Home News Competitions Introducing the Michelle Lee Howk ‘First Time Entrants’ Award

Introducing the Michelle Lee Howk ‘First Time Entrants’ Award

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Continuing the incredible legacy left by our founder, David Shepherd CBE, DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year utilises the power of art to celebrate wildlife, support awareness and raise vital funds for endangered species around the world.

Entries are now open for this prestigious competition and we’re thrilled to introduce a brand-new prize celebrating first time entrants! Generously sponsored by long standing supporters and friends of David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), Michelle and Jason Howk; this fantastic award has been created specifically for artists who are new to the competition. The lucky winner will receive £500 and have the chance to sell their artwork during a virtual exhibition, taking place in September.

In this special guest blog, Michelle and Jason tell us more about the intention behind the award, what criteria they’re looking for and what messages they’re hoping to see conveyed through artists’ work. They also recall an inspiring tour of David’s studio, led by the late, great wildlife artist and conservationist himself.

A search for raw talent

“My intention behind creating this exciting new award is to inspire artists who have never entered DSWF’s contest to take a chance on themselves. We hope those who have held back from entering will show the world their talent. In this time of great anxiety, new artists might hold back when they see the level of talent that prize-winning artists in this competition have developed. Be confident in your work, we see amazing artists every day that should enter this contest.” – Michelle Lee Howk

What’s the aim of the award?

There are two main goals for this award. First, to encourage artists who have never entered the contest to take part in this world-renowned art competition. The second goal is to create more awareness of wildlife conservation as more artists learn about DSWF’s mission. We hope this award will inspire artists to help in future endeavours and share DSWF’s story with others. We love DSWF’s Wildlife Artist of the Year competition, and we hope you will too.

Why is it important to encourage newcomers to enter DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year?

Contests always need new artists with new perspectives and techniques. The new talents might spark fresh ideas and find ways to help further DSWF’s efforts. The best way to honour David and ensure his legacy continues is to create a larger pool of artists dedicated to this mission.

What will the judges be looking for? 

All newcomer award entries must adhere to DSWF’s Wildlife Artist of the Year guidelines. All mediums included in these guidelines are welcome such as oil, acrylic, watercolour, pencil, mixed media, bronze, plaster, wire, collage, textiles and more. 

We are looking for both innovative and classic techniques and hope to see new interpretations of the themes of the contest. We welcome novel ideas from amateurs and professionals alike.

A shared passion for art and conservation 

Meeting David, Melanie, Georgina, and Emily and seeing their passion for wildlife and for DSWF’s mission inspired us to find ways to help.  

In our short lifetimes, we have watched the number of endangered species collapse. If humans don’t act to protect these creatures, who will?

A tour of David’s studio

“After knowing David’s family for many years, I was delighted when he offered to give Michelle and I a private tour of his studio. One of my clearest memories of that morning was when he lifted up his first wildlife painting of birds near the shore. He explained to us that he keeps it because it is so poorly painted and anatomically incorrect. He always liked to remind himself that everyone starts from the beginning and gets better. I think this award honours that spirit of reminding artists to take a chance and put themselves out there for the world to see.” – Jason Howk

Image courtesy of Michelle & Jason

What was your biggest takeaway from this experience?

Image courtesy of Michelle & Jason

We saw David’s passion for art and not just wildlife. His thankfulness for the mentors who inspired him and taught him new techniques. 

We were surprised when we were leaving his studio and walked by his painting of Jesus, and he told us of its importance to him. 

He said, “Everyone knows me as the painter of elephants, but this is the painting I am most proud of.”

David enjoyed inspiring young and new artists and we hope this award continues that effort.

He painted so many things in his lifetime, it reminded us that you never know what will inspire you to create. If you feel yourself becoming stagnant in your field, then look at other mediums and models. He was able to paint with passion many different objects and beings.

Click here enter DSWF Wildlife Artist of the Year 2022.

About Michelle and Jason 

Michelle and Jason live in North Carolina USA and love domestic animals and wildlife. Michelle is a long-time multi-medium artist and calligrapher who enjoys travel, learning new arts, and being outside. Jason is an award-winning writer and professor and has recently been inspired by DSWF artists to pick up a paint brush. They have lived all across America during Jason’s Army career and enjoyed nature and wildlife from coast to coast.

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