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The Portrait of Kevin Durant, by W. Bennett Berry

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Oklahoma City artist W. Bennett Berry offers exclusive insight into the creative process of turning Durant the player into Durant the artwork.

One of the pleasures we've had over the past season while following the Thunder is discovering our very own professional artist in the midst on the WTLC staff. W. Bennett Berry, who goes by Bill Champion in these parts, is a local Oklahoma City artist and if you live in the vicinity, you can actually visit the Howell Gallery of Fine Art and view his work.

As we were chatting about future artistic ideas for the site, he let me know that OKC Allied Arts has commissioned him to paint a Thunder painting for their "Opus" party this month. Bennett was given a deadline of October 19th, so we can rest assured that he's hard at work at his studio as we speak. In the meantime though, he is going to grant WTLC exclusive rights to post a series of progress shots of the piece as it is coming together. This way, we can all get a glimpse as to what goes into his artistic process. I also asked Bennett to offer up a little art history as well so that we can learn some things as well as enjoy his art.

First up is an image of his progress on October 2nd, about 8 hours into the process.


According to Bennett, this piece has one day of actual painting in it, but a couple of days worth of research, Photoshop, etc. Here is what he has to say so far:

"I plan on taking the piece in a sort of hybrid Caravaggio and Kehinde Wiley direction. There are aspects of other artist's work influencing as well, a little bit of Alex Katz and David Hockney and maybe some van Gogh in terms of color use in the background. In short, a kind of Dutch Baroque, slightly muted look (in color terms) to the figure with heavy modeling/detail work and chiaroscuro aside from the uniform. That'll be flat color for the most part, the contrast gives the end result a bit of a 3d feel if I get it right and the background color scheme bounces off of it the way I'd like it to. The background will be figured out after the figure is completed, but it'll be floating in the back of my head from now until then."

A few hours later, this is what Bennett had to report:


"I'm working on the right arm and face today. The weird thing about painting KD is that it's always a concern that he looks like Alonzo Mourning. This will be the third KD painting I've done and I'd forgotten about that until this afternoon."

Stay tuned to our story stream to view updates to Bennett's progress.


I regretfully neglected to mention this above, but Bennett is the source for all of our numerous posts featuring Thunder Artwork on the site, and he has been an excellent writing contributor as well. Stay with us this season to see what other amazing works he comes up with exclusively for you, our readers.