Artist Neal Portnoy uses his personal experience, love of sports, and artistic talent to bring his subjects to life. Remarkably, the Massachusetts-based artist creates his stunning works with nothing more than an arsenal of markers, creating paintings with an evocative quality that capture the essence of the athletes depicted. Baseball Art recently pulled Portnoy away from his studio just long enough for him to answer a few questions about his long history in the sports art field.
Baseball Art: When did you realize you wanted to become a baseball artist and did you have anyone help push you along the way?
Neal Portnoy: I realized that utilizing my past as a former player, college coach and current pitching instructor I could combine my artistic abilities with my knowledge of the game and create my baseball artwork. I’ve been honored to be commissioned by former players, organizations etc. to create my baseball art for a number of outlets from presentations of originals to publishing reproductions for creative applications from both the print media to charitable organizations looking to generate revenues.
Baseball Art: Have you ever had the opportunity to share your artwork of a particular player with the athlete?
Neal Portnoy: Being a baseball artist, I’ve rubbed elbows with a number of current and former players. My favorite is former Boston Red Sox closer Dick Radatz. I still remember my old friend, known as “The Monster”, who passed a number of years ago, as the funniest person I’ve ever met!
Baseball Art: Who throughout the history of baseball would you like to have the chance to watch a game with?
Neal Portnoy: I would have loved to watch a game with Ted Williams. I was commissioned by MLB Players Assoc. to illustrate his retirement piece a number of years ago at an event called “An Evening with #9 and Friends” at the Wang Center in Boston.
Baseball Art: Could you describe your “Studio Space” and what we would see if we visited you during a project? (Your table, what is on the walls, what music is playing or TV shows? What time of day are you most productive?
Neal Portnoy: My studio is in my home and covers about 1200 square feet. Clients come and expect to be here for about 10 minutes — and I’m kicking the out two hours later. With over 40 years in the business, my studio is a museum!
I’m kind of unique in that the medium I work in is marker. A former sports writer once said, “No one seems to be able to do what he does with those things!”
I don’t have the 9-5 type job. When the juices flow, I could be on the drawing board well past midnight some days, or when I’ve got a deadline. My former baseball instincts as a relief pitcher kick in and I love the pressure.
When I’m at the drawing board my table is covered with markers (I have about 3000 markers in the studio. I’m either watching sports center or CNN.
For more of Portnoy’s work, visit his website.