Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Number Four in a Series of Collector Prints... Nixon Galloway!

The Boeing "247"

The Boeing 247 was a prototype for the modern airliner, for it was a clean cantilever low-wing all-metal monoplane of constructed with twin-engine powerplant, retractable landing gear, and accommodation for a pilot, copilot, stewardess and ten passengers. The design introduced a new feature for a civil transport aircraft by being equipped with pneumatic de-icing boots on  leading edges of the wing, vertical, as well as, horizontal stabilizers to prevent accumulation of ice from reaching a dangerous level. The plane's top speed was about 200 mph with a cruising speed at about 133 mph.
Sixty examples of the Model 247 were ordered right off the drawing board to equipping the Boeing Air Transport System, which soon became United Air Lines! Below, is a picture of one of the few surviving and flyable museum pieces. It apparently was the aircraft from which Nick modeled his painting from.
One of a few aircraft still airworthy!

Copyright 2012-2013/Ben Bensen III

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Silly Me... I Haven't Yet Figured It Out!"

Illustrated design for a audio/visual convention.
Still working on my new, old website. In it is a section I call, "Potpourri" because it has a little bit of miscellaneous stuff that doesn't always fit other disciplines. I found this set design I created for a design firm for an audio visual convention while going through my sample cd's. If my memory serves me correctly, it was a twenty-four hour turnaround and the art director's "vision/scribble left much to the imagination. In a way, those type of instructions allows for more creative thinking. I was pretty happy with this overall design and I asked the client if they were happy with the piece. I requested a photo of the finished set on location, since I would not be a part of the actual construction... if indeed, they were gonna use my design to build the actual display.

Silly me.

It is a real conundrum to do what I do when I draw "stuff." Inevitably, it involves so much more than my illustrative skills, yet when looking for work, people assume you're an illustrator/storyboard artist and not much more. Someone please tell me, is this illustration just a drawing skill or much more? What about the concept? Other than the art director instructing me to "make it urban," in the process of drawing these things, one has to create that environment and design it to fit within the limited space of a convention center. Company logo notwithstanding, what about signage and the many urban icons added to create a mood to market to a certain demographic. Are all these things expected as a part of the process and then, only later, to be forgotten. 

To this day, I am convinced that illustrators, for the most part, make the best visual communicators, that is, graphic and package designers, set designers, painters, art directors, photographers, etc.

An art director at Saatchi and Saatchi, once told me that my problem was that few people understood how to use me! She said,"Ben, it is a marketing problem only you can really solve!" 

She was right... and I feel, I still haven't really figured it all out yet!

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Friday, October 12, 2012

Number Three in a Series of Collector Prints... Nixon Galloway

The first all metal aircraft, the Ford Tri-Motor.
Here's Nick Galloway's rendition of the "Queen of the Airways" which is what United Airlines deemed her. Her majestic "reign" lasted from 1926 when it first came into service with the airline till about 1933 or so when newer and faster twin-engined aircraft replaced her.

Nice angle Nick picked to show all three Pratt and Whitney "Wasp" engines which produced a top speed of 150 mph and a cruising speed of 122 mph. If I remember correctly, the plane was still being used by the government as a mail carrier for many more years and today, there are still quite a few flying as museum pieces at air shows.

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Wonderful Wooden Waterfowl"...

Just a sample of the wooden carvings!

My mom is a 88 year old going on 8 and she loves being around people especially those folks that are involved in all kinds activities like art and sports. She loves baseball, she likes "Psycho Killer" and "Born in the USA" and she loved to dance. Unfortunately, her main partner passed away years ago.

She also likes birds. She will sit for hours color commentating on the daily actions at all my feeders especially the hummingbird feeder since it is so close to the breakfast nook window. It only seemed natural to get her out of the house and bring her to the Louisiana Wildfowl Carvers and Collectors Guild Show at the Castine Center in Mandeville, LA last Sunday.
With a coupon from the newspaper, we only had to pay two dollars a person to enter and the incredible and varied art that was displayed there was well with that price of admission. The vivacious and witty Mamere stopped and talked to all the artisans there as she "oooh-ed and ahhh-ed" her way from one display to another, teeter-tottering her way through the tables. Displayed were hundreds of actual decoys complete with tethered line and a lead anchor at the bottom. They were quite utilitarian in function and sparsely painted to resembled certain duck species native to the bayou. There were also others that also seemed functional as decoys but were quite detailed in their rendering of a specific species.

Mom stopped to "interview" an elder wood carver whose approach seemed really old school. He used a standard box cutter to do most of his carving from the tupelo gum blocks he had surrounding his station. When I asked him about its use, he said that he never could get his carving knives sharp enough to make the cuts he needed to make and a box cutter could have the blades easily replaced. Mom noticing the mess he was creating with all the wood shavings asked, "Do you have to clean all this up yourself?"

Looking up momentarily, he responded rather tersely, "Only at home!"

As she continued conversing with the man, I was sure it wouldn't take long before she had him trading carving secrets that he probably wouldn't divulge to anyone else. I slipped away quietly to check out some of the other displays secretly hoping that mom wouldn't accidentally knock over half a table of decoys. Upon my return, ten minutes later, they both were yucking it up pretty good and I was please to note that were no damaged decoys or destroyed tables.

We spent almost two hours cruising the auditorium amazed at all of the incredible works many of which were carved as dioramas. Here are a few samples:

There was also an auction on this day, but we came too late to experience that.

It's just as well... with these beauties, I might have been tempted to actively participate, ha!

Copyright 2012-13/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Number Two In A Series of Collector Prints... Nixon Galloway!

Second In A Series... Convair 340.
Here's a moody piece by Nixon Galloway of a Convair 340. It was a post war design that stretched the series"240". It had a cruising speed of 275 that was attained by two Pratt and Whitney R-2800's which if I'm not mistaken, powered the Hellcat, Thunderbolt and Corsair fighter aircraft. The plane carried about forty or so passengers in a pressurized fuselage which gave it the ability to fly higher over weather conditions... a big deal back in the fifties, ha!

 Maybe, that's why Nick decided to illustrate it this way. The wing reflections intimate a wet sky.

On a personal level, I actually got to fly from LA to Modesto and back on a Convair 340 when I was picked up to interview for a designer's job at Gallo. I am sure that there are those who'd say why not a corporate jet, but being an aviation freak, I was ecstatic to be flying in such a classic. I, also, was pretty impressed with company's professionalism which made me feel like the professional I am. In hindsight, it was a very nice visit as I was "wined and dined ( excuse the pun! ) and put up for two nights at a local bed and breakfast. Although I got the grand tour, I didn't take the job because I had illusions of becoming a great American illustrator and didn't want to be out there stranded in a town with just one client... Gallo!

Although the Gallo family was then, a bunch of loons and quite difficult to work for, looking back, I often wonder what could have been.

For me, in this case, hindsight isn't 20/20. It is "340!"

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III