One of my favourite parts of sports fandom is the art. Sometimes sports art is the first connection a young fan makes with a team or a favourite player. Drawing or painting Erik Karlsson or Marc Methot is a way of connecting to what happens on the ice. Sports art celebrates the athleticism of players and the design of uniforms and stadiums. It's celebratory and commemorative. What's more, in hockey love of art is shared by players; goalies have been adorning their masks for decades, some painted by the goalies themselves. There are several great hockey artists in Canada and you've probably seen their work without realizing it.
Celebrated watercolour artist Glen Green, a professional artist for over 30 years, is known for his ultra-realistic sports portraits. He's painted some of the NHL's greatest players - Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, and Bobby Orr to name just a few - yet is also licensed to paint contemporary players such as Milan Lucic, Jonathan Toews, and Jarome Iginla. Based on Canada's west coast, he has done a number of paintings of and for the Vancouver Canucks; he painted the Canucks named to the Ring of Honour during the team's 40th anniversary as well as a painting of Markus Naslund, given to the former captain during his number retirement ceremony. My favourite? His painting of former Canadiens goalie Ken Dryden. He's not just a master of hockey art he's painted baseball stars, football Hall-of-Famers, basketball heroes, and the iconic Mohammed Ali. Can't afford to buy a piece of Green's work? It's more affordable than you might think. Prior to the Vancouver Olympic Games in 2010, Green was commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mint to design 12 coins featuring Olympic and Paralympic sports. There are currently 264 million in circulation - check your pockets. Successful sports artist and coin designer? He's basically my hero.
Want someone more local? Tony Harris is an Ottawa-based sports artist who has been painting professionally for over 25 years. A former OHL goalie, Harris has several sports commissions from the NHL, NHLPA, PGA, LPGA, and CFL. One of his most significant commissions is his contract to paint a portrait of the Ted Lindsey Award winner. His work is deeply familiar to Sens fans; his paintings have been part of the 1,000th game ceremonies for Daniel Alfredsson, Sergei Gonchar, and Chris Phillips. He painted the commemorative work given to former Senator Wade Redden to celebrate his 1,000th NHL game this spring from his former teammates. His portrait of Roger Neilson is fantastic, perfectly capturing the late coach. Reproductions of the Neilson piece helped raise money to build Roger's House.
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