TWA Remembers Mike Childress
The partnership with Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) and Mike Childress began in 1997 while he worked for Eastman Chemical Company in Longview, Texas. Eastman had a portion of their corporate headquarters set aside for a nature and wildlife habitat program. As part of Eastman’s outreach within this outdoor program, Mike was asked by TWA and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to provide artwork depicting one or more of the trophies annually harvested in the Texas Big Game Awards (TBGA).
“Since that first pen and ink of an awardees Texas Slam, Mike produced 23 other inkings from entries in the Texas Big Game Awards. While many individuals might enjoy and even own some of the artwork produced by Mike, few people know how much he enjoyed meeting the hunters and landowners selected to be featured in the wildlife art as well as learning all about their wildlife management programs,” said David Brimager, TWA’s Director of Public Relations.
In a 2006 article in Texas Wildlife magazine Mike said, “It takes about 7 months to research and ultimately produce an original inking of the animal in a scene – lightly in pencil at first and then much more exact in black India ink. I constantly check and recheck the inking as it progresses to assure the accuracy of the antler configuration and any particular markings on the trophy.”
The TBGA’s original inking would be completed in March annually. Childress would then take the printed copies to his art studio and sign and number five hundred of them. The first twenty-five prints (#1 through #25) were reserved for remarques. A remarque is a “little original” drawn in pencil at the bottom of the signed/numbered print. No two remarques are alike and a remarqued print is more highly regarded by an art collector because it represents something “extra” created by the artist. Eight of these remarqued prints were reserved for the TBGA regional awards banquets conducted across the state.
Note cards were also produced from the original inking in addition to the signed/numbered prints. The cards are packaged in sets of twenty-five with matching envelopes. The cost of reproducing the limited edition prints and note cards was underwritten by many sponsors over the years. Both the limited edition prints and note cards are marketed by TWA.
If you have attended a TWA convention over the past twenty years, you may recall that the original pen and ink were auctioned off in the live auction. All proceeds from the sale of the original, signed/numbered prints, and note cards benefit the Texas Big Game Awards and wildlife-oriented education activities for Texas youth. Childress once said, “This artwork would not happen without the members of TWA working together to assure Texas continues to produce some of the most magnificent wildlife found anywhere in the world. Thanks to these individuals, each of us has more to look forward to when we take to the great outdoors of Texas.”
Editor’s Note from David Brimager:
At TWA we are deeply saddened by the loss of Mike Childress who recently lost his battle with cancer. He was a longtime member and helped create one of the state's most well-known big game art programs with the Texas Big Game Awards. He was a special and talented man that we will miss very much. Our prayers are with Annette and the family.