In childhood, Jim was a doodler. Rarely far from a scrap of paper, he used his pencil to create visual magic. This love of images led to a long career as an advertising artist at the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Designing display ads for cars, chiropractors, banks, and boutiques may have satisfied his doodling passion but left him remote from the birds he loved.
Jim's evenings were spent in his home studio, painting birds with the dream of becoming a successful professional freelance wildlife artist. Helped and mentored by good friend and renowned Canadian wildlife artist J. F. (Fen) Lansdowne, Jim perfected his craft. Eventually he sold a painting. Then another. Then limited-edition prints of his original watercolors began selling.
Jim's dream became reality when, after winning the Iowa waterfowl stamp contest in 1973 with his painting of gadwalls, he became the first three-time winner of the Iowa outdoor stamp design contests. With those awards came celebrity status and more painting and print sales in the golden era of wildlife art. He left the Gazette in 1977 to devote his energy to art.
Jim's work promoted his other passions: conservation and teaching. His art communicated the deep commitment to the protection of nature that permeated the very fabric of his being. Through art he became an effective teacher and motivator. Scan a Landenberger painting and you will see birds, fish, or furry animals surrounded by leaves, grasses, seeds, and sky in utter accuracy. Viewing a Landenberger painting sparks a desire to grab a pair of binoculars, strap on boots, and head for marsh, woods, or stream.
From the essay by Rich Patterson in The Raptors of Iowa , paintings by James F. Landenberger