Using paint that at times he threw or smeared with his hands, artist John Jansky of Danville transformed a blank canvas into a portrait of Jimi Hendrix with lightning speed.
In the time it took an assembled band calling themselves “Too Cool for School” to rock out Hendrix’s signature tune “Purple Haze” — somewhere between five and 10 minutes — Jansky had finished his masterpiece of the musician before a crowd of teens and music professionals Wednesday during the First Gig Rock Camp at Danville Area Community College.
“I consider John a rock star in his own right,” said Peter Blackmon, general manager of the David S. Palmer Arena, who organized the day camp for youths ranging in age from 10 to 18.
Jansky, an operations manager at the AutoZone distribution center, said he has been drawing his entire life but became a speed artist after losing a bet to a friend during the 2008 presidential election.
The bet was to see how fast he could paint the likeness of President Barrack Obama. Jansky’s friend videotaped it, set it to music and posted it on YouTube.
“It really took off after that,” Jansky said of his expeditious artwork.
Now Jansky considers himself an employed speed artist who is hired to appear at events. Many times the paintings he creates at an event are auctioned off for charity.
“The audience has really opened up and accepted me,” he said.
He also has created quick portraits in chicken sauce at the Hibachi Grill, black pepper, grains of sugar, chocolate and even cigar ashes.
Besides being a talented speed artist, Jansky said he’s also an “upclose magician.”
Next week, Jansky will appear at the Society of American Magicians in Washington, D.C., where he plans to speed paint portraits of people whom spectators from the audience have on their mind.