Justin Sparks of
Corsicana, Navarro County Texas


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Murky Waters" by Justin Sparks of Corsicana is the 18th of the sponsor print series reproduced in support of the Sponsor Member program of ducks Unlimited by its Texas volunteers. Mr. Sparks has devoted his life to working with wildlife assignments at the Ft. Worth Zoo, The World Bird Sanctuary and The Wolf Sanctuary. His work has been displayed at the St. Louis Artist Guild and in galleries throughout the Midwest prior to his return to his native Texas home. The 2002 sponsor print was underwritten by First Southwest Company for the eighth consecutive year
Link to: Ducks Unlimited Website

 

6/3/2002 Local man named Texas Ducks Unlimited Artist of the Year

By BARBARA FORMAN/Daily Sun Staff

His life was surrounded by animals and now Justin Sparks, a Navarro County resident, has incorporated what he loves about nature into a flourishing career.

It was only two years ago that Sparks made the discovery he had a real talent for painting. Since that time, he has been named as one of the Texas Ducks Unlimited Sponsor Artist's of the Year for 2002-2003.

Before putting his artistic talents to work in a professional capacity he worked with animals at the Fort Worth Zoo. He also worked with the World Bird Sanctuary and the Wolf Sanctuary which are both located in Eureka, Mo. A career with animals was also possible on the U.S. Government grant studies where he worked with native songbirds.

After his watercolor portrayal was selected as a winning entry in "Texas Ducks Unlimited" he knew there was an opportunity to seize and profit by.

"My brother, who has a master's degree in fine arts, got me interested in painting," Sparks said. "He pushed me toward it a little bit and here I am."

Sparks said he found a medium that was right for him in the beginning with watercolors.

"I have never had any kind of formal training," he said. "I am pretty much a self-taught artist."

Although he has been drawing since he was a child, he did not pursue his talents in a serious fashion until his brother gave him the encouragement he needed.

Besides working with animals Sparks spent a lot of time outdoors hiking and camping where he kept his eyes open for wildlife subjects and inspiration.

Sparks said by teaching himself to paint it has allowed him to develop his own style and technique. His skills have not been influenced by anyone else.

After painting his second work of art he knew there was something more than just interesting to his work.

"On my second painting, a sponsor picked me up," Sparks said.

In addition to that his wife Jennifer said she entered some of his works into an art show.

"He didn't want me to do it," she said. "I sent them anyway and all three were accepted out of 80 spots that were sent nationwide."

After the gallery showing at the St. Louis Artists' Guild and the interest other people showed in his work, both Justin and Jennifer believed it could be a profitable business.

The 2000 national watercolor exhibition in St. Louis brought Sparks the attention he needed to get his foot in the door for a successful career in art.

The recognition brought the attention of other sponsors and was the beginning of some of the financial sponsorship he has obtained since.

Since that time he has started a small business and travels to different areas showing his colorful portrayals of wildlife.

This month the work that gained him a place in "Texas Ducks Unlimited" will be unveiled in Beaumont.

He credits a lot of his success to working with animals at an early age.

"My mother was the assisting curator of education for the Fort Worth Zoo and that is how (my interest) started," Sparks said.

He said growing up around animals helped to develop his style. Although he paints from a variety of interests he said at this point he is focusing primarily on North American wildlife right now.

When there are buffalo, elk, moose, bears, wolves, water birds and songbirds there is also Justin Sparks. He has plans to widen his range of subjects, but for now painting the wildlife close to home is where his interests can be found.

Sparks and his wife are learning how to turn a passion for animals into creative business. Jennifer said some of his work has been so colorful and precise some people have mistaken it for photography. His canvas has been his proof.

He works out of his home in Navarro County and plans to go as far as his art will take him.

Barbara Forman may be contacted via e-mail at bforman@corsicanadailysun.com.


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