Dave Davis has already featured a number of great blog entries about sports artwork and memorabilia. Not to be outdone, it's time for one of my own. If I do say so myself, it's a great one -- or at least, the subject of the entry is.
Stanley Silver is one of the most talented sports-oriented artists working in Los Angeles today. Sure, you can take my word for it, but why settle for bacon when you can get Sizzle Lean, right? Just ask Hank Aaron, Jerry West or any of the many other patrons (which include every major sports league) who have worked with him, or own his paintings.
Silver and I met through our wives, and as I've come to know him a little, I've really enjoyed talking with him about his work. What I love about his paintings, which he does in both watercolors and oils, are their grittiness. Somehow, he finds a way to capture the visceral power of sports while still communicating a sense of majesty. The results are truly spectacular.
I interviewed Silver, a native Angeleno, via e-mail yesterday about how he got started painting, and how his unique style has evolved.
Q: How did you begin painting athletes?
A: Throughout my childhood I played competitive sports and drew on the side. By the time I reached college I started to take my art more seriously. In my junior year I began to combine my two passions -- art and sports. It didn't take long before I got my first commission work and the rest is history.
Q: Many of your pictures use a dark palette and achieve a very distinctive look. How do you decide on what aesthetic is best for a given athlete?
A: I try to study the athlete first and figure out a way to capture his personality along with the intensity and raw emotion of the sport. Once I accomplish that it dictates what the overall look of the piece is going to be. For a more dramatic and timeless feel I use a limited palette.
Q: What are some of your most recently completed projects?
A: Recent works include a painting I just completed for a limited partner of the Chicago White Sox to celebrate their World Series Championship, as well as a piece for the owner of a soccer team in England, The Tottenham Hotspurs. I was also commissioned by the New York Rangers to create a painting that was presented to Mark Messier the night his number was retired.
Q: If you could do work for any particular athlete, who would it be?
A: Michael Jordan.
Q: Who are your clients?
A: I have worked with athletes, leagues, teams, galleries, corporations, and the general public. I do not discriminate.
Q: Your painting of Muhammad Ali is based on a famous photograph of his fight against Sonny Liston. Yet it has a feel to it that is very different, in some ways, from the photo it's based on. What do you think makes one of your paintings different from the source materials you use?
A: I take poetic license when creating a piece. Even though my work is representational, I try to play with color and light to achieve a sophisticated, stylized look.
Q: Did you play any sports yourself?
A: I played all of the sports growing up, but I was most competitive in baseball and soccer.
Q: You've done a number of paintings of Hollywood luminaries. How did you decide to paint them?
A: I thought it was a natural progression to evolve from painting sport icons to entertainment icons. I wanted to diversify and expand my subject matter, and what better way than to take it from popular culture in my own backyard.
Q: Which of your paintings do you like the most?
A: What a tough question. There are aspects of of each painting that I love without enjoying the entire piece. I am a tough critic. I always feel that I could have done an area better in some way. One particular piece that comes to mind is a painting of Jackie Robinson called "Stealing Home." I don't say this very often, but there is little I would change in this piece. I used multiple reference materials, and a little poetic license, to come up with the perfect way to capture the essence of Jackie Robinson. It was so technical and difficult to do, I don't think I could ever duplicate it. I had to start over several times before I achieved the look I was going for. Watercolor is so unforgiving and difficult to control, but when executed properly the results are that much more gratifying.
Q: What's the strangest request you've received?
A: My wife's mother told me to paint a nude of her daughter not long after we first started dating.
Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be?
A: Jackie Robinson. After all of my research, and meeting his wife, Rachel, and daughter, Sharon, and knowing the huge role he had in history both on and off the field, he is someone I would have loved to have met.
Q: If someone wants to see, purchase or commission your work, how can they do that?
A: The best way to see my work and contact me is to visit my website at www.stanleysilver.com. My contact information is also available in the CONTACT US section on the website.