Speed Painter Dan Dunn Thrills FFA Members at Convention

Dan Dunn starts his masterpiece with abstract colors, shapes and no apparent form. Photograph by Caroline Weihl.

Dan Dunn starts his masterpiece with abstract colors, shapes and no apparent form. Photograph by Caroline Weihl.

By Caroline Wiehl, National FFA Convention & Expo Newsroom Intern

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Art is a matter of perspective. It can provoke emotions, ideas and beliefs in ways we may never have imagined. How is that inspiration induced, you might ask? Through the vision of the artist. With paint flying across the stage in what first appears as an unidentifiable image, these portraits quickly reveal their true colors through the brush of Dan Dunn.

Dan Dunn used his speed painting skills to share his visions of passion and philanthropy throughout the three first sessions of the 86th National FFA Convention & Expo at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.

“It appeals to me to be able to do something in a few minutes, keep the audience in suspense and then to show them what it is at the last minute,” Dunn said after an exasperating stage performance. “There is something about that I find intoxicating. I really love it!”

Dunn created a colorful masterpiece to commemorate 80 years since the adoption of the official FFA jacket.

“FFA asked me to interpret the jacket. I wanted to depict the excitement in the faces of the kids looking into the future [of agriculture],” Dunn explained. “This was the best audience I have experienced. There was so much energy!”

In just a few minutes, a scattered mess was transformed into a beautiful FFA masterpiece. Photograph by Caroline Weihl.

In just a few minutes, a scattered mess was transformed into a beautiful FFA masterpiece. Photograph by Caroline Weihl.

Dunn has spent 30 years in his life’s passion of sharing messages through art. Beginning at age 19, Dunn loved to share art through caricatures. He explained that he enjoyed interacting with people and doing it quickly. This began his searched to combine the two.

Dunn ignited his passion after watching a show from the late Denny Dent. Dent was the first speed painter Dunn had seen and he felt he could do it too. After Dent’s passing in 2004, Dunn finally took the initiative to pursue this dream. He was wary about leaving his wife and five children to hit the road, but their persistence and his ambition to support them was unrelenting. Now, he wouldn’t be found doing anything else, especially for a good cause.

In the past five years, Dunn has raised $1.5 million for charity. He said that it wasn’t intentional, but developed when he discovered his clients’ benevolent actions from his performances.

Dunn feels the students can learn the impact of giving back and paying it forward from examples like him.

“Follow your dreams, believe in your dreams and never give up. If you want it, you will go get it,” Dunn said.

Caroline Weihl is a senior at The Ohio State University studying agricultural communication. Originally growing up on a beef and grain farm in Bowling Green, Ohio, she is an alumna of Otsego FFA Chapter, a 2010 National FFA Band participant and 2011-12 state FFA officer. Find Caroline’s social media sites at about.me/CarolineWeihl.

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