Football and fine art combine with Indianapolis artist's unique talent

Artist Justin Vining paints Lucas Oil Stadium during the home opener. (WTHR Staff / Joe Fenton)
colts game artist for web
Justin Vining paints Sunrise
Justin Vining completes Sunrise painting

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Perhaps you've seen Justin Vining around town. For the last 8 years he's made a living painting Indianapolis scenes.

The 38-year-old is expanding his offerings to include event captures.

The goal is to capture a live event on deadline and on canvas.

He's already painted the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard and the Fever games.

Painting at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Facebook via Justin Vining)

Eyewitness news went along as he made his first attempt at painting a Colts home game at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was the 2019 home opener hosting the Falcons and Vining arrived hours before kick off.

"I'm super, super-duper excited. I've been excited all week. I couldn't wait to get here," Vining said.

He scouted a spot high in the stadium with a view.

He mounts his blank canvas and sizes up the scene.

Justin Vining painting at Lucas Oil Stadium. (WTHR Staff / Joe Fenton)

"This painting is wide-enough I'm going to be able to get all the curves," Vining said.

There isn't time to waste, his goal is a finished piece of fine art by the fourth quarter.

"I could paint this from a photograph but it wouldn't be the same," Vining said.

He starts with an outline of simple strokes of brown paint.

"Everything is going to center around the field but I think a secondary focal point...will the skyline. I'm really proud to be from Indianapolis and I think the way that they designed this to be able to look out and see the skyline right there is so beautiful, I want to make sure that is captured as well," Vining said.

Vining said he always knew he had the gift of art. His spent a couple years as an elementary art teacher before leaving the profession to attend law school. He toiled away, passed the bar and within the first year quit to pursue his passion. His pieces range from $200 to $7,000. But it's the work he does on location, that is earning him a reputation one of Indy's artists to watch.

Brown County overlook. (Justin Vining)
Brown County sunrise plein air. (Justin Vining)
Color 11. (Justin Vining)
Early Snow. (Justin Vining)
Inspired. (Justin Vining)
Rochester Barn. (Justin Vining)
Saturated Sunrise. (Justin Vining)
Sharrer Sunset. (Justin Vining)
Wcolor 12. (Justin Vining)

While the scene as Lucas Oil appears overwhelming, Vining said the key is to break it down.

"All the elements and everything happens so fast so the paintings have to be very spontaneous and in the moment and because of that they are a little bit looser and unrefined. So they really are more impressionistic," Vining said.

At the game, football fans stop to watch his progress and want to know if the piece is for sale.

The more he works, the larger the crowd he attracts.

They take pictures and want to be included somehow in his work.

The painting looks mostly done by halftime. Vining spends the third and fourth quarters putting in details like banners, and players and numbers on the field. His is constantly being complimented and interrupted.

"They can't believe how it looks like the scene. Most people...saw it (when) I really didn't have much at the beginning. It's been fun," Vining said.

On the field, Jacoby Brissett walks off the field celebrating a win. Vining autographs the painting, a sign, it's game over.

"I like the idea that when I walk away's done," Vining said.

Painting Indianapolis scenes is Vining's favorite thing.

Painting of Monument Circle. (Instagram via Justin Vining)

"A specialty of mine is specialty house painting, so someone's first home or they are selling a home or they are moving, I do a lot of commissions like that," Vining said.

Right now, Vining is renovating a building east of downtown and plans to open a studio in 2020. His goal is to showcase Indiana's growing art scene.

"In Indianapolis, we have a really thriving art scene. There are so many painters that are painting not just good for Indiana but great for our country. I still feel like and I've been doing this full-time for eight years and no one still knows who I am really," Vining said. "So, I would encourage people to go out on First Fridays and explore what this city has to offer in terms of the visual art scene."

Painting for Sunrise

On Thursday, Oct. 24 Vining came to the WTHR studio to live paint the Sunrise show. Here's what he came up with:

Justin Vining came to WTHR to paint the Sunrise show as it was on the air. (WTHR)