Tim OBrien
September 2007
Rugby World Cup
Close-Up of "The Battle"
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 Scrum
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.
This squirrel was photographed by me on Sunday in Philadelphia. He got his nut.
I'll never forget how hard that day was, the look of the pain in people's faces. I'm hopeful as we move into the future but know how difficult this day is for so many. Peace to all of you.
Back in the Studio
My favorite photo this summer without a human in it.
All summer I drove 4 hours west of Brooklyn to Eagles Mere, PA. Up in the mountain in a range of mountains west of the Pocanos is a range called the Endless Mountains. In the middle is a small lake and a tiny town around it called Eagles Mere. Originally founded for a glass manufacturer (who's original site is the location of our family home), a train line went from Philadelphia to the lake. After the factory closed, the train line was a perfect way for busy Philadelphians to vacation in all the Victorian homes and hotels that sprung up in it's absence. Many years later the rail line closed and Eagles mere became a town that time forgot. We feel so fortunate to have it to go to. My son is getting to spend his summers in a cool lake, no television, and took to making things and inventing toys and making forts. I had a ton of work this summer and worked up there on several weekends.
Driving there can be relatively fast but more often some odd thing happens that adds an hour. This truck fire had JUST happened so I buzzed right by.
...soon the endless interstate 80 becomes smaller and smaller roads and I get to see spectacular barns. I love barns and thought about the fact that I never see anyone building NEW wooden barns. This may be their swan song.
The beach in Eagles Mere. It's run by an association that maintains the lake and forest around the lake. No motor boats allowed except for an old boat called the 'Hardly Able.' No houses are allowed to be build on it, but there are several little docks. It's quiet and cool.
At the height of the season it can get crowded but never too crazy.
I must compliment my brother-in-law who brings food every weekend and cooks for everyone. A doctor by trade, he shows his artistic flair in the kitchen. Here he is preparing pouches for a mountain clam bake.
When I was not in the studio I studied clouds; my favorite leisure activity. In the mountains, these thunderheads can grow massive.
Wild turkeys
At the top of one mountain are a bunch of huge rock formations called the 'Rock Garden.' Climbing around them is fun (especially for a kid) and fit perfectly as research for an assignment.
This was what I was looking for. I got a job to do the cover for the Last of the Mohicans. I love the N.C. Wyeth version so much. Action and location. I decided to sketch a version that harkened back to that.
An alternate. I liked it and sketched it on a napkin at a pizza parlor.
The final art. I sketched these white birds with little thought as to what kind of bird they were. I then had to find a bird that might be indigenous to the story's location. I loved working out the layering of the elements and the mirrored shapes; trees/clouds, birds/ferns and man/tree.
leaving the studio, I loved getting back to favorite photo with a human in it.
The next time I see this lake I may be skating on it. Summer 2007 was great.
I read Drawger quite a bit and commented when I could. My iPhone worked like a charm! I promise to come back to the fold and post a bit more and comment even more on all the great stuff everyone has put up here.
What to write about this one? I went to a great old amusement park called Knoebles. Going the week before Labor day meant multiple rides on the TWISTER and the PHOENIX. I highly recommend it.
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