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Cinnamon teal painting wins award

Park Rapids senior Rachel Thelen spent between 60 and 70 hours working on her award-winning oil painting. (Submitted photo)

Rachel Thelen, a Park Rapids senior, is the state champion of the Junior Duck Stamp Contest.

She won for her painting of a cinnamon teal duck floating on a body of water. Her painting will be judged in the national competition this month.

Thelen said she decided to paint the cinnamon teal after a lot of research.

"I flipped through Ducks Unlimited magazines and it stood out more than others," she said.

She spent about 60-70 hours on the 9-by-12 inch artwork.

"I had to rework the water in front many times," Thelen said.

The Park Rapids student is taking three painting classes at the high school right now. She plans to attend the College of St. Scholastica and is considering a major in art or business.

While she was working on her cinnamon teal painting, Thelen received input from local artist Jeff Renner and art teacher Michael Hartung.

Renner helped her work on the highlights of the water ripples and duck feathers, Thelen said.

"He also helped us with what the judges would expect," she said.

Thelen helped Park Rapids set a record with her win. It is now the only school in the state that has three state champions, Hartung said. Other champions were Kevin Edstrom in 1997 and William Mack in 2004.

Three other Park Rapids students entered the contest as well: Roth Mattson received a first place award, Ryan Mattson received a third place award and Ben Sitz received an honorable mention.

The champion has her painting used for a stamp.

The national competition is Earth Day, April 22. The winner of the national competition will have his or her painting featured on a national stamp, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sells to stamp collectors, conservationists and the general public. The proceeds go toward supporting environmental education efforts as well as awards and scholarships for winners of the contest.