Meet an Ottawa artist: A. Lubowitz

Who are you?

I’m A. Lubowitz but you might know me on Twitter as @alubowitzart. I’m a full-time student and part-time sports artist originally from the Toronto area, but I spent several years living in Ottawa. I started drawing and painting when I was a kid and was drawn to sports subjects early on. I drifted away from art as a teen only to return to it more than a decade later and have now been back at it for about 5 years.

What inspires you?

“Lalime” by A. Lubowitz

I’m inspired by athletes and sporting events I want to commemorate for various reasons. I’m a big Ottawa Senators fan and as such, I like to draw and paint my favourite players (Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson have been my most frequent subjects). My work features players on the current roster and I’m starting to work my way through the back catalogue of Ottawa favourites from seasons gone by. For me, it feels a bit like creating a visual artistic record of players and Sens teams I have positive memories of and want to honour in some way. So I’ve drawn or painted Alfredsson, Chris Phillips, Wade Redden, and Patrick Lalime but also current Senators like Karlsson, Craig Anderson, Mark Borowiecki, Mike Hoffman, and Kyle Turris among others. I have a special fondness for painting portraits of goalies because I love to work on the masks and equipment details. Eventually I’d liked to paint all of the more prominent goalies who have stood in the crease for the Sens.

I’m increasingly fond of depicting specific moments that were significant and served as a point of connection among Ottawa fans. For example, last March I drew Andrew Hammond, capturing the moment he raised a hamburger tossed on the ice in the air after yet another unexpected win. It was an improbable, enjoyable, burger-filled run to the playoffs and now I have a piece to remind me of that time. Sometimes the significant moments I want to capture have wider, mass appeal. I’ve drawn moments like Sidney Crosby’s golden goal in Vancouver and Jose Bautista’s epic playoff bat flip last fall.

What’s your favourite medium and why did you choose it?

My favourite medium is watercolour and I initially chose it because it’s one of the least expensive materials you can work with if you want to paint. But I’m also drawn to its versatility. It’s not a forgiving medium, but I like it. You can get vibrant, rich colour while also painting almost translucent washes which gives you a lot of options as an artist.

I also work in pencil a lot. I’m a better drawer than painter and I still get a lot of satisfaction out of drawing portraits. I have favourite pencils, I like using 3Bs and 5Bs a lot. On the HB graphite scale HB is your standard, used it in math class when you were a kid pencil and it’s equivalent to the number 2 pencil (what it’s called in the United States). So the higher the number, the harder the led (a 9H is really hard and leaves a light, grey mark). Since I like Bs, I like softer leads which give darker, black marks. With these pencils I can capture delicate folds in drapery as well as subtle variations in skin tone and hair colour.

What advice do you have for budding artists?

My advice for budding artists is this: be patient with yourself and pick subject matter that appeals to you. Be patient because drawing and painting take a lot of time to become good at and for most of us, no amount of instruction or natural ability makes up for the improvement that occurs with practice. I say choose a subject matter that appeals to you because I’ve found that when I’m not invested in my subject matter it’s detrimental. I don’t want to work on the piece, I procrastinate, and my enjoyment of the process isn’t the same. I would also encourage artists who are out of practice or who haven’t worked on something artistic in a few years not to be nervous about getting back into it. Yes, you’ll be rusty, but it’s worth it.

Which artists in your field do you admire/have influenced your work?

There are a few visual artists whose work I admire more generally, but in terms of sports art, I have a couple favourites. I like the work of Glen Green in part because he’s a watercolour artist but also because he’s primarily a hockey painter. You might not be familiar with his paintings, but you’ve definitely seen his work. He designed the Olympic and Paralympic circulation quarters for the Vancouver 2010 games. He’s based in British Columbia, so there are a lot of Canucks players in his portfolio, but I think he’s a drapery master and I love his backgrounds. Another sports artist I really like is Vernon Wells Sr. His work features terrific realism and he’s painted for the MLB community for decades. But I think what draws me most to his work is it’s highly commemorative. His paintings mark individual and team achievements, celebrate family and successful careers, and I can relate to the desire to mark those things.

The Lehner by A. Lubowitz
“The Lehner” by A. Lubowitz

What’s your favourite piece in your own portfolio?

There are a handful of pieces I really like for various reasons but my favourite drawing is called “Karlsson 4” (I’m not great at titling my work). It’s a portrait of Karlsson sitting on the bench. I finished it a couple of years ago but I still like it a lot because I think it’s the first time I really captured his likeness. As for paintings, it’s probably “The Lehner.” It’s a portrait of Robin Lehner bent over in his net, listening to the anthems from a couple of years ago. It just took a really long time to complete and still looks quite striking.

You can see more art from A. Lubowitz here

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