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2008 China Olympic Games

AUGUST 4, 2008
Relationships are the threads that bind together a long career in illustration. I got my start as an illustrator offering clients tight realistic paintings. Of course, my subjects and style evolved over the years, offering new ways to use this realism, but the genre is one that is not practiced by as many illustrators as there were when I started. I work pretty hard to stay in the game and really enjoy my clients. It's these clients who trust me with their deadlines and assignments and give my career wings. The relationships that come from this work is not often spoken about. I have such great art directors I work with, such as Arthur Hochstein, Florian Bachleda, Dave Matt, Jeanne Lee, Stefan Kiefer, Elizabeth Parisi and so many others. Joe Zeff is a friend and former AD from Time that gave me a ton of Time covers when he was there. He liked the way I worked I guess, and trusted me to come through for him. Joe is also an extremely talented artist and left Time to start his own freelance career. His CGI illustration work is the best I know of. We remain friends and he still thinks of me when certain assignments come to him that are not quite the best fit. Joe works for the New York Times on occasion as do I, and recently turned down an assignment again and suggesting me in his place. Wayne Kamidoi at the Times is a smart and positive art director whom I've worked for doing opener packages for in the past. I did a few big Tiger Woods sections for him and this time had a fun assignment to pitch. Could I do a landscape painting of the Chinese Olympics in the style of an old chinese silk painting? I have done some work like this in the past for Business Week when discussing Asian markets. This one was a challenge in that I had to insert new landmarks into the scene I came up with as well as a hint of some sports. That was tough as the point of view I came up with was far away. Little boats became a rowing race and a mountain range turned into a marathon road race. Getting the look right was important. At first I did some golden scenes but a grayish landscape sample provided me a good roadmap to follow for not only the color but a way to add hints of color here and there. In the end I was able to get approval and do the piece. Last week I stayed up a few days in a row and got it done. This one was fun and today when I opened the New York Times I saw the section and was thrilled not only with the way it printed (always a crapshoot on newsprint) but that Wayne again allowed me to have the credit read; painting by Tim O'Brien. Thanks Wayne and Joe.
I often groan at doing multiple figures but I always forget that when they are so small, they are a breeze. This piece is mostly a pencil drawing with oil paint and gouache on top.
This was a file I sent with the final. I thought the added texture might make it look more like an old silk painting. Wayne liked it, but thought it might look like bad printing.
This is a 1600's painting that I used as a guide for style
and another
This was my mood and color guide
The New York Times.