Neal Portnoy‘s illustrations stood out to me for several reasons – at first glance they looked like a collage of sports clippings or photos, not hand-drawn illustrations; I couldn’t pinpoint the medium right away; and he had the only sports related subject matter on ArtVenue. He clearly found a way to combine two of his passions. When I read Neal primarily used felt-tip markers, I just had to get a closer look at his body of work.
“Art to me is a picture that talks back to you. Art for me is realism. I create to ‘share’ the story.”
I was impressed by the the spirit, movement and story captured in each of his sports illustrations, and felt inclined to find out a little more about the artist behind them.
Home is where the heart is-where is home for you?
Home for me is Holden, MA. I grew up in Worcester and have lived here my whole life. Lost my Mom to Cancer when I was 14, lived in a subsidized housing complex thru High School, moving to whatever was affordable for my Dad and two sisters.
How did you discover yourself to be an artist?
I’ve been drawing since the age of five. My father had me copying photos from the newspaper at an early age.
What are a few things on your artistic bucket list?
To have all my dreams of success happen before I’m horizontal.
Where did you go to high school and/or college? What was your concentration, best/worst subject?
I graduated from Doherty Memorial HS in Worcester class of 1971, was a scholarship pitcher at UMiami, and unfortunately had to leave during my first semester due to my dad having a heart attack….never went back. I was a Psychology major – best subject!
The very first piece or work ever created by you-what/when was it, is it anything like the work you do now, and do you have it in your possession?
I drew a pots and pans store in Kindergarten, which my teacher Mrs. Weinreb said “was a great drawing of a hotdog stand.” Don’t know where it ended up, and no, it’s nothing like I do now.
“I work solely in felt tip markers – very unique when the art is completed, you’d swear it was a watercolor or another medium – you’d never guess markers!”
If you were given a blank check, an hour in your favorite art store and permission to shop to your heart’s content, what would we see in your shopping cart/s?
Frames, Mattes etc… I have so many original that I’ve never framed!
What is art to you? What is art for you? Why create it?
Art to me is a picture that talks back to you. Art for me is realism. I create to “share” the story.
What is your creative process, typically?
I work all times of the day. Like [an] old baseball relief pitcher, I work best when “the pressure is on.” I work solely in felt tip markers – very unique when the art is completed, you’d swear it was a watercolor or another medium – you’d never guess markers! I work from reference photographs similar to my favorite artist Norman Rockwell.
Pick your favorite piece on ArtVenue. What is it of, why is it your favorite and what does it mean to you?
My favorite is the Tedi Bruschi [piece] because it’s a mult-image rendering that tell a lot of “story,” [and] because I am a huge sports fan.
How many of the people you’ve illustrated have you met in person? Favorite moment?
When my boys were growing up they used to say:
“Daddy, you know Ted Williams? Daddy you know Larry Bird? Daddy you know Bobby Orr?”
I’d reply, “No, they know Daddy!” I’d continue, “In a lot of circles, Daddy is a celebrity, but what am I to you guys?”
“Well,” I’d reply, “they’re daddies too! Remember in life, It’s just what we do; treat everyone the same.” They’ve learned that lesson.
“I work all times of the day. Like [an] old baseball relief pitcher, I work best when ‘the pressure is on.’”
If I was a fly on the wall as you were creating your fantastic illustrations, what would I see?
You would see the magic I create while using my ability, enhancing my technique and creating my art!
What is some advice you could give to budding artists, hopeful to make a name for themselves or looking to build a portfolio?
I would recommend to budding artists one thing – Follow your dream, network your talents and draw every day!
ArtVenue would like to thank Neal Portnoy for letting us get to know him a little better. We are thrilled to have him on ArtVenue – welcome to the family!