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Tim OBrien
Back on the Grid
posted:
The North Pond Hermit

The summer of 2014 was a whirlwind of activity.  From a renewal ceremony in June (20 years!) to a sudden major surgery for my son, the summer had to be lean and efficient.  I did my work but dropped off of social media, the sharing of work, and many other social activities.  As the summer of '14 turns slightly cooler at night, as the leaves start to ever so slightly go yellow, I am about to enter into the part of the year that gets busy again.  But, before I move on, I'd like to show a few things I've done this summer.  Many paintings came from wide ranging and interesting assignments.
Emilio Pucci

This was an interesting assignment for Reed College Magazine.  Emilio Pucci, the Italian fashion designer was being featured.  From being a fighter pilot, to a mountain climber, to an iconic designer, all elements were to be woven into this cover.  The final had the planes 'shot down'.  It looks better without them.


For the New York Times Travel section, a story on how hotels and destinations now seek gay couples and feature this demographic in advertising.
At the time of this assignment, a friend was losing his battle with cancer so there is an homage to him on the label.  Dave was a world traveler. 
As usual, a trick learned in a previous painting is useful in the next.  This was helped by Spock Riding a Unicorn.
In loving memory of Dave McDowell

Francis Scott Key, 2014

Smithsonian Magazine asked several artists to interpret the Flag for the Star Spangled Banner issue.  Brad Holland wrote earlier that he thought people would probably paint flags and portraits of Francis Scott Key.  I actually thought people would paint the flag and not many paint Key and luckily I was right.  When I get an assignment like this, I too consider how I will look amongst my peers ( peers, did I write "peers'?  What I meant was people who were asked.  The list included R.O. Blechman, Anita Kunz, Christoph Niemann, Daniel Libeskind, Brad Holland, Matt Mahurin, Robert Longo, and Jean-Michel Basquiat).
I then think of what I can do well and ponder that group, where they might go with their pieces, and then offer my take.  I went 'portrait' and that choice was solidified after doing a search for Francis Scott Key images, very few came up.  I then became excited to add the the images of Key out there in the world.  The two I cam up with were mediocre (but helpful) and I arrived at an elegant, yet anxious Francis Scott Key.
I could not find who did this engraving. It was a useful source image, though blown up it's all over the place.

An image I found of Key that I did not reference. This mediocre shot and the lack of images made me excited to proceed.

The approved sketch. I like this image in it's roughness.



Finally, I'll conclude with this piece.  Perhaps my favorite of the group, it was a challenging assignment from GQ; paint the 'North Pond Hermit.'  In Maine, there was a man who was living on North Pond for 20 years.  He would break into homes, steal what he needed and remain out of sight.   He never hurt anyone but created a sense of terror because the people knew of the legend and were forced to lock doors and be wary.  Finally he was caught and he was a mild mannered man.  He did steal so he was put into the clink. 
The idea at first was to depict him like a Magritte trick; as a fractured portrait on some trees.  He's not as scary or mythical in real life, so it was suggested I move on to that mythical Hermit we all can imagine.  So, I did some revised roughs and found the right image. 
With apologies to Margritte.

The right guy / the wrong pose

I thought I'd hide him and still like this idea. I'll have to recycle it someday.

Approved sketch

Sadly, I was the model for this aging, mythical hermit. I did age myself up a bit.



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