Local 8-year-old artist earns statewide honor

MIDDLEBURY — Eight-year-old Daisy Madden was drawing before she could walk. Her mom, Meg, has marveled at the way she can pick up a crayon or marker and spontaneously draw whatever comes to mind.
Her artistic abilities aren’t being exaggerated by a parent’s understandable pride; her work recently caught the attention of judges in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2019 National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest. Her colorful drawing of a red-breasted Merganser duck recently won first place for the state of Vermont in the age group for artists ages seven through nine.
“I was laughing and crying,” Daisy smiled in recalling her reaction upon learning of her triumph, which earned her an impressive blue ribbon, a certificate, great coloring pencils, a duck badge and what Madden described as a “really nice bird book.”
As an added honor, her drawing was displayed for more than a month at the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury.
Daisy attends school at Middlebury’s Bridge School, which each winter sets aside a week during which students participate in special activities or clubs. And one of those clubs was “duck drawing,” borrowing from a science-based curriculum advanced by the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program. While drawing is an important part of the activity, students also learn about North American waterfowl, habitat characteristics and conservation principles.
It was a great experience for Daisy, who was encouraged to enter her duck drawing into the national competition. Nicole Jeon, 16, of Scarsdale, N.Y., was the big winner of this year’s contest. Her painting of a harlequin duck will grace the 2019-2020 Junior Duck Stamp.
The Junior Duck Stamp program began in 1989 as an extension of the Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp, commonly known as the Duck Stamp. The first national Junior Duck Stamp art contest was held in 1993. The stamp encourages students to explore their natural world, participate in outdoor recreation activities, and learn wildlife management principles. Some 3,000 Junior Duck Stamps are sold annually for $5 each.
“I wanted to try it,” Daisy said of the competition.
She picked a Merganser as her subject due to its stunning colors. She wielded pens, pencils and markers to produce her image, which took her two days to complete.
She titled it “Sundown at the Duck Pond.”
Daisy got a thrill seeing her picture displayed at the Fairbanks Museum, where officials granted her free admission upon learning she was a featured artist.
Mother Meg Madden said she will scan her daughter’s drawing and copy the image onto cards, before framing it to hang in a prominent place in the house.
Daisy continues to draw up a storm, and it’s a skill she’ll use often in a career she’s already mapped out for herself: Fashion designer. She makes dresses for her dolls and sketches outfits she hopes could some day be modeled on a runway.
“Daisy has been drawing since she could hold a pencil,” said her mom, an artist in her own right. “She’s always had a natural knack for drawing. It’s something she does every day. Our house is filled with her artwork. Between my art supplies and her art supplies, our house is brimming with paper, pens, crayons and markers — you name it.”
DAISY MADDEN’S AWARD-winning drawing of a red-breasted Merganser duck.
Photo courtesy of Meg Madden
Meg marvels at the way Daisy draws portraits, capturing emotion and interesting features in her subjects. Daisy accompanies her mom to art shows where the young girl has sold some of her original jewelry. At one show, she made $20 drawing portraits of folks.
It’s nice as a kid to see your latest drawing go up on your kitchen refrigerator. But it’s not every day you create something so special that it wins statewide accolades.
“I’m so proud of her and happy for her,” Madden said. “I think it’s the first of many amazing things she’ll do with her art.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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