Monday, October 24, 2011

"It's Like Sittng at a Stop Light and Feeling Someone Else's Music!

Feel the Music...
Lately, I have been spending more time at coffee houses like Starbucks, PJ's and CC's here on the northshore for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, just to get away from the house... and myself. I understand that these shoppes are meeting places for people to converse about anything. Many times, it is used as a convenient, non-threatening venue for business. Heck, I've utilized these places for just such reasons, but it really bothers me when people sell their religious views, loud and clear, to everyone whether they care to hear it or not.

I'm not very good with zealots especially of the religious kind!

I realize how naive I have been most of my life about the things that motivate people. Being raised in a city where, as repugnant as it can sometimes be, "Laissez les bon temp roulet" ( French for "Let the Good Times Roll! ) is the main battle cry. I've seldom been exposed to such proselytizing. Being raised French and Catholic, I had to ask a Jewish friend what was that little beanie on his head was all about having moved from New Orleans to Los Angeles. As I recall, in the fifties and early sixties, we Catholics were threatened to burn in hell forever if we attended and participated in a Mass or services at any other church that wasn't Catholic,, so it is no wonder it took me leaving the comfort and protection of Catholicism in a provincial city like New Orleans, to learn about other cultures. And as a kid I never was really exposed to the "Bible Belt." But today, here on the northshore, it abounds.

 It is not my style to talk about the after life, religion or the various "end of the world" scenarios, at least, not without a tongue planted firmly in my cheek. It is equally hard for me to intelligently speak or listen, for that matter, on the subject of politics. I'd rather sit on the fence. Of course, having to listen to others speak loud enough for almost all booths to hear on any subject is rude, boring and preachy.

To me, it's kinda like sitting at a stop light and feeling someone else's music!

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Good Things Come In Small Packages"...Number Six!

Brian's First and Only Entry Into a Modeling Contest...
In a way, this was my son's coup de grace. After about three years of making planes under my "tutelage" I suggested he try entering one of his creations at a local hobby shop that was having a model making contest. He decided instead to completely build a model from beginning to end and the plane he chose for the competition was the P-40B Tiger Shark of the famous Flying Tigers.

I shot this photo of the model and sent it in with the aircraft for judging. We both were pretty happy with the effort and I can remember, looking back, that the only assistance I gave him was aligning the yellow stripe decal behind the number fourteen. I remember discussing whether or not to glue the pilot in the cockpit, but Brian was happy with his detailing of the pilot and wanted him in it.  Sometimes, in fact, most times, model makers are better off showing the interior of the cockpit without the pilot because they over render the features of the pilot and it makes the rest of the effort look unprofessional.

For what ever reason, even though, his entry was displayed in a glass case with other entries at the hobby shop in Pasadena, it didn't win anything. I can't say Brian was heart broken because he always was to cool to let anything like losing upset him, but I still felt bad for him. I told him that maybe it was something I did, like displaying the plane on top of the illustrated history book in the photo, that might have, somehow, disqualified him. But my kid had no opinion on that. I sensed he felt it was time to move on to other things and even though we made a few more memorable moments building models, I slowly backed away from participating and he slowly stopped being interested. It was kinda a sad day, but he gained so many unique experiences both mechanical and creative from that time that I could only see his participation as a positive force.

It's one of those gifts Dads can do... impart a love for the things that you loved as a child and see where your kids take it!

Monday, October 3, 2011

"Good Things Come In Small Packages"... Number Four!

Going Navy with 'Da Blues...

Well, try as I may, I cannot find the layout that this picture of Brian inspired. Years ago, I got a call to create visuals for eight spread ads for an art director, Tony Halstead, who was freelancing for McCann Erickson. The client was Hamilton Avnet and wouldn't you know it, I've found six of the eight color xeroxes of my work, but not the one of a kid making a model airplane. In the above photo composite I designed for Brian's college graduation diary, the background pic of him making a model is one I shot for the Hamilton Avnet comp. 

Anyway, my son had a great time building a series of naval aircraft complete with the early WWII tri-colored camouflage of dark sea blue, sky blue and white. By this time, he was fairly good at airbrushing this paint scheme though he never did get the concept of taping off the greenhouse canopies that were used at this time during the war. 

What I used to do as a kid in the early sixties, was to paint the greenhouse frames by hand carefully lining in between the pre-grooved frames on the clear plastic canopy with turpentine or Testor's Thinner and then immediately add a line of dark blue using capillary action to do the rest of the work. If I wasn't satisfied with the line I would carefully erase the line trying to not disturb the many other frames I had created. It was quite tedious, but then, I was a kid and had plenty of patience especially on a rainy day when I had nothing else to do and nowhere else to go. 

My first airbrush was a Paasche "V" I received as a graduation gift in college. Within months it had paid for itself painting airbrush illustrations for the oil trade industry, but I didn't incorporate the tool on any model building projects until I attempted to use it in Jack Leynnwood's illustration class. It was then that I learned to use clear cellophane tape to mask off the frames of the greenhouse canopy and then spray color on with the airbrush. It was a technique my son never acquired mainly because I didn't trust him with an X-acto knife... at any age!

His inspiration for the TBF Avenger, which was another Lindbergh reissue and built completely by Brian except the greenhouse canopy, was at an airshow at Burbank where he saw a tri-colored SBD Dauntless and a year or two later, the TBF, at the then, annual Confederate Air Force Show at Chino.

Copyright 2011/ Ben Bensen III