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Guest Column Series: Silver Seven on a fan's painting of Erik Karlsson

by Staff Writer / Ottawa Senators
Note from During the summer of 2012, the Senators website will welcome a number of guest columnists, who will write articles on items of interest to them, and to Senators fans. The article below is a discussion between two writers on local blog Silver Seven, managing editor Peter Raaymakers and writer and editor Amelia L, about how Amelia expresses her passion for the game: Through painting. Visit their site at, and follow Peter @SilverSevenSens and Amelia @millvsSPQR on Twitter. Visit and follow @NHL_Sens for future guest columns.

Portrait of defenceman Erik Karlsson
First, let's talk about the technical aspects of the painting. What media did you use? How big is the painting? How long did it take?

The painting is watercolour on paper and is 18 inches by 24 inches. The entire process took approximately 60 to 65 hours.

What was the process like for you?

In a word: long. For paintings like this, I begin with a picture. I look for pictures which interest me in some way: the scene, the pose, the uniform or the expression on a player’s face all draw me to an image. Once I select a picture to work from, I sketch out the image on watercolour paper – this will serve as a guide when painting. I blow up the original image on my computer so I can clearly see all details while I sketch and this part usually takes several hours. Once I am satisfied with the sketch, I tape the paper to a Masonite board and begin painting. I begin with the lightest colours and usually paint elements in the piece, such as crests and numbers, early on as well. I use very thin brushes (0.5 mm and 1.0 mm), so it takes a really long time to cover the entire surface. For me, there is always a moment when I feel a painting coming together and for this painting, it was when I finished the gloves. It generated a lot of momentum and I pushed through the remaining two-thirds of the painting much quicker.

What motivated you to paint this? Do you do much painting?

A few things motivated me to paint a portrait of Erik Karlsson. I love painting. When I was a kid, I loved to draw and paint and hockey was often my subject. However, I moved on to other subjects and mediums as I got older and stopped watercolour painting when I was about 12. I got back into watercolour painting about two years ago as a way to unwind after work and started painting hockey players again. It took a while to get back into it, but after several months my work improved. One of the things I love about painting is it allows me to express myself as a fan. Last fall, I painted a picture of Daniel Alfredsson to commemorate his 1,000th career point. While it was milestone for Alfie, it was also a great moment for Sens fans and I wanted to capture that feeling. With the Karlsson painting, I wanted to capture Erik on the cusp of greatness — as he was before the 2011-12 season— when so many around the league took notice.

Which aspect was the most difficult?

The face and the background. Those two aspects are always the most difficult for me. Faces are difficult because the success of the entire painting rests on how well you capture the likeness of your subject. I have always found backgrounds to be difficult to paint. The background helps convey the mood of the piece, so it’s important to get it right.

Why did you choose to paint Erik Karlsson?

I wanted to paint a portrait of Karlsson because he’s my favourite Senator. Daniel Alfredsson is untouchable, but Karlsson is the future. I wanted to remember the start of what will be a great career in paint and I suspect this painting is only the first of many featuring Erik.

Why did you choose this pose to paint him in?

I chose to paint this pose because it was a portrait of Karlsson. An action pose is often more dynamic, but most of my recent works have been portraits. For a sports portrait, I like to make sure the team logo is prominently featured and this pose allowed for that. Ultimately, Karlsson’s expression and relaxed pose conveys the confidence which typifies his game and I wanted to capture that in the piece.

Now for a hockey question: Do you think Karlsson can repeat his 2011-12 performance this season, points-wise?

Yes, I think Karlsson can repeat his stellar 2011-12 performance, but it will be more difficult this season. He is a genuine superstar in the league now and, as such, will receive the star treatment from opposing teams. Karlsson will also need big seasons from Ottawa’s other top point producers and goal scorers if he is to reach those lofty heights again.

Are you working on any other hockey-related projects right now?

Yes, I’m working on two hockey-related projects right now. The first is a Detroit Red Wings-themed painting for my dad. The second is another Ottawa Senators-themed piece: a painting of Chris Phillips holding a puck and celebrating his two-goal performance during his 1,000th career game in February.

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