Sunday, February 28, 2021


Me Matey Mcmillin...

This little 9x12 goodie is for a friend of mine. It is entitled,"Me Matey Mcmillin." I hope he likes it. I've been back in the studio trying to find easy, fun things to paint. I've got four large paintings I started before Therese became ill and since then, I just haven't had the need or the energy to spend any more time in the studio than I had to. Just don't have the heart for it, right now.

But, in the last week or so, I took some advice, indirectly, from an illustrator turned fine artist, Craig Nelson, who was also an instructor I had at Art Center. It has helped put things in perspective... a bit!

Anyway, I painted a few pieces and tried to not get myself to attached until I accidentally ran into this photo. It looked to be lots of fun and with the exceptions of a few details, it was.

Hey Craig, I had planned to give this to you with many thanks, Monday, but Sunday, photographing it, I noticed two important details to fix. I apologize... I'm a nitpicker!

I wonder if anyone can spot the one important adjustment I made and the other two minor changes from the FB cover art I posted the other day?

For sure, Craig, let's meet today because a little birdie told me that today, Wednesday, February 24th is your birthday! What a coincidence!

Got together over a coffee with birthday boy, Craig Mcmillin, at GiddyUp yesterday to deliver the painting. He was touched, which is pretty cool to me. I apologized for not bringing the coffee mug Craig made for me a month or so ago. It was in the dishwasher. Craig forgave me for the ill timed decision.

We kicked around a bunch of subjects including solutions to my "painters version" of writer's block. Always enjoy our coffee conversations no matter where we are.

Copyright 2021/ Ben Bensen III

Thursday, February 18, 2021

"If You Got An Aunt, You Probably Need An Uncle!"

How I remember Uncle George...

It's gray, it's windy, it's cold, it's wet. Forecast for tonight and tomorrow night is another hard freeze, but we will see some sun all week long. Yeh, right!

Well, in order to close the books on my Aunt June I thought I'd mention the other half. Last I checked, if you're gonna have an Aunt you probably will need an Uncle. Strangely enough, I've not as many Uncles as I do Aunts, but Uncle George stands far an away the most interesting of the bunch.
Much to the dismay of his wife!
At Aunt June's funeral, my brother, who it seems is perpetually late for everything, brought with him as a gift a six pack of Barq's root beer. He gave it to Debbie, Aunt June's daughter, to the delight of her and all that knew the story. It was a rather strange thing to do, but that's my brother... The Doctor!
He has a penchant for presenting the deceased or their survivors with appropriate but still strange gifts. He'll quote some ancient pagan, Mayan, Aztec or Egyptian tradition of taking "toys" to the after life. One "gift" he delivered nine years ago was a classic:
Uncle George was a rather gregarious guy who during the War worked for the Merchant Marine. He had a lot of friends including my parents. Uncle George, on occasion, would join my father's company softball games just so he could join in on the after game festivities.
He and dad grew up together. So, we were always invited to join him at his home in Gentilly and sometimes, we'd get to go. But, whenever the drinks were past around, Uncle George would take us into the kitchen and offer us a "Barq"s", but it was ALWAYS watered down. He seemed to take pride in it. I complained once and got my mom's stern Marine stare.
No words needed to be said.
Anyway, it became a thing with Uncle George and the six of us kids. We never learned to enjoy it, but it was just Uncle George.
Uncle George also, having hung around sailors most of his career could really sling some salty language in the course of a conversation. My dad excused him because "He grew up in an orphanage" and my mother would always try to assuage Aunt June's dismay, by playfully running interference on George's next sentence and offering to give George "such a punch!"
Whether the party was over or still running at full steam, when George would quietly disappear we all knew it was time to go. If we didn't, he would appear in his pajamas and slippers and, in so many words... ahem, tell everyone it was time to go.
Poor Aunt June!

Copyright 2021/Ben Bensen III

Monday, February 15, 2021

"My "True Man Compoty" Collection of Fruit Plates"...

My Valentine to my wife, yesterday!

 For the last couple of weeks or so, I started preparing a fruit salad/compote for my wife. Since her pancreatic cancer, she's had to restrict her diet. But, she can tolerate fruit quite well, so after a while, say a few months or so, I started designing her fruit salads and calling it "Fun With Fruit" and a bit later, my "True Man Compoty"fruit extravaganza.

Obviously, I am having a ball with this concept and my wife loves not only eating it, but trying to guess each ones silly titles. So, I decided to use a collection of my fruity fun as my cover art on Facebook. Got a lot of great response from friends and art directors... ha!

Here's one of a collection, No two plates are alike:

Copyright 2021/Ben Bensen III

Monday, February 8, 2021

"The Comfort of Those Little Cherished Prayer Books"

Cherished mini memories...

Little aged, fragile, egg shell ladies arrive early to find their special place in the row of pews leading to the altar. It's always best to arrive before the crowd where someone might scurry by as through they see no one.
Dressed respectably, there will be no dainty, ironed kerchief atop their gray to white hair. Hats, demure and unassuming is the order of the day. They arrive early not only for sanctuary, but to open up their purse and pull out their prayer book.
Long, spindly, well manicured hands now cover the scars of many jobs and the many years of motherhood. Washboard hands that no manicure could possibly disguise, she pulls out a tiny, leather bound prayer book. The book is no bigger than two and a half inches wide by three and three quarters long. The two hundred sixteen, gold leaf pages are locked together with a delicately decorated but very functional metal clasp.
With the handles of her purse wrapped around her forearm, her arthritic fingers deftly dances through the delicate, gold rimmed pages searching the Table of Contents for the section "Prayers Before Mass."
She always misplaces it.
There it is somewhere between the Table of Feasts, Fasts and Abstinence Days and the Morning Prayers.
Just in Time before the Mass...
"Oh merciful Father, who didst love the world so as to give up for our redemption Thy beloved Son"...
She finishes all the prayers needed to prepare for Mass and just in the nick of time.
Throughout the service, her hands caress the tiny missal almost hovering over it, protecting it, turning each exquisite china cup page as if it was the actual word of God.
All the world, at least until after the "low Mass" Salve Regina is recited, is at peace. Until the next time...
I remember those days. I remember those ladies. I remember those tiny books of yesteryear.
I once had a small white prayer book that, like my sister's, was received at my First Holy Communion. We all wore white on that day, but my outfit had a few donut stains from giving into temptation from the very onset.
I trust with all the varied prayers being recited out from these tiny manuals over the years by many tiny church gong ladies, that I've somehow been absolved!
These beautiful three prayer books, imprimatur in 1896, and in 1925, are a treasure. They truly are from another time and another world. I do not know which family the two came from as I found them in a small cardboard jewelry box along with my older sister's book. Apparently, she made her first communion in April, 1955 to receive her very first "Manual of Prayers and Instruction!"
1955... that's a long time to be a Catholic!

Copyright 2021/ Ben Bensen III