ennis Minor realizes he is blessed.
A nationally known artist with ties to central Illinois, Minor spends long hours at the easel. But to gather inspiration for his oil paintings, he must also spend plenty of time fishing and hunting.
'Things couldn't be any better,' Minor said Thursday during lunch in East Peoria. 'I get to paint what I love to do, fishing and hunting.'
A resident of Lacy Springs, Ala., Minor is in town to visit family and to kickoff a fund raiser for Peoria's South Side Mission. Saturday he will autograph limited edition prints from 2-4 p.m. at Wonders of Wildlife gallery in Peoria's Shoppes at Grand Prairie. Minor will also unveil an original oil painting he donated for the fund raiser.
The Mission's main event is a Hike for Hunger at Forest Park Nature Center on Aug. 11 at 10 a.m. For $35 families can hike, win prizes and take home free T-shirts and insulated backpacks.
'Everybody has golf outings, we wanted to try to do something that was different and family oriented,' said Meg Newell, the mission's public relations director. To take part in the hike call (309) 676-4604 or register Aug. 11 starting at 9 a.m.
Why is Minor involved in raising money for a Peoria food pantry? Turns out Newell is his 'favorite cousin.'
'Meg asked me to donate a painting and she's rather hard to say ‘No' to,' Minor said.
It also helps that Minor, 55, grew up in Washington, where he lived for 12 years before serving in the Vietnam War and leaving Illinois. His mother, Sally Wiese, still lives in Washington.
As a youngster Minor remembers hunting crows and trapping muskrats in Tazewell County. He also remembers sketching and drawing.
But it wasn't until years later that he became a full-time artist. That happened in 1989 when Minor sold an Orvis fly fishing shop. He has successfully focused on painting ever since, earning Ducks Unlimited's International Artist of the Year designation in 2000 and the same award from the National Wild Turkey Federation in 2004.
These days he generally finishes 10-12 paintings per year, often doing commissions for southern quail plantation owners. Other subjects reflect his personal passions: bird hunting, fly fishing, collecting sporting antiquities and sporting dogs.
One of Minor's best-known artworks is 'Waiting at Crow Creek,' an oil painting depicting black and yellow Labrador retrievers in front of a fireplace at a rustic hunting lodge. That work has earned D.U. more than $1 million, Minor said.
'They've got that painting everywhere, on wine labels, throws, pillows and even paper plates,' Minor said.
'You know you've made it when your painting is on a paper plate,' Newell joked.
Minor's latest work is of a yellow Labrador retriever standing in brown reeds alongside a Lane mallard decoy (see the painting and others by Minor at www.pjstar.com/outdoors). The canine subject for the painting is Lana, who belongs to Tremont resident Gary Lane Meister, part of four generations of Lane decoy carvers and one of Minor's friends.
Bidding for the original painting starts this Saturday at Wonders of Wildlife and concludes Aug. 11 at the hike.
The annual Illinois River duck blind drawings are Sunday, with allocations of hunting spots set to start at 2 p.m. for the following:
Anderson Lake, Clear Lake (drawing at Sand Ridge State Forest), Lake DePue, Marshall SFWA, Meredosia Bay (drawing at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shed), Rice Lake, Sanganois, Sparland (drawing at Marshall), Spring Lake, Pekin Lake (drawing at Spring Lake), Starved Rock and Woodford.
Those planning to enter a drawing are reminded they must be 16 or older and must have a 2006 or 2007 Illinois hunting license, a 2006 or 2007 Illinois waterfowl stamp and a valid FOID card. Anderson Lake will have licenses and stamps for sale.
Finally, hunters at Rice Lake, Anderson Lake and Spring Lake should also be aware of changes regarding blind building materials. Anyone building a blind at those sites can no longer use metal (except fasteners under 12 inches), carpet, felt paper, mesh or plastic snow fence.
Another change this year is that those drawing a blind at Spring Lake can build a platform structure or a boat hide.
McLean County Sportsmen's Club is selling $20 tickets for a gun-a-day raffle in October at Smiley's Sport Shop, Heartland Marine, Midwest Marine & Tackle and Darnall Gun Works.
is Journal Star outdoors columnist. Write to him at 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call (309) 686-3212 or e-mail email@example.com.