Renowned wildlife artist Harry Adamson, whose artwork was reproduced on California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) stamps, passed away April 22. He was 95.
Adamson’s detailed, lifelike portrayals of waterfowl are well-known to collectors. He was first commissioned by DFG in 1989 to produce the art for the now-defunct Native Species stamp. A profile of Adamson written by Dennis Pottenger in an issue of DFG’s Outdoor Californiamagazine that year describes the first time Adamson encountered a peregrine falcon “knifing through filmy white clouds” in 1934. The event clearly made an impression on Adamson, whose painting of a peregrine falcon graced the DFG stamp more than half a century later.
In 2008, when DFG returned to art competitions to select the duck stamp art, the department sought the assistance of Adamson to help promote the program and encourage artists to participate in the competition. Adamson created an original oil painting of mallards in flight and donated the use of the image for the 2008 California Duck Stamp.
Adamson and his wife, Betty, were also wetland conservationists who admired the waterfowl that frequent the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Butte County and were depicted in many of Adamson’s paintings. They led the effort that contributed to the construction of two observation hides at the wildlife area that allow people to be among wildlife in a natural setting.
“Harry Adamson was a great conservationist whose efforts will continue to be recognized and admired, both in his art and his accomplishments,” said DFG Gray Lodge Wildlife Area Manager Andy Atkinson. “The observation hides are a direct result of the Adamsons’ passion for the wetlands and wildlife of the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. These facilities allow thousands of school kids and visitors to experience waterfowl migration every year and will be part of their legacy.”
An obituary posted on www.harryadamson.com states that Adamson ultimately donated paintings and prints worth almost $3 million to raise money for various conservation projects and causes. The 1989 Outdoor California profile concludes with Adamson explaining that he would “paint ‘till I can’t anymore.” According to his obituary, Adamson was still painting at age 94 until his health began to weaken.