Tim OBrien
June 2008
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!
Tim Russert
Tim Russert 1950-2008
I am so sad at the sudden passing of Tim Russert. Decent. He just seemed so decent. Smart, and genuine. If he asked someone a question he drew out a serious honest reply because he was so earnest and honest. I painted his portrait a few years ago for Irish American Magazine. Hard to imagine it is he who passed before big Russ. Death out of order is illogical and unfair.
The Mayor of Casterbridge
Final art
Recently I was asked to do the cover of Thomas Hardy's 'The Mayor of Casterbridge. It's the story of the rise and fall of a man named Michael Henchard. At the beginning of the novel, Henchard is a volatile, twenty-one-year-old hay-trusser. He gets drunk at a fair and sells his wife and daughter to a sailor in an auction, which originally began as a joke, turns serious. Upon realizing that he has sold his family, Henchard searches for them to no avail, and takes an oath to give up alcohol for twenty-one years. Years later Michael's wife, Susan Henchard, and her daughter began a search for Michael Henchard, who has become the mayor of Casterbridge. The novel proceeds as many soap-opera-like events unfold. An unfavorable trait Henchard possesses is not letting go of past mistakes. Although he tries to atone for the past indiscretions, fate always seems to catch up to him. These factors and others contribute to his downfall. Covers of this sort are usually skimmed from existing art and are merely cropped. Effective, they don't however deal with the text apart from having the same general feel. I at first, hoped for an image not unlike the painting by Rembrandt Peale of Rubins Peale with a geranium. After some roughs, I did a drawing that ended up looking like Brian Rea, who I hoped would model for it if it were approved. The other sketch I liked was a profile. I saw him as frozen in his dejection and in the rain. The Profile was approved. My drawing was of an English looking man with cartoonish featured. Sadly, with some minor adjustment, I can appear cartoonish.
The usual cover
I thought this one would be perfect for Brian Rea. I wonder if he would have said yes.
This is the approved sketch
The Peale painting. It's a beauty.
Tim O'Brien is a model I frequently use. He's always available.
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?
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