Heart of the Flyers: Claude Giroux

Posted by on Jan 9, 2012 in Blog, Recent Work | 3 Comments

Heart of the Flyers by David E. WilkinsonFor anyone who knows the Philadelphia Flyers or NHL hockey in general, I don’t think I need to go into a lot of detail as to why I picked Claude Giroux as my latest subject. In each of his first three seasons he has shown flashes of greatness as he has grown into a seasoned NHL player. But this season, at the ripe old age of 23, he has taken his next step which is directly into the spotlight of the NHL’s elite as he has been leading the league in scoring much of the year so far and earning a spot on the 2012 NHL All Star team.

The skill and creativity which Claude has shown on the ice is simply astounding at times. Watching him play much of this season with future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagar has reminded me of my days watching Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kuri pick apart the best the NHL had to offer back in the 1980’s. Well, they may not be exactly that good just yet but they have been downright brilliant at times.

I figure I have done a lot of Flyers legends such as Brian Propp, Ron Hextall and Riley Cote, so it was about time to show what I could do with a current player. With the Flyers hosting the NHL’s Winter Classic this year, what better time than now and who better than Claude Giroux?

I knew going in I wanted to depict him in a pose that shows the same intensity and determination which he plays the game. Of course great illustrations start with great photo reference, but it is the artists job to interpret that and add their own creative expression to the image making it his (or her) own.

In my opinion, there is nothing more important in a portrait than the eyes, so I tend to focus a lot of time and energy there. When rendered correctly, the eyes can bring a subject to life and when done improperly, they can suck the life from it. 
Where I really abandoned the reference in the particular piece was in the eye area. I loved the pose but his face and eyes were just not right in my opinion. These photos are clicked in a moment of great speed and action so of course it is tough to get the “perfect” shot. I felt they lacked the focus and intensity I was looking for, so I raised his pupils to the top his eye lids and lowered his gaze just a bit. Having him stare ahead in anticipation of his target is much more interesting than staring at the ice. 

I am reminded of the early attempts at motion capture animation such as in the animated film “The Polar Express”. I enjoyed the movie but the eyes just made some of those kids look downright disturbing. I see it often in the animation of modern video games as well. It is getting much better but is not quite there yet and leaves the character looking a bit cold and strange. There is so much life and nuance in the eyes and every bit of time

Claude-Giroux-NHL-12-PS3-Covernecessary should be taken to ensure they are right. In the case of my Giroux painting I definitely think the change accentuated the determination in his face and helped bring the whole piece to life.

Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think!As someone who spent a lot of time designing products in my career, I always like to put my work into action to help show the viability of it beyond that of just fine art. I mocked up a number of product concepts including my favorite, a cover for EA Sports popular NHL franchise.

Prints are currently available.



  1. Barbara D.Diaz
    February 10, 2012

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  2. davide
    March 26, 2014

    Thank you so much for commenting and saying so. I really need to be more consistent with my posts. Just not enough hours. I really appreciate your kind words.



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