Final original 20″x27″ acrylic painting by artist James Long.

SILKY MITTS: hockey slang referring to a player’s hands, often described as ‘silky’ when a player has great skill with a puck, especially in dekeing or goal scoring. Sweet Hands. Million Dollar Hands.

To be good at anything, time and effort must be put into your chosen venture. To be great at it requires the pain of failure pursuing it.

But how would you sum up that effort in a single image? How can you capture the countless hours of practice, blood, and sweat that comes with the perfecting of any skill?

Watercolour Study for female hockey glove. Artist: James Long. 

A pic holding the championship trophy or gold medal with a smile only portrays the victorious end of the struggle. What if you wanted to capture the journey leading to that final glorious moment? How do you show the grit, the falls and moments of pain and doubt where that nagging voice telling you to quit is so loud you don’t know how to persevere through it, but you still do?

This is what I mulled over when I set out to capture the spirit of the female athlete.

Pencil & gouache study for female hockey glove. Artist: James Long.

Women’s hockey is demanding, skilled and fast. To compete at any level in this sport requires a tough mind and body.

Endless hours of on and off-ice training through injuries, losses, demanding coaches and teammates builds the personal character and skill needed to perform the dangles, snipes, toe drags and smooth dekes that help bring personal and team victory.

I felt that the best way to relay these characteristics was to use a piece of equipment.

Equipment tells the story of hours of struggle through worn out seams, leather and stitching, and mimics beautifully the battle scars on the heart and soul of the athlete wearing it. Equipment cannot hide it’s damage. Torn up but still protecting. Worn out but still performing. All the ice time and resistance from opponents it has endured is unmistakable in the dented plastic, cracks, slices, smudges and fraying inside and out.

Rough acrylic preliminary for female hockey glove. Artist: James Long.

To me, it’s the hockey glove that tells the story of the hockey player. It has witnessed all of the player’s journey and captures the persistence of that warrior spirit in one single image of the worn out leather palm, sword in hand…and with a little touch of nail polish.

Interested to learn more about these pieces, click here: ARTWORK – James Long Fine Art & Illustration

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