UCF alum leaves paintings on streets of New York, Orlando free of charge
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 17:08
UCF graduate and former communication adjunct Keith Jensen may have people begging for a piece of his artwork, but he’s not interested. If they want to get their hands on a Jensen original, they’ll have to keep up with his Twitter account @paintpenart, or scour the streets of Manhattan and Orlando.
Jensen made a deal with himself four weeks ago to give his paintings away for a minimum of one year.
“I would paint something because I would have an idea and I would paint it — and then it would sit in my room,” Jensen said. “I don’t want to look at it, and the last thing I want to do is put it on Facebook and tell people, ‘Hey! It’s for sale,’ to my friends, ‘Hey buddy, buy this painting from me.‘ I don’t want anybody to spend money on it.”
So Jensen and his roommate came up with an idea to leave the paintings on the street with a sign attached that said, “Free Art. If having this art will make your day better, then it’s yours.” It started as an experiment. They thought maybe no one would pick it up, maybe a homeless person would take it or worse, someone who didn’t even like it would snag it just because it was free.
The first painting, which depicted a young Paul McCartney with Beatles lyrics pouring out of his head, was left on a bench in Manhattan. It was gone in seconds. So far Jensen has left six paintings on the streets of New York, where he currently lives, and two in downtown Orlando, where he visits every month for work.
Before dropping paintings off, Jensen tweets a picture of the artwork and where he plans to leave it if friends or fans want to get a head start. That was the case with Patrick Panza, a friend and fellow UCF graduate, who was waiting at the lake for Jensen to tweet out the exact drop location.
“I’m very happy about it because I’ve been trying to get one [of his paintings] for a while now, and I thought I had lost my chance because he moved," Panza said.
Although Jensen does not want to sell his art, and will not entertain requests for personal paintings during this year-long project, he does listen to his followers. On occasion he will paint a request and drop it in a location where the person will have a good chance of getting to it first.
Jensen, 31, is no stranger to the artistic world. He creates ad campaigns for a living and has been an avid doodler for years, but the painting thing just caught on eight months ago when a longtime friend requested Jensen paint his doodles on a jet ski. Seeing the outcome was instant gratification. He also fell in love with the product he used for the project, a paint marker made by a small company in Brooklyn, N.Y. called Krink.
Since then he has participated in art shows with local Orlando artist Stephanie Wood, who owns WoodGrain gallery, and continues to paint with his Krink pens on any surface he can find, from glass to Jeep Wranglers, and even skin, although canvas is his favorite.
“With canvas, I know it’s going to come out the way I paint it,” Jensen said. “I mean it could be a crappy picture, but I know it’s not going to be because of the surface.”
Doodling wasn’t only Jensen’s way of relaxing, he also credits it with helping him through college. When UCF professors would ask students in class if there was anything they should know, Jensen had a unique response.
“I would have to raise my hand and tell them, ‘Look, I’m going to be doodling during class — doesn’t mean I’m not listening.’ The weird thing is that I would be able to, on a test I would be able to think back to what I was drawing at the time and remember something,” Jensen said. “I would remember the face or the cartoon for the word, and it would click.”
In the future Jensen plans to continue working in advertising and video production while leaving two paintings per week in New York or Orlando, wherever he happens to be at the time.
“I wouldn’t paint as much if I didn’t have a reason to. I like the idea that I don’t know where it is; I don’t know who has it,” Jensen said smiling. “I don’t want to make it work, because that’s what I do to get away from it.”