Duckwall fruit label becomes a mural in Odell

One large duck: Mark Nilsson paints the 100-year anniversary fruit label mural at the packing house in Odell. He shows his “old-school” square-foot graphing chart used to plan the work.

This fruit label is visible from the highway.

Hood River artist Mark Nilsson is putting the finishing touches this week on a huge re-production of one of Hood River valley’s most famous fruit labels, “Duckwall Brand,” on the north face of the Duckwall Pooley packing house in Odell.

Nilsson said he is finishing the work in time for the traditional employee photo session Duckwall Pooley holds each October, when all employees are on hand for fruit packing.

Nilsson started the 30-foot-wide mural two weeks ago expects to have it done by Friday. You can see it from Odell Highway, including the prominent “100 Years.”

“It is really quite the honor,” Nilsson said.

“I’m keeping fairly true to the label, but obviously it’s my brush strokes and kind of how I feel, so definitely some of my own touches,” Nilsson said. “The duck is the part where I really get to be artistic, but the lettering’s the lettering, the background’s the background.”

“This is old school graphing out, no fancy equipment, it’s drawn and measured by hand, a lot of leveling to make sure it’s square. So far so good,” said Nilsson, whose large murals can be seen at HR Bicycles and inside the Hood River Library.

Those works are pure Nilsson expression, but in this case he is reproducing, 20-times bigger, a famous fruit box image beloved not just at Duckwall but as a Hood River orchard icon.

The mottled profile of the buffle-headed duck is where Nilsson gets a feathery field for his impressionistic style.

“You want it to be the same duck, not too weird.”

He said that as of last week, the design was laid in, and next he will go over it with a second coat.

“Even though it looks good, it will be deeper and richer colors. I’ll color correct and tweak anything only I will notice, but I want it to be amazing,” Nilsson said.

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