Ottawa artist painting NHL's top 100 players of all time

Ottawa's Tony Harris is making his way through a once-in-a-lifetime project: official portraits of the NHL's top 100 players of all time to celebrate its 100th season.

Tony Harris got a call from NHL in September, asking him to paint 100 players in a year

Ottawa artist Tony Harris, based in the suburb of Barrhaven, is painting portraits of the top 100 players in NHL history officially unveiled during last month's All-Star Game. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

Ottawa's Tony Harris is making his way through a once-in-a-lifetime project: being commissioned by the NHL to paint official portraits of the top 100 players of all time to celebrate its 100th season.

Based in the suburb of Barrhaven, Harris started out in the field by painting Canadian golf courses, which no one in the country was doing at that time. He was able to travel around Canada and make a steady income as an artist, he told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.

Eventually he started painting hockey players, something he fantasized about doing in the third grade. He got good enough at it that the NHL came calling to inquire about commissioning the 100 portraits.

So far, he's finished 17. Each one takes about 20 to 30 hours.

"When you do the math, it's a lot of hours because there's 100 of them. I keep saying that to myself, 'You know, there's 100 of them, Tony,'" he said.

"But then you finish one and you go, 'I like that,' and then you move on to the next."

This is Harris's painting of Henri Richard. (Tony Harris)
Tony Harris has been painting sports-related images for years. He got his start painting Canadian golf courses. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)
Harris paints with oils. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)
Here's what Harris's painting palette looks like. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)
When he was a boy, Harris loved goalie Tony Esposito, who played for the Chicago Blackhawks. He drew goalies all the time, and is now living out his childhood dream of painting hockey stars. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)
Harris mixes up some blue hues. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)