top
log-in
Tim OBrien
Mona Lisa for Discover
posted:
This is a close up of my version of an older Mona Lisa. I know where wrinkles crop up, no need for reference of the aging process.

Recently I was asked by Creative Director, Mike Di Ioia of Discover to tackle a cover about the aging world.  Why he would call me, a very youthful young man to do this illustration is beyond me.  I think it's because I can paint, not from any personal knowledge about aging.
The assignment was sort of a dual pitch, as assignments often are; sketch our idea and anything else you can think of.
The offered idea that was already approved was an aging Mona Lisa.  Now, I have painted La Gioconda many times because it's  one of the most recognizable pieces of art ever made and thus symbolizes art. 
The cover was about aging but in one of the preliminary discussions Mike Di Ioia offered a possible tag like of 'the coming wave' of the aging population.  I recalled that when sketching and at dinner one night did a rough on my cell phone of this concept.  A wave where above the water a woman is younger than below.  The flaw is that below the water she us UNDERWATER, thus there is some implied danger or judgment about aging.  Still, I liked the comp I did after that rough.
In the end it was me against Divinci and that's a bake-off no artist wants. 
In my career I've painted many master copies and always enjoy them.  So much is gained from the close study of blending and application of paint that it's great that I'm paid to learn. 
So, if you're an AD out there and need an image based on a well known masterpiece, I have some experience in this area.
As for aging, I hear it's a mixed bag.  Just as you figure out how to live, you're half finished.  I hope to hang onto a youthful outlook and for the most part do.  I apparently think I'm 25 because every time I run by a full length window and turn my head to observe my running form I'm shocked at the age of the guy running next to me.  Who is that?
I'm the latest operating system of Tim O'Brien, with tons of new features!  Sure I've been dropped a few times and that crack is nothing.  I'm still working.
Quick iPhone sketch done at dinner so I would not forget...

This is how I saw it looking. I would paint her with a neutral expression and let the viewer see how the coming wave is older...a literal interpretation of the theme of the cover story. They passed on this one.

The final painting. As many times as I've painted that background, it will never make sense.

Ok, as you can see her hair is white on the cover. Not my choice but I was urged to do this so the fact that she was older was not missed by the viewer. I like subtle illustration concepts in general so I did about 4 gradual back and forth changes, making is a little more white each time. The hair was changed digitally so I still have it the way I like it.

Here is a Mona Lisa I did for Time about the Art of War. Art created during wartime.

A book cover of the Mona Lisa. The series was about a daughter of the President living in the White house and each cover was this young woman in an old master painting.

A funny, unpublished illustration for Der Spiegel about the burden of raising children ( I think that was the concept) I can't recall because I'm aging.

Finally a Bruegel copy where I had to extend out the chapel on both sides, top and bottom and finish out the landscape for a book cover. Love this one.



Recent Articles
Topics
Archive

Stuff I Do (102)

Sketchbooks (26)

Sketch/In Progress/Finish (25)
My Links