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Burris - The painting of  Henry Burris  -  2011
Brett Schimmel

Jarome Iginla

" Burris "

22" x 28" Acrylic on Canvas painting by Joe Versikaitis

It all started with a phone call from a world known sports artist by the name of Stephen Holland. We talked about approaching professional sports teams, players, and what inspired him to paint. Our conversation went from hockey to basketball and then to football. With his encouragement I added another sport into my portfolio. The Canadian Football League!

With Stephens encouragement to pursuit this project I charted a course of action. I knew that I couldn't just approach the football squads without knowing who to approach. Since I was in search of another painting project for a local charity called CARO.

 I had a conversation with Rob Wanner, CARO - President in turn introduced me to Medicine Hat - Alderman - Graham Kelly. Mr. Kelly himself a CFL sport writer with many books about the CFL and the Grey Cup. With Grahams help, I was able to send out corresponding letters to four CFL clubs asking for permission to create one of kind art pieces of a few of their players. I received replies from all four football clubs. But it was the Calgary Stampeders that gave me this opportunity.

 "Let me tell you I was pretty excited when I found out I was granted permission to the sideline for a photo shoot of a game between the Calgary Stampeders and the Hamilton Ti-Cats!

The day of the game my nerves got the best of me. I remember arriving at McMahon Stadium parking lot and the gentleman at the gate telling me that I was a little early... like 3 hours early.

The painting is only half, well three quarters of the experience. The other huge quarter, I believe was being on the sideline during the game. The freedom to walk around any where on the sidelines. All four sides of the field and take action photos was a unique and wonderful experience. I was like an artist in a art supply store wondering which player can I take photos of?

The thrill to take different angle shots of place kicker Burke Dales and Field Goal specialist Rene Paredes was something from a sport movie. While they were going through their routines I was trying to find that perfect shot. I'm sure glad they didn't get mad at me for doing that. At one point I wanted to ask Rene if he remembers anything about Venezuela since this is where we both were born...But then I found myself being distracted by the other events taking place on the sideline.

I remember coach John Hufnagel wandering unto the field with his head set wrapped around his neck asking the referee for an explanation on a call. The night sky had set in and now the stadium lights lit up McMahon's field. As John turned, puts his head set back on his head, and walked towards the sideline. The man was thinking very hard.. But all I seen was the distant crowd behind him as a darken blur and there in front of me was a living legend in the spot light. I remember telling the TSN camera man...Look at that " WOW " it was a pretty cool moment.

 I took the opportunity to snap a few photos of that scene. I can't wait to start on that painting. After about a week of pouring over action photos of Henry, I made up my mind to go with a couple of shots put together. One photo shows Henry clasping the ball in front of him. The only thing I didnít really like was the quality of photo

.The pose is great but the quality wasnít there. He was out in the middle of the field just a little too far for my 200mm. So I found another pose from a series of shots that I took of Henry while standing in front of the players area during a break in play. The quality is great. The photo shows Henry looking at me while I took his photo. So I combine the head and body together in photoshop and presto! We have a pose!

I was really happy and excited with that pose which looks like Henry is running with the ball and looking to throw it at me ?!..lol It was an honour to be amongst today's top CFL players. I have so many great memories of that game and shoot.

 Just to have the opportunity to live out a part of my dream through my photography is one thing but expressing this feeling through my art work is what I dream off.

I would like to send a great BIG Thank YOU to:

 Chris Jurewicz - Calgary Stampeders for giving me this opportunity to create this piece.

Graham Kelly - Medicine Hat's Ald  whom himself a sports writer with many CFL Books.

Mr. Kelly grew up in Regina, and worked for the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a teenager. He covered the CFL for United Press International in Regina from 1963 to 1968. Since 1972, he has written a weekly column on the CFL for the Medicine Hat News. During those years, he has covered Calgary, Saskatchewan and Edmonton games, plus 30 Grey Cups. He has been selected to vote for the CFL All-Star teams and to be a nominator for the CFL Schlenley and League awards, as well as the Coach of the Year. In 2002, Kelly was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, football reporters` division. Kelly and his wife, Lorena, live in Medicine Hat, Alberta. His books are;

Great Grey Cups - The Best of Canadian Football http://canadianbookshelf.com/Contributors/K/Kelly-Graham

Green grit: The story of the Saskatchewan Roughriders [Hardcover] http://www.amazon.ca/Green-grit-story-Saskatchewan-Roughriders/dp/0002000776

 Robert Wanner - President of CARO for the encouragement in pursuing this project. One of the main reason for pursuing this project is to set up an art print series of Canadian Football Players. Proceeds from these prints would go towards CARO. In creating this piece, like all my other art pieces, I wanted to leave room for board advertising. You never know when someone might want to sponsor a series of paintings to which I believe their logos would go very well in behind the portrait...CARO is a chapter of the World Children Foundation.

Please visit  CARO

 Wally Regehr and my son Miguel for their help in constructing the corresponding letter to the CFL teams.

Special thanks to Stephen Holland for his encouragement to pursuit this project.

Please visit Stephen Holland

 

Thank you for visiting with me and I hope you enjoyed viewing " Burris ".

Joe Versikaitis

To follow some of the steps in creating this piece please visit

A Painting of Henry Burris

All works are under the Canadian Copyrights Law. Any reproduction in part or whole without the written consent is strictly prohibited

 

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