Forever Playing the Game I Love
A local art collector contacted me a few weeks after the horrific Humboldt Broncos bus crash with an idea for a tribute / memorial piece that he wished to have me draw after he saw the memorial piece I had created.
His idea was to depict those lost as if they were ready to enter a hockey rink in heaven. The collector also requested that I honor the four lives lost from the Swift Current hockey team, in a similar event which occurred in 1986. He also requested likenesses of some famous NHL players who are also no longer with us.
Simply because of the amount of portraits that he wished to have incorporated into the drawing, the finished size quickly became the largest drawing I have ever done. The finished piece measures 40" x 30".
I began by story-boarding the design, which basically means I sketched out some fancy stick figures on a scrap piece of paper. Then I began my research.....
I wanted to accurately depict the lives lost in both bus accidents, so I started with a list of names, and checked the rosters of each team that were available online. The collector helped me out with this, trying to ensure that we had the right jersey numbers for the players.
I spent time reviewing the players stats, and noted their height, weight, and hair color. I looked at articles and photos which showed their faces. I noted whether or not they wore glasses, whether they had short hair or long, and other distinguishing features. So young, so sad. For the others who were not players, I noted many of the same things, I just didn't need jersey numbers.
I also had to retain a lawyer.... why, you might ask? Well, in order to utilize the team jersey logos, I needed permission from the various leagues to utilize their trademarked logos. I spent about two days trying to read and review Canadian copyright laws, but found it tedious, boring and extremely confusing. I also needed to draw up a contract between myself and the art collector which would protect both our interests.
I found a wonderful law firm in Regina who has specialized knowledge in both trademark and copyright law. I was blown away by the kindness and generosity of this law firm, especially the lawyer with whom I communicated. Her administrative assistant was also extremely kind and helpful. Long story short, my lawyer drafted an agreement for me, a trademark use request, and various addendum's that I was able to utilize in this situation, and will be able to use in the future. A huge "THANK YOU" to all those at MLT Aikins who assisted with my legal questions and needs.
Unfortunately, I never received a response from the SJHL or the CJHL. The NHL legal department was very diligent about responding, however, placed so many restrictions and conditions on the use of their logos, the art collector and I agreed that I would not incorporate any team jersey identifying information into the drawing. Definitely not a waste of time, because I learned a lot in the process.
The next step was to find professional grade drawing paper in a large format size. It's really important to have high quality, acid free, archival paper so the drawing does not deteriorate over time. Luckily, I was able to get what I needed from Blick Art Materials in the USA. I have ordered from them before, and they have everything that any artist could possibly want or need!
The art collector and I also discussed a series of limited edition prints. We agreed that the finished edition size needed to be large enough that details wouldn't be lost. Again, this required more research, as I had never offered prints of my work before. After a few days, I found a company in Victoria, BC who specializes in reproductions of artwork. I spoke at length with their sales department, and learned SO MUCH about the art world that I never thought that I would be good enough to be a part of. They were so helpful, and the quality of the work they produce is simply stunning. Check them out: Art Ink Print
With that step completed, I needed to get started on the drawing.... and ran into another hurdle. My drawing table and easel were too small to accommodate the project. As paper is flexible, I was also concerned that the surfaces I had available would transfer to the finished piece.... UGH. So, more research, more looking for solutions. I couldn't afford any of the high end drafting and drawing tables that are available on the market, and most weren't large enough anyway. Then I had an epiphany....why not draw on glass? Smooth surface, easy to clean! Dropped in to a local glass shop, Estevan Glass, and the owner sold me a leftover piece large enough to accommodate my needs. Plus, he sold it to me for $10.00!
Then, the actual drawing started. I actually took a week's vacation from my regular job. Thanks to my colleague and supervisor for giving me the break! I spent almost the entire time drawing this commissioned piece. Starting each morning around 7:00 a.m., I would head down to the studio with my coffee and work on the piece. There were a few 10 and 12 hour days, and I think I have around 80-100 hours of actual drawing time into it, but quite frankly, I am sure it's more, but I stopped counting.
I titled the artwork, "Forever Playing the Game I Love" because I received a private message on Facebook with a link to a post that had circulated following the tragedy. It was called "A Phone Call Home", and a sentence within it gave me the perfect title for my finished drawing.
The final step was getting approval from the art collector that he was happy with the piece, and to arrange framing of the artwork. I am a big supporter of shopping locally whenever possible. We have a wonderful local business, Art Concepts, which is an art gallery and custom framing shop. They feature original artwork, stretched canvas, and Saskatchewan made pottery. The collector and I chose a mat and frame that we felt accented the artwork, and would truly showcase the piece.
It is my understanding that the art collector has decided to donate the original drawing to the STARS Air Ambulance Service, and it will be auctioned off at their annual fundraising gala in the spring of 2019. I have been asked to attend the gala, and I can't wait to see if my artwork will generate some funding for this wonderful organization.