Even for an artist who has painted signs, car panels and bike fenders, a giant golf ball is a bit out of the ordinary.
Working on several pieces of 5-foot golf ball art made Saturday an unusual day for Bob Behounek and a handful of members of Chicago BrushMasters, a nonprofit group of sign painters that hosts auctions to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.
The object may have been odd, but the purpose behind the golf ball painting project made it a perfect endeavor for BrushMasters. The balls will be displayed across the region as part of the "Tartan Art on the Avenue," exhibit during the Ryder Cup international golf event this September at Medinah Country Club. Through sponsorships of $7,500 to $20,000 from businesses wanting a ball all their own, the exhibit will raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Illinois PGA Foundation.
"Laying things out on a sphere is always a challenge because of all the perspectives," Behounek said. "It's not flat. So that's why I think we all like this project so much, because it's a challenge."
BrushMasters already has raised about $300,000 for Ronald McDonald House since 2006 through its annual Kustom Kulture Charity Auction, member Ron Jelinek said. Behounek said members have painted custom borders around bulletin boards in each of the 86 rooms of the newest Ronald McDonald House, set to open June 16 at 211 E. Grand Ave. in Chicago, and the group will have a room in the house dedicated in its honor.
"It's so cool to be able to do something and give back to the community," said Behounek, who is retired but enjoys painting for a good cause. "I'm still using my abilities to do something good."
Group members gathered Saturday at Earl Mich Company in Wood Dale to continue their endeavor of painting at least a dozen giant golf balls by late August.
Jelinek already had completed two balls -- one painted in two tones to symbolize Chicago's "hot jazz" and "cool blues," and another with a rainbow and clouds containing words used by Ronald McDonald House like hope, love, comfort and care.
BrushMasters member Joe Balabuszko, sales manager at the sign supply provider Earl Mich Company, had started a ball showing a golfer in traditional tartan plaid, but said he needed to put the finishing touches on it.
"We're promoting a craft that in many ways is disappearing because of computers and digital art," Balabuszko said as he prepared the sign enamel used to paint the balls.
The team of painters also made quick work of a ball featuring a bit of a golf joke. Using string, a ruler, a tape measurer and artist's charcoal, Behounek and Jelinek laid out a large number "4" and an exclamation point atop one of the balls' white, plastic surface. Within about a half-hour, they had one side of the ball painted to mimic the golfer's warning of "fore" after hitting an errant shot.
"Tartan Art" golf balls painted by the BrushMasters and other artists will be displayed Sept. 13 to Oct. 10 at the locations of local business sponsors and on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago.