Tim OBrien
NYC Marathon results, 2009

This year's New York City Marathon was great.  As I wrote last week, they're all different in unexpected ways.  Some things are unexpected hardships and some are unexpected easy patches.
For those who have asked and for those who wanted to see if I was going to croak, I'll offer this report.

The morning started with a worry of the potential rain.  I went to Staten Island with a chair, ski pants and golf umbrella.  Under all of that I stayed warm and cozy.  If you believe in karma I may have earned some good karma early.  As a 4 time NYC marathon runner I know fully well the challenge of the portable toilets running out of toilet paper.  I always bring my own roll and this year I had a funny 'Larry David' moment leaving a toilet.  Walking out with a bright, white and full roll of toilet paper I could see the people in line to go into the same toilet all eyeing my roll.  I blurted out, "This is mine, I brought it with me!"  They all smiled but then all looked concerned.  I then, out of guilt, reeled off sections for about 9 women in line.  All thanked me profusely.

The morning then got frustrating.  My wave was due to start at 9:40.  To get to my corral I had to check my bag then walk a long way to my start.  By the time I made it to my corral they had a 7 foot chain-link fence around it.  They closed the wave corral and would not let anyone in.  You get placed in a certain places in a corral based on your average pace.  Therefore, I had to now leave at 10 am and run with slower runners.  This is frustrating as they force you to have to weave through runners for miles.  People who traveled here from all over the world took this news hard and were climbing over toilets and the fence and running past guards.  I just put my head down and tried to keep calm.
This later start might have made me miss all the people I was supposed to meet but I had to no worry about that.

The race went off and I listened to Pearl Jam's Yield and I ran up the Verrazano bridge.  I suddenly realized by mid span that I was not behind a bunch of slow runners but running with fast runners that were knocked out the the last wave.  I was running pretty fast from the start but once I was going DOWN the bridge I was not out of breath, I could see that amazing city and was feeling fine.
I ran easy and fast all through Brooklyn, stopping at mile 8 to say hi to Cassius and Elizabeth, seeing Ellen Weinstein at Fernada Cohen's place in Fort Green ( I stopped and ran back yelling "Ellen, ELLEN!!!") and felt great.  My thoughts were about whether or not I would regret going out too fast.  I would try to pull back.  Just before the half-way point I tried to slow down but I sped up again.  At one point, I think mile 16 I took off my shoe to see what the hell was under the ball of my left foot.  Untied the shoe, took off the sock…nothing.  I put it all back on and started off again.  That mile was the slowest of the race, 9 minutes.  I scooted along and felt great all through first avenue and into the Bronx.  The Bronx is where spirits break and the wall hits runners.  I felt no wall at that point.  I did stay over 8 minute miles for the last 5 miles but it was calculated to not die at the end.
Coming down 5th avenue I  was thinking that I only had 4 miles to go and I was imagining my average course at home.  I tried to visualize where I would be in Park Slope, seeing the street corners and trees in the park.  At 5th and 93rd I saw my family cheering section and I stopped to say hello and prepare for the finish.  A few blocks later you turn into Central Park.  I could not remember if there were hills coming up so I entered carefully.  To my surprise there were a series of downhills which lifted my spirits.  Then a dreaded hill just before mile 25.  THIS is exactly where I passed out 2 years ago.  My arms were actually tingling at this point so I put them over my head  and then stared saying "GO, GO, GO."
I could hear the crowd roaring and started to think of my time.  MY watch said I did a sub 3:30  marathon but it was NOT matching the course and I had to ignore my GPS and plow ahead.  I see balloons and an arch and I pump my arms and legs and UUUUUHHHGGG, that's not the finish, that's the viewing stands!!!   I kept going and finally see the finish line.
Now, as a sign of my vanity and clear thinking at the end of the marathon I did a funny thing.  They photograph and video your finish and in the past marathons or all races in fact, you may think you look great but you see that just ahead of you is an old man, a plump woman or a guy in a clown outfit.  I had .2 miles to go but I looked for healthy, strong runners.  I ran diagonally to be right in with them and then pumped my fists as I crossed the finish line with a big smile.

The race was great and I did not see the clock so I only had my GPS to gauge my time.  I figured close to my personal best.

At the end of the race you walk with thousands of other runners with your medal and a foil cape and shuffle your feet for a half mile to your gear.  Next to me a man from Germany swooned towards me and I kind of caught him.  I grabbed his hand and put it over my shoulder, holding him up.  He was passing out but I carried the guy and distracted him by asking him questions.  It was his first marathon and his first visit to New York.  Hopefully he will forever love New York and  the race.  I did my part.  Right next to me was a beautiful woman, a little older than me and I asked her how she felt.  She was fine and this was in fact her 54th marathon.  She was a REAL runner.  All I could think of was would I run another one?  I qualified for 2010 but I need a little time off.  I will find a reason at some point to do it again.  
Anyway after getting to my sister and brother in law's apartment, I checked my time.  Thankfully, it WAS a personal best.
3:32:13.  My previous best was my first race, at 40 years old at 3:32:22.  That's right, 9 seconds faster.  I'm so happy that it was not 9 seconds slower then I would have regretted the start, regretted the Ellen stop, regretted the shoe removal.  Even with those stops I did it.
Was it 9 seconds faster for helping 9 women in line at the porta potty?  

Thanks everyone for all the well wishes and I will now return to Tim O'Brien, artist.

This is the song that I was listening to when I thought about how good I was feeling.  Pearl Jam helped me through all my long runs this year.  Eddie Vedder's voice and the powerful duel guitars kept me motivated.

This is me in the morning at the start. All items are tossed and are donated to various organizations. The chair was 13 dollars and a good investment.
For those who have a GPS and use Ascent, here is the race. The first column is the time of day, the second is the lap, or mile. The third is the pace of each mile and the fourth is the speed. The last is the elevation.
This is from Ascent too. It shows how even or uneven the race was. The green is my pace and it stays pretty even until my shoe change and is off the charts for the family kisses. This is a valuable energy boost that is worth the time lost doing it.
Elizabeth holding up a "GO TONKA" sign.
Want to kiss a sweaty Irish guy?
Two and a half miles to go.
San Francisco
The demo portrait of a thug
To end my month of travels and talking, on the invitation of Robert Hunt, I went to San Francisco.  CCA invited me to come out to talk about my work and career. 
Putting together a presentation of one's work and career can sometimes be reaffirming or it can condense one's career into too small a story.  I felt both this time.  You've all done it, given talks and have a narrative of your career that is accurate but not complete.  You want to get them out of there in under 5 hours after all.  I think the recent series of talks made me shorten and focus this career story in an effective way, so in the end I was happy with what came out.  I never take notes with me, just my work.

I've never been to San Francisco so I was interested in what the hubbub was about.  Robert picked me up from the airport very late so as he drove me to his home in Marin, just north of San Fran, I could not see much.  As we got closer to Robert's house, I could see that he lives in an awesome town with rolling hills and lovely homes.  Robert and Lynn have a great house that is situated into a hill so  his back yard goes straight up with flowers and trees with trails all the way up.  The thing I noticed was that out every window was a great view of gardens.  The living room is killer with craftsman or mission styled furniture and a blooming magnolia out the window.  Robert has a studio outside the house that is a converted garage.  This is a big studio.  After seeing Marc and Robert's studios, I have to clean up.  I did feel somewhat proud of how neat I keep my paints however, since Robert's were all cap-less and messy.  I found the flaw!

We went out for a brief tour of San Francisco followed by a lunch with a friend and an artist I admire, Dugald Stermer.  I'll probably get this part wrong, but Dugald is not only a great illustrator and teacher, but works with a program that rehabilitates people with drug and alcohol problems.   We had lunch in a great restaurant that is staffed by members of the program.  Following lunch we went to visit his studio that is in the complex.  Dugald has a wonderful space that is dark and covered with left handed guitars.  I counted 23 but I may have missed many.  Dugald's space is another studio that I wish I could move right into and start working. 
I wish my good friend well and it was great to see him.
So, Robert then took me to CCA.  The school is a huge open space with each department having it's own area.   I arrived and soon began a demo.  The room filled quickly and I had just over 2 hours to do something for the young illustrators.   I did a cartoonish portrait over a charcoal drawing, demonstrating the method of painting wet into wet.

After my demo I went quickly into the auditorium or theater for my presentation.  In the crowd were some notable illustrators such as Mark Ulrickson, Owen Smith, Barron Storey, Adam McCauley, Joe Fiedler and others.  It went off without a hitch and there were some good questions at the end. 
Onto a pub visit to end the night... Connecticut Yankee, I think it was called.  Fun to unwind after all of the public control. 
The next day was my day of silence.  I stayed in a great hotel, the Palomar on 4th right off Market.  I was silent all day and spoke only when ordering food.  My goal for my free day was to run.  I ran to the edge of San Francisco to the Embarcadero and then north to the Golden Gate bridge.  The air smelled of salt water and spring and the run was amazing.  Every time I came to a peer I would run out to it and look around.  Man, I would love to live out there. 
Thanks Robert for a great visit and for putting me up the first night.  Next time I'll bring the whole O'Brien crew and Cassius can use that treehouse.
Thanks to Alexis Mahrus for helping me at CCA and for all my fellow illustrators for showing up and hanging out. 
A view out Robert and Lynn's living room window
The famous Dreamworks paintings by Robert Hunt
This is the horror that is Robert's paint box.
Dugald Stermer's Desk
Dugald's work area
A prop from Willard pokes out of a wall.
Dugald's Obama
The students towered around me as I started to draw.
These were photos sent to me by Brynn Metheney...thanks Brynne!
I decided to do a demo of a portrait on a toned panel.
I like the kid in the background. I'm 5 minutes into the demo and he's already asleep.
setting up on the easel
After lecture hang out was fun
Robert is featured on the wall of the bar
my run
Finally, during my talk I was asked about where I thought editorial illustration, particularly covers, was at this moment.  I said that I thought as Obama was being presented to the public illustration was used often.  Since his election the public wanted actual photos of the president.  I said this will wear out and currently there is a bit of overkill with his face on everything from Time to Cat fancy.  I thought I was making a joke but then I saw this...
Talking and talking and talking...
From the New Haven Register
This is my season of giving. I go long stretches without doing any presentations or talks about my work and illustration but it seems like March 2009 is the month of talking. As these presentations get closer I get more anxious. How will this work be received? It's certainly not cutting edge and will it come off as cool to newer illustrators? In the end I place myself in their minds and try to offer some insight into what I do and how I am able to survive so long. First, I've been doing many demos over the past few months both at the University of the Arts and at Pratt. I will do a post soon of all the demos, it's funny to see them all. Next I ran into my high School art teacher at my 25th high school reunion recently and had a wonderful time reconnecting. She is still amazingly dedicated and full of such great positive energy. She lit many fires under my listless body in the early 80's. In our conversation I said that I would love to come to her class and just sit and listen and talk to the kids. I am always curious about how young artists think and I thought it would be a fun day. I offered to do a demo. We agreed on it but it started to snowball a bit. Now I was getting a grant and helping to teach portrait painting to the kids in conjunction with black History month, celebrating figures from the civil rights movement. I gave the grant back to the class for supplies and went to my old school. Old teachers showed up and my elementary school art teacher was there too. My school was torn down a few years ago and they build a brand spanking new one in it's place, so it was not weird to re-enter the place again. The class was filled with healthy and attractive kids who seemed to have more than we did. Great materials and tables. I met the principle and stressed the value of art in any student's education. They obviously agree. I showed a couple of dozen originals to a very engaged group of kids. They were on par with any college level students as far as questions asked and reactions. The kids were with it! After that, I started a demo. The kids in the class stayed for hours in what was a in school field trip. They stood behind me as I did a portrait as they might do it. I don't work on white when I paint but imagined that they might. I did a crude drawing as well. The reason was I wanted to show how they could take that and make it a painting. I think they were blown away, not so much by the work but the trick of it all. I did a wash over the drawing and then scumbled a tone over that and began working. The local press showed up and I did two interviews while I worked and posed for photos. It was great fun. My teacher, Diana Blythe is a wonderful person. The class was teasing her for making me sound like a superman and she took it well. It's great knowing we have these people behind us, even as a man in my 40's. Incidentally, we are now almost the same did THAT happen? I wrote earlier about my FIT panel last week, but that one was in the mix as well. Just talking and no tricks other than chatter. I can do chatter. The final talk is this week. I am off to visit California College of Art in San Francisco. Robert Hunt asked me and I jumped at the chance. I hope to see Adam and others when I'm out there too. Tim O'Brien Lecture at California College of Art Tuesday, March 10, 7 pm Timken Lecture Hall, San Francisco campus 1111 Eighth Street, San Francisco, CA 94107-2247 415.703.9500 Contact: Alexis Mahrus at or 415.305.4421 For CCA, I'm doing a Keynote/Powerpoint presentation on Tuesday evening. Prior to that I'm doing a demo in Robert's class. I'm crazy to do this in HIS class. Man, are these kids going to be jaded or what? They get to see Robert do his thing all the time. After this I go back to the studio with speaking finished, Society Galas enjoyed, and ideas in my head for some new pieces. There is a catharsis to getting out there and talking too much. I hear what I have to say about my work and how it looks. I get it all out and then have the feeling of having cleaned out my mind. Time for new work. Visiting the Burckhardt's helped as well. I got Barack Obama elected, now I have to take care of me.
Showing the work
The principle of the school He had a bright smile.
Talking and painting
Behind me is a very adoring teacher, Diana Blythe. It's either that or she's wondering what is up with my hair.
The demo finished. I drew this out of my head and tried to show them that a piece can be completed fairly quickly and to concentrate on values over color.
This is the son of two classmates of mine from high school who stayed together since. His father was the quarterback of the football team and Nick is as well. He's also interested in art and may be attending Parsons or Pratt. I thought he looked like a young Max Schmelling. I was right.
Poor Robert is putting me up on Monday night. I will mess up some part of his house I'm sure. Thanks Robert!
Keen's Steakhouse Illustration Night
The small sketchbook for our visit
A few weeks ago in a conversation about our favorite restaurants and memorable eating establishments, I asked Marc Burckhardt if he has ever been to Keen's Steakhouse.  "No!!?"  Well, we had to fix that.
Marc is in NYC to haul away a well deserved gold medal from the Society of Illustrators.  As stated earlier he is one of many Drawgers that have been mining precious metal this year.

Keen's is a great restaurant if you like old New York.  I love the patina of places like this.  The idea that Babe Ruth, Teddy Roosevelt and Rube Goldberg walked through those doors makes it extra special.

Keen's is festooned with clay pipes which the patrons used upon their visits and stored them there for their return.  The ceiling is covered with these pipes now and there are a few cases with 'famous' pipes.
The place is almost like a house, with various rooms and an great old bar.
I wanted to gather a larger crew to angle for the Teddy Roosevelt Room.
In that room, Teddy Roosevelt formed the Bull Moose party.  We got the room but never quite formed a new political party. 
We made a sketchbook.  Apparently there is a gland in an illustrator that produces adrenalin and guilt when they pay too much for a meal.   This causes them to draw. 
"...must earn it back, must earn it back..."
Dale Stephanos drove down from Boston, Steve Waxman from Brooklyn, Dave Flaherty and Ellen Weinstein from the lower east side, Elizabeth Parisi from Scholastic, Edel Rodriguez from Mount Tabor, NJ, Marc and Janice Burckhardt from Austin Texas, Mark Heflin from the offices of American Illustration and we got Thomas Fuchs to eat dinner at an hour he usually has breakfast.  More were invited and were missed.  Get well soon Megan Fox.

Giant cuts of aged steaks were destroyed, I tried and fought with a hunk of mutton that one might feed a lion.  All was washed down with beer, wine and finished off with 2 racks of select scotch.   Fresh red and blue berries ended the grazing.

A sketchbook was passed around and we documented the evening for Drawger.

Until next time.
Tim O'Brien
Marc Burckhardt. I'm the rump and Elizabeth is the brain.
Dave Flaherty and Thomas Fuchs
Mark Heflin in a rare illustration and Steve Waxman
Edel Rodriguez.
Dale Stephanos. We actually hired Dale to draw us. He does parties!
I drew the beer glass and boat but as you can see things were getting messy. I think Dave drew a happy Waxman.
The Teddy Roosevelt Room
Dale got fancy and that translated to a small but expensive cut of meat.
Mark Had a great time I think but this photo makes it look like he had second thoughts
Dave Flaherty sent me this. On the left is my hunk of mutton and on the right, the reason I won't order it again...Thanks Davey!
Keen's scotch selection is first class
Dale is still hungry. This is why he's thin.
Always ready to rumble
Two flights of select scotch
The Babe
DWI-Do It With Illustration
Under the Influence with Today's Most Arresting Illustrators

Come and meet six of the brightest illustrators working today.
Hear how they create the images that inform, seduce and enlighten us on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. From cover portraits of President Obama to adjusting to life in the suburbs to packaging for sexual lubricant creams (!) to the pitfalls of job-hunting--get an inside view on how these artists tackle a broad range of topics and their perspectives (illustratively speaking), on politics, work, life and love.

Mark Heflin, Director of American Illustration and American Photography will moderate the discussion and Q&A with illustrators: Peter Arkle, Juliette Borda, Christopher Silas Neal, Tim O'Brien, Katherine Streeter and Jillian Tamaki.

And don't miss the pre-show screening of the American Illustration 25th Anniversary Timeline movie at 6:45 PM where 25 illustrators were each asked to illustrate one year in AI's 25 year publishing history. It's a look back at events that shaped our lives and a quarter-century overview of illustration by 25 of the industry's superstars.
Advance tickets, while they last, available by calling 212 223 3332 until 5:00PM on Friday, February 27th. All other information about the event can be found here.
(I see that this event conflicts with the Polonsky thing at the Society, and I just noticed it.  It's too bad, but there is something out there for everyone!
I don't think I am one of the most 'arresting' illustrators, but this is a nice slice throught the many layered cake of the world of illustration.  There was a little video that was sent out to the participants with music and images for each artist.  Everyone had a cool song then it goes to my art...You see my work over the bed of Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative"  Not what I would have chosen.  Heck, I'd rather have classical stuff, William Shatner's music, Prince?  I ribbed them about it.
In any event, I would rather watch this panel than be on it, but that's always the case with me.)
Austin Texas

This past week my family and I visited the Burckhardt's in Austin Texas.

They had been kind enough to ask us several times and I had been there before for an ICON meeting and wanted Elizabeth and Cassius to see it too.

I hope I don't embarrass Marc and Janice by reporting that they have an amazing house.  As a home renovation guy myself, I was impressed with the level of refinement and finish the place had.  The place is huge and his studio, woodshop and large painting studio made me green with envy.

His house is a modern illustration gallery with stellar pieces of many of my friends and favorites.  We had a Kroninger over our bed and a funny Taxali to our right.

I combined my visit with a half-marathon run in the Austin Half and Full Marathon.  I LOVED running in the warmer weather and logged a pretty good February time too.

Marc was a trooper getting up at a hour he's still counting crackled sheep to drive me to the start.

After this task we took to eating.  The Salt Lick was fun and we tried food all over town.  We had great walks on the Greenbelt and a trip out to the Broken Spoke Honky tonk(a).


Marc's studio was so nice that I used it to do a small piece while I was there.  Marc has (had) nice brushes too.  I didn't shoot the piece before I left, perhaps Marc can do that and post it here.


Oh, and Janice made some great meals and treated us like royalty. Marc and Janice are a great team and it's nice to be around them.  Cassius, who is 9, hung with the 40 somethings like pals.  

Looking forward to the next time.

Cassius on his way to Texas, rabbit foot in hand.
Cassius and I laughed hard at this. NO THROWING BOMBS!
Messing up Marc's house, pre-run.
The King and his land.
Pre race, early moring in Austin
Great finish with the capital in the background
The reward...The Salt Lick BBQ
the pit
eating is done here
Our mess afterwards
Cave Hunting with Marc
Cassius with his Mexican wrestling mask on
I lost it for 9 minutes.
Grackles everywhere...I think they're pigeons to them but great for us.
Deep thoughts
At the Broken Spoke
James White in his famous honky-tonk, the Broken Spoke
 One of the nice things about being on Drawger is getting to receive gifts from fellow Drawgers.  One particular generous soul is Stephen Kroninger.  He's not only an enormously talented illustrator, he is a human encyclopedia, or, if I want to seem more current, a human wikipedia.  Stephen is a collector of music and ephemera and doesn't horde it (much) but enjoys sharing it.  My music collection is more complete because of his generocity and obsessions.
Stephen recently used Marc Burckhardt as a mule to deliver a package to me.  In it was a copy of Sports Illustrated from October 13th, 1975.  The  cover story was of the fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in Manila, their epic third fight.

I received my first copy of this when I was 10.  A year and a half earlier my father had died and my mother and 2 brothers and I were still trying to sort things out.  I still have no idea just what was in their heads at the time, but I recall what I was going through.  I was forever angry and feeling put-upon.  I also missed having a father around.  Our beloved Uncle Eddie O'Neal surprised the boys with a subscription to Sports Illustrated.  It may seem like nothing today, but for us it was a real magazine and it was grown up and intended for us.  We could read about all sports and see the most amazing images.  We all were sports fans; my brother baseball and football and I loved boxing.  My younger brother would become a hockey player but was 7 at the time.

Sports Illustrated was so great.  I would get all the boxing stories and pour over them, ingest the information then carefully cut out the photographs and glue them onto sheet or cardboard that started to move across my bedroom wall.  I loved the photography and in the issue that Stephen sent, all were shot by the great NeilLeifer, article by Mark Kram.  

Ali was a marvelous figure in my early world.  He was everywhere and I have all kinds of memories of him.  With this fight the photographs were different though.  Something was not pretty anymore.  The opener is stunning with both heads side-by-side showing the damage that 15 rounds in 100 degree heat can do.


So, it's appropriate that I give thanks to several figures here.  First, thanks Stephen for the magazine and all the gifts all year long.  Thanks to my late Uncle Eddie who suddenly saw that he was a shadow father to a bunch of boys he never thought he'd have to be.  HE continued that subscription for about 10 years.

Thanks to my family for allowing me to work out who I would be.  Fist holes circled the room and these posters would move to cover the evidence.  Finally to the great ghost himself, Muhammad Ali.  I should have latched onto Picasso or Degas but artists are built in funny ways.


Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.



This spread was amazing to me and shocking too. Both me gave so much in this fight and the choice to show them side-by-side was a brilliant one.
Before the moment passes...
I shot this photo this morning on my iPhone at the supermarket. Caught me by surprise.
In a rare royal flush, 3 Drawgers illustrated the covers of 3 major magazines in the same week.
Brian Stauffer on the cover of the New Yorker, me on the cover of Time and Gary Taxali on the cover of Newsweek. 
Proud to be in such good company.  Illustration is alive and well and we have to keep it up in 2009.  Many Drawgers had their work out front this year and while print is still around, we are still in the game.
Give magazines away as gifts this season.
For a few weeks now, most people I know have watched the polls and heard the pundits predict an Obama victory.  Still, we have all been there before.  Watching states that were close show surprising strength for the opponent in the late hours of the evening on election night.  
This was the first election my son watched and followed.  On election night he and his friends stayed up late and waited until it was called a victory for Barack Obama.  Cassius saw his mother weep and his father stand up and howl and pump his fist.  The kids went nuts, partly because it's fun, and partly because they liked this man, this modern American man.  
Congratulations to all of you who dontated and made calls and talked your parents into voting for a real change for America.
Congratulations Cassius!
Martinelli's Apple juice. No need to call the police.
Marathon 2008
Weary but happy
What a race.  What a summer of training.

After my disaster race of 2007 I had to find out why I passed out at the end and blew that one so bad.  Initially I pinned my poor performance on dehydration as that was what the first aid folks said.  It seemed probable.  All year I certainly was more careful about fluid intake.  In late summer, and into the fall I had some reoccurrence of dizziness and rapid heart rate.  This year I began to wear a hear rate monitor.  I noticed that in some of my long runs my rate would go up and not come down, even after stopping and breathing normally.  This was scary for me.

My father died at 35 of a sudden heart attack.  I wondered just how stupid I was to do this running with that history and for a while felt down and confused.  I went to an amazing Doctor in Manhattan whose specialty is cardiology.  She was so great and thoughtful and concerned.  I had every test I could have, ran with event monitors to see if I could re-create the symptoms.  She also put me on blood pressure medication to finally deal with my high blood pressure.  That might have in the end been the cause of my rapid heart rate last year and this fall.  I felt great on the medication with no side effects.  But that wasn't all.  There then was a question about me having an enlarged heart.  This caused concern and as a result I saw another cardiologist.  He felt that the size was due to being an athlete and not due to damage from the blood pressure.  Still, HE wouldn't give me a go ahead until I got a magnetic resonance test.  This is one of those great color 3D images that can show everything.  I got the all clear the day I had to start the Time cover.  That was a good day.

So, I got ready to race.  I trained all year to run slower and steady, so no more going out fast.  My desire and goal was to HOLD BACK.  I repeated this mantra to myself all race..."hold back!"  When runners inched past me I resisted the sprinter in me and let them go by, even if that meant looking at my feet.  I actually spent much of my time scanning the faces of the spectators, slapping kid's hands.  Amazing experience.

I went out slow and tried to just run and not get winded.  I never did and never hit any wall.  I'm amazed!  I ate goo all day but also feasted on spectator bananas and oranges, water and more gatorade than you want to drink in a year.

For those that know this race, it ended like this.  As I entered the Bronx I pulled off my earphones and took in the sounds.  The music in the Bronx was loud and fun this year.  I waited for the sudden and upsetting wall to wash over me and then I was on the bridge to leave the Bronx.  Out of that borough and into Manhattan and I could feel that the last 5 miles would be easy.  Still, I held back.  I passed my family cheering section at 93rd and smiled this year to let them know I was fine.   It was now time to push.  I started opening my stride and felt fine.  Now I entered the park and looked for Dave Flaherty who said he was there to watch bleeding nipples on the hill.  I scanned the folks but missed him if he was there.  Soon, I could see ahead, the place where I fell out of the race last year; mile 25.  I burst past it and headed for the finish line.  With the lights and crowd in view and sprinted.  I raised my arms in victory and crossed the finish line with a smile.  It was perfect.

I heard from so many people pre-race and that day and I have to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.  It meant a ton.

Now what?

I used the NYRR service that alerts a few friends of certain times along the race.  I must have been annoying to recieve because they send a million e-mails to these victims...I'm sorry folks.
The thing is, they were NOT accurate.  I checked the site myself and then checked my Garmin GPS I wear and my late race sprint is recorded accurately.
I stopped 3 times.  Once to say hello to Elizabeth in Brookly and I accidentally shut off my iPod.  DAMN.  So, I had to turn it back on and select the same music and then start up again.  4 stinkin' minutes!  I stopped 2 more times for a quick pee break.  Why not?
So, here are the times and info from Garmin on my race.
This is shot in Staten Island at 8 am as the sun starts to remove the 42 degree chill.
Fussing with my iPod messed up my flow!
my cheering section
No 'Wall' and in a good mood at 23 miles
Post race, covered in salt.
Endless Summer
Cassius in Eagles Mere Lake. He'll swim in any water, any temperature.
I have spent another wonderful summer in the Endless Mountains and at the Atlantic coast.  I am sure all of you have had great summers too and it is really self indulgent to offer photographs of the summer, but I can't resist.
The summer started with a trip to the Vineyard which I posted about before.  As we have every year, we headed off to the town of Eagles Mere in Pennsylvania.
For a brief period of time we visited Marc and Janice Burkhardt (and Gertie) on Peaks Island in Maine.  That was great and I hope to go back again soon (THANKS MARC!)
Finally I ended the summer with a long period of time back up in Eagles Mere. 

Today I am back in the studio doing jobs, planning my teaching and hearing about Cash's first day of school.  A great summer.  I hope for a great Fall!
Great vista of World's End State park at Canyon Vista.
The lake at Eagles Mere is an amazing place. Around it is a path. The lake does not allow motor boats or building on the lake. There are some structures but all are old and are grandfathered in. This is a view of the path around the lake...
on the path...
on the path again...
This is a place called 'Lover's Leap' on the path.
There is a boat on the lake that is allowed a motor. It's an old one that is called the Hardly Able. It takes you around the lake so cars are not needed to get around...Elizabeth and Luka on the Hardly Able.
Vacationing is exhausting.
In the woods kids (and big kids) build these tiny structures called fairy houses.  Here are a few...
We decided to build a tree fairy house...
Cassius working hard
It's a two bedroom with a great view.
I taught Cash the joys of walking in corn fields.
Leaving every week was hard...
We then went to Maine's Peaks Island.  The O'Briens make quite a splash...
Marc and Cassius on the rocks
Gertie was regal and wonderful
Great landscapes everywhere you look...
Rocky coastlines and stark white birch trees are quite a sight.
With views everywhere I looked, it was hard to draw; better to photograph it.
saw a full moon rise the night before we left...
My hair is wilder than usual by the sea.
Cassius will swim in any water.
The Burkhardts and the sea. Cassius liked calling Marc 'Captain Marc'
Peaks Island has their own kind of Fairy houses and people use the unique, flat rocks to leave structures. The effect is lovely.
We returned to Eagles Mere and saw the green with fresh eyes.  There is a smell to being there.  Pine and clean wind.
The beach on the lake
I drew the Hardly Able on some tree fungus. The next day the line rises up and the effect is that of an embossed print.
The Democratic Convention was view via laptop to projector.
We went to Knoebles Amusement Park. You have to see it to believe it.
In the final few days, the weather was rainy and as usual we went to the Forksville Fair in drizzle.  I like it that way.
the day I was there was the 4H livestock auction. This is Sam
I saw this and thought I knew just the guy who would look just right sitting at this booth.
He's eating Freedom Fries.
These are my favorite images I shot that day.  The sad and tired Republican Headquarters at the Forksville Fair...
Come's warm and welcoming in here!
I searched for the Democrats' Headquarters...none exists. The only thing there was an unmanned booth in a barn with canned peaches and needle point. I sat there ready to move the electorate to vote in their own best interest.
The last day at the lake was glorious. I got married right here at the lake's edge in a clearing called Gypsy's Landing.
a watercolor of the end of summer.
Thanks for scrolling through all of these images.  I think I needed to post them in order to get into the fall.

See you all at Politics 08!
Martha's Vineyard 2008
The house from the back
For the 14th year in a row, Elizabeth and I  started our summer by going to Martha's Vineyard.  The location of our honeymoon, this spot in Chilmark is really breathtaking.  For the past few years we have gone with our friends and their kids so it's a really fun time.  Eddie Rosenstein, who is a documentary film maker, (look for his series on the History Channel on the Sand Hogs) is a great cook and does his magic in the kitchen each night.  Randi Blanco is fun and athletic and game for any adventure and their kids Isaiah and August are great  and together with Cassius, have a great time.

I spent quite a bit of my time working on art in some way.  First, I took a job while I was there from Time.... more on that later.

I created a trompe l'oeil on the ceiling of the main house.  A few years ago the old ceiling was damaged and a plank had to be replaced.  I was asked to try to make this stark white plank fit in the room again.  Some of the family wanted a match of the wood there already and some wanted a look at blue sky.  I had no opinion either way but thought of a solution when I was asked to come up with an idea myself.  One idea was to have a broken board up there with some light shining through.  This was passed over after I saw a window there that looked great and would be a good model for a relica of sorts up there.
Here is the ceiling before I began. I just washed one side...(thanks to Peter Darling for the step ladder)
Ready to work
More plotting and fretting over the finality of it all.
I painted this very quickly but it had to be in layers, so I started in gouache to get 'close' to the value and color. The good thing about that is that it dries instantly and had tooth enough to draw on.
First pass and it's looking okay.
I drew on some grain with colored pencil.
Time to move to the other side. I was stuck for a while because I couldn't find a ruler. I had to make one out of a piece of cardboard. I realized that the light would almost always come from the bottom left so I painted it with that lighting situation.
Time for the oil paint. I would glaze several times over the left side panel to try to match the color and depth of the ceiling wood. The window and sky were something I pondered for a while. Should I do puffy "O'Brien" clouds or clouds I think of when I'm there. I opted for light, wispy ones.
I had to be careful with all sprays and paint to not get in on anything near it.
Back to the window. It was HOT up there and very difficult to paint on that odd angle. Luckily for me, the look of this lovely camp is kind of rustic. Edges COULD be a bit wobbly.
The payoff was getting to remove the tape.
Here is the window. Small flaked chips of paint are seen as are rusty hinges and a hook/question mark below.
The vacation itself was needed.  I was overworked and so was everyone else, including Cassius.  I ran two long runs to Vineyard Haven, ate great food and laughed hard.  I did have a few drinks here and there, I won't lie.
New dog Luka is still a bit of a city girl.
Now this is an air pump!
Vacation is a time to try out how good you are at balancing on a bike rack. Eddie was the best on this day. We had just left the pub.
Luka and Elizabeth
Cassius turned 8 and a half on the 18th.
We love the Vineyard in early June because no one is there yet. Solitude.
Catch of the day is actually lobster bait. Menemsha Dock (where Jaws was filmed)
The boys love crabbing. The funny thing was I went to the fish market and asked Stanley for some scraps and he gave me a big hunk of Tuna and some swordfish. I had paid handsomely for the same stuff the night before!
I have this routine that I started not long ago of painting on the hands of kids with gouache and watercolor. They all have elaborate requests and it's really fun...for a while.
Peter DeSeve was orphaned at Chilmark Store. He had JUST done that piece too. Pity.
Cassius learned and loved to Boogie board!
A reminder of the home falling apart at home
A view down the beach at the cliffs.
Beach combing is important work
No one wanted to leave.
So, another year and a great visit to paradise. I love it there and of course doing a job for Time and a sketch for another client made me feel so able to live anywhere. Elizabeth is a busy NY City Executive Art Director and that health insurance is mighty sweet as well. Back to Brooklyn...until Eagles Mere!
Leyendecker again
here are a few parts of his works on display...
While there is still time, I want to urge those who can, to visit the Society of Illustrators to see the J. C. Leyendecker exhibition at the Society. I attended a luxurious dinner the other night hosted by the Society's Judy Francis Zankel. This event put the Society and yours truly in the New York Times' society pages. Putting on my vic-president hat for one moment, I was asked to again, alert those who can, to attend an evening lecture on Wednesdays, June 11th, at 6:30PM at the Society of Illustrators "An Evening with Bunny Carter" Alice Carter chairs the Illustration program at San Jose State University with a direct line to Industrial Light & Magic and other high end animation studios. Her students are a who's who of that market. Bunny authored the essay for the catalog of "Americans Abroad: J. C. Leyendecker and the European Academic Influence on American Illustration".. That show will be on display the night of the lecture. This is a rare opportunity to Q&A with a special woman. Terry Brown, Director Emeritus, will moderate the evening in his best James Lipton "Actor's Studio" manner ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Again, this show is stellar and worth the trip. Stay cool.
You see, there are PEOPLE and then there are ILLUSTRATORS. We are ILLUSTRATORS.
Robert F. Kennedy
I am fascinated with the Kennedy family. Perhaps it's because I was born into the void of JFK's assassination and then lived through the sorrow of Robert's. I find RFK to be the most interesting and complex Kennedy. The transformation from the tough US Attorney General to the lost soul after JFK's death and then the re-emergence of as a beacon of hope for an end the the war in Vietnam and perhaps ending real problems in this country, is a story that speaks to me. How does one rewire their brain and 'reboot' a life to follow a new path and act on one's deep held dreams? This speech from the Citizen's Union on December 14th, 1967 has always given me goosebumps. It's quick and to the point and amidst the eating of food and the clinking of plates, Robert turns this crowd's attention to what this country should see. As he speaks of the young 'negro', I am thinking of a 7 year old Barack Obama, who just captured the Democratic nomination almost 40 years to the day after Robert F. Kennedy's assassination the night he won the California primary. RFK died on June 6th, 1968. Obama, as fate would have it, will also accept his party's nomination on another fateful day - the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial. This coincidence of the calendar underscores the way in which Obama's candidacy symbolizes a step toward resolution of the shattered dreams of mid-1960s. I wish more politicians were as honest and focused on telling America what it needs to hear rather that what it wants to hear. Here is to Robert F. Kennedy.
powered by ODEO This next clip is from a 42 year old Robert Kennedy to an audience of 20,000 at the Univercity of Kansas.
powered by ODEO
Well, this is clearly a day to announce our choices. Like my friend Anita, I would like to reveal our new dog, Luka. She's a 5 month old papillon. We are in full training mode with a cage, treats, we-wee pads, the whole deal. I saw her several days in a row before I decided to go for it. Cassius, my dear son, has been begging for a pet forever. He misses our late dog Busker who was mine for 15 years. He talks about her and pines for her even though I don't think he can remember much about her. He was 2 when she died. My friends here on Drawger have been dealing with the sad loss of loved pets lately. I know how that feels. Busker still holds a high mark for a pet around here, but Luka is SO much like Busker. This is why I chose her. She is calm and sweet and a great companion. She sits in my studio most of the day and chews stuff and then get agitated....OOOOPS! Time to take her out! Down the stairs to the back yard and ....YES!!! GOOD GIRL!!! There is a lot of that going on. Anyway, here is Luka. I wanted to call her Radar, Cassius wanted Coco and Elizabeth wanted what Cassius wanted. I offered a compromise of Luka. We made a deal.
She looks like a little deer when she sleeps. I know...what kind of tough guy am I anyway?
Last night I went to the opening of one of the best exhibitions the Society of Illustrators ever mounted. The work of J.C. Leyendecker is featured and it's an amazing collection. I think Judy Francis Zankel, past president and Terry Brown did a stellar job putting it together and it is presented in such an elegant and accessible way. The value of the work is such that a guard has even been hired while this show is at the Society. Several months ago I took over Museum chair from Anita Kunz. She was the chairman when this show was put on the schedule. Deciding where to take the work on our walls is a daunting task. A museum chair must work their way though countless proposals and hopefully only mount shows that are the very best work and showcase both contemporary and important vintage images. The work in this show has raised the bar for both. I walked through last night with a respect and knowledge of Leyendecker, but never did I have him on my radar as a personal influence. Perahps this will change. The paintings look wet, as if done yesterday. The ridiculously confident parallel brushwork and abstract assembly of background and foreground was a revelation to me. I stared at one part of a painting for quite a while trying to recognize that the reason it looked so great was that it was probably painted in minutes yet looked so assured. This is one you all have to see. From the Press Release: “Americans Abroad: J.C. Leyendecker and the European Academic Influence on American Illustration,” on display at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators, May 21-July 12, 2008. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NEW YORK, NEW YORK – – The Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators presents “Americans Abroad: J.C. Leyendecker and the European Academic Influence on American Illustration.” Opening May 21-July 12, 2008, the exhibit showcases the history and art of Leyendecker and other American Illustrators whose studies in London, Munich and Paris were influenced by the traditional teaching methods of the European Academies in the 19th Century.
Back from Spring!
Cassius in the light
I’ve just returned from a trip to the spring. Right now the spring seems to be in central Florida. I went for a week and had a fabulous time. I love weather in the 70’s. I ran a bunch of days in SHORTS! I actually was sweating. The sun burned my Irish skin. In the spring, the air has the smell of little flowers and in Gainesville, tea flowers and orange blossoms fill the air. I woke in the morning and plucked tangerines off of trees to eat. Spring is very nice. My wife’s family lives in Gainesville and I’ve been going there for years now. This year was really great. First, my wife’s sister Nell and her boyfriend, Will went down there too. Nell acted as a sort of tour guide and made it super fun for Cassius and us. Will, Cassius' favorite guide, opened his family home to us and we made several visits to this amazing place. His family, the Stones, live on a former lake that was swallowed up by a sinkhole. Now it’s a large, flat prairie and surrounded by huge, old live oaks covered in Spanish moss. Breathtaking. We visited a Gulf town called Cedar Key, ate boiled peanuts along the way. We ate barbecue at Sonny’s, went rafting down the Ichetucknee River, and on the last day went to Silver Springs, a park with freshwater springs where many Hollywood production were filmed, including many Tarzans. I’m not really a beach guy. I hate sitting idle in the son like a gator. I need to move. This past week excited me for the coming spring. Today I awoke to snow. I used my snow blower to do the neighborhood’s snow removal with a nice bounce in my step…spring is coming!
All vacations start in airports. As I leave the studio I see my friends (Bower) on the covers of magazines. Nice.
Cassius again glowing in the light on the river.
We won the river race
The Ichetucknee River is covered with cypress knees and stumps. Very cool.
In Cedar Key, out in the Gulf of Mexico. Beer tastes GREAT here.
On the way to Cedar Key, this is the place to get boiled peanuts.
Cedar Key's Honeymoon Shack
And from my sketchbook...the same
A house in Cedar Key...
and another
and another.
On the way out of Cedar Key
Will's home in Gainesville.
The front gate to the prairie
A view from his house. Breathtaking.
I caught an ugly but welcome fish. I actually fished for about 40 minutes and as I turned to my sister-in-law to tell her I was packing it in, the fish jumped at my lure. We laughed hard.
Walking back across the prairie. The grass is soft on your arms.
Will demonstrating the way a prairie chair works.
I did a drawing of the view and a live oak branch. In this world, everything is backlit! Paradise!
The drawing on a wood panel
I had some real moonshine. This is good stuff.
At Sonny's BBQ, Elizabeth, Nell and Will
Finally, a curious sighting in spring; Cute Donkeys! Donkey #1
And the third. Does this mean we take back the White House? I hope so.
Cassius fed a very stinky giraffe. Did you know they stink?
...but Cassius fell in love with a lizard.
As some of my friends know, I love boxing. I trained as a boxer for many years and in High School boxed as an amateur. I loved how isolated and fair the sport was. Team sports were difficult for me because I really didn't understand the rules of many sports growing up. My dad died when I was of an age to learn from him, and after that, I entered a more private, interior world. Still, I was very fast and aggressive. I enjoyed playing hockey, football and baseball with my friends, but never dared play these sports on a team. I did play baseball the spring after my dad died and it was horrible. I was in no mood to play and every game was approached with dread. I stayed away from team sports until Jr. High School and played football. The coach was a great guy and helped teach me the sport, but I quit that after I found Track a better fit. I was a sprinter and actually went one season losing only one race. Boxing was the dream though. I wanted to try it having grown up loving Muhammad Ali. I wrote to a local Police Athletic League and got a quick response. They welcomed me with open arms. Boxing is a complicated and intricate sport to do right. I was never a heavy puncher but my speed was an asset. I also hated getting hit in the face and learned to evade getting hit in the head, though some say not enough. I followed the sport religiously and read every book about it. As time went by I started to recognize my true talents and I pursued art in college. After I graduated and began illustrating, I found myself in Philadelphia, living in a neighborhood with a boxing gym. My weight was no longer a svelte 147, so I entered the gym and started working out. Quickly, I fell in love again. This was a real gym, inner city, gritty and full of life. The fighters were all shapes and sizes except white. I was the only white guy. This earned me the nickname, “Rocky” to the kids in the gym. In this gym I learned that my skills were pretty good, but I knew nothing about fighting inside, a Philly specialty. I also learned that I was not going to ever be a boxer. Every good boxer in that gym taught me that lesson in sparring. Boxing was something I learned and I thought about how to do it all the time. To throw a left hook I had to think of the mechanics of it and try it out over and over. The gym was understaffed and I began training kids. This was an amazing addition to my life and helped me in ways I won’t go into in this article but someday soon. The gym was busy but poorly run. I was the guy who was there at 5 as it opened up and stayed until it closed. Trainers stopped coming on time, probably because they knew I would open up so I was given access to the gym and was now a serious trainer. I could articulate how to do things, how to deal with fear and soon was allowed to help train the professionals. My favorite was a guy named Tommy. He was a strong southpaw featherweight, older than me actually. Training him was a challenge. I had to do everything backwards and work with him with my knees bent really low to assume the size of fighters he would meet in the ring. He was a great, gentle guy who was a garbage collector in the wee hours and would go home, run, then go to the gym. Dedication. As a trainer I had the experience of trying to relax a fighter before a fight. Kids usually find out who they are fighting minutes before a fight. Pros sign contracts and know weeks or months ahead. Tommy fought many times at the Blue Horizon and I will forever remember those seedy, backroom dressing rooms where fighters eyed each other and trainers did their best to deal with their fighter’s anxiety. I would talk to Tommy about anything but boxing until a half hour before he was to go into the ring. One magical night, in a televised fight, I was with Tommy as he prepared to fight an Irish fireplug from Dublin. He was a hard punching guy and Tommy was talking about going right after him. What were working on with him was to get him to counter wide shots to the head by taking them on the glove they throwing short, sharp hooks inside. When the fight started Tommy was being out punched. He was out of his fight, winging wild punches back. It took a few rounds for him to calm down and recognize that he was not going to win this way. IN the third everything changed. He stayed inside and threw crisp shots as counterpunches and after a few exchanges, had his rival dizzy. A punch or two later and this nice Irishman was knocked out and I lifted a very light Tommy up over my head and listened to this crazy Philadelphia crowd roar with joy. Peter Cusack has been posting some lovely paintings with boxing themes and it made me think of the sport I love. I kind of put it on hold as I trained for the marathons these past two years. To rehab a dislocated shoulder I’ve been boxing again. I love it. I’ve always had a hard time taking this sport I love and turning that into paintings. For some reason for me, it’s more difficult to imagine. Photos of boxing are amazing and enough for me, but painterly works are cool too. Ordinarily my painting style is too stiff for the action scenes and better at moments. I had an opportunity to illustrate an article by Teddy Atlas about the quiet moments fighters have with their trainers. Drawing on my experience in the dressing rooms prior to fights, I did this little painting.
This was an alternate sketch. I like it very much and to mix things up would have preferred doing it, but I was hired to paint people and It was enough that I didn't have to paint their heads.
I shot photos of all the fighters in the gym back then. I must have been an odd person for them to meet. I think in the end all of our horizons had broadened. I miss Tommy and lost touch over the years. I have many stories about my time in Philly and when I get a chance will add a few in the future.
George Mitchell
George Mitchell. Looking back at this now, I made his jacked a bit soft and frumpy. I am more aware of such sartorial issues in 2007
Several years ago a series of events made it possible for me to meet and have dinner with former Senator George Mitchell. It was 1999 and I was illustrating full time and training boxers at the Y in Brooklyn. One student was a young woman who was really nice and seemed genuinely interested in learning how to box. I had a large group that I was working with and would spar with them upwards of 15 rounds non-stop. I was loving it. Illustration was also firing on all cylinders and I had done many Time covers and other prominent assignments. Unknown to me this young woman was a writer and was writing an article for the NY Times about my dual passion. She interviewed many people for the article and when it came out, it was great. Out of that I received a huge portrait commission I think because the writer wrote that I had a shamrock tattoo and was 'proudly Irish.' I think because of THAT comment and the quirky nature of my life and career, I was contacted by Irish American Magazine and told that I was named one of 100 top Irish Americans and would I do the cover? I accepted the honor and did a portrait of Senator Mitchell who had just helped push through the peace accord in Northern Ireland. I worked from reference and poured my soul into it. There was a gala on St. Patrick's Day and my wife and I went. I was briefly separated off into a room with the winners. I had a some Irish whiskey with an amazing circle of people; Frank and Malachy McCourt and Pete Hamill and Maureen Dowd just to name a few. I was one of the more civilian choices that year. Conan O'Brien was the famous O'Brien. After that we entered the ballroom where chairs were in rows before a stage and a HUGE reproduction of the cover. I was recognized from the audience as the artist and it was a blast. After it was over and we moved to a dinner, George invited my wife Elizabeth and I to have dinner with him and his wife. He was gracious and curious and talked about being a new father and the joy of that. He commented that he loved the portrait. I sent the piece to the Mitchells and have received a nice Christmas card from them every year. I was inspired to post this tonight after reading of Mr Mitchell in the NY Times and his work with the steroid investigation and report. Not only did he seem to do a thorough job with the investigation but upon releasing it on Thursday, offered this sage advice to Selig: "He recalled his time in Northern Ireland when he recommended that the players named in the report not be punished by Selig, except in the most serious cases. The transgressions are several years old, and more than half of those implicated are no longer active, he said. �I learned that letting go of the past and looking to the future is a very hard, but necessary, step toward dealing with an ongoing problem,� Mitchell said." Letting go of the past and looking to the future IS hard but it's the key to a happy life.
George Mitchell, Elizabeth, his wife Heather, and a more full faced me.
December 8th
My favorite Lennon look.

powered by ODEO Music reaches the memory in a powerful way for me. When I was about 14 or 15 I was forging ahead in my life, starting to mature and figure out who I was. The loss of my father at 9 was not hurting me anymore and with that, the memories of him faded. It's a survival tool to forget. It's as if the mind packs things away so you can move about the world without tripping on the clutter (insert messy studio joke here). At 15 I was lifting weights, hitting my speedbag, riding my 10 speed around, and thinking about girls, or in my case, Jennifer. Not much else got into my head. One afternoon I was hanging out with my friend lifting weights in his basement when he put on a scratchy Beatles album (for those under 30, 'Album' refers to LP records; the large circular discs the size of a dinner plate that you put on a record player). All the songs were familiar but it was 'Because' that resonated. I remember how my day was stalled in thought. My father played Abbey Road and perhaps that was the last time I remember him playing music. Dad flooded back into focus; his beard, his voice even the feeling of hanging on him in a swimming pool. The sound of Abbey Road still gives me a deep sadness. In college as I began to sit at an easel for long periods of time, music was my airplane and allowed me to travel to new places or old ones. John Lennon was the most honest and thoughtful artist I listened to and for me, in that time, I found each new Lennon album for the first time. Music is great like that as it waits for you to discover it and experience it like it's 1963, 1971 or 1980. On December 8th, 1980 John was killed. I wrote last year of my reaction to that event. Lennon remains a large figure in my world. Thanks to another Lennon fan, Stephen Kroninger, I have many more recordings of John this year. Of particular interest are demos. I like hearing the process and some of these official and unofficial releases reveal the genius as it evolves. This song is particularly raw and honest. Enjoy.
My 2007 NYC Marathon Run
I began thinking of the Marathon in the cold of winter. Here is the end of the Brooklyn Half-Marathon.
The New York City Marathon is Sunday. I ran hundreds miles preparing for the race and saw so many cool parts of New York City. My training started in the summer and on weekends I had to run the hills of Pennsylvania. My calf muscles killed in July and August but since then I have run through Brooklyn and Manhattan. I run at the same time each afternoon and I get to see some people over and over. I did some doodles of these people to remember this time. Again this year I gained entry into the marathon through the Children’s IBD Center at Mount Sinai . With the generosity of a bunch of people I raise almost $9000 dollars, way over the $2500 commitment (the website only reflects online donations). Thanks to everyone who helped. I fit all the running in with a really busy year of illustration work. Thanks to all my clients who in small ways gave me breathing room here and there which allowed me to stay on schedule. The running this summer and fall was surprisingly difficult. I ran all winter and spring in short races and enjoyed running fast. Training for the marathon again required me to change focus and build up the miles and slow it down to do longer and longer runs. I had a few minor injuries and still nurse a few but, fingers crossed, I’m going into this one as good as I had hoped. My goal is to run it well. Last year I ran it very fast in the beginning. I was excited and energized and ran my fastest half-marathon up to that point. I began to fall apart in Manhattan and the late miles were agony and I missed my goal of 3:30 by 2 minutes. I hope I can do better than last year but my real goal is to run it and NOT be injured when it’s over. Last year I pulled muscles, feet were blistered and my shins were shot. Hopefully with the training I put in and decent weather, I can enjoy ALL of it. The marathon is really an amazing event. You arrive at the foot of the Verazano Bridge at 6:30 AM and then meander around. People from all over the world are there. Faces are painted the colors of flags, lines are forming around the portable toilets (there are hundreds of them) and everyone is in such a great mood. There is a mass movement of people into their corrals and after a national anthem, a cannon shoots off and the sea of people begins to slowly move as one. Soon you are moving and in it for real. Bay Ridge, Park Slope, Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Queens, The Queensborough Bridge, Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, back into Manhattan for the last 6 miles into Central Park and Tavern on the Green. I’m so psyched! I heard this great little podcast about the marathon and the mythical ‘wall’ one hits around mile 20. The idea is that at 20 you deplete your store of glycogen and then need to burn stored fat, which is harder for the body to do. Runners train to ease this phenomenon and move through this phase using the fuel they consume during the race. Anyway, the guy spoke of how the pain and discomfort one feels at this phase is only temporary and as SOON as you cross the finish line it ends. It can seem like that pain would last for years. I took great comfort in that advice. Thanks for indulging me with this running obsession. I have a bunch of new illustrations that I will post here soon. I need to run this race and do it right and then become an illustrator and Drawger again.
This sweet pairing I saw almost every day. I imagine it's a grandfather and grandchild. They sit together every day and seem to talk and laugh. She sits turned towards him and he stares out with a steely expression.
I did some drawings in my sketchbook of some of the things I saw this fall while training...
This guy is a "Huffer" (Glue Sniffer). I see him every time I run. He wears flannel shirts all the time; even in the summer and has a great head of hair. I think it's the glue.
This guy is a Brooklyn fixture. He looks like he might be Russian, but I'm not sure. He looks like he was created by following a drawing by Steve Brodner. I stare at him as I run by and really like his face.
On longer runs I love running across the Brooklyn Bridge. It is majestic and the sight of the Statue of Liberty, Governor's Island, and Manhattan gives me chills. It's a mighty hill though, and on good days not an easy run. People come to walk over it from all over the world and do so like drunken sailors; meandering around the walkway holding cellphones and cameras. I run over it like a running back avoiding tackles.
Okay, THIS was my favorite moment. I was running over the bridge and saw a guy up ahead selling balloons or cotton candy. No, not that...OH! It was a bird on a guy's back on a perch. As I got closer I saw that he had a yellow python on his shoulders and as I started to pass him I noticed a large iguana sitting on the back of the python. The guy was shirtless and walked as it he was annoyed with the attention. I love New York. He was walking to Brooklyn.
Here is a pace chart for the people who asked for one. I will hopefully pass these points at these times.
This is a little film that gives me chills to watch.
This is the entire course shot in fast motion from a car. It travels the entire route.
How can I write this and not have it dripping with disappointment? Hmmm? Okay, I ran a really great 25 miles. My last mile took over an hour. First, let me show you my stats up to mile 25...
Everything about my health going into the race was as good as I could have hoped. Even a fall and dislocation and hip bruise were recovered from by November 4th. I do recall the emotional dive I took after mile 20 of last year's marathon and the only fear I had was it occurring again. I really just wanted to run smart and even and finish strong. I ran even but did have a few things happen that affected my race. Early on I started having a slight stomach ache. It lasted the whole race and it meant I chose to drink a bit less water than I should. This was my downfall. I was sweating pretty heavily due to the black shirt I wore and the escalating temperatures. Still, I felt pretty good until about mile 22. At mile 22 my right eye and ear were not operating correctly. My right eye would not focus and my ear was popping. I know I was going to have to slow to make it and I started to turn it down a little. I passed my family at 5th and 93rd and they all said something was not right with the way I looked (insert joke here). I entered the park and began the last curve of the race. I started to see that I could not look right down in front of me without getting dizzy so I looked way down the road. This took me 3 more miles but at mile 25 I was not steady and found myself unable to go straight anymore. I moved to the side to not affect other runners and wanted to walk a bit, but I collapsed instead. I was on my knees and used the guard-rail to raise myself but fell again and did this about 5 times until medical help stopped me from trying. I went out. I awoke on the lawn with emergency technicians around me taking my blood pressure and looking in my eyes. These people are caring but seem to be very concerned that I get up and walk. I wanted to sleep. I was trying to focus and not go out again because I was scared. The back story is this: On Saturday an Olympic Trial athlete died at mile 5 of the Marathon Qualifier race in central park. He apparently had heart issues leading up to the race that were diagnosed when he was young. This caused me a bit of distress. At my doctor visit as with most doctor visits, the conversation eventually goes to my father's death at 35 of a heart attack. My blood pressure is higher than it should be and I'm about to start medication to control it. I have no fear of death; never have and some might say I had a bit of a death wish. "TONKA" comes from that reckless attitude. Saturday night I felt a bit nervous for some reason and pinned a photo of Cassius to my hat and put Elizabeth's Cell phone number on the back of my number; something I never did before. I was on my back, Elizabeth could not get to me and I feared I was going to end this way. I tried to get up but could not, so was taken to a cot where I was at first covered in blankets and after I kicked them off covered with ice. They put salt in my mouth and would not let me drink. They were driving me nuts! So I swung my legs over the edge and got to my feet. I moved to the course again and with their help stared walking again. I walked the last mile. I was so bummed but began to see the joy on the faces of the people around me. The crowd was great and they were going wild. I threw off the blanket and started to jog the last 100 yards. I crossed the finish line, arms raised and with a weak smile. I have to heal now and try to put the bad part of the race out of my mind. I take comfort in the times I had up to mile 25 and the fact that I am right now in my studio, doing a fun job and have such great supportive friends. Thanks Everyone. Tim
The Fall
Falling is the worst. People tell you they took a fall and it doesn't quite sink in. I fall here and there, mostly running up stairs. Down is a different story.
Well, I had an adventure this week. I was getting ready to do my run for the day; Tuesday had to be 8 miles. This is the big week of training for The NYC Marathon and I have to log in around 45 miles, with most of them coming from a Sunday run of 23. A lot of running. Anyway, I was getting ready to run and was up in my studio and grabbed my sneakers and ran down the stairs. I missed the second step and fell hard on my hip. I tried to break my fall with my hands and arms but my momentum was fast and I was continuing to fall down the steps. BANG! another step on my hip, but my arm and hand was still on the top step. I continued down and my arm kind of snapped. I stopped falling and saw that I had dislocated my shoulder. My deltoid muscle was below where it should be. I was in crazy pain and could not move the arm at all. I grabbed my wrist with my right hand and picked it up from behind me and brought it forward. I was in agony. I kind of just sat there and took stock of the situation. Did I hurt my legs? Not really but my hip was definitely bruised. My arm was the big problem. I thought instinctively that I needed to slide it back into place quickly so I picked up that wrist again and raised it above my head and SNAP,CRACKLE, POP! It went back into joint. I was nauseous from the pain and put some ice on it. I sat thinking that I HAD to run to stay on schedule. This was my BIG WEEK! So I stood up, laced on my shoes and went out and ran. I came back an hour later really sore but thankful it wasn't worse. Thankfully it was my left arm. The rest of the week was ice over and over. I have a glorious bruise. I must share!
This started as a big lump and a hint of overall red. NOW I have a bruise to brag about. Does this look okay?
This squirrel was photographed by me on Sunday in Philadelphia. He got his nut.
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.
A Storm Grows in Brooklyn
On Wednesday morning at 6 AM, I heard crackling thunder RIGHT after flashes of lightning. I popped out of bed knowing that my computer was on, stuff was open and I didn't want to fry everything. I ran upstairs and shut down. The rain was driving sideways on my house and the few windows that were open were letting in this storm. I closed everything and went back to bed. When I woke, everything was chaos. Cars blaring their horns, not knowing as I didn't, that trees were lying across many streets. My neighborhood is made up of 100 year old Victorian homes and many 100 year old Victorian Trees. In the summer they are a natural umbrella from the sun, and in the fall, leaves never stop coming down. As it turns out, it was a tornado that started in Bay Ridge, stopped off in Sunset Park and danced across Victorian Flatbush. The twister was estimated to have winds of between 111-135 miles an hour. The tornado was a Category 2 on the 0-5 classification scale used by the weather service, in which 5 is the most powerful. It was the first tornado to hit Brooklyn since modern record keeping began in 1950. My familyand I took a walk mid morning to see the damage and what we saw was amazing. The NEXT block north, a beautiful one, lost tons of these trees and the cars beneath them. We were lucky but many were not. Today the hum of chainsaws are a welcome sound.
This is a great house.
A pine tree leans on another pretty house.
This is looking at what must have been the path of the storm, Rugby Road between Beverley and Cortelyou.
Checking out the damage.
Snapped at the base. If this is your neighbor, are you annoyed that their tree leans on YOUR house?
That is wind!
The TIMES They Are A-Changin'
I like the size of the New York Times. It's so big it forces negotiation with the person reading the section they swiped from you. Now the realities of dwindling circulation have cut the grey lady down a tad. On Monday, the Times will reduce the width of its pages by an inch and a half, to a 12-inch standard. That 's too bad. On the bright side, if they DON'T lower their rates for illustration this can be thought of as a raise! I make my living primarily on print illustration. I have watched so many magazines fold in my career. That seems normal now and thankfully, more appear all the time. I recall several years ago the idea of a tablet book was huge. Many publishers had huge plans to create digital editions of their books. It never took off. Just a few weeks ago a huge ad in the TIMES appeared again; a digital tablet for reading books. As a new iPhone owner, I know that the resolution is sufficient now to allow for type on a tablet. So, I could either look at all this as a warning to ready my skills as a plasterer OR trust that images still have power and for a society raised to appreciate art (oy!), illustration will have a role. Color pixels look best when there are photos and art involved. For now, the morning negotiation for table real estate just got easier, by 2 inches.
Running the NYC Marathon 2007
-note the salt on my shoulder...
So, I am into this thing again this year. As was well covered here last year, I ran the marathon in 2006. In what started out as a lark, the preparation and completion of the race was intense and fun. I'll try to cover it a bit here. Like last year, my run was also used to raise money for the Children's IBD Center at Mount Sinai. Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are the most common chronic and serious gastrointestinal disorders affecting children. You can donate here. In the past year I've logged over 1200 miles and gone through 4 pairs of Brooks sneakers. In 2007 I ran 14 races to keep sharp and just began to think about the 2007 NYC Marathon this week. There is about 100 days to go until race-day. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help out. Tim O'Brien
Find O'Brien. Look at the countries represented in just this photo!
The Vineyard 2007
Here is a sketch of the slowly eroding cliffs from the beach. These odd chunks are clay that fell from the wall.
Each year since our honeymoon, my wife Elizabeth and I spend a week or more at a cabin in Martha's Vineyard. It's a small wonder of the world.
The small house called "Sunrise" is owned by relatives of Elizabeth and is lovingly tended to each year by the children of the original owners. The cabin is on the cliffs of Stonewall Beach in Chilmark. I think it was originally a chicken coop, it was made into an up-island retreat. Sunrise sits on a cliff about 70 feet up over the Atlantic.
Here is a photo of the house in a different location. This location is now in the ocean
The house has been moved many times as the cliffs fall away each year.  One year the house was right on the cliff and I hear the sound of the surf was intense. 
Here is an oil painting I did the year the foundation of an original house location started to fall into the sea.
Here are the giant rocks that are revealed at low tide.
Cassius woke one morning and announced quite loud, that there is probably a rainbow because the sun was shining and he could hear rain on the roof. My son was right!
I did this painting one afternoon for a cousin who married on the Vineyard last year...late but not quite one year later.
Me teaching Cassius how to cast and NOT catch fish. Notice the fear in me as the lure whizzed by my head.
A cool fishing ship came in one afternoon in Menemsha. I love this town and we spend a lot of time here. Jaws was shot in and around this town and dock and you HAVE to see the sunsets here.
Sunset on Menemsha. Going in early June means no crowds!
This is inside the house. It is small but perfect.
We end every trip by logging our thoughts and drawings into a house journal. Reading back, I can see my various thoughts and experiences over the years. Cassius took it very seriously this year. Thanks for letting me share this fun trip.
Reagan's Tear part 2
The Lovely Olivia Wilde, who is more known from her television work on the O.C. and The Black Donelleys was really great in this challenging play.
It's been months since I did the tear on Regan's cheek for Time. . That was a weird experience that was part fame and fun and part creepy. The many e-mails that attacked me gave me pause and forced be to rethink just how much personal information I plant on this blog. The love for Reagan and and republican ideals attributed to him certainly hit home, but did not change my opinion of him, only of the current brand of right wing zealot. Stories appeared on Fox News in various formats, as well as some of the late night fake news shows like the Colbert Report. That was mostly fun, except for Fox, who liked to pretend there was some sort of left wing conspiracy at play. Apparently they reported before they read the article. You never know what ends up being your noteworthy assignment. For years it was my Man of the Year cover for time and I thought it might also be my Judy Garland stamp. Right now, it's this tear. The other day my actress sister-in-law heard of a play off Broadway called Beauty on the Vine that referred to the cover. We all got tickets and saw it on one of its last nights. Too bad, because it was really good and well acted. From Playbill: " Inspired by a chance encounter with Courtney Love, Beauty on the Vine, according to press notes, is "a modern fable about the power of the human face in the age of extreme plastic surgery and genetic engineering. Sweet calls himself a 'mutt.' He doesn�t know his parents, where he's from, or if he ever had a name. Is he Black? Native? Croate? 'Genocide Face' is how he classifies himself. But he finds his home when he falls in love with Lauren Chickering, a fast-rising star in right-wing radio who knows exactly who she is and how she wants to change America. Lauren wants to inspire girls of the Lindsay Lohan generation to become involved in the Republican Party, but her success has also inspired a series of events that leads to a brutal murder. Trying to understand the motive and meaning of Lauren�s death, Sweet joins Lauren�s father, Daniel, on a journey through the looking glass into a highly disturbing Wonderland where appearances are always deceiving." The main character is a sexy and beautiful young actress, Olivia Wilde (Olivia Wilde video interview:") Fun to watch on stage and she takes on three characters too. In her lead as a talk radio host, she goes on a speculative rant about the far left media, Time Magazine for example, and how they had an artist put a tear on Reagan's cheek. She said, "The magazine even credits the artist, Tim O'Brien for creating the tear." She then wondered how long it took for me to do that imagining it took hours (20 minutes in reality). So, it was weird to hear something I'm involved with mentioned in a play and REALLY weird to hear the main character speculate as to what I thought when I did that to her beloved Ronald Reagan.
This is a gratuitous additional picture of Olivia Wilde. Did I say she said my name?
Dragon Final
This artwork is by Tim Durning. His words: "With this piece I tried to redesign the dragon from the combination-animal point of view. Instead of something terrifying like a typical dragon I wanted a more nautical/aerial type of creature that would relate more to the idea of good, rather than a monster."
My class at the University of the Arts has just concluded and as I mentioned earlier, the final assignment was a dragon. The students come to me with some foundation skills but few keep sketchbooks, and really don't know what their style is yet. They are students. We start first semester working from the figure, drawing then learning the portrait, then monochromatic painting the introduce color. Second semester we learn portrait painting and ease out of that and into an illustration class. I try to sense what they need to do or try and move them into that direction. All the time, I stress the need to marinate their brains in art, movies, literature and the world to come to understand what they WANT to paint or draw. Suddenly, in most cases these students find a voice. If I see a spark I fan it and try to encourage a fire out of them. With this final assignment, I gave them one word, "Dragon" and I could see their faces freeze. A few smiled thinking they won the lottery but soon found out everything has been done before, and doing something special is kind of hard. I want to show some of these young artist a moment here on my Drawger blog.
Here is Tim's sketch.
Tim Durning started working traditionally and started to finish his work on the computer. He is using the digital tools well and adds to his drawing without losing the freshness of the ideas or lines.
This is a portrait by Stephanie Struse. She was one of my more experimental artist in the class and I expect great things from her in the future. This piece combines two kinds of art she did in the class; black and white line work and oil painting.
Eric Braddock was the class mayor; first to talk in crits and helpful and supportive of everyone. He is a fan of Sci-fi, fantasy and has great ideas and ambition. He will be a stellar senior next year.
This illustration spread is by Shane-Michael Vidaurri. He's a great kid and keeps beautiful sketchbooks. He writes about his spread: "This comic explores the magic that surrounds dragons, the legendary creatures of folklore. To me, it only makes sense that they would live behind closed doors in ancient places."
Alexis Olsen was the sunshine in our class, always cheerful and pleasant. You would want her in your class. She came on strong in the second semester and did many great pieces including my favorite for the class. Early on in the second semester I gave the class and assignment to make an illustration that is NOT just a scene. MOre of a juxtaposition of images that don't necessarily make liner sense or order. She latched onto this concept. She wrote about this piece: "...Lately I have really been trying to make a senseless image, make sense, and to do this I try and create a sense of beauty and harmony throughout the piece..."
Finally here is Alexis' piece done just before the dragon. I love it.
So now I put away all my teaching material and wait until the fall, where I start all over again with a new class of students. It's always hard to train a fighter into a good boxer only to watch them move onto other trainers and bigger fights. Good luck everyone at Uarts!
This is a sculpture made for reference by Lauren Lambiase. She's been in my class for 4 semesters and is a good friend. She had no idea how to even think of doing a dragon so she did this to help her see it and light it.
I'm getting a few more images and these are really great too.
Here is Lauren's final art.
Book cover for "The Beast"
As a side note, my students are sometimes my models and Lauren has helped me out a few times this year.
"Long May She Reign" Another book cover where the character is a cross between Mona Lisa and Emma Peel. Lauren IS that.
Lauren's sketch
Here is another student, Lauren Lopilato. She can really draw well and her painting is coming along. She works from her imagination and does really great work.
Lauren Lopilato writes, "I was torn between a more fantastical, serious dragon and the cute dragon you see now. I figured it would be more fun to portray a dragon totally opposite to the norm. So I took the stereotype of a dragon guarding a princess in a tower and turned it around into a cute and playful scene. "
Kitty Carlisle Hart
94 in this picture, she makes me look like a homeless man. This photo had a major impact on how I dress for events. Look at the ill fitting jacket!
I had the pleasure of meeting Kitty Carlisle Hart a while back at the unveiling of her late husband's USPS. She was a remarkable presence and arts advocate. Are there new arts advocates out there? I hope so. She live a wonderful, long life and kept it full of people and music and celebration of the art she so loved. Kitty Carlisle Hart, September 3, 1910 – April 17, 2007
Zimm in NYC
It's been about a year for me to have a space on Drawger. In that year I gat a good look at what I've done in the past 20 years and what I'm doing now. It provided me a perspective that I really needed. I also had grown weary of online communities. They tend to go off the rails led by just a few nutty people. My mother tells me she finds out what I'm up to by coming here; (imbedded message: call mom more). All of this was made possible by bandwidth, Dave Flaherty for inviting me, but mostly Robert Zimmerman for building this Arc. On March 2nd Zimm was in NYC and met with a group of Drawgers. Let's see; Dave Flaherty and Ellen Weinstein, Edel, Nancy Stahl, Steve Kron, Gary Lieb, Brad Holland, Zina, Scott Bakal, Fuchs and Yuko...I'm insulting someone by forgetting...sorry. Zimm, ever the Tech guy, had a WiFi connection, and digital camera. We made this for those not able to be there. Here's to Zimm. Cheers over Beers!
Brush with fame
Jimmy Young in is championship fight with Muhammad Ali
I used to help run a gym in North Philly in the late 80's. Near the end of my time in Philly, a guy walked in the gym at the request of another trainer to help train a heavyweight. That guy was Jimmy Young. He was at the end of his career, and was better off in a gym. That was my sense of the man. He was a sweet fellow, as most pro boxers are, very gentle and came to the gym every day. He mainly stood outside the ring and echoed commands from another trainer name Angel. I still liked to train in the ring, and would take my fighters through the motions of a fight and yes, spar on occasion. I must have made fighter's mouths water when I got in the ring because everyone wanted to spar with me. They would beg all the time. I took it as an insult (with a smile) but when Jimmy Young asked, I accepted his challenge. Who is Jimmy Young? Jimmy Young was a heavyweight contender from the 1970's who fought and to many defeated, Muhammad Ali to a 15 round decision. He had a difficult style to deal with. He bent away and down from a fighter and would do other odd things in the ring, like put his head outside the ropes which would halt the action. After losing to Ali, he defeated the rugged Ron Lyle and his biggest achievement was his 12 round decision defeat of George Forman. Forman retired after the fight have seen Jesus in his locker room. That's a warning sign I guess. Anyway, he was a crafty fighter. So, I got in the ring with him. Outside the ring he looked about 3 inches taller than me, in the ring 6. He also looked alive in the ring. I began to dance around him as much as I could. He stuck his jab out many times, cracking me square in the front of my headgear. I thought it proper not to hit him in the face so was happy just to jab him to the body. This went on until people started to urge some action. Then he connected. I moved and countered. The gym made it worse by letting out an "Ooooooo!" that Jimmy no doubt heard. He then cut off the ring and got me in the corner. I blocked what I could and remember hitting him a few times. The bell was a welcome sound and I hugged him before leaving the ring. He talked to me every day after that. I was sad to leave the gym when moving to Brooklyn, there were so many memories there. Jimmy Young died of heart failure 2 years ago this week. Movie
This logo is fun to draw! That's my hand doing the drawing.
Leo Espinosa, the creator of the illoz logo.
The logo was created by Leo Espinosa from down the hall at Drawger.
This may be easier to see. Learning here.
Cassius examines crumbs left by Santa Claus, a bite out celery from a reindeer
This particular holiday, for me, is filled with complexity. A life of surprises and disappointments not only for me but for all of us, can turn Christmas into a trip down sad-sack lane. I've been down that road; it's a dead end. The only other thing I could do was to submit to it. Cassius has turned my whole life into an adventure. Sometimes a treacherous one, sometimes frustrating but mostly extremely entertaining. Christmas through his eyes is marvelous. I want him to love it and think of it as magical. Am I creating an expectation he will pine for someday rendering all his holidays as disappointing? I hope not. The job he and all of us have is to take stock and enjoy. To my Drawger friends and lurkers, Happy Christmas. This community has been a wonderful addition to my life. I hope you all have a great time.
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Here's to a Brave 2007
December 8th 1980
In memory of an artist who opened up his soul for others to see.
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Not only did John write some of the most hopeful and loving songs, he was an artist filled with life, mischief, and a wild sense of humor.
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When I Was Wild
Brad's Illustration on my childhood bedroom door.
At Thanksgiving I visited my mom in Connecticut. It's the house I grew up in. When I stay there, I sleep in my old bedroom. My mother puts my old illustrations on the walls except for the Ben Gurion which I gave to her. Other than that, she has my early works all over the walls. Some things are still as I left them when I moved out. One funny remaining token of my youth is the door to my bedroom. When I was wild and angry, mostly at my brother, I would punch everything. This door still bears the fist holes and I covered them at the time with a large press proof of a Brad Holland painting. I loved his work while I was trying to figure out what to do with my realism. Many early works were influenced by Brad's clean, clear ideas. So this is the poster and below are the fist holes. It all means something that it's still there, thought I can't figure out the significance. I do know mommy visits drawger and will be angry and my post. I like the door just as it is. Across the hall is my brother's door, it was disfigures so badly that I had to replace it. What a jerk I was.
punch hole
But I wasn't always a jerk. This photo was given to me by my aunt. It's an amazing photo to me, because it's a place I visited every week until I was 21 or so when it was sold after my grandparents died. This is their kitchen. It's December 1969 and I'm there as well as my sweet grandmother in the center and my brother Dan is in the lower left. It's a Rockwell of a scene, a birthday and we are apparently about to eat cake number 2 judging by the dirty plates. I have been zooming into this scene and see all kinds of details; Budwieser beer, Ivory Soap, orange pull-top soda can on the table and all my sweet cousin's faces.
Mr. O'Brien Goes to Washington
The entrance to the show.
On Wednesday I went to Washington DC to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum to see the opening of a new show, 'Trailblazers and Trendsetters.' It's the art of the postage stamp and I had two portraits in the show, Judy Garland and Hattie McDaniel. The U.S.Postal Service are great to work for and the Designers and Art Directors are fantastic. Ethel Kessler and Terry McCaffery are among my favorites. They are thoughtful, sweet and passionate about their jobs and recognize that stamps are U.S. currency and are significant pieces of American history. I was thrilled to see my Garland painting again and to see it hanging next to the late great Al Hirshfeld. Many friends were represented, such as Deas, Payne and Summers, and other greats such as Bernie Fuchs, Drew Struzan, Howard Kozlow and Jerry Pinkney had works in the show as well.
Union Station
I got into Washington 2 hours before the 6 PM opening and walked outside on a slightly overcast, global-warming-November evening. I've been in DC several times in the past few years but it's been a long time since I had a good feeling being there. When it was a complete republican town I looked at it as a government hell bent on pushing a morality on America, rewarding wealth, cutting programs for the poor, and bankrupting America to end all social programs. They got pretty far with that agenda. So, I was a bit surprised by my reaction to walking out of Union Station. I got chills on my arms as I saw our capital building part a row of autumn trees.
I walked straight for it and as it rose up, I had to stop and do a sketch of it. I walked around to the front and stood before the Supreme Court. Will the conga line of conservative judge nominees stop? I hope so. So for me the trip to Washington was a nice pilgrimage to a new city.
My quick sketch of the Capital
The Supreme Court
The NYC Marathon
Elizabeth and Cassius. I ran too fast in the first part and Elizabeth missed me twice. Cassius was more into his inflatable noise makers. I finally saw them at 93rd and 5th. It raised my spirits so much.
What a day. It's been years since I was actually up for a sporting event. Boxing has become more of a workout for the past 15 years and I replaced the competitive part with illustration, I suppose. As I wrote earlier, my entrance into the Marathon was slow. I had not really thought of it until I ran a half in Philly. It was a HALF marathon. A HALF. The marathon was great until the half and after that I slowed a bit, enough to make my average mile 8:06. Six seconds per mile meant I did not qualify for the Boston Marathon which is 3:30. Still, it was great AND the hardest thing I've ever done. The race very exhilarating and I was relatively loose and pain free as the day started. I worked my way up into a faster area prior to the race and found the 3:30 pace team. When the cannon went off, (a real cannon!), we all roared this amazing cheer. I moved forward and crossed the starting line about 3 minutes after the start. I was energized and moving fast. Everyone was. I maintained that pace for about 13 miles and then I started to slow down. Not by too much but 2 or 3 seconds a mile until the slowest of 8:30 around mile 20. I picked it up at the end but not enough to break 3:30, but pretty darn close. I came in 4698th place. In my gender I came in 4142nd place, and in my age group I came in 915th! Right after it was over I crossed the finish line and my legs were done. They were wobbly and they make you walk almost another mile to get your gear. That was really hard AND they tell you to keep walking and not to stop and stretch. I am in real pain today, unable to easily go down a stairway (and I had to go to the Society of Illustrators today!). Despite how I feel, I ran it fairly well. I maintained a relatively steady pace and ran out of gas right at the end. That's how you want to run it if you are going for you best, to see what you can do, run it fast as you can without crashing. The so called 'wall' that people speak of was a mental one, not so much physical. Watching handsome, young runners who look like they could not only finish but win, cramp up and stop, wobble sideways or pass out in the Bronx and Harlem made what I was doing seem crazy. I thank ALL of you folks who mentioned that I was running or wished me luck, it really means alot. Drawger rocks! No photos yet. Just stories.
These are the results. The race had 37, 954 finishers, the most ever. I came in 4698th place, but I like saying I came in 915th *cough* in my age group, *cough*
My beloved Nike/Nano device worked like a charm. The graph is an indication of how relatively even I ran the race, but in the middle you can actually see it go down at mile 13. It's all mental. I had great rock to run to, and U2's "Beautiful Day" and "New York" gave me chills as did ending the race with Pete Townshend's "Street in the City." I made the playlist for the run, noting the time as I added songs. Over the Queensborough bridge into Manhattan I heard the song "Quadrophenia" by the who. It was all I could do not to cry.
~A special thanks to Dave Flaherty and Christopher Hitz for their articles and Dave for his animation. YOu all are great. In a related thank you, Drawger has been so great for me, my spirit and for living in the moment. I'm sounding like a drunken Irishman, but it's from the heart.
Brightroom is a company that shoot pictures of you during your run and they got me looking focused, weary, bleary and happy to be finished.
NYC Marathon
It's been too long between posting info about ARTWORK, and I AM working hard right now on a cover for Time Asia, followed by a bunch of book covers and other projects. Since June though, I have been running, as stated earlier, and entered the NYC Marathon. I'll refrain from posting my estimates for the time I'm aiming for; many folks, including Ellen Weinstein, advised me that the course is a hard one to get a good time on. I got into the marathon by raising money for the Children's IBD Center at Mount Sinai. I spared you all the Drawger-guilt-trip of asking for donations. (I decided I can't make it to the CBS EARLY SHOW on Thursday morning, November 2nd. I have a deadline for my day job that is that morning and I have to stay up all night for it.) ...also, it was further described as a thing outside and suddenly I saw a long Q of 'fans' of the CBS morning show holding signs saying "hi Jane, get well soon" "Miss you mom" and "CBS is #1" I am dorky enough without the dorky backdrop. Finally, this has been fun to prepare for. For those who know me, I never eat carbs so I've been loving Oatmeal, pasta and bread. I also love the time out of the studio alone on those runs to contemplate life. My family, especially Elizabeth have had to do without me on many weekends so I can run. Thanks to all the donors too...I appreciate it.
Halloween and Cassius
Heading out
Our neighborhood parade, complete with giant puppets.
Cash and his two friends abuse the guy in the puppet.
The trek home is always sad, with major whining about wanting "just one more, please?"
Finally a contented boy and his treasure. He's our treasure.
Cassius loves his costumes. He wears them all year long and has extras for friends that come over.
My neighborhood is one of the most diverse in the country and it's filled with many levels of income and people from all over the world. Halloween and a huge event that knits this multicultural community together like no other. This was less true when I was kid. My town was primarily Catholic and Christmas was the big event. My son is in a HEAVY Halloween mode, anguishing over who is is going to be; either Peter from Narnia or a Clone Trooper. Right now it's looking very clone trooper provided I tape another glow stick to his water pistol so he can have a cool laser. Having one child is a great thing for us. We focus all of our attention on him but there is a bittersweet aspect of the passing of time. Looking back at the past few years of costumes reminds me of how cute that little boy was, how much he's grown and how precious all this is.
*I carved a pumpkin for Cassius last night. In doing that, my main goal is not to slice an major artery. I did a decent job. I have been forever convinced that I am a lifelong amateur in the world of pumpkin carving since meeting Saxton Freymann. If you have kids or know some and need a gift, please consider his fantastic books. You'll not meet a nicer guy, ever. His art is so great too.
John Lennon
It ocured to me earlier that today would have been John Lennon's 66th birthday. I was driving home from teaching in Philadelphia tonight, watching the waning moon rise over Manhattan, listening to news of worsening situations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, hearing of North Korea's Nuke test, and wishing there was a John Lennon around to wake a sleepy public from it's tivo'ed realities. This recording is a demo of John singing Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)
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Billion Dollar Band
With this weekend being music appreciation and all, I dove into youTube for 2 minutes and found this great gem of a performance. My morning was spent listening to Elvis Presley - The Complete Million Dollar Quartet with Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. Funny to find this one. To borrow a trendy word, these are great mash-ups. Love Lennon!
War Zone
The easel.
Edel's peek into his studio convinced me to offer a peek in the hornet's nest I call my studio. Intern needed.
Philly Half-Marathon
"Run Timmy!"
This weekend I ran the Philly Half Marathon (13.1 miles). As I wrote earlier, I took up running this summer and started training towards this run. Most of the summer nagging shin splints meant I had to hold back. Lately the injuries left and I have been free to run faster and I actually peaked at the event. Here are the stats/results: Time: 1:43 Place: 1694 Total in Race: 11060 in my division I came in 223rd. The stats I like are these: Pace: 7:55 5K: 25:17 10K: 50:41 10 Mile: 1:20 AND my speed increased throughout the race. The flip side was I am less sure about running the NYC marathon. Twice that distance seems crazy. Also, in the last 2 miles I had chills even though it was 80 degrees. After the race I spotted Elizabeth and Cassius and was so glad to see them. Cassius was wearing a number which meant he decided to run the kids race. So after the run I ran the toughest 1/2 mile of the day, next to Cassius 30 minutes after my run. He ran out like a jackrabbit at first but stalled a bit. I urged him to walk and he did but then bolted off again. In the last quarter mile he was revived by the great crowd who put their hands out for him to slap as he ran. He finished and got a medal. IT was a great weekend.
Cassius gets ready to run...we both cheat across the line.
We were zonked at the end of the day.
Great weekend in Philadelphia, and this was our view from the hotel.
My Iconic Podcast
Iconic Audio~the Illustration Podcast
Erik Olson is an energetic young illustrator who created a wonderful podcast about illustration called ICONIC. He offers it at and on iTunes. Erik asked me to participate in an interview and I am kind of listening to it right now. I sound like I'm on the phone (I am) and a bit slurred (Not drinking, I swear). It is cool to hear though, mostly because on Monday I start my class at the University of the Arts. I think I can just play the interview and go get coffee and come back with my students plugged in on who I am. Here's the direct link:
Summer 2006...The End
Cassius has amazing aim.
It started so wonderfully; picking up Cassius on our tandem bike as his final month of school was winding down, opening the windows at night and dinner in the back yard.  Now we are opening the windows again to let the cool breeze in.  However, the earth is tipping away from the sun and those breezes will soon turn the leaves colors and the frost will cover our garden and we'll see our breath in the morning taking Cassius to school in the car.
What a great summer we had.
Here are some highlights.
My Sister-in-law Nell was a hero to us this summer, coming from Los Angeles to Eagles Mere, PA to take care of Cassius for a month!
Cassius is so fun, and will split you side with laughter!
Cash and his two cousins Molly and Ella.
After a summer in northwestern PA, Cassius was starting to countrify.
Elizabeth Rides a mean merry-go-round!
The only way to show I'm married is to stretch my arm out and shoot us as best I can. Elizbeth and Tim.
Finally You HAVE to try the bumper cars in Knoebles Amusement Park.
Elizabeth hiding her fear on the Ferris Wheel
Cassius is now a 2nd grader. Summer is just around the corner!
Number 1 with a Bullet!
Nano SportKit
This summer I decided to become a runner. I started on vacation, kind of like Forrest Gump, running away from our cabin for 45 minutes and then turning around. It hurt for a few weeks and though as a boxer I have decent wind, running shape is different. Nike and Apple teamed up to make this great device, the SportKit. It syncs the Nano and your shoes and records your runs. Syncing your iPod to your computer and to the NIKE website, you can see all of your progress, miles, times and compare those stats to others. Anyway, it's a blast and I recommend it. The reason for this post is that I am actually #1 with total miles run, in my age group and sex. My times are less impressive. NYC Marathon 2006?...maybe.
UPDATE>>>>I ran 14 miles today so now I'm number 1 in the United States!!. This may be because I bought it the day it came out.
Help me to Help Myself
Bill O'Brien tilling a friend's garden.
I have a ton to talk about upon my return from vacation, but I see all these great Father's Day entries and reading them got me thinking of my fathers. My dad was a teacher and guidance counselor in North Haven, Connecticut.
He had summers off and would paint houses in the summer, install pools, work in his amazingly lush garden and grow his beard. We would go to the beach all the time and hang out around our above ground pool. He persuaded our landlord to allow him to install one. The yard of our rental had a tree house, a log cabin and a deck and he built them all. In 1973 he found a house in a suburb outside of New Haven and bought it. Perhaps it was the stress of the purchase, or just bad luck, but he died in February of 1974 of a heart attack. I did not know how to react and hardly cried. I was sad but really blocked about crying. Now that I'm an adult and a father I am not very sad about that loss anymore. I missed having him around through my life and could have used him at many different stages.
What I did have was a powerful mother and tender, loving grandparents. Still, they were not fathers. I began to focus on a variety of fathers and select portions of all of them to follow or watch. Muhammad Ali held a special place. Charismatic and funny, he provided a macho influence in a sport that I watched on Sundays with my grandfather. John Lennon was a funny and talented artist. I listened to him and because he looked like my father and had a caustic wit, reminded me of him. My dad also played Abby Road all the time.
Daniel Maffia's great Time Cover
At the end of 1980 several things happened that altered me and made me begin to find out who I was. Ali came out of retirement and fought the tough heavyweight champion, Larry Holmes and was slaughtered. It was hard to watch. On December 8th Lennon was murdered. The next night, I went out to our garage and began a large painting on the wall, a portrait of Ali, listening to Lennon songs and crying, finally. There were to be no dads to follow. They weren't mine, they belonged to everyone.
Ali, October 8th, 1980...Lennon's last Birthday ironically.
Cassius O'Brien
I have met many great men over the years and many have been a part of who I am. Funny, articulate, thoughtful and smart friends and teachers. I still am that little boy in many ways, but with a son of my own, I find that BEING a dad has filled my life and made me feel complete.
Cassius Song
Bicky Body
My funny and inventive son Cassius had this groove in his head.  He called it either Baby to the Moon or Bickya Body.  I like Bickya Body.
I had to record him and got him to sing over my lame guitar and GarageBand drum beat.  The result is an annoying song that will stick in you head.  It takes a while for him to get going so hang in there.
Cassius is fun!
If someone...
Bye Bye Tommy Boy
Bye Bye
This is a alteration to a cover I did for Congressional Quaterly that has been in a holding pattern for months. Usually news items can knock me off of a cover (I have a million stories, believe me) but today, with a minor change, it is back on. Oh, and it's great because I think DeLay is awful.
New Painting - March 26th
Medusa of Technology
Just finished this piece. It's right off the easel. It's for an article about technology (are all articles about technology?) Finished it, put aging varnish on it, then crackling varnish. When the cracks appear, I smear shoe polish on the light areas and titanium white on the dark parts. I then buff it to a fine sheen (hey, it's shoe polish!)
Okay, so now I added some images
Okay, so now I added some image but you're all artists and know me so who cares? What you really want are blog entries where I tell you who I hate and who is a rip-off artist, and were to park in Manhattan for free. (I removed a nasty bit that was up here for a few days. Think of it as a ripe piece of fruit that fell off the tree. It was there for the picking for a few days.) I think Tim O'Brien is ripping off Mark Tansey and Gottfried Helnwein. You can park on Crosby after 7pm between Spring and Houston for free.
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