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June 28, 2010

Roanoke artist and Tech grad drawing another Tech print

By: Jimmy Robertson

"Game Day"

Eric Fitzpatrick enjoyed drawing his Virginia Tech “Game Day” print so much that he decided to draw another one.

So now “Game Night” is in the works.

Fitzpatrick, a 1975 graduate of Tech and a Roanoke artist, became a familiar name among Tech fans last year when he produced “Game Day.” He has been going to Tech football games for years dating back to his days as a student. Over the years, he came into the stadium from the German Club side, or the south end zone side, and one fall afternoon a few years ago, the idea hit him.

“I thought, ‘Gosh, there is a painting here,’” Fitzpatrick said. “It took me a couple of years to get my mind around the idea. I finally did a sketch and added some architectural details. The idea was framing itself from the side, with the new press box and all the folks there. That’s the life of it all – the folks.”

Fitzpatrick spent roughly three months last year working on “Game Day,” transferring the details, the lighting and the colors from what he envisioned while walking into Lane Stadium to a canvas. The end result was a wonderful capturing of everything associated with a Tech football game in the fall, from head coach Frank Beamer and defensive coordinator Bud Foster to the HokieBird, Highty Tighties, Marching Virginians, old Tech logos and even a Jimmy Buffet fan lounging in the parking lot. It also includes the video board, which shows Tech leading Virginia 30-0 in the fourth quarter.

Once he painted it, he photographed it and took it to a printer, who printed it. The “Game Day” print went on sale late last summer and can be purchased through the Alumni Association.

Now, he’s working on something he feels can be just as special – “Game Night.” This particular print will feature many aspects of a night game at Lane Stadium.

“There’s just something about a night game,” Fitzpatrick said. “There’s a vibe in the air. You can look across the lot and the light is just so dramatic. Sometimes you have the fireworks overhead. The idea was just so appealing that I said, ‘I’ve got to do that.’”

He has spent the past couple of months working on the painting, and it figures to be something special. He revealed little about the painting, but did let slip that it would include Foster again, along with Bill Roth and Mike Burnop, the popular radio crew that broadcasts football and basketball games through the Virginia Tech/ISP Sports Network.

“Last fall, the idea started germinating,” Fitzpatrick said. “Then, in January or February, I started getting it together.”

Artists tend to work at varying paces, and Fitzpatrick doesn’t like to rush things. He takes an idea and massages it for a while. Then he’ll break out the canvas and brush and start working on the painting.

“Paintings are like that,” he said. “You have to wait for them to jell. You try not to rush it and just let it come on its own. That’s when the best stuff happens.”

Once he finishes the painting, he has it professionally photographed, thus preserving the original. He takes that photograph to a local printer, and a friend of his who knows the printing process inside and out works with him and the printer to get the colors as close to exact as possible.

Fitzpatrick plans on finishing “Game Night” by the end of July, and in fact, hopes to unveil it on July 29 at the Hotel Roanoke in conjunction with the Roanoke Valley Hokie Club’s first annual football kickoff dinner. That dinner features Beamer, Roth, Tech AD Jim Weaver and special guest Lesley Visser, a sportscaster and radio personality.

He sold his original painting of “Game Day” to a collector in Roanoke and the same collector is buying the original of “Game Night.” Once the prints are made, they’ll be available to be purchased through the Alumni Association (

To learn more about Fitzpatrick and his work, check out his Web site at