Saturday, April 30, 2016

"Mudbug Madness"...

Ten pounds bought and I ate five!
It's all you can eat catfish or crawfish for a Friday night special at a local restaurant called, "Scoops" here in Folsom. LA. We got to the restaurant around seven and got the last ten pounds they were gonna serve tonight.  

I have a Facebook friend from Sweden and when I posted the picture, she saw it and said they serve 'em up annually around August. I didn't even know they had crawfish ( as we pronounce it here in 'da Bayou! ) in Sweden. I asked her how do the Swedish prepare such a delicacy and she replied, "We boil them with salt and lots of dill and eat them cold with toast or bread and an assortment of cheese and perhaps a salad. Sometimes here in the north, where I live now, we make a cheese pie of Västerbottenost, a local stronger cheese."

"When I was a child we went fishing for crayfish with my grandfather, who always pulled up his own from the lake where he lived. Sweet memories! Also, there is a saying in Sweden that "kräftor kräva dessa drycker", that is,"crayfish requires pilsner and schnaps" to be properly enjoyed!"

When my Swedish friend inquired about our recipe, I unloaded all the things one would put in the pot. Well, we boil them with salt too, but we add lots of seasoning such as cayenne, cloves, marjoram, bay leaves, thyme, black pepper, paprika, etc. in a cheese cloth bag and throw it into the boiling water. That was the old country way. Nowadays, there's a commercial seasoning packet that you use to add it with the crawfish. Then, we add coarsly chopped up celery, lemon, onions, garlic, sausages, corn on the cob, small red potatoes.

Beer is the libation of choice, I told her.

She laughed and mentioned one day getting together to "compare notes!" Well, I am part Swedish!

Copyright2016/ Ben Bensen III

smile emoticon

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Why Hasn't Anyone Thought Of This Idea?"

Inflation...  a nickel works, but a quarter works better!
My wife has a step stool that goes back to her teenage years singing in a band. When we moved to SoCal, she brought that step stool. It always came in handy where a full blown ladder would be too much. Unfortunately, she never ever used it again for it's original purpose. A sad event in my mind.

Over the years, it lost its sentimental value and became more and more a tool. Or so I thought.

Therese was really upset that I had personally wrecked the stool and any sentimental attachment by using it as most step stools are used for. It was laden with paint, plaster, glue and started to rust.

But, it is still alive and well. It has outlasted many lighter but less well made equipment. The only problem is that the legs of the stool have cut through many a plastic or rubber cup. After a few years, it inevitably cuts right through them and etches into the floor, the carpet, the grass, concrete, whatever!

After changing a few ceiling light bulbs I noticed it was needing replacements once again, and naturally, I had every size cups except the four that I needed. "You know, I thought to myself, it wouldn't etch right through the bottoms if I can put something metal inside of the cup... Like maybe, a coin."

"Genius idea, I said to myself... Absolute genius!"

Well, a dime or a penny didn't work at all, and a nickel worked better as I sized up one of the older cups by dropping the coin inside. A quarter, even though I had to struggle to jam it inside, worked best. "Inflation," I thought, "Wouldn't you know it?"

Later that day, I went to a local hardware store to find the correct size cup for the stool's lethal ways.
I complained to the diminutive, ball of energy, about the hassle of having to every five years or so, find and replace these cups. I showed her my wrecked sample with the hole cleanly cut out of the bottom, and she said...

"Well, I don't have it in white, only black, but I can tell you how to prevent the legs from cutting out the bottoms."

But before I could tell her of my genius solution, she said," I can sell you some metal washers just the right size that you can slip inside of the cup. It can definitely help make a difference!"

I thanked her for the added advice, bought the cups and the washers to fit and walked out, satisfied, but disgusted.

"Genius, eh?"

Copyright 2016/Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

"She Totally Ignored My Paintings, But..."

Nice to know I've still got it!

This is great. This is really funny. I'm standing next to my five entries at the Abita Springs Plein Air show last night like a good marketeer just waiting to explain my work and one women comes by and peruses. So, classic me, I nudge her gently into a conversation...

Any conversation!

I really don't remember what we talked about. The weather, the event, the guitar player, which I didn't like the organizers' placement of the musician, the knoshes... I might have said something about my career, whatever. But, when there was a lull in the conversation, ( which inevitably happens! ) she looked at all five paintings, rather intently, and said...

"I really love your signature!" It is really awesome!" ( She actually used the word, "awesome." ) and it is so consistent on each painting!"
Never one to be at a loss for words, even at my own detriment, I said...
"You know a friend of mine ( Karen Kuchar ) said she loved my signature and wished she could create one like mine. She also wanted to know how I sign it in oil because it is so difficult to do."
With a nervous chuckle, I said, "I told Karen, I do it very carefully!"
She took a sip of her chardonnay, giggled and walked away.
That's the best of my marketing acumen, last night ...
Copyright 2016/ Ben Bensen III

Sunday, April 10, 2016

"Alone Again, Artistically?"

Framing created by Terri Hamilton at Pineapple Gallery
I had an interesting and often rare experience two days ago. It occurred after months of conversation over the phone and over the internet. The person I was "dealing with" was pretty understanding and readily admitted that he had little knowledge of how to accomplish this graphic feat. We spent months kicking around several ideas replacing a very old college decal into a frameable piece of art that he could hang in his office. The decal was quite brittle and the kind that you soak in water and apply to whatever you chose to attach it to. Back in the seventies, that usually meant one's car.

Ah, school spirit and all that rah, rah stuff.

Thankfully, Doug was not in a hurry to have this feat accomplished quickly and that was a real nice place to be for me when you consider most of my commercial work always needs to be done "yesterday."

After a few romps into a new visual concepts, we decided to stick with the Mississippi State mascot and bring the little pugnacious pup into the new century. These sketches were completed during the Christmas holidays and emailed along with my own designed Christmas card. Here are a few of the ideas...

Sometime in January, Doug emailed me that he loved the idea of the graph paper and wondered how I came up with that idea. Like many ideas, it came to me as an accident. For another project, I had incorporated, in the Photoshop preferences panel, the automatic opening of grids and guides. When I went back to this assignment, the grid automatically popped up. I thought it looked good. So, I sent the new design with the grid to Doug, thinking it really applied to being an engineer.

 Boy, did it ever. Doug loved it.

After many minor adjustments over time, Doug gave me the permission, in between his busy schedule, to have it printed. There were a few more emails to get an approval about colors, and frame size.

After it was all assembled and ready for pickup, we set up a date and a place to deliver it. When it was all said and done, it was suggested that I drop off the artwork and mail him the bill. In a way, I figured that would be the safer way to go if after all this time and emails, he doesn't like it. I wouldn't have a confrontation or the embarrassment of trying to explain myself or my design.

But, then I thought that I really wanted to meet the person that I had spent half a year working with. I decided that I was not gonna allow the digital world with everyone staring down at their iPhones and iPad screens, to keep me from making human contact.

We met at a local coffee shop, and had a wonderful time. It was great to see who he was, how he looked and see the expressions on his face... expressions I had heard over the phone many times. To me, it would have been a great loss to not have had the time to met him personally.

Over the last twenty years, the computer helped me acquire many jobs without leaving home, but seldom did I have any physical contact with clients I really enjoyed working with. In our meeting, Doug and I got to laugh about the project's progression, the changes, the silly ideas, and learned quite a bit about his work as an engineer at Shell. He introduced his wife as soulmate and art critic and shared a bit or their own personal life.

I think she liked me, and thankfully, she loved what I'd done.

Copyright 2016/ Ben Bensen III

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"Might Be Too Bold For This Gallery!"

A Plein Air painting I just completed a few days ago."
So funny. I just sent a prospective gallery some of my latest Plein Air stuff just to let them know I am kinda producing. The gallery's retort was;
"Thank you for showing me what you are doing! Bright and graphic! Might be too bold for this gallery... Best of luck in Abita Springs."
Now, there's nothing wrong with that comment. It is really professional for them to even respond. Every gallery has their niche, and that's the beauty of art. I understand... I think there wrong, but I totally understand!
It does bring back a time when many of my friends and relatives were worried about me because many of my images were so dark and moody, and foreboding.
Entitled, " We Win."
"Who would want to have that in their homes?" my mother would say. She once, because I was in a funk about a guitar chord that I could not play, practically gave me permission to go to Bourbon Street and..."try to have a good time!"
Mothers... who can figure them out!
Galleries, too!

Copyright 2016/ Ben Bensen III