Category Archives: Basketball

Art Basketball Layup Painting

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 painting of a left hand holding a basketball layup getting ready to dunk the ball through a hoop

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.Photograph of my paintings on the set for shooting a basketball layup commercial for Fox Sports showing hands in different position dunking a basketball

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. Photograph of set of Fox Sports Commercial for the NBA basketball season showing the back side of my basketball layup paintings

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.

Basketball hoop Painting

Abstract Basketball Hoop Painting

A few years ago I was approached by a sports art agent to do some paintings for the (at the time) a new Amway sports arena in Orlando, Florida – where the NBA Orlando Magic plays basketball. The paintings were to be used on the walls and in spaces for the arena.  I don’t recall how many

Image of basketball and hoop in the alley in yellow colors abstract

paintings I did for them but I do remember a couple of them were basketball related and this contemporary basketball hoop painting was among the different paintings.

This abstract painting of the basketball hoop is good size: sixty inches by seventy-two inches  (five feet by six feet) acrylic on unstretched canvas.  What I was asked to paint was something bright and colorful and represented basketball in an abstract way.  A couple of the other paintings I did for them were basketball paintings of Venice Beach street players I had photograph at Venice, Ca.  This is where the great basketball  movie “White Men Can’t Jump” was filmed and in our neighborhood.  (These paintings are posted somewhere on this blog)

How I selected the subject matter

At the time I had not done many non-figurative paintings so it was a bit of a challenge for me.  I wasn’t really sure where to start.  But one evening my wife and I were walking the alleys of Venice.  We always liked seeing the backs of the rundown properties and the deterioration of the neighborhood.  There is something very human seeing old garages and backs of old cottages.  My wife actually owned a small cottage that was held up by the wings of termites.   As we walked in the alleys I kept seeing old, rusted and unused basketball hoops attached to dilapidated garages.  And growing over some of the garages were vines and flowers.  One in particular captured my imagination – a garage with Nasturtiums (yellow orange flowers on long green vines) draped through the hoop and over the garage doors.  Perfect.

I took a bunch of photographs from a variety of angles for reference material.  Back in my studio I painted the scene in a realistic manner, recreating the alley and garages and trash cans and the hoop and the flowers.  And then I took a big brush and slashed paint all over the canvas.  And what you see is the result of my effort – a contemporary, modern sort of basketball hoop abstract painting.

Kobe Bryant Basketball Art

Ten Things Kobe Bryant and I did at certain times.
Comparisons between Kobe Bryant and me.

Painting of Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers making a jup shot with his hands above his head.When Kobe Bryant left high school he was drafted and went directly into the National Basketball Association. The NBA. Whereas: when I left high school I could have easily been drafted – into the armed services (yes I was around for the draft) but I joined and went directly into the NAVY. He was a shooting guard and took thousands of shots. I didn’t shoot anything – but I probably had a thousand shots in some fly biting bars in a variety of ports around the southern pacific.

In his next year Kobe won the slam dunk contest and named an all-star in his second season. And I ended up in a dunk tank as a target for officers raising money for their new basketball court. I was good for seven dunks before being dragged from the tank with a fish in my mouth.

Kobe Bryant Success

Bryant continued on to become the cornerstone of the Lakers . He led the NBA in scoring during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons. In one game, he scored a career-high 81 points, the second most points scored in a single game in league history behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962. He became the most valuable player a number of times and won a few championships.

My Successes

Me? Let’s see, what have I accomplished? At my last job I was fired for “not being a team player”. Although, it took them 23 years to figure that one out. No MVP that is for sure. Back to those high school days. When they ranked the senior class of 837 teenagers I was ranked 835. Yup. That is correct. I was 835th in a class of 837. Two kids had worse grades than me. Of course they were friends of mine. That fine high school education has led me on to a life of quiet obscurity.

And near the end of his career Kobe Bryant had a torn Achilles tendon that started his decline. But me? I never had a decline. You have to have had some sort of assent to decline from. And I certainly had/have my Achilles heel and my only claim to fame – I have more than two Achilles heels.

Brooklyn Nets NBA Art Basketball Painting

Brooklyn Nets (Maybe Kris Humphries )

A number of years ago when the NBA Brooklyn Nets were playing under the name of the New Jersey Nets I had painted a group of basketball and hockey paintings for the Prudential Sports Arena in New Jersey.  I did three basketball paintings for them.

image of NBA players from the Brooklyn Nets basketball team making a move towards the basketball hoop painted by Artist John Robertson on newsprint

Sports Art painting of Brooklyn Nets basketball player by Sports Artist John Robertson painted on newsprint with ink and acrylic paint

I think the painting is of Kris Humphries when he played for the New Jersey Nets.  I am not absolutely sure.  What do you think?  Certainly there is enough photos of Kris to make the comparison – on and off the court.   Humphries later  signed with the Atlanta Hawks.

Kris Humphries Odd History

Humphries has, in my opinion kind of an odd history with his marriage to reality TV personality Kim Kardashian.  It was turned into a Ringling Bros. circus in a two-part TV special showing the preparations  (Just what I wanted to see on TV)  – and the wedding itself aired on E network  (Something else I did not want to miss  Unfortunately my Tivo was nor working that day)  in what the Washington Post called a “media blitz” related to the wedding. The marriage didn’t last long, 72 days – half a basketball season. Humphries requested an annulment on the grounds of fraud or a decree of legal separation rather than Kardashian’s requested divorce.  A lot of the news outlets thought (along with half the sports world) Kardashian’s marriage to Humphries was a publicity stunt for financial gain orchestrated by E! Entertainment and Kris and Kim Kardashian to promote the Kardashian family’s brand and their television ventures.  (Well, it worked)  Humphries and Kardashian’s divorce was finalized on June 3, 2013.

Someone recently saw the NHL Red Devils  paintings at the arena but I have no idea if the basketball paintings were moved to the new Barclays Stadium in Brooklyn where the Brooklyn Nets now play.  If anyone has seen the paintings I would appreciate any information about them

About the Basketball Painting

The Brooklyn Nets NBA Art painting is 36″ x 48″ acrylic and ink on a gallery wrapped frame.  Most of the paintings shown on the blog have been sold, including this one.  If you click on the link for Paintings for Sale you can see what is available.  What I suggest is that you contact me for your specific need and I can easily paint something specific for you.  Just clink on the contact page for information.

Basketball Dribble Player Painting

 

Basketball Dribble

The basketball dribble is one of the fundamental skills of playing basketball.  It is as fundamental as a baby dribbling spit from it’s lips after sucking milk from a bottle – or me dribbling from my mouth while drinking Image painting of basketball dribble two basketball players, one dribbling and driving the basketball towards the basketball hoop and the other trying to guard the basketball playerGatorade after a few hard minutes on a basketball court.   As you don’t see in this painting of the basketball player that the control dribble is when the dribbler is crouched in a bent over position and keeps his body between the ball and the defender.  That kind of reminds me of my youth when I was on the couch with a new girlfriend and she kept a pillow on her lap.

A Short, Short Story About Me Playing Basketball

One day, long, long ago, I was a teenager and could run and dribble and jump and shoot a basketball through a hoop . But it was a long time ago, and it was just one day.

Keep your head up and eyes alert

Anyway, with a basketball dribble as the player in the picture does not show, keep the ball low to the floor and close to the body so the other player cannot reach it. Keep your head up, and visualize the whole court, so you can find the open teammate – or, in my case, when I played, I visualized the stands in fear that one of the cute/popular girls was watching me as I fumbled and stumbled down the floor.  The other players nicknamed me Cinderella because I was always running away from the ball. (yes, a stupid joke)  But I was not a good player.

Behind the Back Dribble, Through the Legs Dribble

Thirty years ago when I last played basketball you were considered a “hot dog” if you did a basketball dribble behind your back, or through your legs. But not any more!  Everybody can do it.  I see little kids in the park passing the ball through their legs as easily as they ride a bike.  It is just something I can’t do because I am knocked kneed and the ball keeps bouncing off the inside of my legs.  I remember one time I was dribbling right with my right hand, the defender tried to get into a different position and over-played me to the right.  Smartly and not so fast, I did a behind the back dribble to crossover to my other hand, and changed directions to the left, thinking I would send him into the popcorn machine. I tripped over the ball and ended up on top of the time keeper’s table with the clock shoved … will, I won’t say … other than after that I know what time it was when I went to the bathroom in the morning.  That behind-the-back move can be very useful if you are in your twenties and thirties and used correctly, in the right situation.  In my situations it was never the correct thing to do.  As the voice of the basketball defender said to me as he helped my off the time keeper’s table, “Yeah, right.”

Basketball Dribble sports art painting by artist John Robertson is 11″ x 14″ ink and acrylic on drafting film.

Most of the paintings shown on the blog have been sold. (They sell fast) But there are a few available. What I suggest is that you contact me for your specific need and I can easily paint something specific for you. Just click on the contact page for information.

Art Basketball player making lay-up

Basketball Player Lay Up

Sports Painting basketball player by artist John Robertson
60″ x 40″ (5 feet by 3 ½ feet)
acrylic on unstretched canvas

Like most LA Lakers fans I love them when they have a championship victory and don’t pay much attention to them when they lose. But for the last couple of years the Lakers have been doing just fine. I have no interest in the LA Clippers. Part of the reason why is that The Los Angeles Lakers  became the first NBA team to reach 3,000 wins. The Los Angeles clippers trail them by just 2,992.
No fancy analysis here about the Lakers and Celtic play. My main interest in basketball is in the beauty of the play. I am amazed at the basketball player’s ability (at their size) to create artistic moves. I’ve painted a few basketball players and prefer to paint the street players that play on the Venice California beach basketball courts.
Well, the season is about over for basketball and it is on to other sports paintings. Baseball is next with a few World Cup soccer (football) paintings thrown in for the fun of it.

Jump Shot Basketball Art

Frogs Have A Better Jump Shot

As you can see from the painting this player has a nice jump shot with a nice hand and arm extension above his head. It is suppose to be an easy shot to make from a distance but I could Jump Shot Basketball Painting art of two hands holding a basketball above the head preparing for a jump shot.not do it very well from any distance. Frogs have a better jump shot. A Kangaroo Rat could jump higher than I could.  And, even if I could get off the ground I was easy to block – being short. And being short the only thing I can dunk is cookies into milk – and the only good move I had after that was dribbling.

The Mindset to Play Basketball

Basically I could not, nor did not play basketball very well or often.  When I met my (at some point in the future) wife she was playing in a mixed, men’s and women’s basketball game, weekly. She was not particularly good which made no difference to her.  Her jump shot was no better than mine.  Only her teammates were critical of her playing and like the last kid picked in the gym class she avoided being chosen by both teams at almost any costs.  But she loved to play.  If the tenth player did not show up she started jumping around the court like a grasshopper. She knew she was about to be chosen.  She was never discouraged and just waited it out.  And enviably there would be spot for her.  The last team to choose a player would look at her, look forlornly towards the parking lot and the bike rack with hopes that a car or bike would be just pulling up.  Nobody.  The team would let out a collective sigh, and ask her to play.   She has long, grasshopper legs and arms so, to the annoyance to some of the shorter players,  she could actually block a jump shot – and did so without malice.  She ran up and down the court like a shuttle which showed she was a happy and eager to play and did so with all the enthusiasm of a small child.

“The Jump Shot” basketball sports art painting by artist John Robertson is 48″ x 60″ acrylic on unstretched canvas.

Most of the paintings shown on the blog have been sold. (They sell fast) But there are a few available. What I suggest is that you contact me for your specific need and I can easily paint something specific for you. Just click on the contact page for information.

Basketball paintings NBA Sports art Point Guards

“Point Guard”  24” x 36” ink and acrylic on newsprint (Old Sporting News, magazines, books, etc) about the NBA and point guards.  Newsprint attached to ¾” stretched canvas.  To view paintings for sale please visit: John Robertson sports Paintings for sale.

“Point Guard” 24” x 36” ink and acrylic on newsprint (Old Sporting News, magazines, books, etc) about the NBA and point guards. Newsprint attached to ¾” stretched canvas. To view paintings for sale please visit: John Robertson sports Paintings for sale.

The quarterback on a basketball court is the point guard – and the most important.  He is the one who leads the team by trying to make the good decisions for the plays.  He generally handles the ball more than any other player on the court and passes the ball off to other players to lead them towards a goal.  All of this leads me to the good reason of why it is important for people to play sports.  I did as a child and as an adult participated in sports into my sixties and still exercise regularly.

One of the things sports taught me was developing teamwork.  This is a way to learn how to help others, and thereby themselves, to work together towards a specific goal, (winning).  We see this problem of teamwork all the time in the major professional sports.  I think the best example of that is in the NBA where there are “star” players and “winning” teams.  I will not point out the specific teams that have (as we used to call them as a kid)  “ball hoggers” as I am sure you know who they are.   But I will point out an example of a great NBA team, the LA Lakers when they were led by, what most consider the best point guard ever, Magic Johnson.  Some people have referred to Magic Johnson as the indisputable “Point God.”   He was an absolutely great, all around player who probably sacrificed individual statistics for the greater good of the team – and in doing so, brought other teammates up to play at a higher level.  And, of course, won more games.

Magic Johnson played in 12 All-Star games, won five NBA rings, three years the MVP awards and won most valuable player in three Finals.  His career Stats 19.5 points per game, 11.2 assists per game, 5.5 re-bounds per game and 1.9 steels per game.  Those 11.2 assists per game shows how much Magic was a team player.  At 6 feet 9 inches he dominated the point guard position.

To have a great team is to have a leader who will work to have all contribute to it’s success.  And without that great leadership in the “point guard” position few teams have had a high level of successful seasons.

Basketball paintings NBA Shooting Guard Sports art

Why Paint a Shooting Guard

A shooting guard have these perfect little moments like in any sport where, for the player, time

Shooting Guard 24” x 36” ink and acrylic on newsprint (Old Sporting News, magazines, books, etc) about the NBA and Shooting Guards. Newsprint attached to ¾” stretched canvas.

“Shooting Guard” 24” x 36” ink and acrylic on newsprint (Old Sporting News, magazines, books, etc) about the NBA and Shooting Guards. Newsprint attached to ¾” stretched canvas.

stops.  And there nothing is their mind except the feeling of making that perfect play.  What I tried to do is capture that moment in this painting of a shooting guard.  His concentration is focused on the hoop.  There is nothing in his mind except for that feeling of making the shot.  He is not thinking, … “Did I jump high enough?  Are my hands extended high enough?  Am I holding the ball correctly?”  Those thoughts are all gone.  He left them on the practice court with the thousands and thousands of shots he has taken before.  There is no thought – only letting his instincts take over.

A Shooting Guard is Lyrical

Something is very lyrical about a basketball player going up for a jump shot and the release and the follow-through, that is quite beautiful in it’s action.  It is like watching a baseball batter taking a swing at the perfect pitch and making a connection and watching a home-run hit ball, fly off the bat and see the follow-through of the batter’s swing.

Any athlete has had those moments.  Even the most inept person playing a sport has those moments, when, for some odd reason one make the perfect shot or hit the perfect ball or makes the perfect catch.   It can be anything.

For me it was in volleyball.  I played at a competitive level – well enough to have been asked to “try-outs” for the Olympics.  But I was not good enough to make it any farther than the try-outs.  I like to think that I lasted the whole day.  But, unfortunately after a few hours I was kindly asked to leave.  As the Paul Simon songs says about leaving your lover (In this case me leaving my serious love for the game of volleyball), “Slip out the back Jack.  Make a new Plan Stan.”   So I went back to playing on the beach and even without great success as a volleyball player I had a lot of those moments where an athlete is  “lost in action” – the perfect “dig”, the perfect “spike”,  etc.

When the weekend athlete makes a really good play I don’t believe his feeling of success is any less greater than a professional making a great play.  I know it is nice to make the play in front of thousands of people and be paid highly for it but the real reason any athlete plays a sport (professional or amateur) is for those moments of success. That feeling you get when you make the perfect move.  It is like a drug that you want to take over and over – repeat that great action.

Actually it is exactly why I paint.  I love the feeling I get when I make a mark on the canvas that I feel is just the right mark, just the right brush stroke.  And when I do, like an athlete making a good play,  I am lost in time.

Basketball Art Lay- up painting

Basketball painting Art Lay-up painting by artist John Robertson.  The original for this basketball painting was done for a Fox Sports Net commercial a few years ago.  A client wanted something similar to the six Fox paintings I had done for them.  This is done in a different colorization and, the splattering and running paint is quite different.  is 50″ s 70″ acrylic on unstretched canvas.

Los Angeles Clippers driving against a Memphis Grizzlies

Los Angeles Clippers  Memphis Grizzlies painting

Basketball painting on unstretched canvas. I am in the photo so you can get a sense of size of this sports painting.  I was watching the playoffs and thought it would be interesting to paint a sports art piece rflecting a basketball player from the Los Angeles Clippers driving against a Memphis Grizzlies defender.  Question: What do you call a billionaire watching the NBA Final on TVs? Answer:  Donald Sterling

The painting is 5 feet by 6 feet ink and acrylic

Basketball Art, Painting of Dunk Shot

Sports Art Painting of basketball player dunking a basketball shot. I used a photo of Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers dunking a basketball as reference material for the painting.  I did change it from the original by changing to position of the arms and also the coloring.   The basketball player painting art is 4 feet by 8 feet, acrylic on unstretched canvas.
Good quote from Kobe Bryant: “I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you. I don’t want to understand you.”  Why I like the quote is because I paint five days a week and there are a lot of artists that do not understand that it is important to show up into their studio regularly to produce work.  It is not about inspiration but about hard work.  I work on the theory that if you paint a lot of paintings some are bound to be good.  As they say about baseball, if you can hit three for ten you are a great player.   I probably paint one good painting out of ten painted.  But if I don’t paint the ten paintings I am not going to get the good one.

Basketball Painting Dunk Shot Image

I have painted this image of a basketball dunk shot a number of times for a variety of clients.  This is a new one painted last week. The clients are all aware that I am duplicating the painting for them.  I am in the photo so you can get a sense of the size of the painting.  The original paintings were done for an NBA Basketball commercial for Fox Sports Net   They own the originals and the art was painted in a different color scheme.  The painting is approximately 48” x 60” acrylic on unstretched canvas.