WEIRTON - Tempy Moore hadn't planned on a career in the fine arts. Trained in computer-assisted graphic design, it wasn't until she was laid off after eight months on the job that she picked up her chalks and pencils and started drawing in earnest.
"I really had no faith I could do it as a business," said Moore, a Weirton resident. "In my mind, I had a ways to go before I was going to be good. But I got a lot of encouragement from my husband - he said they were really good, we could make something of it. He started e-mailing people, marketing my work."
Her husband Scott is her biggest cheerleader, arranging to display her work at art shows and craft shows, even getting business people to hang her pieces in their shops and restaurants.
WEIRTON ARTIST — Weirton artist Tempy Moore works on a commission, a portrait of a soldier. The East Palestine, Ohio, native specializes in sports portraits, numbering many past and present Pittsburgh sports stars among her clients. - Linda Harris
"For a long time I did black-and-whites with just a splash of color," said Moore, the owner of Art For Yinz LLC. "Now, I've started to do full color drawings, that's turning out really well."
A 1999 graduate of East Palestine High School, Moore's drawing skills are largely self-taught. Growing up, she remembers her mother always encouraging her to draw.
"I'd get art supplies for Christmas, and when I got in trouble, for punishment she'd make me go to my room and draw," she said.
Over the years she found herself drawing things over and over, "until I got it right." When she was young it was horses; in high school she fixated on famous faces she'd see in magazines like "Rolling Stone."
"I used to do Jim Morrison when I was in high school, I'd do his picture over and over and over," she said. "My friends were blown away - I always said I could do better, but everybody else seemed to like it."
Her focus at the moment is Pittsburgh sports figures, though she accepts commissions for individual and group portraits. "I love doing portraits," she said. "I like to do eyes, the reflections in eyes. ... As long as I can do faces, that's really what I enjoy."
She's done a lot of work with the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Tyler Kennedy, Marc-Andre Fleury and Mario Lemiuex of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and she's also done portraits of the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen and Steeler-greats Jack Lambert, Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward and Ben Roethlisberger, among others.
"I do a lot of custom stuff," she said. "People see my artwork and they'll ask me to do their grandparents or their grandkids, or do something for an anniversary gift or a wedding gift."
Moore recently landed a job at a recent "captains of industry" reception Consol Energy sponsored in the Big Apple, a black-tie event at the Empire State Building.
"There was some pressure with that," she said. "Scott got the call and said they wanted to fly me to New York, they'd heard about my artwork and wanted to know if I'd be willing to paint four canvases in four hours in front of the (attendees). I was so scared, but Scott said he wouldn't take the job if he didn't think I could do it."
She'll be part of a Celebrity Wine Wars event Sept. 26 at the Roberto Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh, during which her limited edition prints as well as one or two custom pieces created specifically for the event will be sold.
And she recently finished a commission for Leaf Trading Cards, doing portraits of 150 of baseball greats, past and present. She sketched each five times for a total of some 750 images for the 2012 Leaf set.
Each of the cards is signed.
"They were looking online for sports artists," she said. "I thought they were taking a chance - I don't have a gallery with a lot of big names behind me, so it's really exciting to do that."
The limited edition trading cards will be randomly inserted in Leaf's boxed baseball card sets, she said. "So you might get one or two in a box, you might get none. Or you might get an autographed one."
For now, the mother of two said some of her favorite moments are when she sits down with her kids to draw. "It's something I love to do, and hope to be doing for years," she said. "I can't wait to see where it goes."