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OKC Thunder: Artist Ray Tennyson opens a window to Thunder's soul

THUNDER ART — The most important part of Ray Tennyson's art is the process. That should be familiar to Oklahoma City fans, as should the subjects of his portraits.
by Jenni Carlson Published: October 29, 2012

“Seems like he does what he feels.”

Tennyson tried to capture that full-speed-ahead attitude with a set-jaw, steel-eyed Westbrook.

Once Tennyson was done with the piece, he shared it with all of his followers.

“All the feedback,” he said, “made me do more.”

Kevin Durant was next.

At the suggestion of his mother, Tennyson decided to do the painting live in Bricktown on a Sunday afternoon last January. He sketched out the image on a canvas beforehand, took it and his paint to a spot on the sidewalk outside Harkins Theatre, then crammed what normally takes nine hours into two hours.

A serious, almost stoic Durant eventually emerged from the canvas.

With the Thunder off to a great start and everyone abuzz about all things blue, the painting generated attention on the internet and the local news. Not long after, Tennyson had sold enough of his paintings and was commissioned to do enough additional ones to quit his part-time job.

The 22-year-old marvels that he's now painting for a living, though he believes he still has much to learn.

“With any talent or any skill, it's always hard in the beginning,” he said. “I still think this is my beginning.”

This is where he starts sounding like works for the Thunder, a bunch that is forever talking about “ongoing process” and “player development” and “continued improvement”. The catch phrases make media and fans alike roll their eyes.

But as much as we hate to admit it, they're right. Even though the Thunder has done some amazing things — going to the NBA Finals only three years after starting the season 3-29 comes to mind — this is still a young franchise with a bunch of young players working to get better every day.

That resonates with Tennyson.

“People think you can become good in a month,” he said. “It takes years. That's why I look up to (the Thunder). They're doin' it, and they're young.”

The same can be said for Ray Tennyson.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. You can also like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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Want to own a piece of Ray Tennyson's work?

The Oklahoma native has originals, prints and T-shirts for sale on his website, He paints commissioned pieces upon request, too.

He regularly posts videos of his paintings in progress on his YouTube channel, Ray Tennyson TV. He's also on Twitter and Instagram (@raytennyson).

His can be reached via email at

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