Home About Joe Artworks Photography Contact Commissions Links


Kipper - The Painting of Miikka Kiprusoff  - 2008
Jarome Iginla - Iggy

Miguel Versikaitis

..Winner of the 2008 Canadian Institute of Portrait Artists National Open Portrait Exhibition,

The Alex Colville Award for Excellence in Acrylic Portraiture..

" Kipper "

This is an acrylic 18" x 24" on canvas painting of Miikka Kiprusoff

of the Calgary Flames National Hockey League.

Copyright by Joe Versikaitis

I was invited by Mike Franco, Sales manger of the Calgary Flames, to come and watch the Flames take on the Vancouver Canucks earlier in the season. My excitement grew knowing that I was about to start a new project, a new painting. This painting would bring back memories to the days of my earlier works with Theo Fleury and Trevor Kidd.

 This game would be different. I was going to the Saddledome not only to watch but also to gather information for this painting. As I walked through the Saddledome Main Concourse, I saw fans that were dressed with different Flames outfits and face paintings. Fans with small and large flags. One guy had the flaming "C" painted on his forehead. There were the fans with the green hard hats and the ones with the cowboy hats. Each one of these hats had the flaming " C" on then.

 I took note of all this and as I was writing things down, this guy with a red wig, the Flames jersey, face painted red and dark sunglasses comes walking by, I knew I had to have this character in the painting. Starting at the top with the crowd, THE " C " OF RED they all have Flames jerseys on...of course...

Like many previous works of mine, I use the same characters in the stands.  A few are waving the white / black thunder sticks but in this case they all have one thing in command....The Flaming " C "... I did included all the characters that I mentioned earlier on but one, I didn't mention Harvey the Hound. I saw Harvey during the game doing his normal inventive routine.

With this painting I guess the crucial point was for me to get the right stance at the right moment in time. I always admired the gesture of Miikka, during a break in the game, when he flips his mask over his face and wears it like a hat .  But with this painting I was leaning towards an action shot or pose. The vision came to me during the 3rd period of the game when Henrik Sedin # 33 of the Canucks, got a break away pass and drove to the net. Tried to manoeuvre and sneak in with a back hand shot. Miikka would have none of this and made a splendid butterfly save that made the roof of the Saddledome rise from the roar of the sea of red. Harvey the Hound climbed along side of the glass, got one hand grasping the top of the glass, standing with one foot barely hanging onto the boards the other hanging loose, and the other hand smacking the glass. I knew I needed to paint this...Wild.!

 This was the moment I was looking for. Unfortunately the Flames fell in overtime with Henrik's brother Daniel scoring making it a 4 -3 victory for Vancouver.

 I went home that evening with a handful of excitement and an eagerness to start my project knowing I had enough info to write a book. The next few days I scouted the newspapers and internet for different references on Miikka. I received an email from Stu Dryden of the Calgary Sun photographer with some shots and one of the pose was this one of Miikka doing the butterfly...and so it began..

Going back to the crowd, there is buddy with the flaming " C " painted on his forehead holding a beer...and on the top right of the painting my other buddy with the red wig...great.!! It was a bit overwhelming to paint all the flaming " C's " and trying not to get too involved in the details. That's why some of the " C " don't quite look in proportion to the flaming " C "..but If you stand back 10 or 12 feet, squint your eyes a little, you will see that they look fine.

The sad thing about the background is that, after doing all the work on it, I have to do a black wash over everything. By this I mean in order for the foreground ( like Kipper ) to stand out the background has to be a bit darker. Everything except for Harvey who is so close to the ice lights and right up against the glass that I have to keep him in the light but at the same time keeping him a bit blurred.

The mask was another part I enjoyed painting. I like the challenge of reproducing the artwork that is painted on the mask. I had to get the detail on the mask, the jersey and the Vaughn equipment precise in order to show their authenticity to their respected part. In this case for example, I went to one of our sporting goods store Source for Sport, and took about 50 or so close up pictures of Vaughn goalie equipment. J

ust so that I would have the correct stitching in the right spot. or going to Sport Check with my red paint tubes, a chunk of canvas and going into the store grabbing a Flames Jersey and mixing and matching my paints right there in the store.

That part didn't work too good, not only did I have people looking at me like I was pretty nutty but the lighting in the store was a lot different then in my studio. I bought the jersey and took it home. Over all this painting was one of most enjoyable and at the same time most challenging painting I have done.

I guess for me the best memories of this project is not the fact that I painted one of the N.H.L.s' elite player but the memories that took place in creating " Kipper " ..

 I would like to thank Source for Sport, Sport Check and Stu Dryden of the Calgary Sun for the wonderful references


August 5, 2008  

First of all let me start by saying what a thrill and an honour it was to be a recipient of the Alex Colville Award. This award is a stepping stone for which I hope is a start of a great adventure in art...it really is a wonderful experience...

Secondly, it was my pleasure to meet all the fine artist whose wonderful and beautiful works were displayed at the National Open. I know I will always remember my first national competition and I will always embrace the moment of this wondrous award.  

I would like to thank the sponsor of the Alex Colville Award - Mr. John MacGregor - Heinz Jordan and Company Limited Representative, and The Canadian Institute of Portrait Artists

Thank you so very much and God bless.. Joe Versikaitis

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

Back to the top