Grayling wildlife artist completes 2019 Ruffed Grouse Society Print of the Year
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
An internationally known wildlife artist from Grayling recently finished a painting to help in the conservation of game birds and their habitat.
Kim Diment, the co-owner of the Main Branch Art Gallery in downtown Grayling, painted the 2019 Ruffed Grouse Society Print of the Year.
“Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is North America’s foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving sporting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife,” according to www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.
While the main focus of the organization is on ruffed grouse, which are hunted more frequently than woodcock, the society switches its print of the year periodically to highlight other game birds. Both birds habitate in Michigan.
Diment has an affection for woodcock due their long bills used for hunting earth worms.
“The woodcock are one my favorite birds, just because they’re so strange looking,” she said.
Diment recalled discovering woodcock as a youngster due to their mating ritual, when the males soar into the sky, and come back down with wind whooshing through their wings. They then sing to the females and repeat the pattern.
Diment said hearing the woodcock mating is a sure sign that spring is on the way.
“When I hear it, I always think that spring is coming,” said Diment said, adding that her parents told her about a man who put in his garden when he heard woodcock. “It was always a real harbinger for spring when I heard the woodcock displaying.”
A local Ruffed Grouse Society visited the Main Branch Gallery and saw Diment’s work. In addition, Scott Grush, the Michigan regional director for the Ruffed Grouse Society based in Lincoln, Michigan, also went to the gallery.
“I was really impressed and taken aback by her work,” Grush said.
Diment has a painting of a female woodcock with babies running alongside her while they are hunting for worms.
Tracy Greene, the director of headquarters operations for Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society, saw some of Diment’s paintings on her website – www.kimdiment.com – and a game stamp she did for Wyoming Fish and Wildlife Department. The stamp featured a ruffed grouse.
Diment submitted two sketches of woodcock to Greene. The organization’s board opted to go with a sketch of babies running by their mother.
Diment went on an outing with Jan and Alan Bersted, who track woodcock in Crawford County, through a banding program.
“It was really neat to see how they did the banding program and how tiny the birds were,” she said.
Diment started working on the painting in July and completed it in mid-October. She worked on the painting while in Grayling, and also spent time at a cabin in the Upper Peninsula.
“I put more time and effort into this one because I knew a lot of people would be seeing it and it was very important, so I probably doubled the amount of time I put into painting, as opposed to just a painting I would do for myself,” she said.
She also put more time into getting the background images for the painting and research into getting the images of baby woodcock accurate.
“It was a lot of extra research as well as just wanting to get in right,” Diment said.
Unlike with other works of art, Diment came away from completing the painting without second guessing herself.
“It’s one of the few times that I’m pretty happy with it,” she said.
Diment credited taking a break between painting sessions for the successful outcome of the painting.
“I would stay away from it for a while and look at it with fresh eyes and go back at it and get to a point where I thought it was pretty good and look at it again,” she said. “That helps me when I want to get it as good as I can get it, is by not being sitting on top of it for days on end. Sometimes you lose perspective if your work is good because you’ve been examining it so close.”
Diment also used tricks of the trade – both new and old – to refine her work on the painting. First, she used an iPad to capture images of the painting. Diment also used a mirror, which flips the image of the artwork, to find potential glitches with the painting.
“That’s another little trick I do when I’m not sure how something is going,” she said.
The painting was delivered in November to a printing company based in Wisconsin for an artist proof.
Around 150 paintings will be distributed to Ruffed Grouse Society Chapters located throughout the United States for auctions. A painting will also be up for auction at the National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt, which will be held in Grand Rapids, Minnesota later this year.
Artists proofs, canvas and limited edition Giclee prints, which are made with a high resolution camera and then printed, will be available at the Main Branch Gallery this summer.
Diment believes the painting, which is titled “Out and About,” will appeal to a diverse audience.
“This one is a little more appealing to women as well as the men because you’ve got the young birds running and doing things like little woodcock would do,” she said. “They’re not kind of hunkered down and scared.”
Diment gained a childhood love for animals before she started drawing and painting them.
“I can’t seem to shake that,” she said.
She double majored at Michigan State University in Zoology and in the Fine Arts.
Diment served as a high school teacher at Alpena High School. She was also a junior high and high school art teacher for the Standish Sterling Community School District.
Diment has been a Crawford County resident, living on the banks of the AuSable River, for 15 years. She is currently an acting vice president for the Society of Animal Artists. She has earned four awards of excellence for her artwork, which were highlighted in international displays, from the society. She is hopeful she will one day earn a fifth award, which would elevate to the master class with the society.
“It’s really hard, so I’m really happy just to have four. I almost try not to think about it because there are quite a few society members that have got four and never did get the fifth one,” Diment said. “It’s getting harder to get in the shows anymore. There are a lot of new artists coming in and it’s very competitive.”
Diment founded the Main Branch Gallery, with co-owner and Grayling photographer Ken Wright, in 2011.