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Saturday, October 21, 2017

"Elect-Trickle Banana..."

C'est la vie!
Good late morning Thursday, y'all.
So weird, but funny. About a month or so ago, when I felt like I was finished for a while fixing things around the house, the kitchen sink light burned out. Or so I thought...
I preceded to grab the kitchen stool and replace the old bulb with a new bulb. When that didn't work, I moaned about having to replace the switch. I mean, I just completed to my satisfaction so many things, it just didn't seem fair that something else needed to be fixed.
My obvious next move was to check the panel. Perusing the switches, I noticed one of them had flipped off somehow, so I flipped it back on. In the process of my very limited electrical troubleshooting, I also noticed that we had connection for a GFI socket. One was in the kitchen and one in the two bathrooms.
Well, I thought to myself, that's the problem. Now it is just a matter of trying to find the GFI plug and turn it back on. Naturally, it was a plug that was way off in the far reaches of the kitchen wall hidden behind a bunch of bottles and flower vases.
I reset that socket switch and then, flipped the switch for the kitchen sink light. Bingo... all is well with the house and therefore, all is well with me.
But the story doesn't end there. Even though the entire place was re-insulated, the rebuilt garage that I turned into my studio about three or four years ago had a window air conditioner installed when I really couldn't stand the heat.
The unit worked fine for about a year or so and then quit on me. Disgusted that the damn thing died just as the warranty ran out, I decided to just open the studio to the house central air and suffer the consequences.
It's been over a year that I've been without that air conditioner and every time I saw it sitting there idly, I had to bite my tongue.
That same night that I "fixed" the kitchen sink light, Therese awoke around 2 am and headed for the kitchen looking for a late night snack. It was then that she heard a strange sound emanating from the studio. It was the air conditioner that I suffered all summer long without... it was running like all get out!
Apparently, that one switch on the electrical panel that I flipped on thinking it had an effect on the entire kitchen is the one switch that works the air conditioner. The thermostat that automatically turns the machine on when it gets a bit warm, turned the unit on.
There are a couple of lessons learned here. I'm still trying to decide which one is the better of the bunch... it may take some time!
Sixth cup...

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"Sketching A New Orleans Icon"...

Arriving two hours before takeoff to Denver out from my water soaked hometown, I decided to do a a little bit of passing the time away. This drawing was the best of the bunch. "Lucky Dogs" were sold from carts all around the French Quarter. Some said the weenie concessionaires also peddled drugs from these carts, back in the Sixties.

Now, they are doing fine selling the straight stuff at the many airline food courts. Truth be told, I haven't had one since my teenage days. I'm not sure why these dawgs are "lucky". Maybe, you're lucky if you don't get heartburn!

Maybe, I should try one to see and rectify that...

Copyright Ben Bensen/ 2017

Monday, July 3, 2017

"I Hope No One Was Around To See That!"

Our Mighty Hunter...

Well, Happy "before the big patriotic bang" Monday, y'all.
So funny. With my first cup firmly in hand, I take 'da Pup to our designated poop spot. As he gets himself to a comfortable squat position, I notice a bunny seated and frozen in that clasic chocolate bunny position.
I thought to point it out to Pierre Le Pooch, but decided that no one likes to be disturbed during that wonderful early morning adventure, but all through that "vunerable time", his nose lockes onto a fragrance that is his.
"Pierre, I said, as he turns to me from tidying himself up a bit, "Look, a bunny!"
The bunny is not more than five or six yards away, but the dog's nose rules and Pierre obligingly obeys even though his nose is taking him further away from his "quarry."
The bunny barely moves but turns his gaze to me nodding in disgust.
"I know. Crazy, huh? Sometimes I wonder about him too," I said.
Suddenly, like a shot, the dog lunges from the azalea bush toward the rather nonchalant rabbit.
I think the rabbit's been here before. 
Just as Pierre is within the attack range, the bunny takes off in a straight line for a couple of yards and then, with a tweak of it's white cottontail, takes a hard ninety degree right turn. Pierre could not only negotiate the turn, he slipped in the morning dew and did a complete 360 degree body roll.
When he gets up and shakes himself off, he looks around as if to say, "I hope no one was around to see that!" 
"I saw ya," I said between sips of coffee...You big buffoon!"
Second cup!

Copyright 2017/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"Margaritas And My Sketchbook."

A pen and ink sketch while sipping margaritas...
My wife fell two weeks ago and needs to have her left elbow operated on today. We decided, after hours of waiting marked by moments of repetitive questioning at the "pre op", yesterday, that we'd treat ourselves to dinner... somewhere. We landed at a Mexican restaurant called La Carretas in Mandeville. We got there just in time for the luncheon menu which ends a 4pm, I believe. 

We sat in the patio because it was a very nice afternoon considering the time of year. The addition to the restaurant is fairly new and a welcome site to the indoors hustle and bustle. Of course, this time of year brings out the flies which were a bit aggravating. I don't recall what my wife had but my steak burrito supreme was perfect. I enjoyed the salsa so much that I topped my burrito with it. The salsa was pretty stock except that they added more onions and cilantro to the mix, which made it extra special.

The pen sketch is from the patio while lingering around after we had eaten. It took a while to complete and the waiter came around occasionally to make sure we didn't require any more attention. I am pretty happy with the sketch although the fountain design seems more Oriental than Hispanic.

Copyright 2017/ Ben Bensen III

Saturday, June 17, 2017

"The Girls ( Chicks! ) Are Working Overtime!"

My sketch of farm fresh eggs from my good friend who's girls are working overtime!

My champion barrel racing friend, Paula, is an animal lover. She loves her horses like her own children. She has quite a few chickens that just love to lay eggs. She pets turtles and stops along the highway to help them get across the street. ( Who knows why turtles think the other side of the street is any better! ) She has a snake that occasionally drops by to sample a few of "the girls' handiwork" and allows the cat and mouse game between coyotes and peacocks to continue. She does bring her chicks in at night, but allows Nature to do what Nature needs to do in almost all cases.

We'd been away for a few weeks and hadn't visited the local coffeehouse to find out what was shaking in the town. For a while, when we did manage to make it for a cup of coffee and some good conversation, Paula was competing all up and down the local barrel racing circuit. But, today we struck it rich with two dozen eggs plus two as lagniappe. 

And just in time for some Father's Day quiche!  

Copyright 2017/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"A Place To Sketch Or Write Your New Screenplay..."

A sketch of the plane I'm commissioned to paint.
Good Thursday morning, all bodies.
Had a fun meeting with a prospective client at Giddy-Up this morning. She is looking for someone who can paint her in a PT-17 Stearman flying over Lake Ponchartrain. Sounds like she found the right guy!
She seemed to like the western decor at the Folsom coffeehouse, Coffee and panini's... I always try to get folks to drive up to Folsom to see this beautifully laid out place. Very relaxing with computer plugs ins at just about every table or sofa... just perfect to sketch or write your new screenplay, ha!
Man, I got up early and took 'da Pup for an early morning, thirty minute walk. So glad I decided to shower after the walk. Whoa, it is gonna be a hot humid day today.
But, for now, it is a panini and a second Giddy-Up cup!

Copyright 2017/ Ben Bensen III

Sunday, June 11, 2017

" My Baby Doesn't Do Breakfast..."

A Breakfast Sketch...
I'm sitting at a Sheraton hotel in Maryland Heights, MO where after having a rather large buffet breakfast, I started to sketch my surroundings. I'm one of those kinda people that like to linger for a while after eating.

Maybe, it is a "Southern Thing".

But whenever we travel, I love to get up, read the "multicolored fish wrap" with breakfast and think deep thoughts. Or, if I don't have any deep thoughts, I sketch. But, my wife loves to crank up the air conditioner, and snuggle deep into the fluffy hotel pillows and sheets till almost checkout time.

As long as I've known her, Therese just doesn't do breakfast!

Copyright 2017/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, June 5, 2017

"Just A Glass Of Water, Please... I Guess!"

Guess it's just a glass of water, please!

Well, it's a welcome to Blitheville, Arkansas Monday, y'all.
No, it's not Blith- ville. It's uh...
We checked in to our Holiday Inn in a stopover in Arkansas on our way to St. Louis. My wife tells me a cute story about the conversation she had with, Travis, the hotel manager, as we checked in.
Travis: "Have you stayed with us before?"
Tee: "No, I've never been in Blytheville before"
Travis: "Well, first you have to learn how to say it correctly. It's called BLI' vul. And, you have to drag it out... BLI-I-I-I vul!"
After perfecting the pronunciation of his fine town, I told him, "That we have the same confusion in New Orleans. It's definitely not, "N'Awlins!"
Travis:"Yeh, exactly how do you say it?"
Tee: It's Nu'Wallins unless you're from uptown. Then, you kinda roll the "r" like New Urrr-le-ons!"
Travis then told me about the dining options at the hotel including "The Bistro" which, other than the Mexican restaurant across the street, is the only place to get an alcoholic beverage today."
Therese said, " I'm sure my face conveyed my surprise as he said,"Arkansas is a dry state. You can't get alcohol on a Sunday!"
Tee: "Oh, in New Orleans you can get alcohol any time of the day or night on any day of the week."
Travis: "I know. That's why I want to go there!"
C'est la vie! Third cup... of coffee!

Copyright 2017/ Ben Bensen II

Thursday, June 1, 2017

"A Luncheon Doodle..."

In between bites!
S'been a while since I pulled out a sketchbook, but two days ago I dropped my car off in Slidell for servicing. There goes 300 smackaroos!

Anyway, I always have a driver take me to a restaurant instead of vegging at the dealership for an hour or two. This is what I decided to sketch this radio controlled F4U Corsair in between bites at the Southside Cafe where, it seems, retired Marines hang to raise a few and talk about the "old days." I chowed down a reuben with a side of coleslaw and a draft beer and managed to not get any thousand island "texture" on the sketch.

Copyright 2017/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, May 19, 2017

"Learning To Shoot The Bird!"

One of 975 frames I did for a film...
This is a sketch I drew from my head and one that comes from deep inside my artist's psyche. The frustrations of life can bring us all down to our more base emotions, but it feels so good sometimes to do so.

In the script, this couple is being harassed by those all too familiar, damn country antagonists, the "rednecks." The husband is kind of milk toast in a script written by a woman. In the story, the wife takes action that her husband won't to avoid a conflict. ( Have you ever dated a babe like that? ) Okay, okay, this script was just all too predicable to be worthwhile, and I was starting to feel the same frustrations that make people want to employ such a response.

Like the director!

But, this story isn't about the sketch, the film, or the feelings of frustration. It is about the struggle to actually learn how to form the illicit visual comment. I didn't want to attract too much attention to myself for not knowing what the gesture meant. In fact, it was quite some time after learning how to make it and for what reason to use it, before I understood exactly what it represented.

I learned that whenever this super cool, little Italian kid, Larry Serio, disliked a situation, or a joke, or something the nuns said to him, he would whip out, usually from his pockets, for it was that age when all young males have their hands in their pockets, and with a violent look of disgust, shoot the bird. Larry was one of those "Fonzie" types before there was a Fonzie. A diminutive guy, he always had a comb in his back pocket and was not afraid to use it. His hair was jet black like the dress shoes we all had to wear as a part of our approved uniform. But, he was cool because he had taps on his shoes. You could hear him coming from a long way down the hallway and the nuns always gave him a hard time about it.

That was even cooler!

Who knows where Larry learned to form that unique finger dance and how to use it so quickly. He probably learned it from a older brother... or sister! He had to have spent many an hour in front of a mirror to get the entire act down pat. I know it took me quite some time to learn how to do it though I never felt it was necessary to use it all that much. I remember having to push my ring and pinky finger down into position using my other hand. It took a lot of practice!

The one time I actually was angry enough to use it, I spent at least the next ten or twelve seconds actually forming the wingless bird in my pocket before making its entrance. By then, my concern for getting it right had overridden my anger. It was almost like counting to the number ten to help one calm themselves down.

Over time, I realized that it was a timing thing to get the finger and the attitude displayed all at once. You had to really feel it. It couldn't be faked. It had to come from deep within. It took quite some time to put the two together and not be embarrassed by the response. It only took a few years in the advertising business to set that winged animal free... in but a few seconds.

The truth be told, when I finally found out the real meaning of the gesture, I was kinda disappointed. Somehow, some way, waiting all those years to find out what that mystery finger dance was all about, couldn't possibly live up to all I had imagined.

Isn't that a lot like life...

Copyright 2017/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, May 11, 2017

"A Couple From The Thirties... Complete With Argyle Socks!"

After many tissue overlays, I finally arrived at the look I was searching for with this couple. They were a pivotal piece of a 24x36 painting I just completed for the Pierce-Arrow Society. They are having their 60th Anniversary and wanted a poster to celebrate and commerate the event.

Copyright 2017/ Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

"I Couldn't Help Myself..."

An old farm tool antique...

Good Dumpty- Hump Wednesday, y'all.
I will be painting outside today before we leave for the concert tonight, but before that I'm truckin' over to Gus's for some breakfast and abuse.
Every morning that I go to the restaurant, I park in the same spot which is close to the street and behind a old farm tool antique. I'm not quite sure exactly what the horse drawn tool is used for, but a while back, I sat in the car and sketched it.
At a career day put on by a local high school I was asked to represent the profession of artist and in doing my presentation I passed around two sketchbooks. One book was from twenty plus years ago and one was a more recent one that included this sketch.
A little red headed student raised her hand in the middle of my "dissertation" to announce that she knew where this sketch came from.
"I know where this is, I know where this sketch was done," she blurted out.
"You do?" I replied.
"Yes, I love Gus's restaurant," she exclaimed. You go there too?
My quick and rather glib response was, "Only when I have to!"
( I couldn't help myself since she set it up so well! )
First cup...

Copyright 2017/ Ben Bensen III