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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Radiating Feral Cats from 'Da Bayou... Number Three!

Nothing a little cayenne can't fix!

No, it is not the effects of radiation poisoning after the atomic bomb was first dropped. It is the result of the ecological disaster created by man, Hurricane Katrina and years of exposure to the folly of the Corps of Engineers, ha!

These are sketches that were included with a presentation for a movie proposal. It never went any further than that for me... C'est la vie!

Copyright Ben Bensen III/ 2011-2012

Friday, December 16, 2011

"A New Kind of Mexican Hat Dance...Feliz Navidad?"

Feliz Navi-DAT!
Well, I was sitting in the dentist chair when I received the good news. All systems go, that is, no cracked fillings, no receding gums, no cavities, no problems. So, I decided to celebrate by having a Mexican lunch. It would be a solo gig and that was just fine for me!

Earlier in the day, I, along with other dutiful and intrepid parents, braved the wet weather and attended a Christmas extravaganza presented by the Lancaster Elementary School. The performance went well much to the delight of parents and teachers. After the show, there was a party complete with all kinds of Christmas themes, decorations and goodies. Because I wanted to impress my dental hygienist, I abstained from the sugary stuff.

But now, reveling in my dental report, it was my time to party and show off the "pearly whites. Ordering one of the luncheon specials, accompanied by a large frozen margarita, I noticed the festive Christmas decorations complete with Saints posters and the ever present, fleur-de-lis.

How Mexican!

But, the best was this restaurant's artificial tree standing proudly in the large glass window just loaded with all sorts of "multi-cultural" adornments. When I saw the black sombrero atop the tree replacing the standard star or angel, or "Gawd Forbid" a fleur-de-lis, I just had to pull out the sketchbook and capture it. Can you say Merry Christmas with a New Orleans 'Yat accent?

Feliz Navi-DAT!

Copyright 2011-2012/Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Radianting Feral Cats from 'Da Bayou... Number One!

Conceptual kitties from 'da Bayou...
Sketches of cats that, in the script,  are exposed to the toxic waters of New Orleans after the floods of Katrina, which flow to the bayous and swamps of southern Louisiana to infect the animal kingdom.  I wonder what effect it has on the native nutria population...

They are already ugly enough, ha!

Copyright 2011/2012/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Demented Felines from Katrina's Aftermath...

Mini-Cat Men!
Just two quickies for my own exploration in the world of catlike humanoids left to their own devices out in 'da Bayou years after the floods of Katrina...

Radiatin' Cajun Cats!

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Conceptual Cooties... The Finale!

Snake mouthed, possum headed, google-eyed, crustacean with a scorpion tail...
What else would you expect? I have a few more even sillier ones to show, but I think you get the idea that, pretty much, all avenues have been explored. Coming up with something that no one has ever seen before can get pretty tiresome. I believe that I have almost every animal phylum represented except maybe those strange deep sea creatures like the angler fish. Eventually, the writer gonna have to make some decision on which way to go... and, I'll bet, he'll be playing "cootie" himself with all the variants, silly and almost believable, too. He's got a lot to choose from...

And to think, the best Mother Nature could do was the duckbilled platypus!

Copyright 2011/2012/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More Conceptual Cooties... Page Five!

Bug with a Cajun Influence...
At one point, this sketch had claws, but it looked way too much like something a Cajun would throw in a pot with seasonings and cayenne and cook till it turned red. The human legs do look silly, but it is part of the script where the people who are infected slowly turn into strange insects. The problem is that we just haven't hit on the right combination...

And, we may never, ha!

The main problem is one of locomotion. The writer has written into the script the ability of these bugs to hover, fly and levitate as it moves from one place to another, but he has no vision or concept of how this movement is accomplished.

"Show me something I've never seen before," he constantly says, but if you've never seen it before, how will you know... when you've seen it? It's a new take on the old adage, "I don't know art, but I know what I like!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's a Face I Just Had to Draw...

Daily Reminder Art!
Well, I took the wrong Daily Reminder with me when I went to bring my mom to the doctor's office for more blood test. Happy to say, she is fit as a fiddle, but in the waiting room was this man who's profile reminded me of that actor that played along side of Fred Gwynne in the "Munsters" and"Car 54."

Guess I could look it up, huh!

Anyway, I thought I captured him pretty well, though I had to constantly move to get his unique profile, which I thought was pretty, um... unique!

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More Conceptual Cooties... Page Four!

Beetle type platforms for the writer to see...

For a series of sketches, I was asked to approach the main insect as a beetle with a hard shell that would cover the wings.  Eventually, some bugs transformed from insect to humans, so I drew a few of those transformations which gave us all a good laugh. I find it hilarious when writer's and film people come up with the most outlandish things to artist to visualize and make sense out of. I guess I am one who doesn't have the ability to suspend my "disbelief" far enough to accept some of the silly and far out concepts Hollywood has foisted off on the movie going public. 

Still, it is fun to get paid to draw and create such craziness after many years of drawing smiling consumers consuming one thing or the other. 

 A woman lustfully holding a "whopper" with such anticipation to make anyone's mouth water. How many versions can an artist draw to show that phenomenon... Let me count the ways!

Copyright 2011/2012 / Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Conceptual Cooties...Page Three

Another modified, qualified and funka-fied bug!
Well, these bugs attack people while they sleep kind of like bedbugs do, only these use the unsuspecting sleepers as their hosts to lay eggs inside their incisive bites.  Insidious little buggers!

In this version, I used the deer tick as inspiration because it seemed more believable than any other bug form except, maybe, worms. The head and the biting parts changed quite a bit, but this bug with a bat-like nose and tongue seemed to do the trick... for now!

At first, it had the head of a crawfish, ha! How bayou can you get?

Copyright 2011/2012/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sketchy Creations... The Insect Version of Mr. Potato Head! Page Two

Composite of three or four ideas...
The writer likes web feet, so I began to add webbed feet on the insects. I must have sketched about twenty or so concepts using frog legs, grasshopper legs, human legs, turtle legs, goat legs, etc. As I mentioned before, it's kinda like playing God, or Mr. Potato Head... or Cootie!

I pulled a mosquito hawk ( that's what we call dragonflies here in Louisiana ) from my car's front grill and it inspired me in the wrong direction, but in this sketch, I contemplated using that head for the final piece. I always found that their mouths to be pretty scary especially when you feed them another bug and watch how the mouth works to devour the prey.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the right direction for the project!

Copyright 2011-2012/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sketchy Creations... The Insect Version of Mr. Potato Head!

Tubular, Dude!

The last few months, I've had the distinct pleasure of "playing God" on spec. That's right, for all my preaching about work for hire or work for nothing, I have succumbed to lowest of low as an artist.

That is, work for fun.

Yep, in the next week or so, I will post the sketchy creations of fictitious creatures that exists only in the minds of forever hopeful film directors, sipping their daiquiris in a jacuzzi full of "what if's" with budgets as fictitious as the many demented insects I have pieced together pretending God could have done better!

It is just like playing "Cootie" which was an insect version of Mr. Potato Head... which should be fun... somehow! 

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, October 21, 2011

"One Man Band... A Closeup from Pretty Far Away!"

Just another sketch I did during dinner.  I think the third margarita is starting to show here though I think I captured the lighting pretty well enough to do a painting from.

He still looks a little too young!

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"One Man Band, Margaritas, and Besame Mucho!"

A Closeup of the Guitarist sketched in ball point pen!
I was really digging the light of the evening that came streaming through the window. It created a lot of editing for me by reducing the unimportant and highlighting just enough to tell a story. This sketch captures him doing an instrumental version of "Besame Mucho" and every time I hear this song I think of Peggy Lee's soft, oozing sensual, "femme fatale" version as well as Paul McCartney's spoof of the song with the Beatles. But this musician was as good a vocalist as he was a guitarist and played just about everything including his own version of the Beatles', "All You Need Is Love."

Although I sketched him looking rather youthful, he actually was about forty-five or fifty years old. One of the things I enjoyed about him was that he didn't always rely on his "backup band" to fill in the rough spots. He seemed confident enough with his guitar to solo with or without the drum machine. I would not have been surprised had he performed that famed guitar medley of, "Pipeline, "Walk Don't Run," "Raunchy."

As the restaurant filled up with patrons and birthday partiers, his guitaring became background muzak, but by then, after finishing my third happy hour libation, I became his favorite and most attentive audience. I applauded after every song forcing others to applaud with a casual indifference to his talents.

Dinner finally arrived and I thoroughly enjoyed it, Enchiladas Especial! The meal also helped me walk out of the cantina without stumbling over myself. But before I left, I dropped a five spot in his tips glass, smiled and said, one guitarist to another, "Gracias!"

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Monday, October 10, 2011

"One Man Band... Tuning Up!"

A One Man Soundcheck!
After two small margaritas, I received word that my friend was not going to be able to join me for "Happy Hour" and dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, so I decided to put off my meal and sketch a little. I had my sketchbook handy because I wanted to share some of my drawings with a friend. While I was working on this sketch and a third margarita, one waiter and one waitress started moving tables around in one long line to the center of the restaurant. Apparently, someone was gonna have a birthday get together and this one man band prepared his computerized backup band, set up his microphone, music and lyric sheets, his over-sized wine glass for tips, and then began to, most importantly, tune his gut stringed classical... ax!

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Ruff Sketches"... Number Four!

It is a bit contrived, but that's okay!
Although his face is a little too elongated, the sketch captures Pierre's playfulness. I didn't like the rest of the drawing so I did a little cut and paste... Works for me, ha!

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, September 30, 2011

"Ruff Sketches"... Number Three!

One of my better sketches of Pierre le Pooch!
Here's a perfect example of falling in love with the curls. I probably would have drawn even more curly cues if Pierre hadn't got up, stretched and walked away. I think LSU last score woke him up as we screamed in affirmation.

Geaux Tigers!

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Ruff Sketches"... Number Two!

Drawing my cocker spaniel, Pierre, is a exercise in using directional lines because when his fur is long, it gets really curly which can sometimes mislead my ability to capture his body movements even when asleep. He has so many cowlicks that it is hard to follow his body lines.

Pierre is a AKC dog that is well trained and well behaved, but because of his wild and crazy curls, he will never be a "show dog." Scruffy, best describes his overall looks until he gets his curly locks cut. Then, he looks like an unusually large, hairless chihuahua.

We were told when Therese fell in love with him at the pound, that he probably was "traumatized" by his previous owner, who was a elderly lady that just couldn't handle him. He, apparently, was a gift from the daughter to be a companion to the septuagenarian owner. Over the past few years, we noticed his fear of rolled up newspaper or magazine, so we assume that that was what she used to discipline the young rascal. We also noticed, the hard way, that you cannot give him a toy or a bone or anything he suddenly perceives to be his. Then, he becomes very territorial and will growl like a demon dawg if you happen to be in the same room as he is with his prize. Not understanding that his "prize" is something we gave to him, he becomes quite cantankerous to the point of biting the hand that feeds him.

Cute and curly can come at a price, ha!

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Ruff Sketches... Number One

Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie!
The past week I've been too busy to be in the frame of mind to sketch. Truth is, I did a few perfunctory sketches, but decided to shelve them for another time because I wasn't really happy with them enough to post. While watching the LSU vs West Virginia game Saturday night, I found some nice designs with our dog, Pierre, as he slept through the whole second half of the game. Like people, dogs are continuously moving when they're not napping and the only way to capture animals is to observe how they move. The knowledge helps you draw from memory and then embellish what is unique about that particular animal.

Of course, that's the theory of it all. Being successful doing it, is another thing!

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Farmer's Market...Creole Tomatoes!

Please don't squeeze 'da tomatoes!

One of many sketches I did at the Farmer's Market in downtown Covington, LA. The market is open to the public just about every Saturday across from the grotesquely huge court house. As I have mentioned a few times before,  Sharpies, Pentels, Razor Points, etc. are not forgiving. Once you commit to a form defining line, you had better like it. Those tools make you think before you draw. And unfortunately,  people don't normally wait for you to decide which line works best. I've got plenty of false starts in sketchbooks because of Pentel lines that go nowhere, ha!

It took me about fifteen minutes to sketch this scene that basically lasted about a minute. The red was later applied with a red ad marker. So, it is mostly a composite of a few poses, drawn from memory except for the table and the veggies. They didn't move... too much!

Copyright 2014/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Well, I'm A Bit Angry at My Wife...

I sketched the view we got on our return to help out.

Yesterday morning Therese and I decided to go have breakfast in town as our "Labor Day" extravaganza. It was still raining as it had been for the last couple of days as Tropical Storm Lee stalled out and dumped the area with ten or twelve inches of the wet stuff. We had heard that the storm would be clearing out by the afternoon, but by then, we'd be in the middle of our chores, so this was the best time to be together.

We drove about one quarter mile on our way to the main highway when Therese saw a large, blue and white umbrella lying down on the limestone gravel driveway.

"What's that?" she asked as we sped ahead in the rain towards breakfast.

"Looks like a guy sitting in the driveway with his morning paper and umbrella, reading," I said.

Just then, an SUV turned ahead us with a very large black garbage bag propped on the roof of the car.

"Gee, I said, I wonder if that driver knows he has a bag of garbage on top of his car and I wonder where he's going with it?"

Therese, then asked me, if I thought the guy reading the paper with his umbrella was all right but before I could answer, we both saw a woman hastily dodging raindrops in her night gown and slippers to check the mail.

"Wow, everyone sure is acting strange today," Therese said. "Maybe, it's cabin fever, having had to stay indoors for all this time while the storm did its thing!"

"I don't know, but she's getting wet for nothing. Today's a holiday for the post office", I snickered.

Just as we slowed down to turn left onto the main highway, my wife asks again, " You sure that guy in the driveway is okay?"

By now, I had time to think and put all of the strange pieces together. "No, I replied. "I am not sure. Maybe, we should drive back, just in case!"

"I sure wish your guilt had better timing,"she said as she turned around and headed back towards the house where the rock limestone driveway would make anyone seated very uncomfortable, whether they were reading the paper in the rain or not. Arriving from the other direction, we could better see that a rather tall, thin, white haired man in a red high school alumni tee shirt and matching shorts, was crumpled up awkwardly under a large, golf umbrella.

"Are you all rght?" Therese asked, as she rolled down the window and put the car in park.

"Yes, I'm fine except I can't get up!"

"Well, then sir, you're not fine... let us help you get up," she answered while I jumped out of the car and ran up the driveway. It took me two unsuccessful tries to get him uncrumpled and standing before I succeeded while the misty rain started back up. As it became a pretty good drizzle, it was clear to me that he was gonna need some assistance walking about fifty feet or so back to his front door.

With very slow and deliberate steps, the old man, I guess embarrassed by his gaffe and having to be rescued from his ordeal, chattered about everything from his poor choice of footwear to get the newspaper, to Therese's new Honda Fit comparison with his Prius. His gas mileage, his red outfit, teaching and, of course, the weather, were all topics of discussion as I held his hand and Therese covered his head with the umbrella.

Arriving finally underneath the shelter of his carport, he said, "I can take it from here unless my wife has me locked out! She boards up everything before we sleep at night and sometimes I don't know how to get out, in the morning!" And as I laughed and started to walk away, the old man tentatively leans against his Prius and says with a wry smile...

 "I'm a bit angry at my wife. Who knows how long I'd be out there stranded in the rain before she'd miss me!"

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"The ReUnion"... Leave It to the Ladies!

Who knows why or how these things work... I'm happy with this sketch!
Another solo lunch at Gus's when four women came in, laughing and giggling and hugging each other as if they hadn't seen each other in years. They hadn't.

A big, muscular black woman opened a small book with many inset photos and started asking questions about particular faces. After about ten minutes of raucous conversation, I decided this was too good to miss, and luckily, I had a sketchbook with me to record it. I screwed up my first attempt probably because I was still eating lunch, but the new sketch just started to flow. I captured the one girl playing with her hair and laughing, perfectly. I love it when that happens! Though the woman with her back to me never turned to acknowledge my existence, I believe they noticed me paying more and more attention. As I continued to draw, there was a momentary silence until the woman with the horn rimmed glasses said,"I don't gossip like I use to!" The table exploded with laughter.

She then looked me right in the eye and said," That's true, honest. I used to be horrible!" As I continued to sketch, I smiled back with a smirk and she cracked up laughing, saying,"Look at that man over there... He don't believe a word I'm saying...

Do you honey?"

"No, I said, but I sure am enjoying y'alls fun!" Sounds like you all haven't seen much of each other for a while!"

"That's right, sir," said the girl who was still twirling her hair.  "We are from this area, but we rarely see each other with jobs and chores and stuff! Might occasionally seen one another at church services, but this is the first time in a long time."

"It's been five years, another woman said, and we decided to meet here today to have a reunion!"

"To create an official high school reunion!"

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just Another "WhoDat" Diner at Gus's...

A PlowBoy Saints Fan...  
Here's one of a handful of sketches performed at Gus's Restaurant in Folsom. I've seen this guy before, but a friend said he is the friend of "F.U. Joe". Joe is a seventy year old plowboy that speaks with a Cajun accent, but hails from the old country, "the real old country"... Romania! Now, when's the last time you heard the name of that country used before? Betcha' it was in the sixties or seventies, in geography class!

This guy in the sketch had white side burns, a white moustache and a white goatee, but you can't tell that from this drawing. The way I've drawn him, it looks like he's pouting waiting for Joe. Maybe, he's tired of waiting for Joe. Maybe, he's mad at Joe... F.U. Joe!

Don't have to tell what the F.U. stands for, right?

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"The Meeting"... A Sketch While Waiting For A Friend!

His accountant presents the options!
While awaiting a friend at a local Holiday Inn restaurant, I witnessed a business meeting between a businessman and his apparent accountant talking about the tax implications of releasing a volunteer in the company. Classic stuff like, "I wish you had spoken to me first before making this move!"

Seems you can't breathe nowadays without your lawyer and your accountant's advice... at a price, of course!

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Meeting in DC...Hurry Up and Wait! (7 of 7)

There's a Time and a Space for Everything!
This is where my wait began and eventually ended. With the exception of the two cellphone ladies, the Live Oak Tavern was pretty alive with many folks coming and going. Everyone was happy that the federal tax ceiling compromise was completed, for better or worse, in a timely manner, but more importantly, everyone was happy the New Orleans Saints were back on the playing field practicing for that Thursday night opener against the Super Bowl Champs, the Green Bay Packers.

I hoist my seven dollar Abita beer to that!

It's been a week now and I've time to reflect on the trip. The trip, though short, was great... we got some things squared away at the meeting on Tuesday and had a good time being together again. Unfortunately, it came and went all too quickly.

I don't know what I expect from life.

I have always had a problem with time and space. It's not an Einstein kinda thing. Not that I would know. You could try to explain that theory to me and I probably wouldn't get it. I am not even sure it is a time/space kind of thing. I just find it strange that, in this example, for more than a year, we are away from each other and have very little contact from the various groups and thus become a vague, gaseous memory... untouchable! We may become connected visually somehow through a picture of our get together that is emailed to us or may appear on Facebook. Pictures of deceased friends and loved ones helps us deal with the loss. We accept this knowing we can no longer feel and touch or be with that person... Still,  it is almost the same thing, it's visual.

Speaking to one another over the phone helps somehow reaffirm that that body still exists in some kind of space though it is still nothing we can actually see or touch or feel.

People are close in so many ways, but not really until one travels to a spot where both agree to meet and they are, magically, there. Through travel, they are not just a sound, or a gaseous memory or even a picture we can physically touch. They are suddenly, through whatever time it takes to travel, actually real and alive, and touchable. They might look older or thinner. They might change their style of walking, talking, dressing...whatever, but there is that bond of physically having them there.


They may live thousands of miles away and may have so totally changed their lives that they are barely the same person you knew in the past, but for now, the present, they are here with you sharing a bond. It is all good. The cosmos is now back to center and balanced. Life is sweet and all is well.


The same mode of transportation that brought you together can, in a week, a day, a few hours... a sentence, take it all away... till the next time!

Most people take that for granted, as well, they should, but for me, a person who loves to travel, the time/space thing has always made it hard to recover and get back to "normal." And... it has always freaked me out!

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Meeting in DC...Hurry Up and Wait! (6 of 7)

Cellphone Silliness!
Well, I told my brother to pick me up around 3pm even though I had forgotten the correct arrival time.  Because I didn't want to interfere with his work schedule, it would be a two hour wait for my brother to arrive. I spent those two hours at a bar nursing a seven dollar Abita Amber and sketching.

The two women illustrated were both on their cell phones most of the time they were in the bar. I couldn't tell if they were actually doing business, talking to friends, or just being coy. They were on the phone when I arrived at the Live Oaks Tavern and were still there on the phone when I left two hours later.

My brother, Hilton, lives a few miles east of the airport and everyone in the family uses his "taxi service" to save a few bucks on parking at the airport. The airport, Louis Armstrong International, is an airport that has never, ever been completed. It's not like the airport is growing in leaps and bounds because it isn't. It's just that nothing ever gets completely finished here. One change for the better is remodeled to a change for the worse and then readjusted when something else is added. This cycle of never ending change has been going on for, at least, thirty-five years.

As we disembarked our Embraer 150, I noticed the woman I sketched on the plane in DC who was reading a book as we waited and waited for takeoff. I told her that she was my best subject on the flight and she laughed.

"I saw that you were drawing most of the flight, so I figured I was one of your subjects," she said.

I asked her if she was a New Orleanian though I knew she wasn't. She had that well scrubbed look of the midwest... quite prim and proper. She said she was from Ohio and was visiting her sister for a birthday celebration. Then, I asked her, in my most southern gentlemanly way, if she'd like to see the sketches I did of her, but she declined making an abrupt turn to the ladies' restroom.

As she distanced herself from me, my parting shot was," Hope you enjoy your stay in my hometown!"

I don't think she heard me.

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Meeting in DC...Hurry Up and Wait! (5 of 7)

Sleepy Tyme Gals!
These are two of the better dozing passengers I sketch en route to New Orleans. The one on the right is the same woman I sketched reading a book waiting for the plane to take off in "A Meeting in DC...Hurry Up and Wait! (4 of 7)."

Since I'm a skinflint, I sketched a bunch of heads reading, sleeping, staring out the window or drinking coffee in the corners of sketchbook pages already used. That's why there's a tone below these heads. It's a sketch I did years ago for a job featuring a little girl laying in the hay, snuggled up to her prize winning lamb. I don't recall who the client was...


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Meeting in DC...Hurry Up and Wait! (4 of 7)

Waiting for the Take Off!

Well, I've found my seat on a non-stop to New Orleans and now waiting for everyone else to load up. It cost me twenty-five dollars to send my bag to DC, so this time, I've carried it on and stowed it above my seat and just as I buckled my seat belt and noticed I might get an extra window seat, a chubby, bubbly black woman with a bag full of goodies arrived to tell me the window seat was hers. These Embraer planes are pretty narrow, but the seats aren't too uncomfortable. So, she and her goody bag squeezed into her seat and once again, we all try to get settled down.

After everyone gets situated and we get the obligatory speech about the safety precautions of the "150", the plane taxis down the runway to wait. The waiting gave me a chance to start this sketch of a young woman reading. For some reason, I always start with the head and work my way down and this time was no exception. As I was just getting into it, we must have had a five minute wait to take off, the jet jumps to "gear" and tears down the runway. 

I wanted just to go linear with this pose and see what comes of it. When I draw this way, I have to pay more attention to each line, it's direction, how it defines the form with a minimum amount of line. No cross hatching! It took me about a half an hour, once we were airborne, to complete. I am pretty happy with the outcome though I never did get back to finishing off her hair... which was where I started!

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Meeting in DC...Hurry Up and Wait! (3 of 7)

More Waiting!
The meetings in DC went fine. I have always enjoyed meetings even though usually not much gets done. Outside of the meetings, we all had a good time with good food, good libations and great conversation. We spoke about everything from one man's golf game, to knee surgery, to the state of our profession, to nutrition, Air Force, trips and beyond! On Tuesday evening, I tried to finagle a visit to Baltimore to see my little sister, but it got too convoluted and cumbersome to work out, so I stayed with my original return plans, though I really didn't want to come home so soon.

While waiting for my plane, I sketched these various folks headed for the Big Easy! The dude with the bebop cap was a jazz musician. I'm pretty happy with the way he turned out though I originally was inspired by the pose of the woman in the peasant dress. The color behind the musician was from markers I used on previous sketch on the other page... years ago!

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Meeting in DC...Hurry Up and Wait! (1 of 7)

Waiting for our plane to arrive!
This is a sketch I created while waiting for my US Airways jet to arrive. I wasn't supposed to take this flight, but being early had it advantages. I was offered a non-stop flight to DC instead of flying the itinerary the Pentagon set up for me. This sketch of a Embraer 175, I think, took about twenty minutes to draw. I still had plenty of time to sketch another scene, but decided to read instead.

Of course, getting to DC early only meant I'd be waiting for my colleagues and a ride the same amount of time I was saving by taking the non-stop. So, I'd draw some at the DC airport... while I wait!

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, July 29, 2011

Breakfast at Hampton's... The Conversation!

Silence Is Golden?
 "As you read your Emily Dickerson, and I, my Robert Frost, as we note our place with book markers... that measure what we've lost!"

Okay, so I am a little over dramatic by quoting Simon and Garfunkel, but I couldn't help feeling sad for those who's life is hanging on the words that maybe never seem to come. And that's what I noticed, a couple of times, at the breakfasts I shared in hotels across northern Louisiana and Arkansas unbeknownst to the many early morning participants.

Within the hour that I sat and drew at another Hampton's this page illustrates three subjects; two of which virtually had nothing to say to their breakfast buddy across the table. The waitress, who was of Hispanic descent, actually was quite friendly and very verbal. She saw my drawing of her... which I apologized for. My excuse to her was that she was so efficient I couldn't draw fast enough. She giggled!

The older gentlemen, dressed quite nattily, sitting across from his demure partner, I nailed. And, it not only looked like him, I liked my interpretation of him in the sketch. Drawing this man was easy because he never took his eyes off the USA Today as he ate what I'd consider a very healthy diet. I just wish he would have said a few sentences to his, I assume, wife.

Maybe it is the silence that comes with many years of bliss in a marriage that needs no small talk. Years of companionship and knowing what each other would say makes for a cozy, peaceful co-existence. Maybe, it has all been said before. Maybe, they have no confrontations... no money worries, no children concerns, the mortgage is paid and all is well, no more responsibilities but to themselves to enjoy life... and this is how we do it! Maybe, but her eyes cast downward to her entree or an occasional stare at the morning news on tv seemed to tell a different story.

I should have sketched her too!

But, I did draw a cute teenager who looked to be about twelve or thirteen years old. She wore a pink sweatshirt over a sparkley sequenced white tee shirt. She had a strand of hair that very conspicuously draped across her right eye and never moved one way or another. The little girl probably had it designed that way before she came down to the cafe for breakfast. You never know who one might meet!

When she arrived, the girl was greeted by her mom, dad, who was reading the newspaper, Gramps and Grandma. It seemed a pretty stern and straight laced family unit. Mom spoke about what was being offered at the buffet and that was about the extent of her twenty minute breakfast conversation. The family lifted their heads off from their plates when the freckled faced daughter smiled and teased her father about something, maybe the shirt he was wearing. The dad lowered the news to make eye contact and then, lifted back up the "fish wrap" and chuckled behind it. The little girl didn't seem to mind and continue finishing her meal. As I sketched, I couldn't help but wonder how many more times will she accept the dutiful, almost robotic responses from her family before she leaves behind the boredom and look to another source, for fun. The Beatles, "She's Leaving Home" came painfully to mind.

"Something inside that was always denied for so many years!"

When mom mumbled a sentence or two about leaving a clean table and rose from her chair, everyone else in the family rose and disappeared. I sat right across from them on the next table and, I swear, they had no conversation between each other except what the little, giggly daughter had to say.

It made me wonder about how we raised our son and whether I, unknowingly, squashed any playfulness in him through our adult, worrisome conversations... at any meal.

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another View...The Taste Tester!

What's dis?
Bite first, taste later! Another good natured sketch from my trip to Arkansas. One of the hotels I stay at had breakfast with these wonderful little self-contained omelets filled with cheese, bell pepper, onions and tomato. I had one and then decided to have another, but this guy obviously thought it was something other than an omelet his wife had set before him from the buffet table.

 I don't recall whether or not he finished it, ha!

Copyright 2011/Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Breakfast at Hamptons...Can't Tell A Book From Its Cover!

We All Have Our Prejudices...
I don't want to belabor the point. I do have my own thoughts about fat people. Not overweight, not chubby, not dietetically challenged or husky ( as I was called as a kid! ), but people who, for one reason or another, just can't mix in a salad or two! FAT!

I drew this woman at the Hampton Inn at Arkadelphia, AK at breakfast time and I think I captured her "displacement" and misery pretty well. She didn't look very happy... even while eating breakfast!

"My gosh, I thought to myself, "How can any skeletal support system handle that mass for such a long time?" How does one allow themselves to get that way? She looks as though breathing is even difficult!"

'How horrible is life that you have to eat your sorrows away?"

Twenty minutes into her breakfast, she struggled to get up off the chair and amble back towards the buffet table. Once she did, I turned my sketchbook to a young woman who had just sat down with a cup of coffee and then, somehow lost sight of my original subject. She was gone and it was just as well.

About an hour later, while still sipping coffee and conversing with the staff, I noticed the "whale" checking out of the hotel with the family. The husband was also rather large, but not quite her size and the two little boys were, let's just say, pudgy! Distracted from my conversation with the waitress about drinking coffee in a heat wave ( it was 105 degrees the day before! ), I noticed the boys were acting physically, little strange. On a closer look, as the family walked out of the lobby into the heat of the day, I noticed that this woman was the mother of, not one, but two boys with Down's syndrome. A handful, for sure! I felt horrible and that old adage about the book and its cover rang embarrassingly true.

Every now and then, life kinda slaps you around a bit to remind you what a REAL SNOT you can be and to, not so gently, make you understand that everyone, in their own way, is just trying to make it through the day...with or without that extra donut!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Breakfast at Hampton's...Number One.

People watching and people sketching!
While away on a "sort of vacation", I'd get up, workout and then, people watch 'n draw in between "bias TV" and reading the "multicolored fish wrap" called the USA Today. There was quite a coming and going and I was amazed to see how people view their first meal of the day. Work crews on an overnight stay had breakfast in less than ten minutes and were gone. Families on vacation lingered, but some, bleary-eyed and mentally still in their pajamas, had virtually nothing to say to each other in the half hour breakfast they shared. For the most part, everyone was very friendly, including the chubby, older gentleman I drew in this picture. He was from Houston, TX and was working his way back home. He offered me a seat, but I declined looking for a better place to sit and watch... and sketch.

But the man was just ebullient as could be for seven in the morning. I stood there conversing with him, my sketchbook and breakfast tray in hand, for over ten minutes. Twenty minutes later, long after I had found a "gunslinger's" position, he offered a lady, who found no tables available, a seat, which she accepted.

A good time was had by all!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mister, Can You Help Me Turn This On?

A sketch I drew waiting my turn to get back on line.
There were only two computers at this hotel and I had hogged one for about one hour until a guy complained to his cohort over the cell phone that "this dude's been on line for a while and should be finishing soon." After hearing him complain for the second time, I got up, apologized and let him on the computer. While waiting for him to complete his email transaction, I sketched this little girl wrapped in a large, Lifesaver colored bath towel with another smaller white towel wrapped around her wet head.

Earlier, she asked her mother to help her turn on the computer, but mom said she didn't know how and assumed the little nine year old knew how. Mom told her daughter to check with the front desk if she couldn't get it turned on because she'd be upstairs packing to leave. The minute mom was out of sight, the little girl asked me...

"Mister, do you know how to turn this thing on?"

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, July 11, 2011

More from the LaCombe Mini-Mart...

"Buyin' Bud"
There's a reason this place was doing so well. They were right across the highway from the hospital and there was literally no where else to go with only an hour to blow. Sippin' on a bad cup of coffee and staring into the mini-mart, mindlessly sketching counters, end caps, plastic benches, I noticed a rather large proportion of large clientele. Upon further review, I noticed that they seemed to be stocking up on Bud... almost exclusively. A twelve pack of sixteen ounce Bud rolling out the door... what for?

Maybe... a fourth of July repeat?

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Grab me a Twelve Pack... Maybe Two!

It's not like everyone buying beer was overweight... well, actually it was. There were truckers, people in scrubs, medical staff, construction workers, cops, a UPS driver and a host of other folks zipping in and zipping out with one thing or another, but the proportion of obese to the many people that passed by in the hour I was there, was truly amazing. And apparently, many of them really enjoy their beer.

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

EEEE-YOUUUU-WEEEEEEE...Dead Critter Bones!

Small chameleon and frog skeletons.
A month or so, I found these skeletal remains lodged up in one of the many windows I clean. These are really tiny creatures small enough to squeeze into the draining holes of the screen and the window. Like many animals seeking food, when and if they find the prey, they find that they cannot get out the same way that they came in. I don't understand why not, but this is a regular occurrence in early spring. I find many times either dead or emaciated chameleons that get tangled up in spider webs and can't free themselves. I find most of those in our garage window sills.

When I originally found these two, they still had their skin attached, but by the time I found the time, and inspiration, to draw them, they had deteriorated even more. I had to use a printer's loop to really see what I was drawing and some pieces actually fell off as I attempted to get a better look.

They are really just little dinosaurs!

Copyright/Ben Bensen III/ 2011 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Not Just Soccer with Horses...

Play by Play and Scorekeeper Stand...
With the game so far away, for the safety of the horses, the riders and the viewers, an announcer keeps the audience attentive and involved. He also explains the game to those novices, who think polo is just soccer with horses. Locally, there are teams that traditionally compete against one another, but I don't know how many teams or how many players are involved. The really experienced players are professional and, I am sure, are paid for their services. Many of those professionals are from Argentina or Colombia. Mostly, these games are fund raisers for local charities providing upscale entertainment, cuisine and all kinds of beautiful race and show horses. It has a pageantry atmosphere about it.

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To the Highest Bidder...

Posing for Pics!
Before the game, as part of the fund raising aspects, people bid on each player's performance paying the highest amount to get the better players who represent your bid. It is almost like a one game draft. Here is player, Valli Baratelli, waiting for the final bid.

His noble steed is not part of the equation!

Copyright/ Ben Bensen 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Saddle Up"...

Ready to Ride...
Interesting how the door of the trailer becomes a rack to hang saddles up for the next rider. Polo players usually play one half ( two chukkars ) per horse and go through four horses in a event ( kinda like a double header in baseball ). I wonder if it matters which horse gets what saddle to the horse or is it fitted for the player's comfort. I only say that because drawing these saddles and noticing others, not everyone is exactly alike.

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Number Four with Hats Galore...

"Tsunami Hat"
A low cut black strapless with a chartreuse colored shawl and matching tsunami on her head. It was a pretty warm day and I don't think she really needed that shawl except to match her headdress. Her hat  was fun to draw, but I don't think I drew it right. I drew it the way I understood it!

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

A Few More Hats to Rack...

A few days ago, my wife had to have a stress test performed and she said it would take about an hour, so I dropped her off at the medical facility in LaCombe, LA and drove around looking for a coffee shop. Unfortunately, all I could find was a Chevron Mini-Mart with a small Subway Sandwich Shop. With no Wi-Fi available, I decided to buy a cup of coffee, pull out the sketchbook and draw... but what?

This is what I came up with first...

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Last of A Series...Number Five!

Even the staff serving all that wonderful food joined in.
I drew the hat before I drew the woman. She looked at me a couple of times, but didn't seemed bothered by my staring at her. She was too busy serving hors d'oeuvres and I was too busy eating them. Once again, the hat was a light, airy, lacy red chapeau that looked like it had a wire frame supporting the brim.
 Once I got my fill of the appetizer and had pretty much drawn her hat, I went over to a table and finished her face. I think I drew her a bit more idealized, but I'm sure she wouldn't have minded.

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Number Three in a Series... Hats Abound!"

"Textural relations"
In this sketch, I just wanted to capture the different kinds of hats. One had a decorated fedora while another had a turquoise gown with a white straw hat that had a matching turquoise ribbon above the brim. The woman in the foreground had this huge, lacy, red hat with a large gauze black flower attached with a brim see through enough for me to draw the other lady who was wearing a beret like hat. As I recall, they all had cellphones, but were intrigued by one cellphone response. Giggles and hats abound!

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chapeaux, You Suppose... A Series of Wild Headdresses!

Chapeaux are a big part of the ceremony.
I must admit, it is fun watching the ladies cruise the lawn in their slinky dresses and wild headdress. Most are cute and tame, but some are outrageous and silly and it makes me wonder what it takes for a woman to wear some of these things.

Maybe, just a great sense of humor!

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chapeaux, You Suppose... Another in a Series of Wild Headdresses!

A beautiful woman all in black.
I found it easy to draw women in hats at this event because 80% of those ladies had their cellphones, Blackberry's, iPhones in hand, transfixed and giggling. I never get tired of drawing beautiful women and if the hats and the cellphones help, I'm all for it!

Most never knew I was transfixed on them... sketching away!

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

He Says He's Basque... From Argentina!

Says he's Basque...
So, who am I to disagree. Actually, he says he's from Argentina and travels from polo fest to polo fest handling the horses. I wish I had remembered his name. It was one of Spanish descent, like Arturo or Miguel, but it's okay because he probably doesn't remember mine either. I've been to four polo events in the last two years and each time, we'll call him Arturo, has been there helping the players get dressed, helping them with their four legged athletes, adjusting this, and fixing that. After the second chukkar, the riders exchange horses for the second half and Arturo, cleans up and waters down and generally has a good old time caring for his equine buds! One rider can go through a polo event and use four horses for competition, which can keep a man like Arturo pretty darn busy. He seems to love it, though.

I asked him about being Basque, since he told me that was his heritage, and he told me, in his heavy accented way, he was from a small town between Spain and France. Well, I kinda knew that because my father-in-laws folks hailed from the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains, which, I was told, was Basque country. The Basques sort of have their own little country/community in northern Spain, but seem to have no allegiance to either country.

 Just for fun, I asked him if he was a Dodger fan and he looked me and at my grin and said, "We do not play your baseball in Argentina... Polo!"

"Well, I said, Bakersfield, California has a big Basque community there with lots of oil derricks amongst the sheep herders and the Basque cuisine, which is very filling, and the Double A farm team for the Dodgers, though I don't think they have any Basque players currently on the team! It is also the home of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens!"

"It's very Basque!"

He told me that he had never been to that part of California, but I made it sound intriguing enough that he might like to go. I briefly told him how I would take the family to the games for a weekend, stay with the ballplayers at the Red Lion Inn and hang around the pool so my son could soak up the baseball scene. Even around the pool, the ballplayers would be talking baseball and throwing wiffle balls around, diving for them into the pool, as they compete to see who's the best. I told him about a tomato and bean soup we'd enjoy at the many fine Basque restaurants that my wife used to hate as a kid, called "gabrure". He said he never heard of that. I then, asked him if he didn't mind me drawing some scenes of the area with the horses and trailers and all, knowing full well that I was gonna concentrate on him mostly.

"What for?" he asked. "For fun," I said!

Copyright/ Ben Bensen III 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Smile Pretty ... For The Illustrator!

Anatomically correct, but...
Let me just say, I don't do horses very well. With the exception of the Wells Fargo Stagecoach ( which reminds me, I did some really nice stuff for them for some big ad agency way back when... I'll have to locate those pieces! ) and The Budweiser Clydesdales, I've never had to learn how horses operate, you know? They are hamburger, they don't endorse it. They cover baseballs, but don't do sportscasting. They have what all car enthusiast lust for, but they don't drive. I just never had to draw a horse... that much! So, I'm not good at it, but this portrait is NAILED! I love this horsey sketch and I love the owner who kept it still long enough for me to get it perfect.  Of course, it looks like a large dog, scale wise.

I thought long and hard about photoshoping his head larger or the owners smaller, but then, that's a cheat. I did give some serious thought to cropping this sketch into two separate pieces, but decided, as painful as it is, to adhere to my own original statement... "sketches for better or worse!"

But, man, that sure is a good horse head!

Copyright/Ben Bensen III/ 2011 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

These "Zebras" Actually Ride Horses...

The Stripe Shirts always judging people...
I'm told Polo originated in Persia and is a team sport played on horseback in which the object is to score as many goals against an opposing team as time will allow. Players score by driving a small white plastic ball into the opposing team's goal using a long-handled mallet. The game is played on a large grass field up to 300 yards in length, and each polo team consists of four riders and their mounts. The game is played on horses not ponies and are usually a combination of quarter horse and thoroughbred, though some handlers I've talk to say any breed can play well. Players change horses between game periods called, "chukkars." Due to the intensity and speed of the game, many players change horses after the second chukkar. All rules are designed to protect the safety of the horse and player and that's where this guy comes in. I'm not up to speed on all of the rules, but the umpire, only one to a game, seems rather judicious in his play calling and penalties and like all good refs, works hard to judge the play, but not so to negatively affect the game's rhythm.

I live in the town of Folsom, where they are many horses farms and polo fields. In fact, there's a large polo complex just right outside our sub division. I got involved through two different fund raisers for local charities and I donate a painting for auction to be invited to the games. It's a different kind of fun plus, the food is incredible!

Copyright/Ben Bensen III/ 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

From The Comforts of A Big White Tent...

The event includes lots of large white tents for those shady types!
For most people the action is viewed from underneath the shade of many large event tents, where besides viewing the game, guests stroll fashionably along the auction items, the art gallery, or listen to the jazz band, munch on goodies and hobnob with each other. The actual times for each game is about one hour with a thirty minute halftime and normally, each event presents two games though few people stay for the entire two polo matches.

As for my sketching prowess, I am learning to look long and hard at my subject and then trust that I can confidently draw from that original pose even if some subject should move. It's still exhausting though, for me... I don't know why!

 Copyright/Ben Bensen III/ 2011