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Quadriplegic artist makes McDavid pictures with magnifying glass, wood

Alberta man creates unique work of Oilers captain and much more

by Pat Pickens @Pat_Pickens / Staff Writer

As long as the sun is shining in the sky, Norman Shewchuk is going to keep making art of Connor McDavid.

The 52-year-old resident of Mundare, Alberta creates incredibly detailed art pieces by burning pictures into wood using only a magnifying glass and sunlight.

A quadriplegic with limited use of his hands, Shewchuk needs to be very patient with his masterpieces. His most recent piece, his third of the Edmonton Oilers captain, was finished on Thursday and took more than 70 hours to complete.

Shewchuk's work first hit the public consciousness when his niece, Lyndsi Fairweather, shared a picture of his second McDavid likeness in May. It earned him a feature on CBC in Edmonton about his work.

"A lot of kids play with magnifying glasses when they're kids and burn things," Shewchuk said. "The one Lindsey put on was actually the second one I did of Connor. I had done one of him with just his head, and I said 'that didn't turn out too bad.'"

Video: Wood artist crafts McDavid portrait

Shewchuk has only made McDavid likenesses, because he is an Oilers fan but also because of his admiration for the center who the Oilers selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. His dream is for McDavid to sign his pictures.

"I think, especially for the pressure that he's been under, that he's a class act," Shewchuk said. "[He's] just an amazing kid for the pressure he's been under through his whole life."

Shewchuk starts by finding and printing out a picture of his subject and tracing the image on the board, creating a template to burn. Then when conditions are perfect, the sun must be high in the sky, he'll begin the 16-18 hour process of burning the picture into the wood.

"You have to wait for the sun to get up high enough, because if the sun is too low you just make a messy job," Shewchuk said. "You want to get the sun up nice and high so you get the fine lines in."

The whole process of creating his most recent McDavid portrait surpassed 70 hours, and the tracing is the lengthiest part of the process. But a rainy or overcast day can throw a monkey wrench into his work, and he can't do much during the unforgiving Alberta winters.

"It's a very long, long process," Shewchuk said. "It's all burnt with a magnifying glass and the sun. I can only do it when it is warm outside and the sun is out."

Shewchuk was injured playing hockey as a 16-year-old, where he was paralyzed and also lost significant hand function. But he began making wood artwork in his early 20s, and he's since produced pictures for family members and friends, including a Humboldt Broncos logo that he donated to the junior hockey team after their tragic bus crash in May.

Tweet from @Burner1966: Being a quadriplegic from a hockey accident myself, I felt the pain and sorrow of all those affected by the Humboldt Bronco bus tragedy. Hit hard emotionally, I felt compelled to show my support by doing something. I will be donating it to the Humboldt Broncos organization

"I started by making signs for my nephews, who were playing hockey, and gave it to them," Shewchuk said. "Then it started going more and more and more. I didn't think I could do anything this detailed, but I just jumped in with both feet and it's kind of snowballed from there."

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