The Crown Keeper | Henrik Lundqvist

The hockey experts at Westside Skate and Stick approached me about creating an image for their newly expanded showroom.  After bouncing some of their desires around we decided on a painting that celebrates "New York City" and "Rangers hockey." In addition to dynamic visual elements I wanted to extend the measuring stick of art history with a contemporary portrayal of the sublime.  The athlete is a conduit of extreme emotion for spectators and participants.  As an athlete and an artist, I know how it feels to reach another realm outside of physical and mental consciousness during a performance or a game.  This painting celebrates that feeling.

First the visual breakdown, and then an amazing recap of Jon Weinman’s creative process for the song accompanying the video…



Started out with a pencil drawing of the composition. The actual painting began with complementary colors purple and yellow. This foundation of high contrast is my adaptation of a chiaroscuro technique .



Now that the ice is broken, pun intended, I work throughout the composition to determine most of the colors in the finalized palette.  One of the main focal points of the composition is the iconic ceiling of Madison Square Garden. Next time you’re there don’t forget to look up.



The composition is essentially a balance of triangle, circle, and square.  The triangular aspect is of the goalie leading up to the jumbotron, the circular aspect is the ceiling of Madison Square Garden (MSG), and those two elements are framed by the square created by the goal posts and goal line. After looking at the compositional structure for many hours I realized it could be considered a contemporary departure from one of my favorite Renaissance commissions by Titian, The Assumption of the Virgin.



Experimenting with light in the painting I decided to keep the foreground rink section lit by lights on the ceiling of MSG, while the sky is ablaze in tones of GRAF green, and electric yellow. The different light sources create an inside/outside spatial relation further echoing how the athlete sometimes reaches a zone outside of the self lit by an inner passion.



The painting features New York Ranger goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.  People refer to him more commonly by King Henrik because he is one of the premiere goaltenders in the world and the backbone of the Rangers team.  He blows the roof of MSG with supernatural performances. In this painting the puck has passed King Henrik, yet stayed out of the net after ringing off the crossbar. This moment is a metaphor for a lot of lives in NYC; fully extended to accomplish your dreams and at the same time getting a little help from things, like a crossbar, technically outside of your control. Aesthetically at this point I’m building up the richness of the colors in layers and carefully moving edges back and forth millimeters at a time to get the right feeling.  Our lives are layers of experience and millimeters of decisions.



A big push to firm up a lot of the details in the net, the ceiling, goalie equipment, and the Statue of Liberty.  Ms. Liberty is lighting the outdoor skyline through the jumbotron with an electric green fiery torch.   The boards touching the edges of the canvas needed a height reduction to further balance the composition.



A detailed shot of Lundqvist’s mask, Ms. Liberty, and the jumbotron.  Careful placement of West Side Skate & Stick advertisements foreshadow a future team sponsor?  The Chrysler and Empire State Building won’t stay dark for much longer.



Let us look closer and a little further a long in the process.  The game shots on the jumbotron are 20 to 13 referencing the year the painting was finished.  Also the score is 2 to 1 referencing the date the painting was finished, February first. The name of the visiting team is obscured to reference any opponent.  No obstacle, or opponent, is too great to overcome. The Empire State Building is lit in red, white, and blue in support of the Rangers.


The Crown Keeper | 30 x 26 inches | acrylic on canvas | Available

Long live hockey, and long live New York City passion. Best of luck to Henrik to win the ultimate crown, The Hockey Holy Grail – Lord Stanley’s Cup.

I have had the privilege of Jon Weinman of Minarets Music create the soundtracks for my recent process videos.  He is an extremely talented musician and writer.  Luckily for everyone he was willing to share his process for how he created the song for the the soundtrack. From Jon:

 When I first saw this painting, I was on a visit to Ari’s studio, where it sat on an easel, nearly finished. My eye was immediately drawn to the juxtaposition of the gothic city scape, its reptilian greens underlaid with cloudy, royal purples, over the hallowed stands of The Garden, where so many generations of New Yorkers have met in joy to worship at the altars of The Rangers, The Knicks and the great fighters like Ali and Frazier. As a New York sports fan myself, I can say with unimpeachable authority and absolute certainty that New York City has the greatest fans in the world. And in seeing the great, sprawling empire laid out majestically over the those same bleachers where the people who built it, the people who’s essence and fire and tenacity raised it up brick by brick, sit every single home game to cheer and shout and jump up and down and live and die and transcend with their team, I became immediately inspired.

When I received a cut of the time-lapse video of the painting process, I nearly immediately (after sitting for a time, jaw agape at some of the amazing detail work revealed by the process video) began trying to score it. After some time experimenting with sound palettes, feels, and harmonies, I came to the conclusion that the piece deserved not only instrumental accompaniment, but an entire song with lyrics and melody to truly capture its essence. I began with a rolling drum beat and some dry, stark electric-piano chords that I felt matched the color palette of the towering skyline backdrop of the painting. I then began to think of how I could personally relate to the holy moment that is so perfectly crystalized in the work. I immediately began to think of moments of transcendence that I had experienced in my own life. Most often, these moments have come when I am on stage in front of a large crowd, performing my music.At these times, stars seem to align and time slows to a crawl. I withdraw deep into the caverns of my consciousness yet I simultaneously feel hyper aware of my surroundings. My mind no longer races, it does not analyze the situation, it simply floats above my body, receiving and executing every command with complete sureness, steadiness and natural ease. I thrust my head skyward and pull every spark of energy, emotion and life that exists in the atmosphere of that room into my body. And as I feel it fill me up I get warm all over and I can no longer feel my feet touching the ground. And I open my mouth and sing it out. And as it floats there on the air in slow motion, the crowd feels it break over them like a wave, their own emotion, their own energy, now being amplified to a celestial scale and thrown back at them, consuming them. This moment is the one of the most magical and precious things I have ever experienced, and chasing it has lead me down an amazing path of fulfillment and self discovery in the pursuit of that transcendent art and music. But I’ve also observed this phenomenon elsewhere, and one of the foremost places that comes to mind is the world of sports. When I see Kobe Bryant making his crazy, scrunched up, snarling cujo face in game six of the Finals, I know that Kobe Bean Bryant has left the building. He is no longer in his body. At that point, Kobe has become a vessel. He is manifesting greatness, and the greatest thing is, he is not making, but simply allowing it to happen. When Henrik Lunqvist puts up a shut-out in the playoffs, contorting and twisting his body in lightning stabs of agility as thousands hang on the instant with bated breath, he has reached a point of calm and clarity that we are all lucky if we ever experience. He is finally able to show his belief in himself and his teammates, to make his statement, and to inspire joy and love and excitement and emotion for thousands of good, hard-working people who for whatever reason, decided to tie their fate, albeit in some small way, to his. That’s what I wrote this song about. It’s called “To You All.” Here are the lyrics:

“To You All”

Like a scene from my mother’s dreams

We play tonight

We’ll tear the walls down by the beams

It’ll feel alright

In the cold lights

I remember losing control

When the crowd’s high

I remember losing control

All of the sudden I can say what I want to to you now

All the sudden I can show you what I want to show to you all

Like a god rising from the flames

We’ll burn tonight

We’ll leave our bodies and our frames

It’ll feel alright

In the cold lights

I remember losing control

When the crowd’s high

I remember losing control

All of the sudden I can say what I want to to you now

All the sudden I can show you what I want to show to you all

Listen/Download “To You All” here.

One last thing I’ll say here is big thanks to Ari for bringing me in and asking me to work on this because it was really inspiring and refreshing and fun for me. I am always interested in Ari’s work, and I always love to see what he is cooking up, but nothing gets me more excited than when he paints hockey. I think there is something truly amazing about his hockey paintings, as if his love and passion for the sport imbues each of them with a kind of luster that is invisible, yet readily perceptible to anyone who views them. Enjoy it.

-Huge thank you to Jon for his amazing contribution to this work.  Definitely keep an ear out for him.

Other Hockey Inspired Paintings

Giroux OT Winner | 22 x 18 inches | acrylic and graphite on canvas | 2012 | Sold


1 of 30 Danny Briere | 18 x 24 inches | graphite, acrylic, and oil on canvas | 2011 | Available


Chris Pronger | oil, acrylic, graphite on canvas | 12 x 12 inches | 2011 | Sold


Jaromir Jagr | acrylic, oil, pen, collage, and crest on canvas | 11 x 14 inches | 2011 | Sold


Immortal Captain | oil on canvas | 30 x 30 inches | 2011 | Available


Lord Stanley’s Castle | 30 x 30 inches | oil on canvas |2011 | Available

If you are interested in commissioning a hockey, sports, portrait, landscape, architecture, or any other kind of painting contact me to discuss your vision, for pricing, and my current availability.

1 Comment

  1. Hello love your work! I was wondering if the CrownKeeper (Lundqvist) piece is still available?



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