Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Dailey Series/ The McCullogh Chainsaw Storyboard...

Double click to see closer...
This is a closeup of one of the frames I did for Mike Rydel at Dailey and Associates. The original size was 5"x7" with about a half inch bleed all around. The reproduction here looks a little too magenta, but I want the viewer to see how over the top I could get and how caught up I could get in the middle of the night with an early morning deadline. Check out the skin pores and the rain drops, but don't ask me why because I really don't know. I have always had a penchant for pushing myself / the envelope doing things that didn't always needed to be done... especially in a sales tool like a storyboard. I feel that I am not at all an abstractionist, but when you look close at some of my stuff, there's a lot more abstraction within the real. And, I like that!

Analyzing the overall piece, there are a few places that needed to be addressed in this wet environment and I would have taken it to completion, but I had ten other frames to complete for presentation. The brim of the cap underneath would be darker as well as below the chin and I could have accentuated the left side of his face by darkening the inside of his collar. Also, his left eye should not be so highlighted, but still, I love this piece for what it conveys, that is, a determined, against all odds guy who's gonna get the job done no matter what Mother Nature sends his way. I love the blues, the transparency of the raindrops rolling down his cap and his face. Also, I believe this was the first time I used a blender with a fine tip to get the driving rain instead of over painting with gouache.

Oh, if only I had had another hour to spend!

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

"And We Won't Stop Tryin' Till We Create a Disturbance in Your Mind...

Just decided to use this sketch of a old friend and bassist for the Radiators, Reginald "Van" Scanlan, to announce my attending the Jazz Fest with another music lover and good friend here in New Orleans from Idaho. A friend I haven't seen in about ten years or so! This is supposed to be the last hurrah for the Rads, though even they have mixed feelings about giving up the show. We'll see about all of that later, but starting today, it's time to create a "disturbance" in my mind and just let the good times roll.

See ya there, Reg!

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Dailey Series, Honda Generators and Such...

Never thought one day I'd have to own one!
One thing I know for sure, I did this ad and a bunch more for Don Gilles to present to Honda for print advertising. I did comps for brochures, spread and letter size magazine ads, flyers and you name it. I liked this rendering so much that I used it as a printed sample. I was given a picture of this generator and was instructed, by Don, to put it in an environment that was rural, moody with evening lighting. It had to have a nouveau styled camp condo look. Like a ski lodge, but in the summer and it had to be more vertical than the standard letter size ad.
This is what I came up with. Don loved it and so did Honda because it was printed. I thought the reflected light off of the generator top was an effective device to separate the foreground from the background and add more light to an already dark layout. No offense to the photographer who shot this scene, but my illustration was better.  Stupid me never asked for a copy. Smart me because I liked it enough to shoot some slides of the piece before letting it go!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Dailey Series...A Storyboard With Dennis Weaver.

Dennis Weaver Replaced John Wayne as GW Bank spokesperson
This was one of a series of storyboards featuring Dennis Weaver who spoke of the greatness of Southern California and Great Western Bank. Of course, this was a long time ago when all the frames were done in markers and paint. Guess you can say I had a style of rendering that eventually was banned by OSHA. I know you think that that sounds silly or nearly impossible, the details of which I can discuss later in this blog, but it was true... In a roundabout way!

There's always stories that accompany these concepts since so many people are involved in the production of a commercial. I really don't recall who the art director was on this piece. It might have been Don Gilles because he later told me a story about the location. Or it could have been Victoria Aenlle or Mike Faulkner. I really don't remember, though I must have worked on about a dozen full blown storyboards similar to this one over the period of a year or so. Usually, storyboards like this were either six, eight or ten frame concepts with the last frame being a logo or logo type frame. I do remember that there was more to this board then I have here. This concept was one that got bought and produced and aired in SoCal.

But, it almost didn't happen because the original concept, which I did draw up, was to have Mr. Weaver on top a noble SoCal steed. Dennis Weaver, being a horseman of some statue, did not want to sit atop a real horse on the roof of a twenty story building overlooking Wilshire Blvd. Horses do have a penchant for getting spooked and the thought of one "going lemming" with a Hollywood actor atop it, would be horrifying, as well as, being not good publicity. Eventually, I was told, in other commercials, he was put on a stuffed horse, shot wide and then, cut to a closeup of him in the saddle.

Regardless, it was a pretty impressively photographed commercial, and I feel, I had a large part in selling the concept. It was always exciting to see a commercial I worked on on television.

Friday, April 22, 2011

My Dad Loved to Dance...

Dad and my cousin, Patricia Fortier, hoofing it...
My Dad loved to dance. I once asked him, feeling that he and my mom were so incompatible when I was a teenager, what made them decide to spend their lives together. I never could understand what they had in common, except arguing. Well, truth be told, my mom was always the one yelling and carrying on. Nevertheless, his answer was, "Your mother is an excellent dancer and that is how we met!"

Three weeks ago, I took my mom over to a fancy party on the lakefront where she shared old times with "that old gang of mine" ( the TOGOMS social group ) and every woman who knew mom would pull me over to the side to tell me what a  GREAT COUPLE  they were!

"Oh, you mean, on the dance floor," I replied.

"Son, could your father ever cover the entire floor! I don't know how your mother could keep up with him!" "It is only because so many other ladies wanted to dance with him that your mother ever got a breather," one well kept octogenarian said. I was a bit taken back, when she asked me,"Do you dance?"

Well, here are some pictures from 1996 of my father enjoying a dance or two with my cousin, Patricia, who is a professional trainer and Zumba instructor. Dad and mom were celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary at that time. Dad did dance often with mom, but I swear, I still don't know how the hell they made it that long together... I guess it must have been... all that dancing!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Until Now...

A sketch assemblage of one of Folsom's many Cowgirls...
This is a cut and paste study of a woman I have tried to sketch, in bits and pieces, over the past few months. Actually longer than that...

I first met Jenny years before Katrina and naturally, I met her at Gus's restaurant in the village of Folsom. I was taken back by her gruff manners, loud voice and the fact that she walked right in and made a fresh pot of coffee as if she owned the place. The adage about "book covers" resonated in my mind which made me feel guilty for prejudging her. Unfortunately, the cover was all that was needed  to entertain myself wondering how she'd look dressed to the nines, with makeup on, in high heels and a slinky black strapless evening gown. I wondered what hairstyle would she wear? I don't think I have ever seen her without a horse themed baseball cap on her head. Her scruffy, blonde white hair, crooked spectacles, missing tooth and leathery, sun bleached skin was, at first, a sight to behold and quite frankly, still is.

Now, when I was young, after having fallen off a horse twice in one day, I was consoled by a Texas cowboy that told me it takes at least ten times falling off before you can be called a true cowboy. If that is truly the case, then John Wayne's got nothing on me. For I have fallen off more horses in more states to qualify me as cowboy extraordinaire ten times ten. But that's a story for another time. Suffice to say, a horse is one of God's most eloquent designs especially when, for no reason or for the pure joy of it all, they just take off and run. Over time, I became fascinated by the many urban cowboys and true country cowpokes that daily drop by the restaurant for a cup of coffee and a bit of conversation about their favorite subject, horses. The restaurant is always full of horse people, cowboys and plowboys, rednecks and rejects, winners and losers, those that ride and those that own, barrel racers, jumpers, rounders and recreationals, all talking that talk.

Jenny is one of about five women I have befriended over the years that are professional riders or caretakers of the equine. And it comes as no surprise that Jenny is the most eccentric.

"I've been around animals all of my life. In the old country, ( Holland ) my daddy taught me how to ride bareback at the age of three," she said. By the time I was ten, I was trained to be a jumper. Daddy would put a coin between my knees as I sat atop the saddle and told me to make sure it was still there after the horse made the jump! He'd pay me double if I was successful, but owned him double if I let the coin fall to the ground!"

She said with a nod of her head and a toothy smirk, "He was tough on me! I was the youngest of twelve brothers and sisters and I had to prove myself worthy of their respect every day... and of the horses."

"You have to earn the respect of the horse as well," I inquired.

"Of course, she said, that's the trouble with the horse's about winnings. They don't respect animals, they don't care about the horses. They're not there for them. They don't understand 'em. You see this year's prize, Zendatta?"

And so for the next half hour or so, just enough time to finish another cup of coffee, Jenny went on and on about Zendatta's training regiment, and how the jockey misunderstood the horse's style of running and what he'd do over to win the race if he had a second chance. She went on about breeding and maintenance, about the financial state of racing, about calcium in the soil and how horses get nourish- ment and the nutritional differences of thoroughbreds and other breeds... and on and on.

Seems like few people have the hands on knowledge as someone like Jenny. It's not just her job, it is her entire life. All seventy years of dedication.

I always knew horse racing was an expensive sport, but I never realized that there was so much involved in the details of owning and caring for horses till I met Jenny. But then, until now, I never really saw past the cover.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What A Great Tribute And Why Didn't I Think Of That?

A sketch with tone for a later painting!
A few years back my high school baseball coach passed away. Wilfred "Skeeter" Theard coached many kids over his long and illustrious career. Anyone in New Orleans who was casually or intensely involved in baseball for the last four or five decades knew, revered and loved the irascible coach. I played for him for three years as did my more talented brother, Tony. My father, who played ball with Skeets when they were in the Evangeline League, told me that Skeeter got his moniker by being real good ball player for his age and, for being so small... small and pesky, like a mosquito.

At his funeral, half the local baseball world was there. Former ballplayers, professional and amateur, sportscasters, journalists, coaches, nuns, teachers, colleagues and old friends all came to show their respect and share stories about the coach that are only half truths; the stuff that makes ordinary people legendary. For sure, Skeets was a legend even as he lived. Busted bats repaired with brads and tape, restitched covers on baseballs, recycled uniforms, having the team search the entire field to find one lost baseball were only the beginning of the many stories that abound!

My two brothers came to pay their respects while my younger brother, now a physician, came with an used baseball. It was one of those grass stained balls that had seen better days with scratch marks, cuts and scuffs, but was still in great "Skeeter-Shape".  I was surprised to see it in his hands because Bob never ever played a sport that involved a ball. At an early age, Bob was myopic and I think it bothered him most of his life that of a family of eight, he was the only one who didn't play the game. Yet, there he was, dressed in a suit with that baseball in his hand. He came up to me and asked me to sign the it. I was as flattered as I was confused. When I looked at the ball, I noticed that it had other signatures on it. Other signatures that I recognized and some that I didn't. In my best Mickey Mantle imitation, I had scribbled my autograph on the ball. Bob smiled and then passed the ball around for others to sign. Soon, the ball was almost completely black and blue with signatures as he invited me and my brother to walk up to the casket and join him along with his two sons to respectfully set the baseball next to Skeet's rosary draped hands.

"The Egyptians used to leave their loved ones, as well as Pharaohs, with gifts for the afterlife," he said. "I thought this would be a appropriate gift for Skeeter." I was blown away. What an incredible thing to do, I thought. A baseball signed by many of the ball players he either played against, played with or coached and taught the love of the game. Bob never even played the sport and nor did his children, but he hit a home run on that day.

"Bob, I said, as my eyes started to well up,"That's such an incredible idea. With all these ballplayers here, why didn't any of them think of that?" What a great tribute!

And... come to think it, why didn't I?

 Copyright 2011_Ben Bensen III