Fourteen-year-old Carly Honas was on spring break and skiing on a Colorado mountainside Wednesday morning when some Kansas art judges made a decision.
Her artistic entry of a pair of wood ducks won the best in show of the Kansas Junior Duck Stamp Contest.
“I was really surprised,” Honas said a few hours later. “I surely love drawing. I started the sketch a long time before I finished it. I started the end of January and finished it last week, because I didn’t realize the deadline was coming so close.”
The Junior Duck Stamp Contest program was created more than two decades ago to help raise awareness and appreciation for the nation’s wetlands and waterfowl. Kansas was one of the first states to participate.
Honas’ artwork will represent Kansas in the national judging on April 18 in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
Each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will present one piece of artwork. The top winner’s piece will be made into the Junior Duck Stamp, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will then sell for $5 to raise money for wildlife awareness.
“From my research, Carly Honas, at age 14, is the youngest best of show winner in Kansas during my 13-year tenure as Kansas State Junior Duck Stamp coordinator,” said Lorrie Beck, director of the Great Plains Nature Center.
Honas’ entry was among 905 from kindergarten through 12th-grade students across Kansas.
Contest judges were Marc Murrell, manager of the Great Plains Nature Center; Mike Miller, information production section chief for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; Mary Werner, director of visual arts at Newman University; Barry Jones, park ranger at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge; and Jeremy Alessi, financial adviser, artist and member of the Arts Council in Wichita.
Toward the end of the contest, the judges used flash cards with numbers printed on them to signal how many points each entry should receive. At least two judges had high praise for Honas’ work.
“Artistically, it was the best of the entire show,” Alessi said. “This is the most realistic individual duck in the whole thing.”
“I had my eye on this the whole time and made sure it made it to the front,” Werner said. “It was the best in composition. When you are choosing a piece, you want to choose a piece that will look good when it is reduced to a tiny stamp. The craftsmanship and use of materials were just fabulous. It is fabulous for any age. It is a wonderful piece.”
Honas, a home-schooled student from Wichita, said she draws each day.
“I draw in all my free time,” she said. On the entry, “I wanted to put in as many details as possible. I wanted it to look as realistic as possible.”