Over the years we've had many conversations where he had mentioned that he was convinced he'd been a Pan Am Stewardess in a previous life. This gave me the idea to make a portrait of him as he might have looked in that past life as a stewardess.
I was aiming for a womanly version of Ben, dressed in the classic stewardess uniform from the heyday of Pan Am. I also knew from the get-go, that he would prefer to be portrayed as a pinup. With his long legs and slim figure, I can't imagine Ben any other way.
In my first sketches, I tried to capture the right pose. The pose is crucial in the expression of body language. My drawing could have gone in many different directions. Knowing how much fun Ben has watching Rupaul's Drag Race, but being historically correct, meant he couldn't be twerking.
I had to focus on a mid-century expression of sexiness; a glamorous, Hollywood, Ava Gardner expression of sexiness.
FACE AND EYES
Then I had to make a face. This was a complex endeavour. The right face had to be perky yet seductive. Ben is perky by nature. His smile and happy eyes can brighten the cloudiest days.
Now, his eyes had to become her eyes. Ben's eyes without any makeup, are large, his lashes and eyebrows look like they've been painted by a Venetian portrait artist. One glance into his Mediterranean eyes makes you want to venture too far away places with him. Cockpit Girl had to have that same sparkle.
As I started sketching the face, I needed to channel that mythical stewardess from Benjamin's past life. Many faces I envisioned didn't feel right. I would simply erase them and start over from scratch.
Ben has many of his mom's facial features, and if Ben had been born a girl, logically he would have resembled his mother. So, as it turns out, I have to credit his beautiful mother for Cockpit Girl's look.
As many of us are aware, pinup artists of the 20th century had a very definitive style. Suggestion was key, blatant sexuality as we see today comes from a completely different culture. Suggestive poses and situations were the art form of many greats such as Alberto Vargas and Earl Moran. In order to achieve a satisfactory result, I aimed for a very high bar.
I am pleased with the way Cockpit Girl turned out. She has a playful expression that hints that she dances during the safety demo and while serving drinks.
I hope you love her as much as I love Ben.