This summer was consumed by one job that lasted quite a while and tested my ability to keep focused on the vision of the final product and make some good art. I was contacted by a great Irish agency that wanted me to create artwork for an billboard campaign across Ireland. The company that had the TV rights to the Rugby World Cup, in France this year, wanted to emphasize the beauty of it through the tag line: "L'art du Combat"
They asked for 'beautifully painted masterpieces'. Gulp...sure, no problem.
This was a scary job for me to tackle; many figures and I was asked to paint them a bit more painterly to make them look more like Bellows or Eakins than O'Brien. I also was NOT going to get any useable reference from the client. I had to buy some of it at high cost but the budget covered those fees. Where I could not get a good shot, I did it myself. Uniforms were specific and none of the reference was right.
The first painting was called "The Battle" and called for a runner stiff-arming a player while looking elsewhere. My final product was not my best effort and I had the feeling that it looked more like the cover or a Revell Plastic model box and not a 'maserpiece.' I worked on it a bit more and felt good about the final.
The whole painting
The next was called "The Line-Out." This one depicts players going for a ball while other lift the players up to reach it. It's quite dramatic and beautiful. Throughout I was asked to paint 'those beautiful clouds I do' so this one has that element. They also let me go darker and focus the light on the center and REALLY let me go dark at the edges. I couldn't believe the freedom to make it as dramatic as it ended up. This one made me happy and a bit proud. I did this one VERY fast, perhaps 2 days.
The fellow on the left is me.
The final painting was quite unexpected. This was the one I was afraid of. "The Scrum" as it's described by Wikipedia is:" ...formed by the players who are designated forwards binding together in three rows. The scrum then 'engages' with the opposition team so that the player's heads are interlocked with those of the other side's front row. The scrum half from the team that did not infringe then throws the ball into the tunnel created in the space between the two sets of front rowers' legs. Both teams may then try to compete for the ball by trying to hook the ball backwards with their feet."
I knew they liked a low point of view and all I could think of was how hard this one was going to be. As it came together I could see that this one had real potential. I loved the final art.
Ad jobs are usually very art directed and though the client may have chosen me because they like a certain work of mine, they have to sell soup, hot chocolate or cars. The Irish guys at the agency were terrific to work with and very supportive throughout.
I've been an illustrator for 20 years and have done advertising jobs throughout. This has to be the most satisfying advertising painting I've ever done by far.
It has to be an Irish thing.
Leaving brushstrokes is FUN!
This is an early painting of mine, circa 1987.
Rocky Marciano versus Ezzard Charles
I wanted to be Skip Liepke. No one else wanted me to be Skip Liepke.