What a week or two I've had. I worked like a dog in the days leading up to my annual vacation to Martha's Vineyard. It was a tight schedule and if all worked out as planned would end with me going to Carnegie Hall to see my postage stamp unveiled. After finishing my last piece, a large illustration for the New York Times, I went out to dinner with Elizabeth and relaxed with a bottle of wine. I came home to a message on my answering machine. Could I do a rush job for Time? IT was 11:30 on Friday night. I called back, go a machine, and said that I could not do it, citing the rushed schedule and the pending vacation. A few minutes later, in my 'Swingers' moment, I called back and said I could do it, maybe. Not satisfied I e-mailed and explained that I could do it.
At 12:30 AM I finally talked to the Art Director and was asked if I could paint Zarqawi for the cover. I said I could do it if I could skip the sketch and go right to finish. The source image was the black and white Zarqawi image that has been circulating as of late. I go the 'GO' and went to work. Bye the morning I had a soft image of Zarqawi and for the next few hours painted hairs, knitted portions of his cap and skin texture. At noon I shot it and sent it to Time. I then packed for vacation and got ready for Carnegie Hall.
First day, Carnegie Hall
Tim on the stage at Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall was fantastic. The presentation was fabulous, with video of Judy Garland both on film and on stage. It was a star studded event that I was thrilled to be a part of.
Joey and Lorna Luft flank the USPS New York-area operations VP David Solomon and stamp artist Tim O'Brien. To the right of Anita Bizzotto and Judy Garland's grandchildren Jesse and Vanessa Richards are the stamp's art director Ethel Kessler and ceremony host Robert Osborne.
Backstage with Dick Cavett. Funny, cool guy.
Tim being a jackass in Rufus Wainwright and Michael Feinstein's dressing room.
After leaving via the stage door, I ran into the fans. After seeing this photo, I was reminded that they were GARLAND fans, not mine.
New York Times illustration OR the O'Brien Curse (both players bombed)
Last year I was on Martha's Vineyard feeling a bit glum. I had a slow May and June and was taking a break from painting my house to take a break. Not exactly the way I like to unwind. This year I was on the cliff of the house we stay in, pinching myself. Monday, June 12 and I had my Judy Garland stamp released nationwide, a half page illo in the New York Times, and the cover of Time. What a difference a year makes.
A lovely rainbow over the cliffs, Martha's Vineyard 2006
As the days went by I heard from family and friends about the cover, the best part of a big assignment.
Someone clued me in on the discussion going on of my painting on the Huffington Post. A guy named Michael Shaw said TIME was a pawn of the Bush administration and used my illustration to tick off the ways 'they' manipulated the image of Zarqawi. I wrote back and now I was hooked, logging in every few hours to see how the discussion was going. A parallel discussion was going on over at THEISPOT. I chimed in once and a while but by weeks end FINALLY relaxed and did little drawings and searched for starfish.
Big week. This week is bound to be a letdown.
I need another vacation and will leave the laptop home!
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.
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.
On June 10 at Canegie Hall, there will be the unveiling of my new stamp, Judy Garland, for the US Postal Service. This is the latest in their Legends of Hollywood series and my third stamp. Earlier in the year I had Hattie McDaniel released in Beverly Hills. The Judy Garland stamp had a long process. Many initial sketches followed by a painting based on an image the family wanted depicted a young Judy. After seeing the artwork, they decided to pursue and older version of Garland from 'A Star Is Born' era. I really liked the first painitng and struggled with the new one. I did the art and it was not quite right, something about the eyes (of course!) The art went back and forth for a while and in the end I started over and repainted the final. Bam! I hit it right that time and Liza Minelli and Lorna Luft agreed.
With the World Cup going on in Europe, Der Spiegel hired me to do their cover. Ronaldinho, the superstar player (this American never heard of him!) was the subject.
after finishing the painting and before the final varnish Stefan Kiefer, the art director called with a change...can I change his shirt? Not only a color change but a style of jersey change. So, I had to make a painting of a jersey. Here they are.