CHICAGO — An artist touring the country is capturing the essence of baseball, all before the 7th inning "sketch."
With a sketchpad and an eye for the essential, self-taught artist S. Preston made his way through the crowd to his seats at Wrigley Field, where his prints are on display at the gift shop.
From the marquee, to the mascot, to the statues, to the shirts, there’s so much to take in on a trip to the stadium that it can take a bit of nudging to remember the old saying, "less is more."
But there's something about his work; the way the subjects use so few shapes and colors yet are instantly identifiable, that cuts through the clutter of the sights and sounds of the stadium.
“So my ballpark art basically focuses on one part of every ballpark. One iconic aspect, whether it’s noticeable by all fans or just the fans in that area and zone into that point, and if you know it, you know it. That’s the fun part of minimalism," Preston said. “Taking things away until whatever’s the essence filters up.”
Preston is one of only two professional artists licensed by Major League Baseball. His images of all 30 stadiums are now in the Baseball Hall of Fame, including digital drawings of Soldier Field, the United Center, Sox park and even Sister Jean.
The marquee would be too obvious, as would the historic scoreboard, so he found inspiration in the ivy.
“The corner with the 365 sign with the brick and the ivy together, because those two together mean Wrigley field. It can only mean Wrigley Field,” Preston said.
In his trips across America’s ball parks, he’s meticulously looking over what others might overlook. That includes how there wasn’t a great way from dads and daughters to bond over baseball.
“Some people overlook that dad’s need to bring their daughters to the game and they need to do something that’s fun for them.” Preston said.
So the renowned minimalist started drawing something different, something magical instead of minimal. Over the course of a couple of innings, he’ll draw a princess.
He takes a photo, then posts it on twitter with his seat number. The first one to find him, gets to keep it for free.
“I’m not rich. I’m an artist, so what I give back is my art,” Preston said.
In sketching a baseball princess, he’s also drawing devoted and new fans further into a game he loves. Sandra Marchetti is among one of 250 people who have won the colorful contest.
“When you can distill it down to the ivy or the yellow number, everybody knows what that means – and it brings up that feeling, and the feeling is what’s beautiful and special,” Marchetti said.
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