Artist celebrates Cubs in paintings
CHICAGO -- John Hanley has been a Chicago Cubs fan all of his life and the 42-year-old artist has taken his affection a few steps further, trying to capture the team in his paintings.
Hanley has painted old Cubs like Stan Hack and Joe Tinker, John Evers and Frank Chance, as well as new Cubs such as Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. The artist's original painting of Prior was on display at the Cubs Convention earlier this month and features three images of different stages of the right-hander's throwing motion. Any Prior fan will appreciate the details, such as the pitcher's trademark high socks.
"I wanted to get that intensity that he has with his mouth and his eyes," Hanley said of the work, which is available in a limited edition 16-by-20 lithograph print for $65. "I looked at a lot of photos of him. When you see him pitch, he's really bearing down and I wanted to capture that. I wanted to get the motion of his arm."
The painting took about three weeks to finish, although that time doesn't include the hours Hanley spent watching Prior pitch at Wrigley Field. The artist took photos to get a better feel for his subject. Once he came up with the idea, it was all business -- similar to the way Prior pitches.
"When I sit down and do a painting, I do it start to finish," Hanley said. "That's painting 12 hours a day."
He can't always get a seat close to the field so he moves around the ballpark for the best angle -- and does his best not to upset the ushers or fans.
"I'll take my pictures and move. I don't try to get in anybody's way," he said.
Hanley remembers attending a game at Wrigley Field as a member of a Cub scout troop back in the 1970s and seeing Ernie Banks. He recalls watching Ken Holtzman's first no-hitter in 1969 with his father.
"I've always liked sports," Hanley said. "Now it's turned into a full-time thing. It's kind of incredible."
A graduate of the American Academy of Art, Hanley worked for D.C. Comics and Marvel Comics and did promotional work for the Batman movies as well as other companies. These days, he's focused on sports, and primarily the Cubs. He'd like to do a book on the team and its history and illustrate it with his paintings.
One of his works, the "Heart of the Order," features Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks. Hanley donates 75 percent of the sale price of that print to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation in Santo's name. The WGN Radio broadcaster and former Cubs third baseman met Hanley last year and endorsed the project.
He did a similar project for former Cubs pitcher Fergie Jenkins and his foundation, and would like to do something with the team's charity, Cubs Care. This year was Hanley's third at the Cubs Convention, and he saw a lot of familiar faces at his booth
"Billy Williams was my favorite player growing up," Hanley said. "I batted left -handed like him. I wore 26 whenever I could."
Fans can purchase either lithographs or the original artwork of some of his pieces. Hanley's work can be seen on his website, www.johnhanleyartist.com.