Thursday, November 28, 2013

Now, I Ask You… Which One Would You Send?"

Which one to choose!
Hey everyone, I submitted two paintings at the New Orleans Arts Council for purchasing. Selected work will be placed on walls in the city facilities including new and existing fire stations and police stations in Orleans Parish. And, guess what? I made it to the final round of juried pieces. 


My only problem, that y'all can help me with, is which of the two paintings do you think I should frame and send to the council to be judged and awarded? Most of my Facebook friends are familiar with these two paintings. Let me know which you think is the better one to send for the jury to accept. I don't need to make a final decision till next week, so there's plenty of time for me to receive your vote. I'd be really helpful to me to have y'all's opinion. 

The flowered one is 24"x48" and is entitled, "Ward's Azaleas" and is my largest plein air piece to date. It was painted in five different non-consectutive days at about five hours each session on my neighbor's property. The other one is entitled, "A Closer Walk With Thee!" and is 16"x20" and completed in the studio. It was painted from photo reference and took me about the same amount of time. Both were painted in oils on linen canvas!

New Orleans is a jazz music town, so the clarinet player is the obvious choice, but at a smaller size, even when framed, it will get swallowed up in the huge government building full of halls and walls.

The flowered one is more visible and more relaxing and sedate, if indeed, it ends up on the walls of the new police facility, that might be an important consideration. And, of course, I'd get paid more for the larger painting than the smaller.

So, as you can see, I've muddled up my own decision with too much marketing logic and I need fresher eyes, and opinions to blast me out of my own emotional stalemate.

So, what'dya think? Wanna play?

Copyright 2013/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Three Rivers Sale… " Lazy Lagoon."

The question; to add the riggings, or to not!

The art festival in downtown Covington, LA, ended two weekends ago and, for me, there was much to learn about marketing your own fine art. I had the pleasure and good fortune to have a few local artists, guide me in the right direction. Most of my experience is from the advertising world and, I find, promotional material is pretty much done in a different way than fine art.

I didn't hesitate to display my commercial work, but most of it was in slideshow form on one of my laptops and it wasn't as effective as I had hoped mainly because of a computer preference which constantly went to sleep mid slideshow. A minor glitch, that will be rectified… next time around.

I really enjoyed talking to artists of all varied disciplines and getting their opinions and insights that come from years of participation in the many venues available. I found it interesting that all the artists I spoke with just loved talking about themselves, their experiences and their art. I was amazed how effective the placement of my paintings were to enhance a better traffic pattern in and around my booth. A large 2'x4' painting centered on the back portion of the booth caught everyone's attention whether they stopped for a better look or not, but  my "Little Yellow Truck"seemed to spark conversations more than any of the other works.

A good friend of mine told me it would… and she was right!

I did manage to sell one painting on the first day. Of the two sailboat paintings I showed, it is the one I like the best and, to tell the truth, it is still one of my favorites of all of my plein air efforts.  I entitled it, "Lazy Lagoon."

It was kinda how I felt at the time I painted it and I guess it came through in the painting!

Copyright 2013/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"A Thirty-Fourth Birthday Celebration…If Only!"

Brian hated getting dressed up!
It seems our son, at a young age, would prefer to do anything except get dressed up to go out and eat. Although he never expressed his feelings very well or often, his facial expressions said all that there was to know. Brian was a kid that seldom stopped moving, and if he did, it certainly wasn't to eat at a restaurant. Any restaurant!

We once took him to an English Tea Room in Pasadena, close to where we lived. We sort of knew it wasn't a good idea, especially if we wanted to pretend we were somewhere in posh England nibbling on cucumber sandwiches and sipping tea. Brian loved practicing his baseball swing. He had a portfolio of batting stances and swings that he was quite proud of. Will Clark, Rod Carew, Tony Gwynn, Ken Griffey, Jr. and so on, and when he got bored, like shopping with mom at a clothing store, he'd start swinging away perfecting the nuances of one of his heroes and impressing all his friends with his expertise.

Many an elderly woman has dodged his left handed Will Clark swing when he had two strikes on him.

Anyway, it didn't take more than a second cup of tea to have our son knock over a large picture of the Queen that was resting comfortably atop the piano, which knocked over a bunch of knicknacks and pattiwacks… and a Union Jack. I believe it was his patented Ken Griffey, Jr. home run imitation that did the Mother Queenie in.

 "Never in the field of human conflict has so much damage been caused to so many, by so few!"

We weren't asked to leave by the nervous, but understanding patrons or staff, but I think they hoped we'd consider a "Mickey D's" next time!

One Easter Sunday, after mass, we decided to celebrate at another rather upscale restaurant that required Brian to don on a blazer and tie. Groan, groan, fidget-fidget, squirm squirm as mom tried to wrestle him in to his formal attire. Once he was in the car and we were on our way, Brian keep his thoughts to himself until we arrived at the parking lot of The Velvet Turtle, which was located off of Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena.

Naturally, Therese tried to assuage the pouty, recalcitrant young man by giving him all kinds of kudos and compliments. 

"Oh Brian, you and Daddy look so good all dressed up, and look at that little turtle on the sign!" See, he's eating here and he's all dressed up too!"

Brian's retort was short and quite poignant when he said,"Yeh Mom, and he doesn't look comfortable either!"

Great memories abound and Therese and I are savoring each and every one. Today, November 21, like in days from our past, we are celebrating our son's birthday. It would have been, here on earth, Brian's thirty-fourth birthday, today.

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Once Again, File It Under... "The Mind Is A Terrible Thing!"

My P-47 Thunderbolt forty minute demo sample...

It is just too hilarious. I just don't understand what is the matter with me, sometimes.

About a month ago, an administrator for the Three Rivers Art Festival asked me if I was interested in doing a demonstration in paint because they had a slot to fill at noon on Saturday. I could paint or sketch any subject matter I choose, so in a Jack Leynnwood moment, I told the woman that I'd love to do the one hour demo…

…kinda like Jack used to at Art Center.

I was a student at Art Center a long time ago when Jack Leynnwood taught product and marker rendering. I won't go in depth about the man's credentials, professionally, except to say that as a teacher he was always demonstrating rendering techniques. He'd usually illustrate with acrylics, casein or gouache. Jack wasn't a guy that philosophized about art and the aesthetics of it. He used to lick the end of the brush, no matter what medium, ( to my knowledge, he seldom worked in oils! ) and his favorite art pencil was a Ticonderoga No.2. In other words, he was just a plain Joe doing his job!

And, he did it in class "in any key!"

Well always, in my mind, I have these visions of grandeur where there are tons of people in the audience just waiting for me to show them the way. It's not unlike the visualization techniques that athletes go through before a big play or game. I envisioned lots of kids, mostly boys, just clamoring for a lesson on how to paint a big, bad World War II aircraft. I visualized every aspect of rendering the big, silver plane with bold black and white invasion stripes. I thought about what I'd say using shapes to capture the true form, warm and cool colors, reflected light on a metallic surface, and how to maintain the center axis for all the important points in perspective. And then, when I'm finished with the painting, everyone could put their name in a hat, ( which I forgot to bring! ) and, at the end of the day, in my booth, I would pull out the name of the lucky winner of the illustration.

"Ta Dah!"

But, for me, the reality almost never happens that way. And, the reality of this demonstration was sadly, all too real. It's not like I've never given demonstrations before. If you've been in the business any length of time, eventually, you will get asked to teach or give a demo of your style or philosophy. I've taught classes at some pretty good art schools and given promo demos and such all through my years in Southern California. So, you'd think by now, I'd get a grip on my runaway imagination and self absorbed ego.

You would think!

First off, I actually drove to the festival site without my easel and paints and had to turn back around  for home to pick them up. It made me late setting up the rest of my booth in the morning. Just before noon, a block monitor came by to watch my booth as I took off, on time, to get my supplies from the car, which was parked in an "artists only" lot that was close to the demo tent. When I arrived at my car, I realized that I had left my car keys back at the booth which was three long, crowded blocks away.

By the time I returned to the "Artist's Alive Tent" with my easel, palette, water bucket and acrylic paints, I had less than forty-five minutes to paint... ANYTHING! With another artist waiting in the wings to do his metal works demonstration, I didn't have any extra time to embellish. This was in no way how I had envisioned my demonstration going. Now, the best I could hope for was an explanation of the use of ellipsis when drawing a form as mechanical as an automobile or airplane and possibly, fling some paint around.

What you see at the top of this page is a D-back Thunderbolt painted under duress. It is the result of a demo gone terribly wrong. Had there been a real audience asking questions, I never would have gotten past the initial drawing. ( I believe, including my wife, I had about six mildly interested viewers! )

Having given myself a few days to reflect, I guess I can say that at best, the experience reminds me of just how incredibly hard it is to demonstrate in a classroom situation under time restraints. Also, how one must not expect perfection to the point where it stifles or interferes with the learning process. Jack was a professional and never worried about making mistakes to the point where it stopped him from demonstrating.

At the very least, I can understand the process enough to actually laugh at my attempt to replicate a Jack Leynnwood moment…

And, probably, so can Jack!

Copyright 2013/ Ben Bensen III 

Friday, November 8, 2013

"Countdown To Three Rivers… Minus One!"

Paula and the Big Belgian...
Well, this is my last new painting which I just completed. I don't know if it will make the show tomorrow or not…
…but I'll be there!

I was invited to a polo event years ago and I was impressed by all the incredible horses that were paraded around the polo field about an hour before game time.

One, in particular, struck my fancy. I brought my sketchbook, but there was no time for that. So, I clicked away in the bright November sunlight. I must have taken about twenty pictures of this big Belgian, but it wasn't until about three years later, never knowing that she was the person who rode the horse that I photographed, that I befriended the woman who road this beauty.

Her name is Paula Alario and the big, bad Belgian's name is Tinkerbell. I never would, in my right mind, have guess that that was her name…


Look forward to seeing y'all sometime this weekend. The weather's gonna be gorgeous!

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Countdown to "Three Rivers Art Festival"… Two days left!

The stone bridge at City Park...
This is a piece I finished about a month ago is 16"x 20" in size and was painted in the studio from a plethora of photos I shot on two different days. I will be showing it at the Three Rivers Art Festival this coming weekend, but slightly changed. After looking at it for a while, I thought it needed a bit more atmosphere with lighted palm "frawns" and a few more lagoon lily pads.


Any one who is familiar with City Park in New Orleans, is very familiar with this stone icon. As a kid, I remember playing "Army" dressed in full combat gear ( circa World War II ) with my other soldier buddies attempting to attack or defend the bridge at all costs. That was a long time ago, and the bridge survived our attacks and many other catastrophes over the years.

It was a fun piece to paint and I suspect I will be doing a few more of these over time. In fact, if I had a few more hours of drying time, I probably would go back into this one to make an adjustment or two, though regardless, I really am happy with how nice it turned out!

You know how we artists are… never satisfied!

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Countdown to Three Rivers Art Festival…Three Days Left! "The Lily Pad Broke And..."

It Ain't Gonna Rain No More...

This is kind of an onsite plein air piece. About once a week, I have to check on things at my mom's home in New Orleans. When I do, I always try to set up a luncheon with an old friend or peruse the city for interesting things to paint.

There was a show of paintings at NOMA in City Park that I was interested in seeing. It was by an illustrator that, in a series of small paintings, documented a local celebrity chef named Leah Chase. The show wasn't what I expected, but any visit to this art gallery is worth the trip.

And it is free, on Wednesday.

Anyway, I happened to have my easel and paints with me, so I dove in and painted this lily and its "pad" from the huge fountain in front of the museum. I didn't do a very good job of painting the scene because I felt rather conspicuous playing artist in front of this huge, beautiful building. Luckily, it was only my insecurities that got in the way.

 No one stopped to look over my shoulder.

After about an hour, I decided to pack it up and drive back home before the commuter traffic started. Lucky for me, I decided to take a few shots with my... ahem, clamshell cell phone because months later, I visited the park and found the fountain was gone.

I don't know if it is being refurbished, replaced or just discarded, but one thing was for sure, the lily pad broke and hopefully, the frog split before falling and receiving the embarrassment of getting "water in his eye!"

So, here is, waiting to be displayed in my tent this coming Saturday and Sunday at the Three Rivers Art Fest on the downtown streets of Covington Louisiana. Waiting for whomever finds it as intriguing as I do. For info concerning the festival, go to:


A giant lily and it's pad, captured beautifully for posterity!

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Countdown to Three Rivers Art Festival..." A Closer Walk With Thee!"

Getting Jazzy in the French Quarter...
Down to five days before the show.  Here's another  painting I've completed in 2013 for the Three Rivers Art Festival coming this weekend on November 9th and 10th. I only have a few more days to get my art and act together, but I am not fretting about the quantity of paintings I'll hang for the show. One way or another, I'm gonna have fun, and the great fall weather should make for a wonderful weekend. For info concerning the festival, go to:

It is more about the quality, and I'm pretty happy about that!

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III

Monday, November 4, 2013

"Countdown to Three Rivers Art Festival"...

Just for the "plain air" of it...
One of a few on-site paintings I've completed in 2013 for the Three Rivers Art Festival coming this weekend on November 9th and 10th. I only have a few more days to get my art and act together, but besides getting a haircut, posting some of the artwork throughout the week, seems like the best use of my time. For info concerning the festival, go to:

Okay, maybe, the haircut is more important... ha!

Copyright 2013/Ben Bensen III