It’s rare that a non-Steelers player frequently is featured on the JumboTron at Heinz Field.
Unless, of course, your name is George Williams.
An art teacher at Seneca Valley Middle School, Williams is featured every Sunday on the big screen between plays in a pre-taped performance that shows him wielding two paintbrushes as he splashes paint on a large canvas. The paintings eventually takes the form of a Steelers player or, as in one memorable case, an outline of Pittsburgh’s skyline featuring Lombardi trophies in place of the buildings.
And it’s all done within minutes.
Williams is a master of the art style known as “action painting.”
With this concept, Williams energetically completes a large-scale painting – usually set to music—within 10 to 15 minutes.
A 16-year-veteran at the middle school, his skills were on display Friday when he completed a portrait featuring Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu during a pep rally for the seventh and eighth-graders.
Total time it took him to finish the project while students cheered him on? About 20 minutes.
“That was a long one,” he joked.
A married father of three girls, Williams was introduced to action painting while still a student at Bethany College in West Virginia. After seeing Denny Dent, an expert in the field who performs with three brushes, perform, Williams was hooked.
In less than 15 minutes, he recalled, Dent produced an Albert Einstein portrait, one of John Lennon, and a psychedelic Jimi Hendrix.
“He was pretty amazing,” he said.
Thinking it would be interesting for students, Williams tried action painting for himself in 2002. While he never mastered using three brushes, he soon was able to churn out paintings using a brush in each hand.
After a parent of one of his students caught him at work during a school event, Williams quickly gained a following. He was asked to perform live at a charity event for Cranberry Township Community Day and the resulting painting was auctioned off during the fundraiser.
Since then, Williams has performed at many charity events, including for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.
The Steelers are his most popular subjects, he said, followed by the Pittsburgh Penguins. A certain pro-golf player also was among his most requested, at least before scandal broke out.
“I don’t do much Tiger Wood anymore,” Williams said with a laugh.
Others started to notice and Williams was filmed during an art performance last year that wound up being featured weekly on the JumboTron at Heinz Field.
The video has been shown during the first and second half of games this season and last season. Williams, who has watched himself on the big screen during games he has attended with his wife and daughters, still marvels at it.
“That definitely has been the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me along those lines,” he said. “It’s a huge thrill.”
Interested in booking Williams for an event? Williams, and his work, can be found on his website www.art-madness.com