Using Explosions in a Sportcasters Mural

Posted on October 8, 2013

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The Sportscasters mural in progress

I recently created a mural about legendary Edmonton sportscasters Rod Phillips, Brian Hall, John Short, Ernie Afaganis and Al McCann who, I will admit, I have never seen or heard in their respective medium. This is because apart from Olympic track and field, Cephalopod Ballet and the UFC, I’m not much of an active sports viewer. That and three out of five sportscasters are retired. That said this came to be a boyishly fun project that I will never forget…

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 It all started when I won a bid for the “Sportscasters” mural with the Giants of Edmonton ; a listen via CHED radio station and vote online program with the City of Edmonton which transfers local icons into local artwork on local walls. From the first meeting I knew this would be a unique project, when I met Brain Hall and quickly realized what a great character he is. Brian helped me to realize that my city is quite wealthy in terms of athletes and sports enthusiasm.

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Brian Hall speaking away at the mural unveiling

Once my sketches were received another meeting was set with all 5 sportscasters and I found myself having Hollywood-like fears of egos preventing progress. As is typical of my stereotypical fears, they are dissolved by folks just being their good natured selves. In this case these guys were the possibly the most efficient, easy going, and sassiest people I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

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The sportscasters themselves at the mural unveiling; Brian Hall getting razzed by the guys

I find sports visually interesting because there are figures pushing themselves in situations of extreme athleticism, choreography, and the maximum possible output they can achieve. Sure there are loads of clichés and advertising, but we just don’t get to see activities like ski jumping every day on the street, activities which are also allot of fun to draw. It was this kind extremism that led me to create an action scene that started with action colours from a 90’s mustang advertisement.

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The source of the murals colour scheme

If I haven’t said so previously what matters to me as an artist is trying to make the most expressive and coolest looking thing for what it is, and I actively try not to turn away any visual influences but instead sort through them for potential value. For this mural I soon realized that my ordinary portraits were unsuitable for a sports motif, if only because these were easily the largest faces I’ve ever painted, and I get tired of how I do things anyways. I enlisted the literary help of conservative portrait master Howard Sanden with one of his portrait books which reversed my normal approach and brought in colours I wouldn’t have guessed at including.

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My action-star-explosion inspiration for the highlights in the portraits

After seeing some quick improvements something was still missing; I needed the sportscasters to be recognizable and somewhat normal, which didn’t suit the excitement I was after. Looking at the explosive background colours they were, well, explosive, and so the logical thing came to me… action star explosion lighting! After an evening fast forwarding every action movie I could think of, I channeled Michael Bay and focused on a poster for the movie Hot Fuzz, then toned down the highlight effect for the mural’s needs.

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John Short giving his famous broadcaster’s face

The mural unveiling became great fun as I got to watch each sportscaster deliver a top notch gentleman’s speech as only a traditional broadcasters could do, full of appreciation while sassing the others. They had a ball and it was clear for all to see how much they have enjoyed themselves and each other over the decades.

Video links about this mural:  Global TV    ShawTV

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Ernie Afaganis, who truly always looks good for any photo or camera angle

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