Rend Lake College sophomore Sean Langa said he owes his interest in wildlife and nature to his grandfather.
While growing up in Springfield, the 23-year-old graphic design major at RLC would periodically visit and later move to his grandparents’ rural residence in Bluford. It is there that he discovered the scenes that would capture his curiosity and later appear in his award-winning paintings of southern Illinois wildlife.
“When I was about six or eight years old, my grandpa started taking me hunting and I started getting more enthusiastic about my trips down here and the wildlife I would encounter,” Langa said. “I owe my painting skills to those experiences ... being able to come down here in the spring and see the wildlife and the outdoors that I would have never seen in Springfield.”
Those trips to southern Illinois, combined with an inspiring taxidermist and the direction of Mark Wholer – his art teacher at Springfield High School – made for a fine future in award-winning waterfowl art.
Two of Langa’s wildlife paintings – “Rend Lake Buffle Heads” and “Still Before the Storm II” – received “Best of Show” honors at the 2001 and 2002 Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Contest. Three of his waterfowl stamp designs finished in first place at past IDNR contests, in addition to the two “Best of Show” entries.
In an article of the IDNR’s newsletter, former IDNR Director Brent Manning said of Langa, “Sean has outstanding artistic ability. It is a pleasure to view his work.”
After the IDNR contests, Langa’s pieces were entered into competition at the national level. Nationwide exposure sparked some interest as well as an invitation to a contest in South Carolina where a $100,000 purse and 49 of the nation’s premier artists of wildlife awaited. Langa did not win the cash, but he gained much needed experience, he said.
Since then, his interest in digital media has taken the place of painting, but he can always reflect on the serene scenes he recreated for the IDNR shows.
“I can look back on those two stamps, compared to the others, and see my progression in painting,” he said.
He has chosen to donate two of his waterfowl works to the Rend Lake College Art League’s Fall Art Auction, beginning at 4:30 p.m., Oct. 19, at Pheasant Hollow Winery. He said it is his way of giving back to the art program at RLC.
“I only wish I had more pieces to put in the show,” he said.
Additional works would allow him to showcase his attempts at impressionism, abstract art and photo-realism, he said.
After graduation in May, Langa will try his hand at the marketing and advertising markets in Atlanta where his family says the workforce demand for graphic and advertising design graduates is “exploding,” he said.
This release, including photos of Langa’s award-winning waterfowl works, is available on-line at www.rlc.edu/pressroom/newsstory.php?id=902.