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2003 Boilermaker 15K - Hall Of Fame Weekend Poster
By Andy Yelenak

During the second weekend in July, Utica, NY hosts two of the great events on the American distance running calendar, the Boilermaker 15K Road Race and the annual National Distance Running Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

I was commissioned to paint the poster that celebrates both events. This year Jim Ryun, Mary Decker Slaney and George Young are being inducted so I will paint their portraits, along with two scenes from the race, with special focus on the finish line.

When it's complete this will be a full color painting.

The Base Drawing - May 15, 2003

To begin I produce a line drawing of the key elements in the painting, based on reference photos provided by the Hall of Fame.

My design will be a montage of images, including a view of the leaders running through the golf course section of the Boilermaker race course in the background, the three portraits and the winner breaking the tape.

My line drawing is not sketchy, but very accurate as it will be the basis for the everything else that is done. I like to start with a tight, realistic drawing and then loosen up as I paint over it, adding gesture and blurred color as I complete it.

The lines will eventually be erased after I block in the color with an airbrush and Dr. Martin's dyes. The dyes are the consistency of watercolor.

Airbrushing causes the colors to blend together, so to keep clean, distinct fleshtones I mask off all skin areas with transparent tape. I trim the tape with an Exacto knife, tracing the line drawing of an arm, for example. I spray the color into the background then remove the tape and spray the fleshtones last.

Jim Ryun - In Detail May 17- 20, 2003

Step 1 - Base Drawing

Step 2 - Blocked in color

Step 3 - Finished Portrait

Step 1
Here's a closeup of my drawing of Jim Ryun. At this point I'm not concerned about rendering details at all, the important part is getting the outline right, getting a good suggestion of the form. All the details will be painted over in later stages so it's useless to bother with them now.

Step 2
I've airbrushed color into the entire painting. I try to establish some shading with the airbrush, any detail or color changes I can add at this point will save effort later when I render the forms with color pencil over the airbrushed dyes. I also pick out some of the highlighted areas now by brushing on clean water and blotting the area with paper towel. This will remove some of the dye from the paper, lightening the area. I like this method better than just painting on a lighter color, it looks more unified and allows me to still render details in the area with colored pencil in the next phase.

Step 3
This is the finished portrait. I've render all areas of the figure with colored pencils and then painted the hightlights with acrylic paint. I try to keep the colors bright and establish a strong pattern of light and dark, adding depth to the image.

The Finishing Painting - May 27, 2003

Here's the completed painting. I've run the race twice now and I think two memorable parts of the race are running through the golf course and the finish line. You won't forget either one! I added a suggestion of the lanes of a track behind the three inductees in the painting to establish that they are in a different environment than the rest of the image. The final step is to spray the painting with workable fixative to "lock in" the color.

The finished poster will be available at the Boilermaker 15K race expo and at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Andy Yelenak
e-mail: andy@runningpast.com

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