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This pencil portrait of Pettersson is not a photo

Portrait artist Shannon Ross shared this incredible drawing of Elias Pettersson on her social media.
pettersson portrait in progress
A pencil portrait in progress of Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks.

When you first see it, it’s tempting to just scroll on by. It’s a nice photo of Elias Pettersson, to be sure, but there are a lot of nice photos of Pettersson on social media. It’s kind of his thing.

But then you see the caption: “pencil drawing.” That can’t be right. Can it? That’s a photo. That’s obviously a photo.

Except it isn’t.

Shannon Ross draws incredible portraits entirely using coloured pencils or, as they’re called in Canada, pencil crayons. She combines her love of portraiture with her love of hockey and has drawn dozens of hockey players. Her latest portrait of Pettersson is her best piece yet.

According to the caption, this portrait took nearly 160 hours to complete and the hard work and attention to detail shows. Pettersson’s plaintive expression looks lifelike and the reflection off of his visor is stunning.

"I've been artistic since I was young," said Ross via email. "In art class in school, I preferred portraiture to still life and that’s where I’d say I really started showing my skills."

The Glaswegian artist initially became a fan of hockey via her boyfriend taking her to a Glasgow Clan game. From there, she began watching the Pittsburgh Penguins on TV and her love for the game grew.

"When I left school in 2016, I never drew much but I eventually wanted to see what I could still do," she said. "I was used to drawing self-portraits in school, so I wanted to change it up, and that’s when I decided to draw Sidney Crosby. It received more attention than anything I’d ever posted online before which made me want to keep going."

For those who still can’t believe that her Pettersson piece isn’t a photo, Ross has multiple in-progress pictures on her Instagram, as well as timelapse videos that show the painstaking work that goes into such a realistic representation.

For instance, there’s this timelapse video of the helmet alone, which apparently took 36 hours to complete.

While many of her portraits have a plain white background, the blurred fans behind Pettersson add to the illusion of this being a photograph. It’s a stunning accomplishment.

Ross sells prints of her NHL portraits on her Etsy shop, with $45.52 Canadian being the typical price point. While her portrait of Pettersson is not yet on her Etsy, there is one drawing of a current Canuck available, albeit from before he came to Vancouver: a gorgeous rendition of Braden Holtby’s iconic save on Alex Tuch from the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.

Ross also occasionally sells the original drawings. Currently the only one available on her Etsy is a portrait of Nathan Mackinnon, which features a similar level of detail to her Pettersson portrait. It is currently priced at $1001.46 in Canadian dollars. 

"Over the years now, I’ve grown more of a love for hockey, so being able to draw the guys that play the game really makes me happy!" said Ross. "Whilst I still draw pet and family portraits, hockey portraits are most definitely my favourite."

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