Pental Pencil Drawings & Making a Difference. With: Keegan Hall
As I kid, I had many hobbies including sports, business, and, of course, art. I attended the University of Washington and graduated with a degree in Visual Arts, and also took many business courses. Following graduation, I left art behind and followed my other passions for sports and business, and accepted a position with the NBA’s Seattle Sonics. To be honest, I never really thought I’d return to art. However, I encountered a tragedy that changed my life forever, and was ultimately the catalyst that reunited me with art.
My mother was getting ready for her second battle with cancer. She started to not feel well on a Friday, we went to the hospital on Saturday, and she passed away on Sunday. Everything happened so fast that I didn’t know what to do or how to react. My entire being was rocked to its core and, in the following days, I pondered nearly every aspect of my life and started to re-prioritize what’s most important.
Three months after her passing, I randomly sat down to draw — something I hadn’t done in nearly eight years. I subsequently posted that drawing — which happened to be of Michael Jordan — on social media. I had no expectations when I posted the drawing but, to my surprise, I received a ton of positive comments. Many people didn’t even know I could draw at all. One friend asked if I’d draw Seahawks’ Kam Chancellor next. After completing that drawing, I posted in on social media and Kam saw it, and shared it. This was ultimately the spark that ignited my fire. I could have never imagined the events that followed.
Kam commissioned me to do another drawing — for him, this time. I always post “work in progress” pictures and videos each day as I create each drawing, and Kam shared nearly all of them. The Seattle Seahawks even shared my drawing of Kam on their social media as well. Suddenly my art had received a tremendous amount of exposure.
Next, I did a drawing for Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, and the Mariners shared the piece on their social media.
The Seattle Storm then reached out for a special piece for their season ticket holders: a drawing of their two biggest stars Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd.
I have also been fortunate to create two piece for the Seattle Sounders including the official match poster for the MLS Cup Final, which Seattle went on to win.
Needless to say, the Seattle sports community opened their arms wide to my art, and I was extremely grateful for their support.
My Artistic Process:
Up to this point, my art has been largely focused on sports. I always been fascinated with the emotional aspect of competition which, when paired with superior athletic ability, is the differentiating factor that ultimately propels the great athletes to become the best at what they do. So, with my art, I really want to capture that emotional moment of competition. As an athlete myself, it’s something that I can directly relate to and connect with.
I typically use several different image as reference, and then combine them to create a new, unique composition. Most of my drawings are pretty detailed and, as such, take between 30–60 hours to complete one drawing.
Almost all of my drawings are completed with one, single pencil: Pentel 1000 with .5mm HB lead (I’ll occasionally use a 4B pencil for really dark areas).
Discovering My Style:
Art comes in so many different forms, but I’ve always been obsessed with how an artist could create a piece that is nearly indistinguishable from a photograph. As a kid I marveled at artists that could do this, and I often thought it was impossible to create something like that. Once I returned to art a few years ago, I reengaged with this obsession of hyper-realistic art. With each piece that I create, I learn something new that I apply to the next one, and you can clearly see a steady improvement and increase in the level of detail within my work. I feel like I’m learning to draw all over again, and I’ve never been this excited about creating and sharing my art with the world.
Given my love for sports, it was a natural subject matter for me to explore within my art. As a collector of sports cards and memorabilia, I thought about the items that I really enjoyed collecting: limited-edition items that were hand-signed by the athlete. So I started teaming up with athletes and teams to not only create amazing pieces of art, but a create a true collector’s item, signed by the players, that fans would really enjoy, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Art = Making a Difference:
I knew I wanted to do something bigger than simply create great art; I wanted to truly help people. I decided to pitch an idea to Seahawks’ Richard Sherman and, without hesitation, he said “yes.” This was the moment that the “KEEGAN200” fundraiser was born. Richard and I signed and numbered 200 prints of my “Huddle” drawing with the goal of selling them for $200 each. To both of our surprise, we sold all 200 on the first day they were available, and we donated 100% of the proceeds — $40,000 — to help underprivileged kids.
So, I returned to art just a few years ago. However, since then I’ve worked with Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, President Barack Obama, Sonics Gary Payton, and many others, and was even featured on the Today Show. Additionally, my art has raised well over $200,000 for charity (and counting!).
My art and story has been featured in a variety of mediums including television, print, radio and more. I’ve gotten to work with some pretty amazing people and teams from nearly every sport, and the list is too long to mention everyone. However, the common theme for all of us is our commitment to improving our community through our passions. We all work together to raise money and awareness around a variety of issues that impact the less fortunate, and we’re all doing our best to make a positive different in the lives of others.
Capturing Sports & Entertainment:
I think the industries of sports, entertainment, and art share a lot of commonalities. One of the most glaring is how competitive each of these industries are. In most cases, the odds of “making it” in one of these industries is seemingly a million-to-one, and only those who are the among the absolutely best in the world even have a chance. Each requires a tremendous amount of time, perseverance and dedication to become the best at what you do. I think that’s one of the reasons that I’ve been able to work with so many amazing athletes and entertainers. We both understand what the other person has gone through to get to this point, and that we’ve both worked extremely hard to become among the best at their craft so there’s a level of mutual respect.
But more than that, sports is art, and vise versa. The best athletes exhibit a level of artistic performance: the grace, strength, coordination — all working in perfect harmony — is an act of art. For art, I think the sports mindset also plays a role: the will to compete, the act of continual learning and improvement, and the relentless determination ultimately become the “best.”
Although most of my art revolves around sports, music has always been an passion of mine, too. As a kid who grew up in the greater Seattle area during the Grunge era, I’m a huge fan of bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. So, the news Chris Cornell’s passing definitely hit me pretty hard. He was such an incredible artist whose music touched so many people and, what many people don’t know, is he also raised a lot of money for charity. In many respects, he’s the kind of artist that I strive to be. I just felt like I had to create a piece of art to honor him, and everything that his music has done for me.
The piece of Chris Cornell took over 30 hours to complete and was drawn with single pencil. I also listened to Chris’ music on repeat while drawing, which definitely added a new dimension to the creation process. I filmed a time-lapse of the drawing, and have been blown away how many times the video has been shared. Literally hundreds of thousands of people had watched the video within two weeks.
I’m absolutely amazed at the level of support that I’ve received from so people all over the world, and I looking forward to using my art to continue raising money for the folks who need it most.
Carving Your Own Path:
Everyone has the ability to become the person they want to be, and create the life that they want to live. The problem is that our society tells us to live a linear life that consists of going to school, getting a good job, starting a family, etc while minimizing the level risk. Just follow the steps and live a “nice” life, as deemed by society. However, I think the biggest risk is regretting to live the life that you always wanted because you were afraid to try. If more people made the decision to truly give it everything they’ve got, They’d be positively surprised that they can, in fact, do anything.
Where You Can Find Me:
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In collaboration with/produced by Jeff Gorra