Thursday, November 14, 2013

Once Again, File It Under... "The Mind Is A Terrible Thing!"

My P-47 Thunderbolt forty minute demo sample...

It is just too hilarious. I just don't understand what is the matter with me, sometimes.

About a month ago, an administrator for the Three Rivers Art Festival asked me if I was interested in doing a demonstration in paint because they had a slot to fill at noon on Saturday. I could paint or sketch any subject matter I choose, so in a Jack Leynnwood moment, I told the woman that I'd love to do the one hour demo…

…kinda like Jack used to at Art Center.

I was a student at Art Center a long time ago when Jack Leynnwood taught product and marker rendering. I won't go in depth about the man's credentials, professionally, except to say that as a teacher he was always demonstrating rendering techniques. He'd usually illustrate with acrylics, casein or gouache. Jack wasn't a guy that philosophized about art and the aesthetics of it. He used to lick the end of the brush, no matter what medium, ( to my knowledge, he seldom worked in oils! ) and his favorite art pencil was a Ticonderoga No.2. In other words, he was just a plain Joe doing his job!

And, he did it in class "in any key!"

Well always, in my mind, I have these visions of grandeur where there are tons of people in the audience just waiting for me to show them the way. It's not unlike the visualization techniques that athletes go through before a big play or game. I envisioned lots of kids, mostly boys, just clamoring for a lesson on how to paint a big, bad World War II aircraft. I visualized every aspect of rendering the big, silver plane with bold black and white invasion stripes. I thought about what I'd say using shapes to capture the true form, warm and cool colors, reflected light on a metallic surface, and how to maintain the center axis for all the important points in perspective. And then, when I'm finished with the painting, everyone could put their name in a hat, ( which I forgot to bring! ) and, at the end of the day, in my booth, I would pull out the name of the lucky winner of the illustration.

"Ta Dah!"

But, for me, the reality almost never happens that way. And, the reality of this demonstration was sadly, all too real. It's not like I've never given demonstrations before. If you've been in the business any length of time, eventually, you will get asked to teach or give a demo of your style or philosophy. I've taught classes at some pretty good art schools and given promo demos and such all through my years in Southern California. So, you'd think by now, I'd get a grip on my runaway imagination and self absorbed ego.

You would think!

First off, I actually drove to the festival site without my easel and paints and had to turn back around  for home to pick them up. It made me late setting up the rest of my booth in the morning. Just before noon, a block monitor came by to watch my booth as I took off, on time, to get my supplies from the car, which was parked in an "artists only" lot that was close to the demo tent. When I arrived at my car, I realized that I had left my car keys back at the booth which was three long, crowded blocks away.

By the time I returned to the "Artist's Alive Tent" with my easel, palette, water bucket and acrylic paints, I had less than forty-five minutes to paint... ANYTHING! With another artist waiting in the wings to do his metal works demonstration, I didn't have any extra time to embellish. This was in no way how I had envisioned my demonstration going. Now, the best I could hope for was an explanation of the use of ellipsis when drawing a form as mechanical as an automobile or airplane and possibly, fling some paint around.

What you see at the top of this page is a D-back Thunderbolt painted under duress. It is the result of a demo gone terribly wrong. Had there been a real audience asking questions, I never would have gotten past the initial drawing. ( I believe, including my wife, I had about six mildly interested viewers! )

Having given myself a few days to reflect, I guess I can say that at best, the experience reminds me of just how incredibly hard it is to demonstrate in a classroom situation under time restraints. Also, how one must not expect perfection to the point where it stifles or interferes with the learning process. Jack was a professional and never worried about making mistakes to the point where it stopped him from demonstrating.

At the very least, I can understand the process enough to actually laugh at my attempt to replicate a Jack Leynnwood moment…

And, probably, so can Jack!

Copyright 2013/ Ben Bensen III 

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