Bennett, the father of Denali Dreams owner Shaun Bennett and Monett Community Church pastor Chad Bennett, has offered art classes in Monett. This will be the largest show of works ever given by Bennett, with around 40 paintings on display, representing a cross-section of Bennett's work from the past 20 years.
Most of the paintings are landscapes. Close to half the works will show scenes from Missouri. An active plein air artist, Bennett has participated in the Augusta Plein Air Event for the last eight years, where he has created paintings from scenes along the Katy Trail. He also shows at the Big Cedar Lodge exhibit and the Victor Celebrates the Arts outdoor painting event in Victor, Colo.
"I tell artists to enter shows for the camaraderie, the sales and building a clientele," Bennett said. "How well you do in ribbons and awards has nothing to do with how good a painter you are."
Bennett considers himself to be a narrative painter.
"Every painting is a memory for me," he said. "I plan to have paragraphs on each painting to tell the story."
One of his favorite stories involves painting outdoors with another plein air artist in the Northwest. They heard a buffalo nearby but paid no attention until they had finished their paintings. Turning around, they discovered an entire herd of buffalo had walked up behind them across the road and were standing there watching them paint.
Bennett's father, Harry Bennett, was an artist from Joplin. Harry sculpted and painted portraits, teaching his son how to be a sign painter.
"For Christmas in 1973, he gave me a portrait he had done of Black Elk, the Sioux holy man, and encouraged me to do canvasses," Bennett said.
Bennett offers simple advice to aspiring artists.
"Find an artist who can do what you don't know how to do and pick their brain," he said.
Bennett credits his success as a professional painter to attending many workshops offered by major artists. He studied with Jim Wilcox, Ralph Oberg, John Budicin and Matt Smith. Bennett recalled asking Oberg, a renowned artist of Western scenes, how to do a specific effect, and Oberg answered, "Wrong question. The right question is why."
"Learn the theory of 'why' and the rest will follow," Bennett said. "It's been a good journey."
Most of the paintings at the show will be for sale. Some have been borrowed from private collections to show some of Bennett's favorite works.
More information about Bennett is available at davebennettart.com. Denali Dreams is located at 316 E. Broadway.