Kessel stuns artist by posing with 'Pittsburgh Mona Lisa'
Penguins forward receives portrait during day with Stanley Cupby Pat Pickens @Pat_Pickens / NHL.com Staff Writer
Cody Sabol is a pastor by trade, but one of his speed paintings was a hit with Phil Kessel.
Sabol achieved new heights with his hobby Monday, when his artwork made it to the Pittsburgh Penguins forward's day with the Stanley Cup.
Sabol's picture, which took 11 minutes to create, is called "Pittsburgh Mona Lisa." He made for a friend after she told him she was Kessel's friend and fan. She made it into Kessel's Cup party in Madison, Wisconsin, on Monday and not only gave Kessel the painting, but surprised Sabol with a picture of the forward holding his artwork.
"I got the photo of Phil, the Cup and my painting," Sabol told NHL.com in an email. "I was stunned to say the least. She said he loved it; his family loved it. It was extremely flattering."
Sabol's picture is based on Kessel's headshot from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but features him wearing a Penguins jersey instead of a U.S. jersey. Like Kessel, who was acquired by the Penguins from the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1, 2015, his headshot has become wildly popular in the city.
"We love our Phil Kessel," said Sabol, the founder of Revelation 5:5 Ministries, based in the Pittsburgh suburb of Robinson, Pennsylvania. "Pittsburgh has really embraced him on the ice and culturally, as well. … I titled the painting based on how well-loved that picture is here."
Sabol, a huge Pittsburgh sports fan, taught himself how to speed paint. He regularly produces pictures of Pittsburgh athletes. His picture of Penguins captain Sidney Crosby hoisting the Stanley Cup, shortly after the Penguins won it by defeating the Nashville Predators 2-0 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 11, took 13 minutes to create.
Art may be Sabol's hobby, but he uses it for a greater purpose. Sales of the Pittsburgh sports art have raised more than $12,000 for area charities this year.
"I love painting for charities and foundations," Sabol said. "The paintings of Pittsburgh athletes have been really successful for a lot of charities."