Friday, June 11, 2010

Speed Painting tests artists' ability

"I was really concerned I was going to get paint on someone," said Ridenour, who herself was covered in paint from head to toe.

She had spent the past minutes throwing, blowing and squirting paint onto a 4-by-8-foot piece of plywood at Thursday's Speed Painting event at the Decatur-Macon County Fair.

Ridenour was one of three artists commissioned at this year's fair for what the Marketing Manager Ayn Owens calls "agriculture meets art."

Starting at 5:30 p.m., Ridenour and Andrew Blesse, both of Mount Zion, rushed to complete their paintings before 6 p.m., while people passing through the Midway stopped and watched in amazement.

In the corner, another piece of art that already was finished lay on a table, too heavy to hang on the wall. With reactions like "cool" and "that's neat," people filing by stopped to take a second glance at the 3-by-4-foot mosaic portrait of Abraham Lincoln made entirely out of soybeans.

"In some ways, the beans made it easy, in some ways it made it more difficult," said the artist, Ted Keylon.

Keylon works as an actor at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum complex in Springfield, where he portrays Francis Carpenter an artist who frequently painted Lincoln.

Despite the unusual surface, Keylon was more comfortable working on the large-scale piece than he expected.

"That's what I liked about doing this, the soybeans did a lot of the work for me," Keylon said.

While working on it over the past several months, Keylon was reminded of when he first started learning about and practicing pointillism, a style of art that uses spots of narrow colors to make an image.

"The beauty of a mosaic is how all the parts come together to create a large image," Keylon said.

While the portrait of Lincoln lay complete, on the other side of the room, Ridenour and Blesse were having some difficulties. Since they were inside, they could only use the spray paint for the first few minutes, which extended their deadline.

Already nervous to be painting in front of people, Blesse had to change his plans when the spray paint was off limits. Still, after an hour, he was pleased with the outcome of colorful layers and abstract neon flowers.

"Sometimes a painting paints itself," Blesse said about his piece spontaneously titled "Big Loud Mess."

Ridenour's piece titled "Oil Spill" followed her normal construction technique of no technique.

"There's no method to the madness," said Ridenour whose piece blended bright oceanic colors with darker textured paint.

All of the art will be auctioned off 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Grandstand. The proceeds from the auction will go to the fair.

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