Culture & Lifestyle

‘For the love of the game’: Scottish portrait artist draws realistic image of Connor McDavid

EDMONTON —
 

For 22-year-old Scottish artist Rebecca Thomson, who drew a remarkably lifelike portrait of NHL star Connor McDavid, her love of the sport and the art she’s inspired to create comes from her grandfather.

Thomson lives in the town of Kirkcaldy, tucked away on the east coast of Scotland about 11 miles north of Edinburgh.

“My grandad is a massive ice hockey fan,” she said. 

For decades, her family has supported their local team and the U.K.’s oldest professional hockey team, the Fife Flyers.

“I really fell in love with the sport, and from there I started watching the NHL.” 

About six years ago, Thomson went from drawing cartoons to creating realistic portraits of hockey players.

“I started drawing my local team a lot and then I started to branch out into NHL players,” she said.

One day, Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman found a portrait she drew of him at the Stanley Cup online and reached out to buy it.

“It was a total surprise. I never would have expected that would ever happen,” she said.

“I never expected NHL players to want to buy my work.”

It’s not just NHL players interested in Thomson’s art, however. The portrait that’s getting the most attention from Edmontonians is her striking image of Connor McDavid, captain of the Edmonton Oilers.

“I’ve done McDavid in the past,” she noted. “I had to do him again because he’s such a fantastic player.”

‘IT’S A REALLY FUN PROCESS’

It takes Thomson about six hours to draw an image from start to finish. She begins with a photo of the player that has a lot of detail. Then, once it’s as close as possible to the original image, she uses an airbrush to create the background.

“It’s a really fun process. It’s just putting a lot of attention into the picture and bringing forward little details and little hairs in beards and stuff like that.”

Thomson added, “It’s just really about trying to bring them to life.”

As she’s in Scotland, Thomson has many long nights trying to catch the games at a decent hour, with some of the earliest puck drops beginning at midnight.

“There are games that start at 3 a.m. and you just have to give them up because you would be going to bed at six in the morning,” she laughed.

Although the Fife Flyers are Thomson’s number one team, she told CTV News Edmonton she watches the NHL for the love of the game.

“I end up watching so many different teams, just trying to get games on at a decent time. It can be all over the place.”

Thomson continues to be humbled by the positive feedback and recognition her art has received from around the world.

“I’ve not got a huge amount of confidence in my art,” she said.

“I never expected it. I just love creating things. It really does mean a lot when you get a lot of nice comments and lots of people supporting you. I don’t think people realize how much I appreciate every single one, it’s just lovely, it really does mean a lot.”

Courtesy: Rebecca Thomson

While Thomson doesn’t come from a long line of artists in her family, she said they’re all pretty creative in their own right.

“A lot of my family are into photography,” she explained.

“My mom used to run a card-making business when I was a little girl so there’s a lot of creative people in my family, but I’m the only person doing artwork.”

Thomson hopes to pursue a full-time career as a portrait artist, with a focus on sports.

“If my grandad hadn’t brought me along to the game I don’t know what my whole career would be or how much I would have continued to do art. I’ve got a lot of thanks to him.”

When asked if she plays hockey, she lit up with a big smile and said: “No, I wish. I can’t even skate.”

To view Thomson’s work head to her website.


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