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Wednesday, December 26, 2012


A holiday luncheon aftermath!
Just another food aftermath sketch. We are really enjoying our stay here in SoCal, and eating way too much. One free ranging SoCal patron at breakfast was taking no chances on her organic, vegan start of the day. There wasn't any egg omelet left unturned. She wanted to know just about everything about the birds habitat, the origin of the spinach and whether the blueberries were seasonal or frozen.

And, I thought, vegans didn't even eat eggs.

With a straight face, she asked the waiter," How are these grilled hash browns cooked? With vegetable oil, canola oil or with animal fat?"

The waiter, assuming the customer understood the grilling process, very professionally replied, "No mam... all of our potato dishes are grilled!"

Regardless, I almost exploded with laughter at the thought of this woman asking good old Gus,  Folsom's master chef, how the hash browns would be cooked!

Ya gotta love SoCal!

Copyright 2012-2013/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Parked There For A Year...And Then, It Was Gone!"

It was there for a year off LA 25 and three days after my last sketch, it was  gone!

This sketch is about four, maybe five months old. The car, under a bunch of trees just to the right of the driveway for over a year and on the well traveled Louisiana highway 25 south from Folsom, seemed to be just begging to be bought... or, at the very least, sketched. I must have passed the rusted and leaf covered 1949/50 Plymouth a hundred times and each time I sped by the junkard, it bugged me. I was just dying to sketch the auto and finally decided one day, to do just that. I checked the review mirror to see if any cars where bearing down on me and then, quickly pulled over and parked on the soft shoulder across from the driveway where the car laid.

I drew this auto three different times, twice from across the highway about thirty or forty yards away, but this rendering was done much closer and on the apparent owner's property. As luck would have it, someone drove up in a beat up white Toyota pickup. I guess the man wasn't so concerned about me as a buyer as he was about my car being parked on the property as I was using it as a drawing table to sketch from. He stopped in front of the gate and asked me if he could help me with anything. I responded.

"No man, I said, "I just wanted to make a sketch of this old car. I keep driving by it and..."

He interrupted my explanation with this droll reply, "You standing in poison ivy, man!"

"Oh wow! Sorry, thanks,"I said as he drove off pass the gates and deep into the heavily wooded property.

I stared a moment and, while the dust settled from his departure, all kinds of scenarios popped into my head. When I came back to reality, of sorts, I looked down and sure enough...

He was right!

Copyright 2014-2015/Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"I'm A Slow Eater... But, Not That Slow!

A Water Glass Doodle...
Got up early, before dawn to help my wife get her day started. Today, is the annual Christmas Show starring all the second graders. Her class is performing,"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and she seemed to need breakfast and a little early morning encouragement. And then, I had to wrestle with the VA office about my mother's benefits.

No need to go there!

I promised mom breakfast afterwards and we had a nice one within walking distance of the VA office. Of course, being from the south, I enjoy lingering awhile after the meal and most restaurants are prepared for that eventuality, but, when my mother is involved, it seems to take a millennium or two. So, I sketch on paper table cloths, if I don't have a sketchbook. In a way, I kind of like it like that because it becomes a mindless doodle with no responsibility to the pen, the paper or my psyche!

This is one of the two tablecloth doodles!

Copyright 2012-2013/Ben Bensen III

Monday, December 3, 2012

More Doctor Visits and Sketches...

It was a long wait... here are four awaiting their turn.
More sketches of older folks. At least, they look older than me, awaiting their turn to see the doctor. One guy was reading Motor Trend, the other seemed he was having sweet dreams as he stay asleep for quite some time. The dude with the shades and the close to the head baseball cap seemed to be the most interesting since he never moved and just stared like as if he was hiding from everybody and everything.

The other guy was rather verbose and couldn't shut up for a moment. Must have been a Navy veteran because he had one of those caps that designate what ship he apparently served on and his cap was in tip top shape as if he had it dry cleaned and ironed!

He was here the last time I took mom for a checkup, ha!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Dat Peyton Manning, man"...

I like this pose, but...
I can't say this is indeed what this person looks like because it really doesn't. It's one of those kind of situations where the pose changes constantly and you have to decide on one and stick with it. Once again, Jerry's thick eyebrows and deep set eyes makes him look angry. He was not. He was just commenting on Peyton Manning's performance the night before when the Denver Broncos came back from an twenty-four point deficit to defeat the San Diego Chargers.

New Orleanians love the Mannings almost as much as they love 'da Saints!

"Did ya see 'da game last night?""Dat Peyton Manning, man... 'dat kid can play!"

Copyright 2012-2013/Ben Bensen III

Friday, November 16, 2012

"A Cocky Flower Pot Sketch!"

Chicken Parmigiana?
It has been a really crazy week, doing things for my mom that need to be taken care of... Sometimes, with her and sometimes without her in tow. It is a 60 mile jaunt from our home in Folsom to New Orleans. On this night, I met my wife at a funeral home to explore the ridiculous cost of dying. No need to expatiate further on that subject. My brother watched our mom for a couple of hours as we took care of business and then seized the opportunity to share a wonderful dinner together at a restaurant called, "Sandro's Trattoria' somewhere between Metairie and Kenner, LA.

I highly recommend the daube!

Eventually, Therese took off early for home to correct papers while I would return to my brother's to pick up mom. But after she left, I decided to stay longer and put off the inevitable by having desert and coffee. I sketched, on the paper table cloth, this ceramic rooster flower pot which was sitting on the shelf a few tables away.

It went well with my third cup of coffee.

Copyright 2012-2013/Ben Bensen III

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"It Just Occurred To Me on Veteran's Day!"

Twenty minute sketch... while I waited my turn!
It just occurred to me that this would make a nice Veteran's Day comment!  I did this sketch while listening to two African American Vets, one rather elderly who fought in the Korean War, and the other, a "young whippersnapper" who fought in the Operation Desert Storm, talk about their experiences. It wasn't too crowded on that day, but I had to wait my turn, which took me about forty minutes.

They inquired about my status and I told them I was here on behalf of my mom's service record with the Marine Corps during World War II. They both nodded in affirmation and continued on with their stories about the military. The Korean War vet didn't care to talk too much about his experiences in Korea except to hang his head down, shake it and say, "Korea is cold. I've never ever been that cold in all my life!"

I pretty much kept my mouth shut and sketched... and listened!

To all those who served or are still serving to preserve our freedoms, Happy Veteran's Day!

Copyright 2012-2013/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Somewhere Else"...

Worried or just somewhere else?
Like a pebble in his boot, are his worries ever gonna leave him be? Can he ever take that shoe off and rid himself of the aggravatingly unending pokes. Or is the Greek omelet that he just inhaled, revisiting him in a different way?

Or maybe, it's the fiery valentine of his youth. You know, the what if's... how did it go so blue, so fast?
It's not like just 'cuz he's elderly or retired that his mind can't drift to the ones that somehow got away... or never really had.

Maybe, it is about that week long trip to the lakes of Minnesota. The one that got away, nah!

"Hotter than a peppered sprout," he thinks. "Baton Rouge, back then, seemed so far away,"

"Hell, it was my fault... I never should've have been so cool, so distant. I came off aloof 'cuz somehow I thought that's what she wanted. Damn plowboy, that's all... a damn plowboy!"

"Damn and I had so many too choose from. Yeh, that's your problem... or was!"

"And you were so close. So close you could taste it. The things I could have done... Ah, just the thought of it and...

"Honey, you gonna finish those hash browns? 'Cuz if you're not, I'll take 'em!"

Then he moved and the moments lost in the blink of an eye and I continue to wonder as I continue to now draw from memory, "Just what was he thinking about?"

But, it was all gone and it was just a sketch!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"South of the Border, Down Mexico Way"...

Hasta Luego...
Well, I'm surprised that they didn't leave earlier. Maybe the regulars did and these that are visiting are traveling through from the north. It is kind of hard to tell without some sort of banding, but it has been two days since I last saw any hummer around. They must have left sensing our first real cold front was approaching. This morning, there was ice on our cars and it was quite unexpected. When they disappear, they usually leave by cover of darkness unlike this little guy above who is announcing his departure. 

Luckily, this time, I had not just cleaned and replenish the sugar water. Normally, this late into fall, just a day or two after I put up some fresh nectar, the birds just don't show up and I end up throwing out the mixture. 

So, the timing was perfect for a change... Until later, little ones!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"It's Where You Find It...

Sometimes, somethings need to be recognized!

Yesterday, I was in Hammond on business for my mom with the VA, but stopped by a PJ's coffee shop  near the Southeastern University campus. It looks like it may be a brand spanking new coffee house because it is the first one I ever seen with an upstairs balcony. Next to a sign that said, "Please don't use the balcony without a purchase!" was iron bannisters following up the flight of stairs.  I had to blow about an hour before the local mall opened up, so I purchased my "ticket to ride" and sat down with my  new Mac laptop. In between stares out of the second story window and the internet, I noticed these two beautifully created custom made iron fleur-de-lis sculpted between the black grillwork railing.

It was exquisitely done.

With no sketchbook available, I decided to sketch out the design in my "Daily Reminder." I should have taken a picture of it with my cellphone because the sketch, though pretty accurate, doesn't capture the variations of linear weight. So many fleur-de-lis, which is a stylized lily composed of three petals bound together near their bases and especially known from the former royal arms of France, are many times poorly conceptualized or distorted to fit ones own needs. There are many different designs of that French icon, so it is hard to actually pinpoint the correct historical "interpretation" but when accurately drawn, sculpted, painted or decal-led, as in the Saints logo, the fleur-de-lis really a site to behold.

I don't know much about the process of ironworks and since there were two of the exact same designs within the guardrail, it probably was manufactured into the grill mechanically, but regardless of that fact, whoever actually created the design should be highly commended for it is a incredibly functional, yet understated work of genius, in my opinion.

With a couple of sips of coffee, a few more stares out of the window and a final tweak, here and there, of my sketchy interpretation, I returned to Facebook one last time before I closed up shop.

I wish I hadn't checked.

By doing so, I read that a good friend of mine, Bernie David, unexpectedly passed away. In disbelief, I pondered the what would become of his four or five now silenced Cajun built accordions which he so adeptly played as he accompanied his high register vocals sung in English and Cajun French.

Stunned, I decided to sit and stare out of the window some more.

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Portraits I Never Did Get Right!"

Never did get them right...
One of a few sketches at Gus's restaurant from across the room. Jerry and his wife, Pat, are regulars here and show up around nine in the morning after church. Normally, there's about a dozen "Catlicks"
( a phrase I created to differentiate them from the myriad of local "tones.") who transplanted to Folsom from New Orleans after they retired.

You can hear New Orleans with every word 'dey speek, darlin'!

Jerry is a retired "NOPSI" employee and although it doesn't look like it in my drawing of him, he is a really nice guy! It's just his deep set eyes and thick eyebrows that, poorly drawn, makes him look angry.

Although, at the time I was drawing him, he was getting down on what this world is coming to... with much disgust!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"It's Just A Bunch 'O Bull"...

I wonder how many actually hitch up their steers to this post?
Well, it's been a little on the fuzzy side of Tuesday and so I decided to have a "view of the bay" at Gus's and continue "fuzzing out." Because the part time Times/Picayune recently made its decision to go to a three day circulation, there wasn't any newspaper to read with breakfast. The local restaurant patrons here obviously "don't cotton" to any multicolored fish wrap like USA Today, so there's only the "The Farmer" to read, if you are into that sort of thing.

Three days a week? What a bunch of bull!

Luckily, after a long breakfast stare out of the window as I finished my veggie omelet with ham (Yum!), I remembered that I had my sketchbook with me and so I decided to draw some of the patrons as they discuss how the world needs to be fixed.

I, soon, got the feeling some didn't really appreciate being recorded in such a way, so I turned my attention to this sculpted, bovine hitch that is affixed to the wall straddling two iron brands. I decided to try and draw it without picking up my pen from the paper and that didn't go so well, though it is an very effective way to cramp one's brain... if you are, once again, into that so of thing. Unless you have a headache, brains aren't suppose to feel when you think, you know? So, instead of creating any more "fuzzy frustration," I moved on to sketching this bull totally in line and without any tone, which is something I always fall back on when my brain gets lazy.

All things considered, though there are quite a few superfluous lines and the entire hitch is kind of not perpendicular to the wall, I think it turned out pretty nicely.

Of course, we all know, it really is all a bunch of bull... isn't it!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, October 8, 2012

"The Visual Ramblings of an Inebriated Artist"...Take Two!

Paper tablecloth doodles!
My wife asked me to take mom out of the house so she could have some privacy and get some work done without interruptions, so I took mom to a Books-A-Million store for a looksie and then to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. Mom had nothing to say except how tender the chicken was in her "mexican poorboy."

Monday Night Football was a horrible matchup and the Orioles and Yankees were still in a rain delay, so I drank margaritas and idly sketched on the table top paper cover. There was more, but this was the better of the rest.

And yes, the styrofoam container did have "Who Dat?" embossed on the cover and I highly recommend the flan for dessert!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, October 4, 2012

More"Tonka Toys"..."And, That's Your Little Red Wagon!"

That's your little red wagon, son!

I befriended an elderly, but feisty cowgirl at Gus's years ago and she told me this wonderful story about her youth in Rotterdam during the Nazi occupation of Holland. I've been working on a blog post for over half a year and I might ask her permission to do a children's book about her little red wagon.

Would've, could've, should've, right?

Well, we'll see about all of that. At least, she approved this little sketch... sort of!

It's a start... and it works well with my "Tonka Toys" series!

Copyright 2012-13/Ben Bensen III

Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Coffee and Beignets... Metry-Style!"

A late night "schnack."
A long day included taking my son to the airport, not to fly, but to return his rental car before 9 pm on a Sunday night. I hadn't had any dinner that crazy evening and neither did my mom, who went along for the long seventy-five mile ride from Folsom.

It seemed like one SNAFU after another on that "day of rest" and returning our son's car was no exception. After losing the car keys to his own car after it broke down, when we dropped off the rental car, my son, Brian, also left his cellphone at the front desk and we had to return to the airport again to retrieve it.

Determined to put a positive spin on a horrible Sunday adventure, we stopped at the Morning Call restaurant in Metairie, LA ( pronounced "Metry" by the locals ) to have a couple of orders of beignets with a few cups of cafe au'lait before tackling the drive home.

It must have been about eleven pm when we drove into the parking lot. I remember long ago, when this coffeehouse was located in the French Quarter and where parking is always at a premium, when servers came out to your car and took your order right there at your car door and then, deliver it to you in the parking lot.

I don't think the waiters were on roller skates.

This night, we were lucky to find a table without having to wait, though the place was still quite crowded. Had this been a Friday or late night Saturday, we would have had to wait our turn outside and maybe thumb through a couple of magazines at the Lakeside newsstand till our names were called.

The Morning Call has always been open twenty-four seven!

I don't know if it was because I hadn't eaten in a while, or because I was exhausted by the day, or because it had just been quite a while since I ate there, but those three beignets were the best I've had in a long time.

I decided to immortalize the moment with this sketch, which was completed between my second and third cup of the "nectar of illustration!"

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Grown Up Toys...Number Eight!"

A cranky closeup of bulldozer.

The name of the "town" where I found this dozer is called "Cranky Corner!" I don't know why it is so cranky. Guess I just have to investigate that moniker to find out what makes it so irritable.

Anyway, I climbed out of the car to get a closer look at the workings of this machine. The entire wheel assembly and treads were encased in mud which made it hard to see all the gears and such, but conversely, made it still fun to draw. I sort of lost direction trying to define certain areas that were in shadow, but as one is drawing away, the sun is doing it's sunset thing which changes rapidly what one can draw... this time of year.

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Grown Up Tonka Toys...Number Seven!"

I'm pretty happy with this effort...
I found this bulldozer all alone on an empty and grassy lot next to a neighborhood bank. I found it driving home about a week ago and returned to do a few sketches the other day. It was very convenient to sketch it from my car because the machine was so close to the driveway of the bank. I'm pretty happy with this one even though some things were drawn a bit out of perspective... like the track. I returned twice to sketch the beast up close, even climbing on it and sketching from the driver's seat.

 Guess it is every boy's wish to crank this bad boy up to see what it can do... Oh, to be a little boy again!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Grown Up Tonka Toys... Number Six"...

Bikes and backhoe loaders...
I found more equipment just north of a "subdivision" parked on a two or three acre plot of land. These machines probably had completed clearing the area of trees and brush and awaited a pickup. A month ago or so, cruising on my bike on this rural and seldom used street/ country road, it was covered with pine, oak and gum trees and now was pretty much "denuded!"At least, that's what I'd call it. Some would call it clearing the land for a home or shop.

Apparently, it is considered cost effective to tear down trees and replant new ones than to try and design a home around an existing tree or three. Anyway, here's a sketch of the tools of destruction... urrrr, construction!

They do, sometimes, take on a prehistoric look... or maybe, it is just my prejudice showing through!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, September 14, 2012

"More Grown Up Tonka Toys...Number Five!"

Another angle...
This is another sketch from highway LA 25 near the outskirts of Folsom and was drawn before Hurricane Isaac blew in. We were out of electricity for about thirty-six hours, which considering how bad it was for others down south of Interstate 12 and everywhere south of Lake Ponchartrain, was not bad at all. Folsom's rainfall total from the storm, at last count, was over twelve inches.

A couple of days after the storm, we drove by just to have some relief from the heat and humidity and noticed these "toys" were gone.

They probably were sent south to help in the cleanup effort!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, September 7, 2012

"Some People Can't Take A Hint"...

I went to Gus's this morning loaded down with today's Times-Picayune, my checkbook, address labels, stamps and bills. I also had my sketchbook, just in case, the mood swayed me in that direction. I needed to get out away from the responsibilities of home. Somehow, taking some work into a new or different environment helps. But before I could order breakfast, Norma, our beautiful waitress, greeted me by saying that the 18 foot cherry blossom mural, complete with cardinals flying, perched, and feeding, that I painted for her about two or three months ago, was destroyed by hurricane Isaac. The details about tenants of the apartment and their subsequent "faux paus" were sketchy, at least to me, who was and still am recuperating from dental surgery!

I felt bad for her, but I also just felt bad, so.....

I plopped myself down on the furthest table to one side of the diner and proceeded to take care of some business. Breakfast came and was eaten while I read the newspaper. I started to reflect and relax. A friend or two would come by to say hello and then realize, by noticing all the bills and correspondence across from my breakfast debris, that I wanted and needed to be alone.

Forty-five minutes later, with the bills and correspondence completed, and in a nice pile and the debris from breakfast long gone, a good friend came by and sat directly across from my table. I hadn't seen him in months and he had been so helpful to me after hurricane Katrina, I attempted to entertain him. We talked about those times, complained about the power company's late response to the hurricane and then, listened to him expound on the flood prone south, and then...

He continued to talk and talk and actually recruited the lovely Norma, who is not overly vociferous, talking about the state of the nation and the, you know, "me generation." It was about that part of the diatribe that I opened up the sketchbook and skimmed the newspaper for something to draw.

It didn't seem to bother him or slow him down. ( Actually, my feelings were kinda hurt that he didn't ask to see all the wonderful drawings in that sketchbook, but... that's just me being a sensitive artist, ha!)

Between my sporadic nods in the affirmative, this sketch of local drummer, John Vidacovich, from a picture in the "Living" section, is what I came up with.

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Another Grown Up Tonka Toy...Number 4!

Another Grader... of sorts!

On the same empty lot just outside the Folsom city limits, I found, on a drizzly Sunday afternoon, this "grader." It must have been one of the many "toys" that was being used to repair a stretch of LA highway 40, which was in dire need of repair and re-asphalting. I added a bit more "soul" to this sketch than the previous sketch because it wasn't drizzling as hard as it did on the second sketch.

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, August 24, 2012

"A Grown Up Tonka Toy"...Number 3!

A quickie CAT steam roller!
Just south of Folsom city limits, which doesn't take much to get out of, I found on a drizzly Sunday afternoon, this steam roller. It looked like this was one of many "toys" that was being used to repair a stretch of LA highway 40, which was in dire need of repair and re-asphalting.

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Finding Lost Art"...

Well, I searched and searched for this sketch that I did in a Boston Starbucks a few months ago. The subject of the sketch was a woman complete in a shawl, high laced up leather boots and a "Aussie" hat, who sat for at least as long as I did plus some time ( she was knitting feverishly when I walked into the cafe to pass some time with a cup of coffee while my wife shopped. )

Since I didn't have much else to do except read Starbucks literature and since she seemed so preoccupied with her knitting and amenable to my sketching her, I looked to find some paper since I didn't bring the sketchbook with me. Never mind that she looked like she was from, well... another country... she was interesting enough for me to sketch!

I decided to used the receipt from the coffee I had just purchased since that was all I had available at the time and naturally, as time passed on and the vacation that spawned this piece was only a memory, I lost it. I thought, surely, I'd find it when I gathered up all my necessary papers, receipts and brochures from the trip, but it was not to be. Eventually, I found it in a zip lock bag where I kept my toiletries for travel and evidently threw the entire bag into my gym bag for use later.

Funny, how things pop up when you've given up looking for them.

After all that investigative work over the period of a month or so, I decided to spray mount it into one of my sketchbooks for safe keeping.

Sometimes, the story of the art is more interesting than the actual art, ha!

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, August 13, 2012

"High Tech Lawn Tractors"...

Right in My Own Back Yard...

Well, I thought I'd have to go off the beaten path to continue my "man toys" sketch concept. The first one I found, I found biking on a country road. Since then, I have only found one interesting "toy" to sketch and I haven't gathered the nerve to park along side a busy highway to sketch this old, rotting 1950's style Plymouth tucked neatly between two large oaks.

But just this morning, these three shiny new lawn tractors with bushhogs attached and straddling the driver's enclosed and probably air conditioned cabins sat in the early morning dew as I took the dog for a walk around the bird sanctuary.

I returned the pup home, grabbed my sketchbook and, in the time it took me to do that, the tractor operators were getting ready to crank'em up! So, this is my twenty-five minute sketch with an almost dry Pentel.

Maybe, I'll return in the evening and try again... without a "deadline" and for fun!

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"A Grown Up Tonka Toy"...

This morning, August 8th, I went biking on one of my favorite country roads and spotted this quiet, construction scene with a bright yellow John Deere crane parked neatly against a cloudless, blue sky... and a torn up landscape. Apparently, someone is getting ready to build in this quiet little six mile stretch of asphalted and dirt road that has become a short cut between LA 437 and LA 40 into the village of Folsom. Arriving at the south end of Factory Road around six thirty in the morning pretty much gives me a nice, uncrowded and shaded twelve mile jaunt that usually takes me about one hour to complete.

I passed this scene up a few times over the past two weeks and decided to bring my sketchbook and draw some real live "Tonka" toys. I actually thought about drawing the word Tonka where the John Deere was, but basically forgot!

Truth be told, I brought my sketchbook to sketch this dead armadillo completely intact in the middle of the road, but when I finally remembered to bring my book, the buzzards had had they way with it.

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, August 3, 2012

"Hey, I Thought, You're Blocking The Way"...

A bad shot of a sketch I did...
Not that this is any earth shattering thing, but this is the only version of this sketch, which was taken with my cellphone, of Cranberry Island in Maine. Before I could finish the drawing, a crew member came over and stood in this doorway unaware that I was sketching it. Being that it was the last run of the day, he probably didn't care, had he really known, so I didn't ask the "rum soaked seadog" to move...

And, that's about all I can say about this sketch.

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Monday, July 30, 2012

GiGi Spread Out...

She could spread out as well as curl up!
It was hard to have this dog come into our life the way she did and then, have to let her go. It was like an early Christmas present that was returned after the New Years' because it ate up too many batteries, or was defective or just wasn't no longer wanted.

The great Dane came to us about thirty pounds under weight with no tags, or licenses, or implanted chips. In the time it takes to turn a Thanksgiving turkey dinner into the next day's turkey sandwiches, GiGi had found a place in our hearts. Apparently, the previous owner discarded her when she became pregnant and delivered her litter, so said the veterinarian we sent her to to have her checked out. It is a an all too frequent practice committed by some breeders.

Because she was around two years old, the dog was very friendly and playful. Luckily, we have five acres for those big, long legs to jump and prance and sprint. For a big dog, she was also quite agile and would pounce on our cocker spaniel and then spin out of the way of his snarling jaws, much to the frustration of our Pierre. The cocker was absolutely terrified of the big, black interloper, but refused to give up any ground, especially near his sofa. He was dead serious but because she was so young, she was never phased by Pierre's defensive and aggressive behavior.

A friend of ours attempted, around the Christmas holidays, to replace his prized bulldog, which had just passed away, with GiGi, though it didn't last but a week or ten days. Therese must have known it wasn't going to work out because she continued searching for a "Great Dane Rescue Center" where those who know and love and can afford the space to care for these large dogs, could take our GiGi temporarily until they could find a good home.

We finally found a center north of Hattisburg, MS and reluctantly released GiGi, on a cold, mid January night, to their care.

A few weeks later, Therese called the center to check on her friend simultaneously hoping GiGi was doing all right and yet looking for an excuse to bring her back home to us.

The report was that she was doing fine and getting along with all the other "danes" in the pack. Even though we knew we couldn't keep her here in Folsom, it was glad but sad news for both of us...

And, of course, Pierre was just elated!

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Another "Golden Corral" Eat-A-Thon...

A twenty minute sketch of the soup and veggie bar!

My octogenarian mom likes to visit two Metairie mainstays for good food and good friends.  Last week was no fun at all because after two years of trying to convince mom she shouldn't be driving anymore, she acquiesced and sold her car to our son, who had purchased a used car a year earlier only to have the engine seize up on him.

It apparently had no oil in the crankcase!

Anyway, the 1998 Bonneville continues to stall out in traffic especially after hitting a bump or taking a sharp turn. So, I decided to drive it, once again, to the mechanic to see why the problem isn't getting solved correctly. The plot thickens as the automobile stalls at the top of the cloverleaf during the lunch hour and blocks traffic for a half an hour as I await the tow truck.

Days later, the car is still in the shop, but this sketch isn't about my kid's car problems. 

It is about how long it takes for an aged woman with no teeth to complete a meal, usually a late lunch, with lots of her friends from her many, now defunct, social groups "wheelchair wheeling and dealing" their way through the buffet lines. 

Shuffling with canes, ricocheting in wheel chairs from one friend's table to another or pushing tennis ball laden walkers around, they sample everything the buffet has to offer. Then, someone makes suggestions about the cuisine, which only creates more traffic when an entire table decides that they must taste test a colleague's recommendation. 

With my mom's fading memory, she politely drags her friends to the table to introduce her "Number One Son"... again. When I see mom shuffling back from the buffet bar with a friend in tow, I quickly hide my sketchbook because eventually a conversation would ensue about a talented grandson who just loves to draw and that would add another twenty minutes to the already two hour eat-a-thon.

At this particular luncheon, I managed to eat my fill for lunch and draw two more sketches similar to this soup and veggie bar sketch... and that should give you a pretty good idea about how long my mom ate and "partied down!"

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Monday, July 23, 2012


Hanging in Limbo...
Eventually, this woman wasn't the only person on the cell phone trying to make her connections. We were also hung out for about four hours in Manchester, NH. Apparently, the combination of Newark to Manchester, which actually is a secondary Boston airport, is not a good match if you are planning to fly and connect.

Personally, I was glad we had to stay another night, at United Airlines' expense, here in Manchester. I never really wanted to return to the reality I call "home." My wife, who gets a little anxious when things don't go as planned, was not so pleased with my blase lack of concern. She was quite "miffed" that the airline insisted the plane was on time and on schedule while she was online getting a completely different story.

"Tell me how can a plane arrive on time when it is already late," she asked.

I replied, in rather a matter of fact way,"I dunno!"

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Third Times' A Charm...

A Redo... Breakfast with 'Chu...

Just another refinement from a sketch I did a couple of months ago. Sometimes, three's a crowd, sometimes you ridin' da pine going down swinging and sometimes...

It's just a charm!

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sky Mall Lizards... Number Two!

An iguana garden sculpture!
Here's another lizard sketch from the Sky Mall magazine on our return trip from Maine. It almost looks like I drew it from an actual photo of an iguana and not a picture of a sculpture of an iguana, ha!

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sky Mall Lizards... Number One!

Jimmy Durante's got nothing on this "schnoze!"
On a three hour flight back to 'da Bayou, I tired of drawing the backs of sleeping passengers' heads, so I paged through the flight magazine and never found anything worth sketching. I tried searching through the "Sky Mall" magazine where I found a host of silly products to sketch. I don't know what is so intriguing about this magazine that so completely entertains the ladies. It is like the flying version of Carol Wright catalogs. These magazines have really silly products that just intrigues the hell out of most women. You know, electronic brain massagers, skeleton gnome garden sculptures, doggie sofa steps and oxygen based skin products, seem to be," must have products."

I don't understand it, but I did find some interesting things to sketch. This is one of two garden lizards that I sketched in the last hour of my flight. A flight attendant, picking up cups and napkins on our descent into New Orleans, saw the sketch and asked, "You draw that from freehand?"

"Yep, I replied.

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Something I Just Had To Sketch...

Sketched on a "E-ticket"...
Isn't it always the way. I decided on not sitting with my sketchbook en route to New York, via United Airlines, when I see this very loving father dozing off with his son in his arms. I thought about getting up out of my seat to get my sketchbook, but my bag was too deep in the over head compartment. All I had was the e-ticket stuffed in my back pocket, so I decided to sketch the sleepy time scene on it.

I like it enough to actually entertain putting it to paint!

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sketchin' Nature...

Maine's Rocky Coastline...
I really thought I'd spend more time sketching the coast line of Maine, but coordinating our schedule with the weather left me uninspired. Also, trying to find the island's rocky side was a bit daunting. We went on a hike with a guide, but she never stopped in one place long enough for me to get out the sketchbook.

I finished this sketch by filling in the foliage on the plane ride back home because when I started to arrive at the point of filling in, it started to rain. This sketch is near a popular visitor's site where waves stream up a granite crevasse creating what sounds like thunder, thus the site is called, ThunderHole!

But, you wouldn't want to use this sketch as a reference point to find ThunderHole because you'd get lost!

 I've taken way too many liberties ( artistic license, you know! ) for its completion, but it does look pretty inviting, doesn't it?

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

GiGi... A Puppy Portrait!

A Puppy Portrait!

Here's a portrait of the great dane that stayed with us throughout the holidays. For a big dog, she was quite placid and docile. Her demeanor made it easy to capture her. She was a real poser, but she seemed to always plop right down in a high traffic area of the house. Wherever she sprawled out to take a nap, she covered the entire floor.

This sketch took me about twenty minutes to complete, but I faked about half of it!

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Monday, June 18, 2012

G.G. or Gigi, our "Gentle Giant"

Gigi, our undernourished holiday visitor...
Early in the morning, five days ago, as I drove pass outside of my driveway, I noticed three tiny, rather forlorn looking kittens seated right at the corner of our street. I am not much of a cat person, but little animals like these kitties would be an easy target from the air by hawks, an easy meal by any predator on foot. One kitty was all black while the other one was kind of a mix of black and white. The third kitty was all gray with blue eyes.

I drove away wondering what the hell those animals were doing on our corner. It then dawned on me that it was on that same corner, last Thanksgiving weekend, that a big, black, two year old great dane came into our lives, and that reminded me that I had done some sketches of the dog we called GiGi. Apparently, she ate someone out of house and home and was dropped off in our subdivision before the dog also ate their car! When we finally accepted her advances into our lives, we noticed she was quite malnourished.

 We later found a home for her, but by Christmas our friend decided she was just too big for his home. We understood perfectly because she was big... for any house. So, she stayed for Christmas and ate up all our mints, cellophane paper and all.

 Here's one of the sketches I did while GiGi stayed with us. She was a great model to draw from, a real poser. I did her head first because, for about ten minutes, it was the only thing that moved. It seemed such a struggle to move those big, long legs to get up only to plop back down again somewhere else. She only got up and moved when my wife needed to pass.

As for the kitties, our next door neighbor, who have two teenage kids, were able to round up the black one, the black and white one and the gray one with the blue eyes and were reunited with their other three siblings which the kids had rescued and kept in the garage. All tolled, someone just dropped off six kittens to fend for themselves, but now, we are sure that they will have a nicer place to stay.

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Silouetted ShoeShine...

Loved the silouetted feel of this sketch, but...
I stood up with my back up against the wall of an airport newsstand and attempted to record this cool, silouetted shot. The shoeshine boys were rather diminutive Orientals just going to town on these guys shoes. The man on the right was a military man wearing a camo outfit while the one on the left looked like a airline pilot. I guess both professions demand shiny shoes and I think, from the effort of these "shoeshine boys," they were getting their money's worth.

This would make a great painting... in my mind and maybe, in reality... down the line! Still, this sketch leaves much to be desired... as a sketch!

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Eye to Brain to Hand...

Waitin' for a plane...
I had an hour and a half layover in Houston and I felt I owed it to myself to practice, but seriously, I wasn't really into it and it shows. Naturally, the three in line moved many times, so I had to improvise. The sketch was quick. I added the linear tone to separate the foreground from the background. I loved the visual that presented itself, but I should've just shot a picture for analysis later.

It is strange. Sometimes, I can draw beautifully totally detached, meaning, I don't think about what I see and interpret it emotionally. At times, it works perfectly to my satisfaction, but other times, it doesn't. When I am totally focused on my drawing, I almost always like what I've drawn, but I have to incorporate more than my visual and emotional response...

I have to think about every little line I draw and that's exhausting to do over the period of one or two sketches.

Anyway, the plane looks good, ha!

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Turbulent Stewardess"... Number Two!

Yeh, I thought about "fixin' it in Photoshop...
Another turbulent sketch flying from Houston to New Orleans. It was bumpy, but this time, I was actually seated. Sometimes, ya gotta know when to fold 'em!

I should have "folded them" two minutes after I started, ha!

*Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

* Actually, this really isn't worth copyrighting, but there's no judging for taste!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

"Turbulent Stewardess"... Number One!

One of two sketches I blame the turbulence on, ha!
I stood up and pretended I was waiting in a non-existent line for the restroom. When it started to get "bouncy", the flight attendant asked me to return to my seat. This is what I came up with while standing.

Actually, that is not totally true.

When I sat down I attempted to "fix it' and only made it worse. Ink pens are so unforgiving, ha!

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Just Another "Plane Air" Adventure...

A window view as I leave California.
It was a three hour flight just to get back to Houston, so I figured I'd better do some sketching before I drifted off to sleep. The night before, I couldn't get the alarm clock to set and had to wait until my cellphone charged up before I could set it for 4 am. I fell asleep with the laptop on my stomach for about two hours.

Two of the sketches of five were horrible. The results of drawing in turbulence is the same as a woman putting on lipstick in a moving car...  on any street...  in New Orleans, ha!

This view was drawn as we were leaving the LA basin... with no bumps!

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Melon-cholly Morning...

I think I'll just have some fruit, thank you!

I left quite early from my friend's house to catch a flight from Ontario airport to 'da Bayou. It was so early that no restaurants were open to serve any coffee except, "Applebee's." I didn't feel good taking up an entire booth just to have a cup of coffee, so I asked for a breakfast menu and there at the bottom of every wonderful photo of an omelet, or fruit plate, or pancake combo was the calories one would consume with any of these entrees. The only early morning offering under a thousand calories was the melon and bagel plate. It was about 950 calories including coffee.

I actually wasn't even hungry having eaten a late dinner the night before, but if I was hungry at those caloric prices, I quickly would have lost my appetite. Me thinks it not a very good marketing strategy for a restaurant, but a very good one for the dieting kind.

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Anymore Red... and I Be Dead!

The color of Naphthol Crimson and still driven to draw... What a guy!

Burnt to a fiery red, I sorta collapse into one of the museum seats and listened to a video of the story of the SR-71 and drew this picture. It is the only sketch I did throughout the tour. I sketched a few more pictures on my flight back to 'da Bayou, but that's for another time.

You know it's one thing to be mothered by all the females in our group, but when the guys started to worry about my... uh... color, then I started to worry! Thanks Scott and Doug and Keith and Guy and... well, you get the picture... whoa!

I guess I got that sunburnt!

It is only through the healing powers of 'dem wise, old Injun remedies and Sandy Batcheller's garden full of aloe vera plants that made the following day bearable. Thanks Sandy, ha!

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, May 3, 2012

You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream... for Stella!

Giving his best to win, ripped T-shirt and all...
The culmination, each year, of the Tennessee Williams Festival is the "Stella and Stanley" Screaming Contest that takes place in Jackson Square in New Orleans. It is one of the lighter sides of the literary festival that last all week, the last week in March. The scream contest is opened to anyone with an easy to rip t-shirt and a good set of lungs. Contestants play Stanley Kowalski, the character played by Marlon Brando in the movie version of William's, "A Streetcar Named Desire."

You really have to be a desperate dude or pretty pissed to shred a t-shirt like this. I know, I tried and it never rips quite this way, ha!

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Bubbles"... Where I'm At!

The weekend's work... 
I was finally able to put in some time this weekend between the baseball games, and yesterday. I am not sure about any of this and as usual, have many options that are now popping into my mind. The first step is the hardest and that is now over and the creative flow is working once again... and I'm having fun!

I am not sure how I will handle the woman and since she and the player are the central figures, I don't want the tension of them visually fighting for attention. I feel she needs to be a bit more elegant than I currently have her. The ugly green gray sun dress is just a wash to help me see where I want to go with her. I am happy with the inset renderings, but I shouldn't have completed them until I complete the swampy background, but "what 'da hey," I got into a groove and stayed there! The background is next.

My wife asked me, "Your not gonna render those horses are you?" Her question had tinges of, "You're crazy, if you do!" '

I haven't decided, yet, ha!

Anyway, I hope to get back to this today to keep the flow, uh... flowing!

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Masochism, Hotdogs and a Higher Authority...

Black and white line so I don't lose it in the painting!
Don't tell me artists aren't self-destructive. I just scoffed down two hotdogs ( they're Hebrew Nationals and answer to a higher authority though that probably won't help me now... ) with jalapenos, onions and mustard plus a pot of coffee. I am thinking about going for more.

Why... you ask?

This poster, shown above, is about where it now needs to be. The last time I pulled out the paints was this time last year. It is one thing to draw or sketch subject matter, but it is another matter when you are applying color to represent reality with a tool that best represents a stick with some hair glued to it. So, painting this poster can only be stalled by eating masses amounts of crap until I get so disgusted I either go to sleep or deal with my demons and start slinging some paint.

But how do I sling it? Should I use oil or acrylic. What about the backgrounds? They'd be better accomplished in acrylic, but it has been too long since I rendered people in that medium. Where's my acrylic retarder? It's probably a brick by now! I don't have a clear picture of how it all should look and I hate that! It should free me up, but it doesn't or hasn't yet. Simple requests from the client have messed with my preconceived idea of how it all should look. What should my palette be? Greens, aqua to blue drifting downward? Team colors of the polo player is green. Should I incorporate the green with the other two Mardi Gras colors and add it to the rainbow or would that freak the client out? Should the rainbow melt into the bayou or should it just be cut at nine o'clock with a hard line? How's the woman gonna fade into the background if she is not wearing black? Why would she be wearing black in the middle of a spring day? What about rim lighting on the circular clouds and what color... green? Yuck!

Damn, I hate that hand! And the woodpecker hole has become a strange tangent to the flying bird. Why didn't I see that originally? And, I'm not gonna render those polo players on their horses... I'm not, I'm not. Just go Bart Forbes on them. Wasn't that your original idea anyway? Geez, why did I offer to do this in the first place... Damn!

I really think I see this in oils... yeh, I've sort got a mental picture. If I use a dryer, it should all be dried by the time it needs to go to print.

If I start... like now.

Maybe first, I'll have just one more artery clogging hotdog!

Copyright 2012/Ben Bensen III

"I'll Drink To Me, Drink To Myself And Then I'll Just Draw All Alone...

A little tipsy sketch... and me too!
There's a secret to getting bottles, jugs, mugs, glasses, and all containers symmetrical, but when you're waiting for the ladies to finish roaming the restaurant and powdering their noses, an artist type gets bored and decides to draw his empty loving cup. He knows full well his second empty goblet of some of the world's best draft beer, Abita Brewery's "Abita Amber" will distort his soon to be off center mug.

If you look closely, there are light lines that I drew for myself to stay on course with my elipses, but as usual, it didn't work. It's subtle, but almost every oval is off center. That is, it is bent! Oh well, it was a fun way to waste away fifteen minutes anyway!

And, the liquid inside that off center mug was surely, "right on."

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

Saturday, April 14, 2012

So Which One Would You Choose?

I landed a commission to paint a poster for the Land Trust of Southeast Louisiana to commemorate an annual event and promote conservation in Louisiana through land grants. Every year they have a polo event to raise funds for the cause and create awareness.

Anyway, I offered to do three sketches to give the powers that be an idea of how I envisioned the poster to look taking in all the many messages they wanted to get across.  The first idea takes a conservation into an over the sofa expression of just what the polo event is really about. I used a sketch from another painting that I did where player and his noble steed were having a meeting about game strategy.

In this poster, the layout gives me a chance to show the longleaf pine savannahs of the Florida parishes here in Louisiana as a background instead of the green, green well manicured polo field. The horizontal also gives me room to add flora and fauna that are on the cusp of endangered status or on the watch list. I really like this one except the featured pine looks sick because of the crop and I don't want to bleed the top of the tree off the top of the page. Otherwise, this one is my choice.

The second idea is what I called, "Bubbles" and it is kinda feminine and fun in its approach using ovals and circles as vehicle to take your eye around for visual stroll... with champagne bubbles as your guide! It's the polo games as a social event in a fancy, frilly fund raiser way. I fear the babe is gonna be problematic though!

And lastly, is a more pragmatic and direct approach using a polo player actually planting a pine tree in the savannah. The like this idea, but haven't really solved how to get all the other messages ( Is it really necessary anyway? ) into this piece without using insets. Scale and perspective could be a problem, but I think the board would probably pick this one because it is more like a real narrative picture.

Anyway, just for fun, tell me what you think and which one you'd prefer. I'll probably get the final decision late Monday.

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III