Painter finds Ravens to be super-inspiring

Art: Defensive lines, I-formations and fan mania guide a Baltimore painter's brushstrokes.

January 30, 2001|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

While Annina Luck was watching the Baltimore Ravens pick off the Oakland Raiders for the AFC championship a few Sundays ago, she whipped out two delightful paintings featuring a flock of Ravens strutting in a fine-feathered chorus line.

Made from a single stencil, her ravens are rendered much the way a child would draw a sideways bird with spindly legs and sharp beak, then repeatedly applied to paper. Luck's Baltimore Ravens bear famous numbers on their bright purple breasts and footballs tumble around the paintings' peripheries.

Instant commemorative folk art. No need for a certificate of authenticity; unlike most Ravens merchandise, all of her works are authentic.

"I just love watching sports when I paint," says Luck, who lives in Mt. Washington. "It's very soothing."

One of Luck's whimsical tributes to the home team hangs in Common Ground in Hampden. Another, featuring an extra-plump, thick-legged Raven that is actually "The Goose," hung at Java Joe's on Baltimore Street until yesterday.

It all began a year ago when Luck, 39, bought a television and subscribed to cable. "I just turn on ESPN, and I'll watch everything. I paint on the floor and look up. It's kind of inspirational."

She got into football in particular so she could talk to her brother.

On Sunday, Luck decided to celebrate the Ravens' first Super Bowl with a first of her own. Instead of painting on the usual paper, she stretched a 30- by 30-inch canvas at the Canton Gallery where she works, and placed it flat on the floor in front of the television. Using acrylic paint and a glossy medium, she created another in a series depicting a raven and his female companion.

Through the pre-game show, the first half, half time and the thrilling third quarter, Luck painted, fired up by the roar of the crowd and the on-field fireworks.

It has to be sports; not a movie, not a sitcom. "It really revs me up and makes me believe," Luck says. "It's very basic: I can do this. The game puts me on a level - I'm not an athlete by any means - but I feel I can do this."

The on-air biographies of players who have overcome hardship are also useful, she says. "I can really relate to their setbacks and getting back on track." Take Ravens QB Trent Dilfer. "He was coming back to Tampa, a place where he had been booed last year and here he is this year. He's victorious. It's very inspirational."

Luck didn't paint through "Survivor." No, she says, "I can't watch that stuff. That's not pure. Sports is pure. I turned it right off."

That Luck's raven - a crow if you will, and occasionally portrayed in her paintings as "King of the Underworld" - can double as a football hero is no contradiction in her estimation. Her Super Bowl Sunday raven, in fact, was portrayed under a "Byzantine kind of an arch" with mountains in the background.

Energy emanating from the Super Bowl compounded Luck's already vivid vision for her raven series. "When I'm painting, I'm thinking about history, about different themes and experiences," she says. "I'm hoping it comes through, even though the forms are simple. I don't have all of the technical abilities I possibly could have, but I do have a lot of ideas and imagination."

Luck's work appears in cafes and restaurants around town, including Spoons, Java Joe's, Loco Hombre and Common Ground. You can also see it in the window of the old Masonic Temple at 229 N. Charles St.

"When I was little, I definitely did a lot of drawing and coloring," Luck says. "Then, I rejected it."

It wasn't until five years when she was working as a waitress at Loco Hombre, and painted the restaurant's cactus pots and bathrooms that she reclaimed her childhood gift.

And now, if the Ravens continue to have winning seasons, there's no telling where her art will take her.

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