Please Drop the ‘Art Starts’ in the DANK Cart!
by Cate Murway

Say what? A New Year is here and everyone is invited to help color the world for many deserving, sick children. A “Donation Station” Art Cart is set up in Sloan’s Thrift, a family owned / Veteran owned business, to accept all generous donations of any kind of drawing supplies, Play-Doh or water colors.

John Brian Danks has philanthropically been toting his treasure chest of art supply materials up and down the halls of Saint Christopher’s Hospital for Children, the 189 bed non-sectarian children’s hospital located in Philadelphia, for nearly four years. He generously distributes his accumulated art supplies to kids waiting for medical treatments. Dubbed “the Crayon Man” in a recent KYW Newsradio article, his heartfelt goal is to “brighten their day” and involve the young patients who are enduring lengthy medical treatments.

“I have developed an Art Cart and I volunteer as an artist’s "buddy" at Saint Christopher's Hospital for Children.” This program not only provides children with the chance to create art but helps them gain a greater sense of accomplishment, self-worth and control in an unsettling situation. All of the volunteers are an integral part of the special care given to the young patients and their families.

Artist John B. Danks, named after an Uncle and his grandfather, was born in Olney and grew up in Reading with his parents, Adrienne Marie and Thomas Joseph Danks and his siblings, Tom, Adrienne and Sharon. Their father worked in computer programming and currently is a consultant. 
John’s paternal cousin, the late Eddie Connors was afflicted with muscular dystrophy. It was Eddie who drew portraits and it was he who was the significant inspiration for John to even pick up colored pencils and he continued his love of drawing while in High School. John had drawn animals as a young boy and then he started to draw people, especially football players. He is a self taught portraitist with considerable creative and artistic talents. Many of the techniques and processes he learned throughout the years have been through schooling, but the majority of his skill is self taught while experimenting with the drawings he has produced.

John graduated from Exeter Township Senior High School and attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia where he achieved a well-balanced, high quality education in commercial arts. He lived with his Uncle Joseph Danks in center city while he was studying. He worked his way through Art school bartending and painting backgrounds for Hal Taylor, the founder of The Philadelphia Marionette Theatre in Fairmount Park that has entertained countless school children and adults over the years. He has always enjoyed working with children.

He moved to Radcliffe Street in Bristol in 2008 and he was one of the original artists featured at the Centre for the Arts on Mill Street at the Grand Opening. 
John is involved with Twelve Keys holistic recovery and he is employed at the Livengrin Foundation recovery community as a certified recovery specialist and at the Gaudenzia addiction treatment facility in Bristol Township. He is also a guest artist at Bensalem High School in their Art classes, allowing the students the unique opportunity to work with highly-regarded practicing artists, adding a much appreciated dynamic element to the curriculum.

But it is his volunteer work at Saint Christopher's Hospital for Children that truly fulfills his soul. 
John designed his Art Cart, made himself business cards and a flyer and began working in the outpatient clinics for the young oncology patients, offering a therapeutic distraction by keeping the children engaged and relaxed. In the waiting room, he entices the budding artists with “would you like to color?” He even offers “reverse face painting” where the children get to paint on his face. 

“You get to know them because they are there a lot.” John exhibits compassion, very much inclined to give help and comfort to those in need.

Pencil Drawing is a fascinating medium, capable of rendering the most determined contrasts in light and shade. Immediacy of pencil drawing is one of the main allures, proving a true mastery of art. 
No, John Danks works are not photographs and the thicknesses of lines, as well as intensity of color, are conditioned by this draftsmen’s execution of his works. His mind-‘blowing-ly’ realistic images are hand-drawn illustrations. John is a seriously talented, self- taught illustrator who pulls out his best pencils and drawing techniques to produce some truly exceptional pencil art, somehow displaying even the beauty in imperfections by his passionate focus on details.
John shared that he uses actual cosmetics for his portraitures at times to achieve every realistic variant in shading. Quick sketches or more elaborate, finely worked drawings can be created by him with a depth that is truly beautiful. Each of his stunning, striking portraits is drawn creatively, uniquely and accurately and even the black and white drawings seem to have a magical appeal.

To most people today, if a task requires the use of a pencil, it usually means that any pencil will do.
Not so, John prefers his quality, artist-grade Premier Prismacolor Colored Pencils to reflect his craft and detail in all his works, from simple sketches to complex creations when inspiration strikes.

Artists appear to be happy people, with light, color and peace keeping them company to the end of each day. The only things artists really need are to be bold and adventurous and John unselfishly, by his example, encourages others to not let a piece of clean white paper deter them. In fact, especially while working with children, he has found that youngsters don’t let anything deter them.

Please help him continue to add much color to the lives of many ill children. With the appropriate supplies, he encourages each child to bring his/her own brand of creativity to the table.
“Donations would be wonderful, anything art related.”

A percentage of all commissioned work secured through John Danks’ “Art Cart” page will go toward keeping the art cart fully stocked. Visit
In this time of mass-produced and off the shelf artworks, John provides personalized artwork that is rare and beautiful, a true keepsake. He is offering renditions for only $125.00 during his “Sweetheart Special”. Valentine’s Day will be here sooner than you think! 610.406.7568
Give a call. It gives him a lot of joy to create something that people are happy to own.
His final products are stellar!

The “Art Cart Donation Location” is Sloan’s Second Hand Thrift, located at 220 Bristol Pike [Route 13], Bristol, PA, in the strip shopping center next to The Golden Eagle Diner.

Sloan’s Thrift
220 Bristol Pike [Route 13]
Bristol, PA 19007

Recommend a "Spotlight". E-mail

click on thumbnails to enlarge