and Archives in the museum. Here he met Ding Darling, the famous political cartoonist, who was the first of many prominent artists and scientists who helped guide and instruct the fledgling wildlife painter.
In 1948, Maynard won the prestigious Federal Duck Stamp competition for the first time. He is currently the only five-time winner of the Federal Duck Stamp competition having won again in 1951, 1959, 1969 and 1971.
Reece's work has appeared in Life, Sports Illustrated, Saturday Evening Post, Sports Afield,Outdoor Life, Ducks Unlimited and National Wildlife. He has illustrated a number of books including The Waterfowl Art of Maynard Reece and The Upland Bird Art of Maynard Reece. His paintings have been exhibited in museums throughout the United States and Canada.
Maynard Reece was commissioned in 1972 by the State Conservation Commission to paint the first Iowa Duck Stamp, and won the Iowa competition in 1977 and 1993. Maynard has painted over 35 designs of wildlife for state, federal and conservation programs. His association with duck stamp programs spans over forty years. The phenomenal success of his 1972 First of Iowa State Duck Stamp remains the benchmark by which all other programs are measured.
An avid outdoorsman and conservationist, Maynard belongs to many conservation organizations. He has donated untold amounts of artwork to numerous conservation organizations for fundraising. Most recently, he has produced a print of his painting, the Iowa State Bird and Flower, and donated 25% of the print sales to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, and organization in which he is an honorary trustee.
Much has been written about the accuracy of Reece's artwork; every detail correct - feathers, position, wind, weather and weeds. This is true, as hunters and birders will testify, but it is only a part, an element, in the man's work. These things are combined with a feel for color, a sensitivity to the moods of nature and the ability to dip back into the mental images of decades of outdoor observation to create a work of art which is much more than the sum of its parts.
Maynard Reece is a dynamic artist who is never satisfied. He continues to grow, to experiment, to search for better ways in which to capture the elusive nuances of nature. Each of the skills he has painstakingly acquired and all of the knowledge he has obtained from years of study and field observations are brought to bear in each new work. One does not need to be a hunter, a birder, nor an outdoorsman to respond to the work of Maynard Reece. His paintings, because of their aesthetic quality and universal appeal, stand by themselves.