How I became a Sports Artist by Painting a Basketball Layup Painting
I have been asked a number of times how I became a sports artist – which started with basketball layup paintings. Most people assume that I was an avid sports fan and painted what was of most interest to me. Actually, it was strictly by accident I became a sports artist.
A number of years ago I was painting large-scale portraits of the musicians in a night club in Santa Monica, Ca. named The Temple Bar. The completed portrait paintings hung in the windows that faced Wilshire Blvd, a well traveled street. I frequented the club, one or two nights a week for about five years.
Fox Sports Calls
One afternoon I got a call in my studio from a person claiming to be a director for Fox Sports Net and he had seen my paintings in the window of the Temple Bar. He said they had been looking for an artist for a NBA basketball commercial and wondered if I was capable of doing some large-scale sports paintings. It seemed like a foolish question as he had already seen my work in the windows – and I thought it was just a friend messing around with me. Yeah. Right. Fox Sports is calling me to paint some paintings for a NBA commercial. He convinced me he was for real and invited me down to their studios in West Los Angeles.
Painting the Basketball Layup
Once there (he was serious) we discussed a few concepts he had. I told him I could do any of them he wanted. The one that was selected was of five feet by seven feet basketball layup paintings of a hand in different stages of doing the layup and dunk into a basketball hoop.
As you can see by the photograph the paintings were put in a circle and the camera spun around to animate the look of the basketball layup being made. They also showed an artist painting the basketball paintings in a very expressive, impressionistic way. I was not in the commercial as they hired a young kid to play my roll as the artist. The director said, as an older person, I was not the demographic they wanted as the artist.
The commercial ran nationally in spot markets for the season and the basketball layup paintings were used as the front and back bumpers for the commercial and the middle part announcing what game was to be televised.
Fox Sports then hired me to paint portraits of Willie Mays for an MLB All-Star game in which Ken Griffey Jr. and Derek Jeter interviewed Willie for 4 1/2 minutes. Again, my sports paintings were featured in the interview.
I was now identified as a sports artist. An artist sports agent contacted me and started representing me for big commercial jobs – stadiums and arenas, restaurants, corporate offices, etc. And I have been doing that ever since. The bottom line of it all is that I was very lucky to have been “discovered” by someone at Fox Sports and then by the agent who promoted me.