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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A City Park Sketch...

A WPA Sculpture!
I grew up near City Park. I fished there. I played ball there. With my friends, we use to get dressed up and play army there in and around the lagoons, hiding in the large oak trees waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting enemy we imagined. As we grew up, we'd rent the paddle boats and have races and then, stop by the Casino, as it was then called, to have a Barq's and some chips.

Nowadays, whenever I have the need, I will go and visit the park and reminisce about those good times and maybe mosey over to NOMA to revisit the old classical paintings and sculpture there or pick up on a new exhibition. The last time I was at the museum was to see the Leah Chase exhibition, where an artist spent a few months back in the kitchen of the famous chef at her Dookie Chase restaurant, documenting her life as a cook. The show was okay... not great, but okay.

But, having visited the park, I later on, returned with sketchbook in hand to just sit and draw and soak in some rays and vitamin D. Drawing with a larger tip Pentel forces one to be more shape oriented and not so into the details. It makes for a bolder look. For someone like me, who is a rather timid draughtsman, drawing faint lines either on paper or in my head searching for the right line, this is a definite challenge.

Many of the lagoons in City Park are spanned by bridges created by the WPA back in the late '30's and are quite decorative. This sketch is of a flowered concrete vase on top of the end pillar of a concrete wall that borders one of those bridges. In a world full of desperate hard times, it constantly amazes me how imaginative, creative and, at times, delicate the workmanship and design could be. It makes one wonder why we can't have this kind of design today. Makes me wonder about a lot of things!

I don't know why I don't come here more often... it is such an inspiration!

Copyright 2013/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Think These Were Called," A Deuce And A Half"...

Army 2and1/2 ton special
In this climate, there are a lot of old, rusting pieces of equipment like cranes, boats, old cars, tractors and farm equipment. There are a few that I see on my way to and fro, but this old Army truck is situated around a fenced lot that houses quite a few military vehicles, which I assumed are used for spare parts. This particular one is not on the parking lot of the machine shop but sits out amongst the weeds.

For me, that makes it all the more interesting.

I actually like this one a bunch. When I am this happy with a sketch, I wish I had use some really nice paper instead of sketchbook paper. But, I've ruined many beautiful pieces of paper that way. To my way of thinking, wasting good paper is analogous to wasting food and suffering the stares of all those starving children in ( pick a country!). 

Oh, the guilt of wasted paper!

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another Great Opportunity... Um!

One in a series of sketches to nowhere!

If you know me, as an artist, I always gave it one hundred percent... almost to a fault. I've lost jobs because I was too tight, too colorful, too intense, too concise, too, oh, I dunno... too... too! I always approached every job like this is the one was gonna send me over the top. One that will make me the most important illustrator America has ever witnessed. I had that kind of intensity even when creating art for storyboards and print ads. I sometimes took that foolish approach as a motivating factor. An attitude that got the creative juices flowing and one that would really challenge my ability to visually solve a problem. I sometimes would believe my own advertising pretending that a job was more important than it actually was.

And, this bear sketch is a prime example.

The sketch, which I really like, was done at the LaBrea Tar Pits museum before it became the New George Page Museum. I was hired though a contact at Art Center to create black and white art for the kiosks that informed the patrons which animal was which in the displays and on the wall murals. I somehow talked myself into believing that this job was gonna blossom into a full time archeological illustrative career. I must have created about forty or more studies like this thinking it was for another mural that I was gonna get to paint.

And for this opportunity of a lifetime, I'd be paid $800.00!

I must admit it was very exciting to be with paleontologists and geologists back downstairs amongst all those prehistoric bones and half assembled dire wolves, sloths, saber toothed tigers and wooly mammoths. I was employed there for the amount of time it took me to finish the kiosk drawings, which as of five years ago, was still there illustrating the displays. 

They even let me sign my art and the signature is still there... last time I checked!

Copyright 2013/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, February 15, 2013

"No Cellphones, Please!"

Waitin' is the Hardest Part No. 47
Just a quick sketch of a VA vet biding his time while awaiting his turn. Not shown above him and a little to his right is a sign that asks everyone to take their cellphone business outside. Of course, with an iPad, it is a bit more complicated than just cellphones, ha!

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"Set A Spell... Then, Check Your Emails!"

Doing business from a Cracker Barrel rocker!
I sketched this African American with aviator styled bi-focals atop his shaved head. At first, he had a cup of coffee and just sat there enjoying it as I was on the other side of the window enjoying my breakfast.

Then, the phone must have disturbed his "smell the roses" countenance because he spent the rest of my breakfast and subsequent sketching session on the phone with clients and pushing little icons up and down his iPad.

I don't think he ever picked up his coffee cup after that initial phone call. Maybe, he finished it!

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Set A Spell And Pass A Good Time..."

Set a Spell...
A couple of months ago, I was at a restaurant having breakfast when I looked out the window and found five men sitting around chewing the fat, so to speak. They all sat around this older gentleman with the suspenders and "passed a good time!"The waitress said that for over a year now, this group of men come and sit in the outdoor rockers to play checkers and enjoy each other's company almost every Tuesday.

By mid-breakfast, a woman arrived with a wheelchair to assist the man in leaving his "outdoor conference room!'

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III