Photo by David Grace.
KINGSPORT — Things are just ducky — a female mallard to be exact — for recent Dobyns-Bennett High School graduate Jordan Epps.
An award-winning colored pencil duck drawing, Epps' fourth winner in four years, has helped put a mallardly end to his high school days. It also is helping to fund a church mission trip to Europe next month before he heads off to college in the fall.
"That was a 62-hour project in total," Epps said of the drawing of a duck on the water.
Titled "Walking on Sunshine," the drawing was created on a 9-by-12 inch board with colored pencil and gouache, a paint that is a mixture of watercolor and acrylic.
Epps won first place in the grades 10-12 Tennessee division of the Federal Junior Duck Stamp competition in Tennessee this year.
This is the fourth year he has placed in the competition, where he came in first his freshman year, third his sophomore year and got an honorable mention his junior year.
Since he didn't win best of show, he doesn't have the chance to compete nationally for a place on a U.S. postage stamp with winners from other states.
However, he is headed to East Tennessee State University in Johnson City this fall to major in digital media with a minor in art.
The son of Barry and Jodi Epps, he said his "dream job" and career plans are to be a video game illustrator, including work helping create concepts for levels of a video game and drawing up story boards.
And he's sold 500 note cards with the award-winning mallard image for $3 each to raise money for a church mission trip to Wales in July. "I'll be doing illustration and graphic design work," Epps said of his future plans. "I'm pursuing anything and everything art right n o w. "
His brother Derrick, two years older, is seeking a music education degree at ETSU.
The family moved to Kingsport in the middle of Epps' freshman year. He was born in Greenville, S.C., and grew up in Conway. S.C.
Epps said he submitted the artwork in March, found out he won in April and attended an award ceremony in Nashville in May.
His artwork is on display at a Bass Pro Shop in Nashville.
It is, in effect, the combination of two photographic images taken by his long-time private instructor, Jennifer Cormack of Conway, S.C.
One was of a female mallard at the Georgia Aquarium, but since the art had to show a natural setting, the other photo on which the art was based was of a duck in a natural outdoor setting.
Epps will be gone July 18-26 for the Wales mission trip with a group of 10 from Higher Ground Baptist Church, part of a larger group of about 40 working under the International Mission Board.
Unlike work or donation trips to impoverished areas, he said the Wales trip is focused on Christian evangelism.
"Ninety-nine percent of them do not attend church over in Wales," Epps said.
"We want to go over there and read the gospel of Jesus Christ," Epps said. "It's not an impoverished nation."
When he heads to ETSU in the fall, he'll take with him Advanced Placement art class credit from D-B. He said he took the fall Honors Studio Art and spring AP Studio Art classes at D-B his senior year from teacher Russell Bennett.
He said that helped get him ready for the art workload he'll have in college, as well as save time and money by getting college credit in high school.
He also took two other art classes at D-B.