Sunday, June 26, 2016

Denny Moyer in acrylic

Former undisputed junior middleweight champion Denny Moyer, acrylic paint on 12" X 16" canvas panel, by artist Coyote Duran
Former undisputed junior middleweight champion Denny Moyer, acrylic paint on 12" X 16" canvas panel

I didn't realize until yesterday, when I was talking to my co-worker Bill Tibbs, that I haven't done a strictly acrylic painting since 2012. Over four years, man! That's way too long!

I mention Bill because he recently commissioned this painting (acrylic paint on 12" X 16" canvas panel) for a friend who's a huge fan of the late undisputed junior middleweight champion Denny Moyer. Moyer won the very first WBA junior middleweight title when it was put up for grabs in October 1962. He defeated Joey Giambra for the distinction via 15-round unanimous decision in  Moyer's hometown of Portland, Oregon.

Moyer would go on to unify the division by capturing the inaugural WBC belt a mere four months later when he defeated Stan Harrington in Honolulu, Hawaii. Unfortunately Moyer lost the unified championship to Ralph Dupas two months later in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Just as interesting, however, is that Moyer split a pair of bouts with the great Sugar Ray Robinson, winning the rematch four months after his 10-round unanimous decision loss.

Throughout his storied career, Moyer defeated Benny "Kid" Paret and Emile Griffith but lost to Carlos Monzon in a bid for the legendary Argentinean's undisputed middleweight championship in March 1972.

So you can imagine it was an honor putting this one together for a guy who exemplified what it meant to be a fighter's fighter. Moyer retired in 1975 with a record of 98-38-4, with 25 knockouts. Out of those losses, he was only stopped within the distance seven times. Not freaking bad at all.

A little daunting indeed was getting just the right photo reference. Tibbsy presented me with the following, a black and white autographed example. But I needed to re-imagine this in color and the only active era photos available were what looked like grainy stills, obtained by stopping either a reel-to-reel projector or taking a quick photo of a live fight from television with a cheap camera.

"What color were Denny's hair and eyes?" I asked Bill.

"He had dark hair and hazel eyes," Tibbsy replied.

The Denny Moyer photo reference

That's a start. Let's roll with it. After beginning a detailed sketch during some "Drink and Draw Saturdays" at the Coyote Den, I was in pretty good shape.

The following was shot in the midst of scoping out some "TNA Impact" news... 

This was the near-culmination of the pencil stage...

When I thought I was in the home stretch... 

Then really entering the home stretch... 

Despite a snafu with a little bowing of the canvas panel (it happens. I now have a pile of canvas panels stacked beneath my art kit), this project has been nothing short of spectacular, fulfilling and fun. In fact (speaking of pro wrestling), I think I might have even channeled my inner Rob Schamberger. (If you don't know who he is, please Google him. Consider that your homework. You won't be disappointed.)

Look, the bottom line is this wasn't just was a commissioned painting; it was an exercise in rejuvenation as well as a way to associate a good piece of artwork with a man more fight fans should know of and about. In the end, I hope that when fight fans talk about the very first junior middleweight titleholder and the very first undisputed junior middleweight champion, this painting is the new official image they think about.

Thank you, Tibbsy, for the awesome commission, and thank you, Denny, for being the best kind of subject. I hope you were watching, Champ.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Commissions? Hit me up at You can also follow me at and

No comments:

Post a Comment