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Painting Linebacker Patrick Willis SF 49ers Art

Painted Patrick Willis for my Cardiologist

My first painting of Patrick Willis was a small piece that I did for my cardiologist after my heart surgery.  I knew he was a 49ers fan so I asked the head nurse in his office to find out who was his favorite player on the 49ers without tipping him off about me painting something for him.  She said, all the other cardiologists in the office talked football every Monday morning so she would ask them without letting him find out.  Patrick Willis was his favorite.

My next appointment after the surgery I gave him the painting.  He was shocked and excited.  He immediately took a photograph of the painting and started texting it to all his friends.  He even sent it to his mother.  Obviously he liked it.

About Patrick Willis

Sports Artist John Robertson's painting of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (retired) is 4 feet by 8 feet, acrylic on unstretched canvas
Sports Artist John Robertson’s painting of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (retired) is 4 feet by 8 feet, acrylic on unstretched canvas

Patrick Willis came into the NFL in 2007 and was defensive player of the year.  A great start.  But not the best way to go out – as he had a toe injury in the 2014 season and surgery that left him with feet that were painful and tender.   A seven time Pro-Bowler he never got his Super Bowl ring – a big disappointment to him.  He went into retirement because of the toe and all were disappointed as he was a favorite and backbone of the defense.  There were rumors that he might return for next season but he will be thirty-one years old – still not too old but in his physical condition it may pose s problem.

Some of you who follow my blog know that I created five large-scale pieces of art for the San Francisco Forty Niners, Levi Stadium. You can see some of the pieces on this blog.

Football Painting Linebacker San Francisco 49ers Patrick Willis #52, Art

Football painting of Patrick L. Willis, a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers painting is 11" x 14" oil on drafting film
Football painting of Patrick L. Willis, a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers painting is 11″ x 14″ oil on drafting film.  John Robertson sports paintings for sale

I did this painting recently for my cardiologist as a gift for his good care. His favorite team is the 49ers and his favorite player is Willis. When I was having stitches removed by him after my procedure the pain brought tears to my eyes. I asked him if he had a stick to bite down on and he, in his best bedside manner, said, “I’m not taking your leg off”. That really gave me comfort but I still continued to whine and cry. The hospital nurse, who held me down as I squirmed with the pain, was very sympathetic to my agony. Pinning my shoulders onto the bed, and In a very soft and loving voice she whispered in my ear, “try child birth”

Patrick Willis is a pretty spectacular football player. In 2007 Willis  was drafted by the 49ers in the first round. He played college football for (“Ole Miss”) the University of Mississippi and received All-American honors.  As a senior at Ole Miss, he received the Butkus Award and the Jack Lambert Award as the nation’s top linebacker. A year later as a member of the 49ers, Willis led the NFL in tackles, earned first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors while being named the 2007 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Willis has earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in all six years he has played in the NFL. He is the only player to receive the Butkus Award for best linebacker in more than one category. He won the college Butkus Award in 2006 while at Ole Miss and in 2009, he won the professional Butkus Award while with the San Francisco 49ers.  (Info from Wikipedia)

San Francisco 49ers Levis Stadium paintingAs some of you know I was contracted to paint five paintings for the San Francisco 49ers Levi’s Stadium art collection.  I had hoped to have the opportunity to paint Patrick Willis for the stadium but they had me do some other paintings.  The painting for my Dr. was a great opportunity to paint one of my favorite players playing in the NFL now.  The photo at the leftt is of me in the owner’s suite at Levi’s Stadium with my painting on the wall.

Football painting San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Steve Young art

Image of the 49ers’s great quarterback Steve Young. 22” x 28” ink and acrylic on newsprint (Old Sporting News, magazines, books, etc) about the NFL and San Francisco 49ers. . Newsprint attached to ¾” stretched canvas.
Image of the 49ers’s great quarterback Steve Young. 22” x 28” ink and acrylic on newsprint (Old Sporting News, magazines, books, etc) about the NFL and San Francisco 49ers. . Newsprint attached to ¾” stretched canvas.

Steve Young was named the MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the NFL twice in 1992 and 1994, and the MVP of Super Bowl XXIX. All-Pro four times and named seven times to the Pro Bowl. Young also won a record six NFL passer rating titles.  He was in the National Football League (NFL) for fourteen seasons during the 1980s and 1990s.  He is 6-2, 205 lbs and played from 1985-1986 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 1987-1999 San Francisco 49ers

Young is also member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At the time of his retirement, he had the highest passer rating among NFL quarterbacks who have thrown at least 1,500 passing attempts (96.8), and is currently ranked third. He is also still ranked highest amongst retired players.

To me, one of the interesting aspects of Steve Young is that he is a left-handed quarterback – obvious in my painting of Steve Young. I find that interesting because I am also left-handed and aware of other lefties.  It was reported  (just kidding Steve)) that when Steve Young first picked up a football he asked if it was a left-handed one.

What I had not considered is that being a left-handed quarterback puts more of a burden on the right tackle as he has to protect the blind side of the left-handed quarterback (something the right tackle probably didn’t get much practice at in college)   As it is the left tackle for a right-handed quarterback who is protecting the blind side of the normally right-handed quarterback.  This is why (generally) a left tackle makes more money than the right tackle – because he is protecting a right-handed quarterback – protecting that blind spot.

There are only a couple of left-handed quarterbacks playing now. And the question arises, why not more?  The retired quarterback Phil Simms has an interesting theory

“There’s no conspiracy against left-handed quarterbacks or anything,” he says.. “They’re just all playing baseball now. They’re all pitchers, making much more money in a different sport. It starts at a young age, too. Once the coaches see a lefty with a big arm, they turn him into a pitcher. Percentage-wise, you see far more left-handed pitchers in baseball than you see left-handed quarterbacks in football.”

During his NFL career, Steve Young the left-hander threw for 3,000 or more yards six times and had 20 or more touchdown passes in a season five times, and posted a passer rating of 100 or higher six times.  Aside from his passing ability, Young was a constant threat as a runner.  He ran for 4,239 yards and scored 43 rushing touchdowns. –

Funny story Steve Young told at his induction speech to the Football Hall of Fame.  “Ironically it was my mom who kicked off my football career with a bang as she charged the field when I was 8 years old. She was upset that another kid had neck tackled me and knocked the wind out of me. She knew that neck tackling was illegal and since no penalty was called she felt it imperative to rush the field and help her little boy. I was scared to death as I saw her sprinting across the field, with good speed I might add, assuming she was coming to give me a kiss or something. Imagine the visual: late 1960’s—20’s aged woman, lady, in a dress, on a football field, purse on her shoulder, big sunglasses, high-heeled shoes aerating the field. In horror, she passed by me and grabbed the kid from the other team. Adrenaline pumping, she picked up the boy by the shoulder pads and told him that the hit was illegal and that he better not do it again! Mom, now you know why we never gave you any field level tickets over the last 17 years. My greatest cheerleader.“

Here is an interesting comment by Steve Young about his seven concussions he suffered before retiring in 1999.  The interview was on PBS FRONTLINE.  Young told FRONTLINE he worries about the toll that routine head hits are taking on linemen and running backs. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted with FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore on March 27, 2013.

Jim Gilmore: “One last thing on the way you played and stuff, and it says something about the intensity of how players play. Your rep was always that you would refuse to be taken out of the game, that you would be basically ready to go back, sort of hide from the coach and whatever and be ready to go back on the field before a replacement or anything else.”

Young: “Sure.”

Gilmore:  “What was that all about?”

Young:  “I think that’s the nature of the game, too. It demands all of you. And the culture is that you can play hurt; you can play wounded. And the culture is that you can get through all. Guys did it all the time, so that’s the hard part.

And that’s what, as we get into concussions, that’s the nefarious nature of concussions, because you can have a bad knee and the doctor looks at it and they watch you run and everyone has 100 percent knowledge. You might say, “Oh, I feel this way.” If you can run, if they can tape it up and you can go, then you can [play], and the doctor can see stability. We know what we’re dealing with, and now we can kind of generally take a pretty good assumption of the risk.

As a player, that’s why concussions are so difficult, because even the experts, even the people that you say, “OK, am I OK?” “I don’t know. How do you feel?” You know, it’s a really tough one.”

In conclusion one of his quotes sums ujp how he felt about playing the game.  Steve Young,   -“It was a lot of fun. I love coming out here to play. I had a couple of tackles.”

Painting for San Francisco 49ers Levi’s Stadium

SF 49ers owners conference room Levis Stadium 1

We walked into a small conference room at the San Francisco 49er’s Levi’s Stadium.  We were there for a tour of the art collection in which the 49er’s had purchased five paintings from me for their collection. All three of the monitors in the room had one of my images on the screen.   The original is 6 feet by 8 feet acrylic on canvas.  We did not have access to where the original had been hung as that part of the stadium had not been totally finished.

SF 49ers painting for Levi Stadium Football“You can do high-end art, and it can depict sports and the environment and still be fine art,” said Tracie Speca-Ventura, founder of Sports & the Arts, which has handled art at venues such as Yankee Stadium and Marlins Park and has drawn interest from the Kings about their new arena.  “Everyone looks down on sports art,” she said. “So that’s what my fight was, and it’s something the 49ers really got behind. The (York family) became invested and so did management. It became very intimate with this building.”…  “It goes back to, art’s not for the elitist,” she said. “Art can really be for the people. We are all impacted by it…  It captures a moment and an era.”