It’s all about conservation. It’s about inspiring people to take care of our precious wildlife resources.” Those are the words of Calvin Carter, a man many call a “wildlife artist extraordinaire.”
And I would have to agree.
The first time I saw his work, which was a beautiful mallard drake, I had to make sure I was not looking at a photograph. It was that realistic but there was something else about it.
There was a kind of majesty there I just couldn’t put my finger on.
“Art allows you to capture the natural beauty of wildlife, which you can also do in photograph, but also set a mood that you can’t do with a camera, and that is what inspires people,” Carter said.
It inspires people to spend thousands of dollars on his work at auctions for Ducks Unlimited and the Coastal Conservation Association. There are more pintails in the marsh and redfish and speckled trout in the bays because of his work inspiring others.
“That’s kind of a crazy way to think of it, but if that’s true it certainly inspires me to keep working hard and to take things to a new level,” he said.
Carter has done everything from paint the Texas duck and saltwater stamp in the same year, to create huge murals for hunting ranches and capture dozens of hunters and anglers moments in time via private commissions. Carter said his favorite part is giving back.
His day job is high school art teacher, where he loves teaching students technique and how to capture their artistic vision.
“It’s nice to be able to recognize talent in young people and maybe give them some advice or steer them in the right direction,” he said.
Last year he got to do this in a very unique way through Kingdom Zoo’s “Wild Wishes” program.
A little girl named Madison had been in Texas Children’s Hospital for more than 200 days and was not at the time able to go out to encounter any wild animals. But she is a talented young artist, so Carter came in and gave her a private wildlife art lesson.
“That was such a special thing to me,” he said. “Madison is a sweet, beautiful girl who has been through a lot and to get to teach her a little bit about wildlife art and hopefully inspire her a bit was worth more than any award or recognition I could think of.”
He left her with his “Big Five” sketching beautifully framed and, no doubt, with a smile on her face.
Selling wildlife art to raise money for game and fish habitat is conservation of the highest order, but so is using your time and talents to inspire young people facing the greatest of challenges.
And that says volumes about Calvin Carter the man and the artist.
—story by Chester Moore