After a career creating cereal characters for General Mills, MN now paints stamps

From Lucky Charms to Count Chocula, a Minnesota man's works of art are famous on grocery store shelves, but now he's entering competitions, painting turkey's and walleye for statewide bragging rights – and a spot on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Stamps.

This dedication to painting has led Tim Turenne's basement to look more like a nature preserve than an art studio, but that's the whole point.

Most days, he spends hours painting wildlife portraits.

“Anywhere from 40 to 60 hours per painting,” Turenne said.

The goal of Turenne’s toil is for his portraits to win their way onto stamps in contests sponsored by the DNR, where the top painting is prominently featured on collectible stamps, with profits going to animal preservation. 

“Had I entered a few more contests, I'd probably have another 20 or 30 stamps under my belt. “

From turkeys to walleye, he's dominated the field, winning multiple times.  However, the water fowl remains his nemesis, he just can't win.

“It's probably been at least eight years I tried for, at least.”

Steve Merchant manages the contest for the DNR and says Turenne's always competitive, but says the pool of entrants in certain categories is shrinking each year, because the stamps are no longer used on hunting licenses, and the interest is starting to fade.  

“With the advent of electronic licensing, people no longer had to literally buy the stamp itself,” Merchant said.

The digital revolution is also why Turenne left his last job as an artist.

If you bought General Mills cereal during the late 1980s and early 1990s, there's a good chance his drawings were featured on the box.

“They decided they wanted to go with computer art,” Turenne said.

“The Lucky Charms guy, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The Honey Nut Cherrio’s bee, Count Chocula.” He continued listing some of his creations.  

Since then, he's reinvented himself, focusing primarily on animals and nature.

“I mean I don't make a whole lot of money off of it.”

Turenne says he primarily does it for pride but and as long as there's a contest, he'll keep on painting and entering.

“Probably till I no longer can.”

 

For more information on the stamps click here.

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