An oldy but goody. I remember writing this the day Anna Nicole died.
Mural, Mural on the Wall
On a chilly, wind howling evening in a Starbucks in Denville, 17 year old Boonton Township resident, Brendan McNamara, sticks out in the small, coffee swilling shop for two reasons. One, he’s carrying a giant, overstuffed portfolio that’s so filled with work that it shifts the right side of his body down. And two, he’s not wearing a coat.
But as he strides over to the only available table in the house, passing by a gaggle of girls who crane their necks to see what he’s carrying, the goose bumps brush off his skin almost instantly. As soon as he gets beneath the light and opens up his portfolio, unveiling what he calls, “just simple drawings,” his whole appearance lights up, this is what he obviously loves to do.
But anybody who’s seen Brendan’s work will tell you that these are anything but simple drawings. “Brendan is blessed with outstanding artistic talent; what he adds to that is a wonderful work ethic and a genuine humble demeanor that enhances his innate ability,” says Mountain Lakes Principal, Lewis Ludwig. And humbleness is certainly one of Brendan’s most sterling qualities.
Pulling out a variety of pictures of everything from a brooding self portrait to a smirking Jessica Alba, Brendan just shrugs it off as if it’s just natural to him. “Some of the people in my art class joke about me being an ego killer,” he humbly says as he offers his hand to his drawings, which even prompts one of the Starbucks employees to stop and ask, “Did you draw all this?” Of course he nods yes, what else could he say?
And with the possibility that his artwork might even get him into Governor’s school in TCNJ, a very selective program for talented students in multiple fields, things are definitely looking up for Brendan; not only figuratively, but also literally, as well.
Taking out photographs of murals for some of the people who have paid him to draw, one of Brendan’s earliest creations was on the ceiling of a woman’s nursery. Showcasing three angels poking their heads out of clouds, Brendan did the entire thing just standing on a ladder, staring up towards the ceiling. “The woman almost started to cry when she saw the angels,” says his mother, Debby, of her son’s finished product. “He did the entire thing looking up. He’s crazy, but you can’t deny the end result.
Brendan, personally, has some fond memories of doing that mural as well. “The angel one cost about $750 to do…because it was on the ceiling,” he smiles.
Even with a nice payday like that, though, Brendan still knows that he probably couldn’t make the kind of money he would need to support himself in the future, which is why he invests a great deal of his free time in the film production club at school.
“Yeah, I’m really into film.” Brendan says, putting his pictures back into his portfolio, “I think it’s great for me to get into. I like using the camera.”
And while his mother suggested he start thinking about creating prosthetics for a living, Brendan declined the idea, admitting that while it’d be interesting “making arms, legs, and limbs, I’d like to do cinematography [instead]; setting up lighting, camera angles.”
These are all things he could work on extensively at the University of Rochester in Upstate New York, where he wants to go after high school. And if he does happen to get in, he’s sure to make his other passion—baseball—a part of his curriculum, too, even though the sport almost took him out of drawing forever.
“Back over the summer, I was catching a fly ball my coach hit to me, and it went through my glove and hit my finger,” he says, pointing at the curve that now zig zags in his ring finger bone on his right hand. “My biggest concern was, how am I going to draw now? But it hasn’t affected the way I draw.”
“In fact, in many ways, he says it’s made it better,” says Debby. How his work would be affected in the first place, though, is a mystery once one sees how he holds his pencil. Taking a pen and holding between his index, middle, and ring fingers, he displays how he does his work. “Teachers tried to fight it for years,” Brendan admits.
One thing teachers certainly aren’t fighting now, though, is his talent. And as Brendan stands up and pushes his chair in to leave, Brendan admits that he’s not fighting it either. “I love doing this and I’m grateful that I’m able to have this talent. And I’m not going to take it for granted.”
And with those final words, Brendan stepped outside the Starbucks and jogged to his car without a coat, his portfolio banging against his leg with every step he took.