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Tim OBrien
American Gothic Redux, again.
posted:
These two handsome people were our final choices for representing Mexican Immigrants. Getting that just right is so important.

One thing I can count on every year is to be asked to do some sort of master copy for an illustration.  When an image becomes so iconic that it works as a vehicle for satire  or making a broader point,  I tend to get these assignments.  I love doing them because they are often great learning opportunities and over the years I've painted in the style of Da Vinci, Bruegel, David, Gilbert Stewart, and many others.
When the style is realistic I get to see how these artists move off hyper realism to  have their individual voices.  Bruegel's understanding of structure of hands was a valuable lesson.  Grant Wood's impeccable design too.  
Recently I was asked to do an illustration for Texas Monthly of a twist on American Gothic.  I had done this before for another publisher years ago, so this was yet another chance to learn from Grant Wood.  The concept this time was Mexican American Gothic.  Texas Monthly was doing a immigration issue.
American Gothic can turn into anything and one can fill a museum of the knock offs of his iconic piece.
I have noticed that as time goes on the common knowledge of certain iconic paintings is fading here in the United States.  In Europe, however, the common knowledge of some paintings is far more broad.  It may be a reflection of the reduced role of art education in US public schools.  Here in the states pop culture is now the common language to spoof or riff off of.

I love doing these assignments and as I end 2010 and the decade of 2000-2010 I thank all the ADs that picked up a phone, typed out an e-mail, pecked out an instant message or now a Facebook query; "Are you available for an illustration?"
It's been a pleasure.
 
I loved trying to match the hairstyles.

Up close I'm a sloppy painter, really.

An earlier piece for Playboy. The palette was far more warm.

Howard Stern via Rembrandt Peale.

Tony Soprano via David.

RCA Victor and voice recognition technology


Albrecht Dürer hands praying, painted. (property of Marc and Janice Burckhardt)



Here is a Bruegel painting expanded upwards and sideways to accommodate a book cover. Learned a lot on this one.



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