WINNIPEG -- A Winnipeg artist is gaining traction online thanks to his watercolour paintings depicting sports players.

Mike Nguyen said he started painting again back in 2019 after taking a break for almost 20 years.

"My friend convinced me to get back into it and I was nervous about getting into it because I was kind of scared if I wasn't good or I just forgot how to paint," said Nguyen.

"I tested it out back in January 2019 and I just felt this great feeling like I was 13 again. I haven't stopped painting ever since."

He said he decided to start painting the things he liked—sports.

As a kid he said he would sketch players in his notebooks and he always had a connection to sports, especially hockey.

What makes Nguyen's paintings unique is his use of watercolours.

Mike Nguyen Art

Source: Mike Nguyen/Twitter

Nguyen said those are his paints of choice because that is what he used in junior high, thanks to his Grade 7 art teacher.

"As a poor family growing up, we couldn't afford art supplies. So he gifted me a lot of supplies like pencil crayons, oil pastels, but it was the watercolour set that inspired me. Just the way it looks and just how the bright colours are on the paper and the white paper shining through."

He added watercolours are not like any other kinds of paints due to the fact you can't really make mistakes.

"You can't go backwards, as you could with acrylic and oil. It's the challenge as well. I love the challenge."

Mike Nguyen Art

Source: Mike Nguyen/Twitter

Nguyen’s work has received a lot of attention, not only from the online community, but from some of the people who are his actual painting subjects.

He has painted a variety of sports icons from players with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Winnipeg Jets to sports superstars like Tom Brady and Mookie Betts.

Nguyen said he has actually had some of his worked signed by the athletes he has painted which he keeps as part of his personal collection.

"First was Doug Gilmour and then Morgan Riley, I've got Kirk McLean. The best one I think is Matthew Tkachuk and Brady Tkachuk. I think it is cool they both signed the same artwork."

Mike Nguyen Art

Source: Mike Nguyen/Twitter

Even with the success he has found with his work, Nguyen said the popularity started thanks to the hometown Bombers.

"That was a turning point. I was doing a lot of art shows in the summer and it was hit and miss," he said. "(Then) I started painting the Blue Bombers. I was overwhelmed by the support I got."

Nguyen said for now he is going to continue posting his work on social media but in the future he hopes he can host an art exhibition showcasing all of his sport artwork. He added that he would also love to create his own art book.

If people want to check out his work they can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at Mike Nguyen Art.