Original Art

This category contains 32 posts

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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A Pair of Soldiers

Pictured are two more extraordinary paintings made with opaque watercolors. The details are, of course, marvelous but also note the ability of the medium to achieve a very flat surface without the appearance of brushstrokes.

I think that the delicate border work adds immeasurably to the overall appearance.


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Frank Robinson in a classic Cinci Uniform

Not a great scan for color but I think that you can see that this Robinson card is turning out well.

We hated the Orioles when I was a kid and we certainly didn’t care for the powerful Frank Robinson. Anyone that had the ability to snatch a win single-handed from our Tigers came in for special scorn. We also feared the Baltimore starting pitchers. The mere mention of Palmer, Cuellar, McNally or even Dick Hall was enough to ruin an afternoon. Charles.

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Al Kaline, circa 1956

As a kid growing up, Al Kaline was the Tiger that every aspiring big leaguer knew. Does anyone remember Tiger Stadium Bat Days? Oh, how we would pound the cement! Imagine the noise 25,000 kids could make on a Saturday afternoon! The lucky ones of us would brag that we had snagged a Kaline bat. In second place of our esteem, but a distant second place, were bats from Horton or Cash. A Northrup was a big disappointment. Charles

Boxing and Billiards News

Two new original paintings are selling this evening at auction. The boxer is Sam Langford, owner of a thousand snappy nicknames. “The Bone Crusher” may have been the most apt–126 of his 180 wins were by knockout.

Born in Toulouse, France, in 1869, this suave player was recognized as an “artist” of the game. His touch was said to be nuanced; he played the game with a rare intelligence.

Billiard tables within the framework of a small card make for some seemingly awkward poses but that is part of the fun for us.

Both paintings are being auctioned tonight Here.


Wally Post makes his debut

This is the first Wally Post painting that we’ve done. I think the face turned out very well. I like that background, too; it is something different and makes the figure stand out well. Charles

Today’s painting for our new series

I’m really excited that the art for our new series of players from the 1950’s is coming along so well. This one of Cardinal HOFer Red Schoendist was just completed. There is some nice detail in this painting and collectors often comment about that. You can credit the artist, Sanjay Verma, for that and his tiny squirrel hair brushes. Very nice!

We have a great composition for an Al Kaline and I think that will be the next painting to be finished. Charles.

Seven times HR champ!

We just finished this one for our new series on the 1950’s and thought you’d enjoy a preview. Charles.

Back in history…

I first became entranced with Indian Mughal-style art about thirty years ago. It is easy to go a little crazy with these; at one time I had several hundred pieces. These days I have perhaps a dozen or so that I haven’t been able to give up and perhaps another dozen that I wonder why I ever bought in the first place.

It’s a long story but these stylized gouache paintings brought me back to baseball. At some point I realized that this method was perfectly suited to recreating the look of many early cards. Charles.

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