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Artist Glen Green puts hockey on canvas

Jean Beliveau is just one of hockey's many stars Glen Green has put on canvas.

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Jean Beliveau is just one of hockey's many stars Glen Green has put on canvas.

By Christine Gosselin

You may have never heard of Glen Green, but chances are you’ve owned a small piece of the sports artist’s work.

Green, a North Vancouver native, was commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mint to design 12 quarters featuring 10 Olympic and two Paralympics sports. They were released prior to the 2010 Games and there are 264 million in circulation today.

But the self-taught artist is also renowned for his “Sportstraits” (rhymes with portraits), detailed water-colored paintings of sports personalities. The pieces consist of a loose wash backdrop giving a feeling of motion, perfectly suited for hockey. Over the years, Green has painted many hockey greats, such as Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur and Gordie Howe, and was flattered when asked by the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association to paint the Vancouver Canucks’ Ring of Honour - a selected group of players given an honorable mention for falling short of jersey retirement - for the team’s 40th anniversary.

“They called me and I went in for a meeting; I’m guessing they had heard of me,” Green said. “We talked and ended up doing the four Ring of Honour players (Orland Kurtenbach, Kirk McLean, Thomas Gradin and Harold Snepsts).”

Green, 54, has been a professional artist since 1982 and was inspired by painters Norman Rockwell and Ken Danby. He perfected his art, giving his figures a realistic, almost photographic nature. While painting became a full-time job, Green got his family involved in earlier projects. When his son Carson was seven, he posed for his father for a collectable plate.

“I am in a plate called ‘He Shoots He Scores,’” Carson said. “My friends found it fascinating to come over and watch the process.”

Green believes his paintings exude the excitement of an NHL game. He mixes realism with a contemporary-style background that creates the illusion of movement and portrays the speed of the sport. In December 2010, the hockey artist was thrilled to present a painting to former Canuck Markus Naslund, during his retirement ceremony at center ice, experiencing first hand the intensity of the game.

Green still enjoys the creative process he goes through with the new faces of the game. Now licensed by the NHL and NHLPA to paint anyone in the league, Green draws from photographs he carefully picks out to give a true sense of the player.

“I’ve done Ovechkin and I’ve painted Crosby and I’m getting to do all the (NHL) guys plus all the alumni, too,” Green said. “I did a piece on Luongo a while ago and hooked up with him and he signed it.”

All of Green’s paintings, including the 2011 NHL player and logo collection, are available on greatsportsart.com, which offers a full gallery of his artwork. Many of the pieces have been signed by the athlete and get auctioned off for charities and special events. Amongst the paintings that were autographed, one of legendary comedian Bob Hope sold for $18,000 at a charitable auction a few years ago. Green noticed some go up to high prices, especially if it’s a Gretzky or an Orr.

The pieces can also be purchased online, but until then, the majority of Canadians can reach into their pockets and appreciate Green’s artwork on a smaller canvas.

“You get recognition when you do things like the Royal Canadian Mint coins and the paintings for the Ring of Honour,” Green said. “It always brings your name out and that’s great.”

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