Tennis Players - Essence of the Man: Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr.

by Diana K. Stemen

Tennis Stars - Essence of the Man: Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr.

Tennis Stars - Essence of the Man: Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr.

How do I start? This is a painting I did approximately 17 yrs. ago. I share it because it had a devastating effect on me at that time.

I was in a new City in a new Job. I discovered there was a competition to be held regarding art work. I had always been and still do have trouble sharing my art work. (Criticism is critical to doing better work but, honestly, it is sometimes hard for me to take.)

I wanted to win the competition so badly that I threw myself into doing so. I read a book about Arthur Ashe to become knowledgeable about the man as I knew I wouldn't be able to talk with him personally.

I studied some new painting techniques and applied them.

The composition for this piece came about (not knowing about the Golden Triangle) by pulling together photographs of Mr. Ashe from where ever I could get them.

I put the images on transparencies, different sizes of them, overlapping the sheets till I had what looked good to me. Transferring my drawing on to my stretched canvas,using the grid method. When the drawing was completed I went to apply my first colors and realized I had transposed the drawing.

Don't know how I didn't notice. My mind would not allow me to apply the colors to the canvas with the image transposed.

Sensitive as I am.....cried and cried and cried. I did not have but a couple of weeks to complete the painting before the competition and working a full time job along with little experience with painting portraits, let a lone scared to death about participating, I was overwhelmed.

At this point I was no longer concerned about winning but capturing the essence of Arthur Ashe.

The way Mr. Ashe was treated affected me and had me in tears during the painting of this portrait.

The painting won 1st place!

I was ecstatic to say the least.

However it was rejected by the community I lived in because I am white. (I felt a lot of what my subject had certainly experienced in his life.) You know having not written about this experience made me have a Ah ha moment right now.

It did paralyze me from painting for quite some time. There have been many other pieces but few portraits since then.

I still have my painting as no one has offered to purchase it even with the exposure it received in the community after the competition.

No problem, for there is always a very good reason for everything and all works out for the best in the end.

NOTE: I was unable to give his mother notice in the painting so when ever I display this piece, a live rose is placed at the top of the painting in remembrance of her. I do leave it there to die....essence of the rose goes on as does Mr. Ashes' essence.

I hope my experience helps someone to press on.

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Nov 21, 2013
Some great news!
by: Delmus

Just to show folks how small the art world really is. This article submission was written in 2009.

Who would know that 4 years later, I would have the privilege of seeing this painting in person, up-close at a large venue in Richmond, Virginia (Arthur Ashe lived there).

The painting had been at the gallery when my own show was due to be hung. I noticed the work next to the Directors desk. I was so happy to hear that the painting had indeed sold!

Congratulations Diana!

Hopefully this will encourage you to try a few more portraits!

Dec 23, 2009
Tennis Stars, Arthur Ashe
by: Delmus

The main objective of coarse for any portrait is recognition. Especially with a star, who's face will be easily recognized because of their celebrity status. You've captured the essence of the Man beautifully, and I hope posting here has helped in getting over any fears you may have had in doing so. This is a beautiful piece and the award it received makes note of that.

Sometimes a painting has so much of your soul within it, it is difficult to release. I have a few pieces that depict my children that will always remain within our family.

If you still would want to sell it, my suggestion would be to look for venue's that specialize in sports. There are galleries and boutiques that the center of focus is celebrity stars in the sports field. They are hard to find, and only in major cities, but they are there. Approaching a local tennis shop, pro shop, in-door tennis sports center could yield a sale if they are looking for a center piece for their lobby. Especially if this is a large piece.

I hope you continue to paint! This really is a nice portrait.

Best regards,

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