The LaSalle artist uses random objects to convey his message

The LaSalle artist uses random objects to convey his message
The LaSalle artist uses random objects to convey his message

A LaSalle artist uses a variety of objects to create his backdrop, and his skills give new meaning to the phrase “don’t worry about the little things.”

John Kettman describes himself as a pop culture artist. He said if there is an interesting or political topic in the news, he takes it up. He said he has created artwork of the current and a former president on trash cans.

“I made the Donald Trump pumpkin and now I made Joe (Biden) and I put it on 30-gallon garbage cans,” he said. “And I call him Junk Yard Joe. And I call him Donald J. Junk.”

Kettman said he comes from a creative family. He started painting in elementary school. After school, he took art classes and said he learned a lot from that teacher. He said that teacher pointed out that he had a talent for drawing faces. Kettman took that talent to a new level.

“It’s almost weird that I’m picking up an object,” he explained. “Like a corn husk flying across the field. Elon husk, Elon, corn husk, husk, musk. You put two and two together like a little puzzle. Eminem on an M&M – a piece of candy.”

Kettman said the object had to fit the message he wanted to convey. The list of objects is endless. For example, he said he saw a mural with Johnny Appleseed on it and came up with the idea of ​​placing the character on an apple seed.

Kettman has carved and painted things like pencils, quarters, and even rice. It may seem unimaginable, but Kettman’s imagination stretches to the limit. So much so that he found a way to draw Bob Marley on a hemp seed using a microscope. He said it took him 11 hours, or until his eyeballs started to burn.

“It feels like the blood vessels are bursting,” he said. “And my wife (said), ‘It’s time to stop painting now. You should see yourself.’ But it’s like, yeah, I look, I look at my phone and look at my reflection and I look like Rocky beat me up.”

Kettman said some projects typically take between three and eight hours to complete.

His first unconventional painting was a cracker. He said he was sitting in a restaurant eating soup and thought, “Polly wants a cracker.” So he decided to paint a parrot on a cracker. Since then he has been painting many different things, big and small.

Kettman’s creativity waned when he moved from Streator to Chicago’s northern suburbs. Kettman said he had a great nightlife back then. He frequented a club in Mundelein. He found himself drawing people on napkins.

“The Chicago Bears hung out there. I met Dave Duerson there and drew his portrait, he signed a napkin and gave it to me,” Kettman said. “Mark Bortz was there one night with him and Otis Wilson, they were just hanging out, just like everybody else.”

Kettman said his creativity increased when he moved back near his hometown. He credits his second wife for helping him nurture his imagination. He said she helps him critique most of his works.

“I ask them, ‘Hey, does the eye look right? Does the nose look right?’ he asked. “It’s always helpful to have someone else take a look at your stuff to see if you made a mistake.”

He recently visited Greece with his daughter and said that even more ideas came to him during his stay.

“I was inspired not only by the people and the culture around me, but also by the biblical places we visited,” he added. “You know, you read, you go to church, you hear this story and that story, but now you walk where Roman emperors walked.”

Kettman and his daughter watched the locals making olive oil. He asked if he could have a piece of the olive tree and was given a branch. He said he planned to cut it into slices. He would take these pieces and paint portraits of famous people on them.

He said that every object feels different. He also describes it as a psychic ability. He saw a stone that looked like an ear and thought to himself, “Who lost their ear?”

“Oh, I know,” he continued, “Vincent van Gogh. Vincent van Gogh’s ear, ‘Starry Night.’ Vincent van Gogh’s spooky night on an ear. A stone in the shape of an ear with ‘Starry Night’ on it. It’s just weird.”

One of his most recent creations was a cicada, which he named and placed in a small jar.

Kettman said he is in competition with himself. He wants to teach others what he does. Other goals include having one of his works printed on a postage stamp and exhibiting a selection of his works in an art gallery. Until then, most of his creations can be seen on his Facebook page.

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