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."

Tony Harris Henri Richard

This is Harris's painting of Henri Richard. (Tony Harris)

Tony Harris painting NHL portraits top 100 Jan 2017

Tony Harris has been painting sports-related images for years. He got his start painting Canadian golf courses. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

Tony Harris painting NHL portraits top 100 Jan 2017

Harris paints with oils. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

Tony Harris painting NHL portraits top 100 Jan 2017

Here's what Harris's painting palette looks like. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

Tony Harris goalie painting NHL portraits top 100 Jan 2017

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)

Tony Harris painting NHL portraits top 100 Jan 2017

Harris mixes up some blue hues. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)