How the Mavs’ Tyson Chandler Remains Focused: Painting Classes

Finally, the art angle I’ve been waiting for to allow the Mavs hysteria to bleed into this arts and culture space: word dropped in my email that Mavs’ center Tyson Chandler is a student at Sofia Khunteyev’s North Dallas painting studio. Love this photo. The good guys keep getting better.



Basketball star serious about taking art lessons from acclaimed Dallas art school.

DALLAS, TX–Tyson Chandler of the Dallas Mavericks can really draw crowds with his basketball wizardry. But he can also draw a beautiful still life and still attract admirers. The Mavericks’ center—who has helped give the team a big edge in the playoffs—is also a student at Sofia Art Academy in north Dallas.

Art is, in fact, as much a passion for Tyson as basketball. It’s one of his favorite hobbies and his home is adorned with original art. In March, he contacted Sofia Art Academy because he had heard that each instructor at the school was as much of a perfectionist as he was. Owned by Russian-born Sofia Khunteyev and her son, Igor, the renowned school offers drawing and painting classes to students who range in age from 5 to 75 years old. Sofia is unique in that it takes an old-world European approach to drawing, much like the apprentice artists of the Renaissance who learned at the feet of their masters. Tyson couldn’t wait to begin.

So after that first day of class, he was so inspired that he went home and drew Bob Marley. His wife was very approving.

“When I paint, it’s the best feeling in the world,” says Tyson. “I am calm, not stressed, and am focused.” Now that the basketball season is about to end (hopefully with a championship ring on one of his fingers), he will be practicing his art techniques at Sofia and at home. “Even when I’m away for a game, I can work on my art.”

Sofia Khunteyev and her daughter, Charna (also an instructor), didn’t know who Tyson Chandler was when he first started classes. “We just didn’t watch sports that much,” says Sofia. “But now we are sold on his exceptional abilities, both on the court and on the canvas.”

Lately, Tyson has really excelled at his Sofia art classes, believes Charna Khunteyev. “Even his basketball game has changed for the better. In art, I think he has found a balance that works whether he is on the road or at home.”

When Tyson travels during the basketball season, he likes to sketch and paint in his hotel room, so Sofia packs him a traveling kit complete with pencils and paper. She explains how to set up or choose an image that he will be drawing or painting and tells him to practice doing what he did in class. “He learns fast,” observes Charna. “That’s because he definitely has talent. But he hadn’t had much previous experience in art technique or methods; taking classes at Sofia is a perfect way for him to finally fill the creative void that he has had for years.”

Sofia Academy is located at 14857 Preston Road, Suite 200 in Dallas, and the school’s phone number is 972-980-1717. Website is

Next time you see Tyson Chandler shooting for a 3-pointer in a playoff game with all his might and style, who knows…he might just be thinking, “Boy, when I get home, I’ll capture this moment with a painting!”