Tim OBrien
April 2009
Albert Einstein
There are certain paintings I'm asked to do every few years.  This is most true for Albert Einstein.  Mike Diioia of Discover Magazine asked me to paint his portrait for the cover of a special issue on the famed genius, on newstands now.
I did a portrait of Einstein for the Person of the Century for TIME in 1999, just as my son Cassius was due to be born.  His likeness was a more recognizable at this age, but for this piece, I was asked to go for younger.  The palette too was to be brighter as well.
The image is based on a decent photo of his head and blurry hair,  but in this case they wanted a bright, vibrant and current looking image of Einstein that was accurate as well.  Illustration is always the best option.

The trick with doing these tiny brushstrokes is to keep them close to the color and value you are painting over.  If they vary too much the portrait can end up looking a million years old.
I've worked for Mike for years and it's always a pleasure.

Here is the painting I did for TIME Magazine's choice for Person of the Century in 1999.
This is the sketch roughed out for the client.  I am always sheepish about pumping up the color so I had to show one with muted colors.  I can't help myself.
Approved background color.
Some detail of the face. 

In a perfect world, THIS is the cover!  I like the hair as it goes into the head here as I painted it very 'wet into wet'.

Below is the imagined cover if the cropping were the version.

In the end, peach covers must not sell well.  It looks pretty dismal.

Barron Storey
It was a great surprise this morning when I opened the NY Times to see a wonderful illustration by the legendary Barron Storey for an article about the tiny hominid referred to as a 'Hobbit' by the press.

Barron is a remarkable artist.  He's an illustrator's illustrator, who's drawings and more specifically his sketchbooks are little bound museums.

On June 10th- July 31st, Barron is going to have a one man show at the Society of Illustrators...

From the website:

Life After Black: The Visual Journals of Barron Storey

Through good times and bad times illustrator, graphic novelist, and noted educator Barron Storey has recorded his life with the illustrations in his journals. By capturing subtleties in pictures and illustrating the impossible to illustrate, his thoughts and experiences come to life on these magnificent pages. The journals are an example and source for anyone interested in the delicate art of making pictures communicate and the illustrator’s process.
I can't wait to see this exhibition.

From Tim Bower, his former student:

A few years ago I was asked to do the poster for Earth Day.  It was the 'official' US poster.  What a gig but what an anxiety producer as well.  Anytime you get an assignment that will be seen by all and will stand next to other talented artists who've done posters as well, the knees knock a bit.  I sketched around for a while and thought of doing a bird.  I wanted to fill the space with wings in some what and when I drew the wings all expanded and up, the shape was a circle.  THIS is why sketching ideas is the best way to work.  Your brain can think of ideas but drawing can uncover hidden ideas through shape recognition.

Anyway, my son it in 4th grade and Earth Day is a big deal in his school.  That's good for all of us.
I'm sure the accuracy police can have a field day with this's really a made up bird but you know the shackle a realist has to haul around...
I had a long dimension to deal with and thought of cutting off much of it with a closer cropping.  However, I wanted to add some rain forrest to the poster since the topic arose in an early discussion with the AD.  Being this far away allowed me to hint at it yet still get it in there.

A Map of the Known World
Here is the cover for the recently published "A Map of the Known World" by Lisa Sandell.  The way I did this cover is a bit different from most of my work.  My wife, Elizabeth Parisi needed an image of a heart  constructed out of objects.
The story by Lisa Sandell, who is also an editor as Scholastic, is of a girl whose older brother dies and she tries to come to grips with that and understand more of who she is as she learns more about her brother.  In the story Cora, the young girl, finds out her brother was an artist and made sculptures out of found objects.
Elizabeth imagined that the iconic cover image might be a heart (Cora) made up of objects.  In the town we spend our summers in, Eagles Mere, PA, there is an artist who lives there in the summer and is just such a sculptor.  The deadline would not allow for one of his works to be created and perhaps the budget wouldn't allow for it either.  However, on his property he has a huge apple constructed of red metal objects.  This could be the basis of a heart piece.  
The artist is Leo Sewell and he's really amazing.
With his approval and a cover credit, I shot his apple from several angles and used it as reference for a heart illustration.  When you draw something out you have to look at and figure out what you are drawing.  I found his work to be deeply textured and quite clever.  The final cover was designed by Elizabeth with an almost black map behind the heart and hand drawn type.  I love it.
This cover was three artists working together to arrive at a wonderful solution.
This is about 7 feet tall and it is made up of all metal objects.
Leo is truly an artist for a 'save our planet' world.
From his website: "His sculptures are composed of recognizable objects of plastic, metal and wood. These objects are chosen for their color, shape, texture, durability and patina; then they are assembled using nails, bolts, and screws. The outdoor sculptures are constructed of stainless steel, brass, or aluminum found objects which are welded together."
I think this one would make kid crazy with discovery. Check out the little soldier on his front leg.
Some of the works are grand in scale and I'm sure this piece was stunning in person.
My original is about 12 inches square. I did it on white because at first the cover was going to be on white with a faint image of a map tinted out. The inverse had more power.

Lisa Sandell's   'A MAP OF THE
KNOWN WORLD received a starred review in Publishers Weekly: "Sandell
creates a satisfying tension by juxtaposing Cora's grief and anger at
her parents with her developing attraction to Damian and her growing
sense of possibility about her own future. Sandell's...fluid phrasing
and choice of metaphors give her prose a quiet poetic ambience."

Congratulations Lisa.

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