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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Apr. 26, 201112:00 PM EST

State honors C. Ford Riley

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Jacksonville artist C. Ford Riley was recognized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for his paintings of wildlife and state habitats.

A Jacksonville native, Riley has spent much of his life in the backwoods and wild areas of Florida, studying the environment.

“I paint what I see and feel. I’m thankful every night. I thank the Lord for being able to put down what I see and that’s what I do,” Riley said in an interview with Daily Record reporters in September.

“His work is rich, vibrant and powerful. We want to thank him for fostering an appreciation of Florida’s wildlife,” said commission Assistant Executive Director Greg Holder.

“The artist is equally adept in watercolor, oil and acrylics. His attention to detail makes his paintings much in demand by those who enjoy fine art. In fact, he has said that he only paints the things he is familiar with, things he can smell and touch,” said Holder.

Holder said Riley is also an ardent conservationist who rallies on behalf of Florida’s wildlife and the need for quality habitat.

Riley said Monday the award was unexpected.

“That was a surprise but a nice honor,” said Riley.

The award was a special recognition presented to Riley for “fostering an appreciation of Florida’s natural wildlife resources and sensitive environmental places through his numerous paintings and on-site field study.”

In the September interview, Riley said that he has been drawing since he was a child.

“I could be playing like I was listening to the teacher, but I was really sitting down there drawing. I think it’s always been my way of communicating,” he said.

Riley said it will continue to be a pursuit. “I’ll be doing it all my life,” he said.

Riley paints in his Mandarin studio next to his home on about five acres of heavily wooded property along the St. Johns River.

“In order to paint sky or living water, you’ve got to understand it and know it and feel it, like it’s your best friend,” he said.

Riley could not attend the award presentation.

In accepting the award on his behalf, his brother, Scott Riley, said the artist “gets up at 2 a.m. and paints, and then spends the rest of the day out in the woods observing.”

Scott Riley’s Stellers Gallery in San Marco represents the artist.

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