Original Art

This category contains 40 posts

Another Billiards Champ!

Morris Brown, by Helmar

Another from the small grouping of pool players that we have done. The green field of the table always seems to make for an interesting card. Charles

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Two Tons of Punch

Tony Galento by Helmar

From Wikipedia:

Galento, who claimed to be 5’9 (177 cm) tall, liked to weigh in at about 235 lb (107 kg) for his matches. He achieved this level of fitness by eating whatever, whenever he wanted. A typical meal for Galento consisted of six chickens, a side of spaghetti, all washed down with a half gallon of red wine, or beer, or both at one sitting. When he did go to training camp, he foiled his trainer’s attempts to modify his diet, and terrorized his sparring partners by eating their meals in addition to his.

He was reputed to train on beer, and allegedly ate 52 hot dogs on a bet before facing heavyweight Arthur DeKuh. Galento was supposedly so bloated before the fight that the waist line of his trunks had to be slit for him to fit into them. Galento claimed that he was sluggish from the effects of eating all those hot dogs, and that he could not move for three rounds. Nevertheless, Galento knocked out the 6’3″ (192 cm) DeKuh with one punch, a left hook, in the fourth round.

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Running the Table, #2

Jerome Keogh by Helmar

Mr. Keogh was a five time world champion and inventor of the game of straight pool. One of the greatest ever.

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Running the Table

Edward Gardner by Helmar

It may be forever before we get around to publishing this series so I thought that I would give you a sneak preview of another of the paintings. This card will feature Edward Gardner, the New Jersey native that held the world championship spot in 1902, 1906, 1910, 1914 and 1916. This is one of several pool players in the series. I love the way the red and green work. Charles

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Did a Smack lead to Austin McHenry’s Death?

Austin McHenry by J. Scott Pedley

Reader John Coulson was glad to see this painting of St. Louis Cardinal Austin McHenry. McHenry had a very short, if memorable, career that was cut short by a tragic brain tumor.

To back up a bit, Austin McHenry was a son of Ohio, born in September of 1895. His talent was evident as a youngster and he began playing professionally for the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association in 1916. The following spring he was invited to training with St. Louis but a ball off the bat of Sherry Magee broke his nose and sent him to the hospital. It took a month before he was ready to play again. Having lost his opportunity to impress, he was sent back to Milwaukee for the rest of the season.

Austin made the Cardinal team the following year and by 1921 had blossomed into one of the biggest stars in all of baseball. That season he appeared in 152 games, batting .350 with 102 runs batted in. It looked as if his future was assured. The following season, however, McHenry began to have double vision and would often feel unsteady on his feet. Fly balls became a challenge and his batting suffered. In June he was sent home to undergo tests. A brain tumor was discovered and operated on but the procedure was not successful. He died in November of 1922.

Since the beginnings of his serious troubles there has been speculation that the hard foul off the bat of Sherry Magee was responsible for the tumor.

J. Scott Pedley does The Man

If it is spring then Matty is back

Eddie Plank, Philadelphia Athletics

Eddie Plank by Helmar and Natallia Valiukevich

Mike “King” Kelly Art

Helmar Mike “King” Kelly

Something else I have been playing around with. Here’s King Kelly, well-known as the “10 Thousand Dollar Man”. Let me know if you would like to see a series like this, please. Charles

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Jack Barry, Philadelphia A’s

Jack Barry, by Natallia Valiukevich

Natallia is coming along very well with her watercolors. We’ve been adding more color to her uniforms which, in my view, adds nice complexity and depth.

You might remember Jack Barry as the longtime shortstop, mainly for the Athletics. Over eleven seasons he only managed a .243 batting average but no one can deny that he knew how to win. His A’s teams won World Series Championships in 1910, 1911 and 1913. They also appeared in the 1914 World Series but the incredible Boston Braves were not to be denied. Boston swept the more polished team in just four games.

Connie Mack broke up the team over the winter and Barry was sold to the Boston Red Sox. He took his winning ways with him and that very season saw Boston in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies and their ace, Grover Cleveland Alexander. Boston took the series in five.

Minnesota Fats on the Table

Minnesota Fats by Helmar.

There’s a lot that I like about this one: the sweater, the background works well and, of course, it is a very good likeness. It will be fun to come back to this series soon. I am doubtful that the prints will get the price results that I hope for but it is well worth doing anyway. Perhaps an album to go along with the cards is worth considering if I can come up with something new. Charles

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As You’ve NEVER Seen Him!

Jim Jeffries Helmar art.

I’m really regretting that I chose white for the early boxing trunks for obvious reasons. It is a beautiful painting, though, of a great boxer. Should I change the color for the card, when it is made? Charles

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Exhibit Display #2, Cleveland

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Ancient Poses, Modern Art

I thought that it would be an interesting idea to pose some of my favorite players in the style of ancient Greek and Roman statuary. Here’s the finished version of Tony Lazzeri and below you’ll find the related materials. Paintings of two or three other players are partially composed but this is a low priority at the moment.

Here’s the image that inspired the painting. It’s a natural pose for a ballplayer, though I replaced the boar with something more appropriate.

One version of the digital mock-up. I ended up putting the player’s name on the bag because I like the way that it was done on the Boston Garter series. The bag itself is similar to some bags that were used to carry practice baseballs. Charles

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A Slick Willie Mosconi

Willie Mosconi by Helmar Brewing

I can imagine Mosconi here saying, “Sure, I’ll play for a little money. But take it easy on me”. Charles

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The Cincinnati Jungle Club

This painting became card #118 in Helmar’s R319 series

This is one of my favorite cards that we’ve done. Sanjay Verma did the original painting in gouache, as usual. The size of the original is only 3″ x 3.5″. I think that it is incredible to get that much detail into such a small space. Charles

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363. That’s all you need to remember.

Warren Spahn, 363 victories. I don’t think that he lost any.

Gouache, 3″ x 4″.

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The Little Scooter

I like this one. Gouache.

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The Great Pancho Barnes

Art by Helmar Brewing, as always

I can’t even begin to describe the life of Pancho Barnes; it is best to look it up. Make sure that you have a couple of hours to do so as you’ll not want to stop reading! Charles

We did the art for this series three years ago and are just getting around to making the project a reality.

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Nellie Fox gets a shot to Play.

Here’s our latest gouache: Nellie Fox.

How many of you were lucky enough to see Nellie play? I missed that but I did have a small interaction with him in late 1971 as he was coaching for the Washington Senators and their manager, Mr. Ted Williams.

Now, Nellie was a big idol for me and seeing him in person was a very big deal. Sure, I may have missed out on his entire career but he was already being featured in some of the baseball books that I regularly devoured. In addition, I had cunningly traded for his 1960 card from an older kid down the street. And being mostly a second base-shortstop sort of fellow, well, it was just natural to look up to Nellie. That pumped up cheek of his seemed to be just the sort of attitude that a young infielder should emulate.

I don’t recall the results of that 1971 game but afterwards my dad allowed us kids to linger around the visitor’s exit and team bus. We regularly did this and from my personal experience that day I can attest that the Baseball Encyclopedia has it all wrong: Frank Howard was at least nine feet tall, perhaps more; Ted Williams reached about eight feet and Nellie Fox was certainly a seven-footer.

The Senators were very good signers that day with the exception of these three fellows. Frank Howard kind of looked at me as if no one had ever asked for his autograph before and couldn’t imagine why they would want it. Ted Williams came huffing out of the stadium and seemed to be in a really foul mood. My courage fled and, shrinking down to the size of a mouse, I had to content myself with simply watching him as he shared a few words with someone that he apparently knew. I remember him scanning the thin crew of kids present (also keeping their distance) and as his eyes passed over me I could only hope that I was completely invisible. There was this palpable feeling in my gut that this guy could really be dangerous if his temper were to escape.

And then Nellie Fox appeared, one of the last to leave the stadium that afternoon. I’ll bet my eyes were as big as saucers. He was quickly striding toward the bus but I intercepted with my most polite autograph request ever. In the years since I’ve never even asked my wife so politely for anything. It was to no avail, however, he brushed by me with something like a growl. My heart sank. Obviously he didn’t like me.

But I don’t want to give anyone the impression that these guys were uncaring or not thankful for their fans. I’m quite sure that they were. Well, maybe not Williams. But it must be difficult to be badgered all the time by people wanting you to sign napkins. I mean, if you think about it you’ll agree that it really is absurd. Final note: I didn’t give up on Nellie. That winter I mailed him a polite request and he was kind enough not only to sign but to include a couple signed color photos. It was very nice of him and the thought crossed my mind that he somehow knew that I was the same kid in Detroit that he had brushed by over the summer. Charles

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Today’s Smile

New this week: gouache painting of Pee Wee Reese

I remember that in a sober discussion of baseball nicknames my counterpart asking, in all seriousness, “did Pee Wee Reese have one?”.

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Amy Johnson, Aviator

Amy Johnson by Helmar Brewing

The art will be used soon in a series on aviators that I am working on. I know that it would be more appropriate to write about Amy Johnson’s highly successful flying career but, let’s face it, people want to know about terrible crashes. Here it is, from Wikipedia:

On 5 January 1941, while flying an Airspeed Oxford for the ATA from Prestwick via Blackpool to RAF Kidlington near Oxford, Johnson went off course in adverse weather conditions. Reportedly out of fuel, she bailed out as her aircraft crashed into the Thames Estuary near Herne Bay.

The crew of HMS Haslemere[Note 3] spotted Johnson’s parachute coming down and saw her alive in the water, calling for help. Conditions were poor – there was a heavy sea and a strong tide, snow was falling and it was intensely cold.[16] Lt Cmdr Walter Fletcher, the commander of Haslemere, dived into the water in an attempt to rescue Johnson.[16] Fletcher failed in the attempt. As a result of the intense cold he died in hospital days later. In 2016, Alec Gill, a historian, claimed that the son of a crew member stated that Johnson had died because she was sucked into the blades of the ship’s propellers; the crewman did not observe this to occur, but believes it is true.[17] This claim has not been verified, as Johnson’s body was never recovered.

A memorial service was held for Johnson in the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields on 14 January 1941. Walter Fletcher was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal in May 1941.[16]

As a member of the ATA with no known grave, she is (under the name Amy V. Johnson) commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede.[18]

Disputed circumstances

Johnson had been one of the original subscribers to the share offer for Airspeed.[19] It has been more recently hinted her death was due to friendly fire. In 1999, it was reported that Tom Mitchell, from Crowborough, Sussex, claimed to have shot Johnson’s aircraft down when she twice failed to give the correct identification code during the flight. Mitchell explained how the aircraft was sighted and contacted by radio. A request was made for the signal. She gave the wrong one twice. “Sixteen rounds of shells were fired and the plane dived into the Thames Estuary. We all thought it was an enemy plane until the next day when we read the papers and discovered it was Amy. The officers told us never to tell anyone what happened.”[20]

A big cat on the field

Johnny Mize gouache in art deco style.

By my count we now have twenty-four paintings done for this series. By the way, we are TRYING Instagram and will be posting many of these photos there.

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In the Archives…

Jimmie Foxx, 1929. Sample for proposed series.

Another Method of Gouache.

Gouache painting for an ancestor portrait. China, c1850.

One reason that I like gouache is that the basic method couldn’t be more simple and that the tradition has a very, very long history behind it. By “simple” I mean that it is simple in theory. To be an excellent practitioner of the method is something that few attain.

Gouache is, essentially, crushed natural pigments combined with a little white lead and then mixed with water. The addition of white lead is the reason that the paint is opaque. Remove the white lead and you have normal, transparent watercolors. A gouache painter can achieve quite remarkable subtleties of color; the cheeks in the above painting are evidence of that. Charles

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A Riot of Color

This was probably the second or third piece of Indian miniatures that I purchased years ago. It impresses me as much today as it did back then. Hope that you enjoy it. Charles

John Brush, N.Y. Giants Owner

A lifetime of owning teams: the Hoosiers, the Reds and the Giants. John Brush.

This one was for fun and experimenting. Mr. Brush certainly had a crabby look about him towards the end. Charles

“I played baseball, too!”

Dom DiMaggio: eleven seasons, .298 lifetime average, seven time all-star.

This painting needs some adjustments but is nearly finished. I’ve always loved those round glasses. In fact, I just ordered a pair. Charles.

Natural History Illustration

Previously we’ve looked at gouache military portraits but the medium lends itself well to colorful illustrations. Here’s a great natural history example for you to enjoy. Charles

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Harvey Kuenn takes a bow…

Harvey Kuenn. Fifteen seasons and a .303 lifetime batting average.

I think that this is the nineteenth painting done so far for our series–it is coming along swiftly. There’s still a lot to be done before we see any cards but I am very pleased with our progress thus far. But what do I do about the backs? Should we write bios or have a common back? Charles.

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