Friday, February 25, 2011

Illustration Friday: Send in the Clowns

Inks on Bristol / 2008
"Swarm" is the theme the good art-prompting folks at Illustration Friday threw at us this morning.  My entry for this week is a Topsy-Turvy (Click Here for more on this series), entitled "Send in the Clowns."  The illustration was made for a three-man show I did with Jeff Bertrand and Charles Bennett for The Roxy Theater's production of a My Way: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra here in Clarksville.  This was one of the first times I had the pleasure of exhibiting at the Roxy and have worked with them once or twice a year since, making original artwork for their Peg Harvil Gallery to accompany productions such as Dracula and Julius Caesar.

[Click HERE for my post on Dracula: The Musical]

Some people are petrified of clowns.  When I was young, my mother had this clown painting in my room and I was terrified of it and often laid in bed just hiding from the gaze of this Norman Rockwell-looking hobo clown.  So now I draw creepy clowns which scare other people.  If you saw a "swam" of clowns coming, which way would you run?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Memoriam: Hunter S. Thompson

 “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
            -Dr Hunter S. Thompson

"Gonzo Waltz" inks on bristol / 2009 [Print Shop]
Spat into existence on our own plane of reality on July 18, 1937 in Louisville, KY, Hunter S. Thompson snatched his ticket to this wild world and smirked at the turnstile, knowing they shouldn’t have let him loose, but they had no choice (as it goes with forces of nature.)  He took the Universe and all of its powers and weaknesses and twisted them around and channeled them out onto paper for us to muse side-by-side with him along his odyssey through the wonderland we call America.  As a preface to his collected works, The Great Shark Hunt, published in 1979, Thompson composed a suicide note, telling frankly of his plans to dive off the balcony of the hotel room he was writing it from (and how he knew he wouldn’t go through with it- but how he was a better man if he did.)  On today’s date in 2005, twenty-six years later, Thompson shot himself and punched his ticket.

By his mid-twenties, there was no firearm, firework, fire alarm, or drug foreign to the good doctor in regards of his need to disrupt the status quo.  He started getting serious about branding his own mode of chaos after being discharged from the Air Force in 1958.  "In summary, this airman, although talented, will not be guided by policy", Col. William S. Evans, chief of information services wrote. "Sometimes his rebel and superior attitude seems to rub off on other airmen staff members."  Little did they know within 15 years, Thompson’s work would influence an entire generation.   Thompson wrote a mock press release about his discharge citing himself as “totally unclassifiable” and giving the world his first glimpse of Gonzo.

Where do you go after a stint at Columbia University and acquainting yourself with the entire core of the Beat Generation including Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, writing two books in Puerto Rico, and working at a magazine in Brazil all within a four year period?    

Detail from "One Flew East / One Flew West"
The Nation answered this question when they offered Hunter the opportunity to write about The Hell’s Angels in 1965.  Thompson got several book offers after the initial article, when he went undercover with the notorious motorcycle gang of California.  With Hell’s Angels, Thompson invented Gonzo Journalism (where the writer immerses himself into his subject matter- to where he becomes the central figure of the story.)  The book covers the writer’s initiation into the gang, his education of biking culture, building custom hogs, the hierarchy of the gang and their mamas, their drugs and their homemade wine.  No substance and vice was left untouched by Thompson as he delved headfirst into what it is to live the life of a Hell’s Angel.  The book only ends when Thompson takes a serious ass kicking from a few of the gang members (and is all too happy they let him live to write about it.)

Three years later, Thompson took a $6,000 advance from Random House and followed the Campaign trail of 1968.  He crashed hotels and followed along until the end at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.  He witnesses protesters clash with police but never quite translated enough to get a book to fulfill the contract with the publishing company.  You see, he didn’t get involved enough to do what Thompson did best.  In 1972 when Thompson barely made it to Sin City in a drug-induced stupor with a suitcase of narcotics to cover a dirt bike race, he became a legend (and fulfilled his contract with Random House by publishing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.) 

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.
            -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson giving Johnny Depp his haircut for the role.
Thompson rode the city, rode his high, and became a rock star when his vision of the American dream was penned to scripture for future generations with this breakthrough visionary work, published by Rolling Stone and immediately released in book form thereafter.  Terry Gilliam bore witness through his visual testimony of Hunter’s magnum opus with the 1998 film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, giving a broader audience to his story and reinventing the legend for a new generation with bizarre special effects and a phenomenal cast in rare form. For his preparation of the role of Thompson, Johnny Depp lived in the author and madman’s basement and subjected himself to extreme hazing at the hands of the twisted doctor.  This was Thompson’s way of getting involved and going Gonzo (in return, the experience was Depp’s dues and homage to the heart of his character also by living the part.)     

After Thompson’s timely suicide, Depp saw through with the financing of the most elaborate dedication of human remains in documented history as the author’s ashes were fired from a cannon atop a 153ft tower of his own design (in the shape of a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button- all in neon) to the tune of Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" and Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" across a fireworks display.   The Doctor got to take part in one last celebration of life which will echo on through the lore of his audience and friends who lent their open minds to his uniquely terrifying and triumphant voice.  Thompson conquered the game and called all the shots, up until the last… and the odds were never on the house when he was driving.

In Memoriam 02/20/2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Illustration Friday: Exclamation!

"Layer" is the theme for this week's Illustration Friday.  In all forms of art, it's all about the layers.  As artists, we start with blank canvass, panel, or paper and build our way up with our medium.  As you've seen in some of my process posts, a drawing can be more involved and have more layers than you ever expected.  Painting is no different, especially in when it comes to low brow, in which we often mix our mediums.  This painting, "Exclamation!" is from 2007.  For a few months, when I was staying with my buddy Nick after moving back to Clarksville, I had an assortment of scrap panels my friend Al was bequeathing  me from the shelving company he works for.  The panels needed some sort of priming so I went wild with spray paints and stencils before layering over it and touching things up with brushes.  Most of the art I created in this short time was very free and loose, being away from the tight confines of my usual illustration style.

Nowadays, with a busy illustration schedule, I rarely get to paint unless it's for a specific project.  What do you like better?  The low brow paintings or the tight confines of the illustrations?

(Click here to see all my Illustration Friday weekly entries)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Superheroes: Evan and River

Last year, I posted a commissioned portrait of Joey Holmes, my friend Joel Ray's uncle.  This week I went on to draw up Joel's two sons for him as well.  River and Evan came by the apartment a few weeks back so that I could get a picture of them for reference and hang out.  River was talking about getting a heartagram tattooed on himself when he turns 18 and both the boys got talkative when they noticed my graphic novel collection.  Joel knew he wanted two small illustrations of the boys separately and one of them together, we just weren't sure what to have them doing.  River mentioned how cool he thought it would be to have the ability to throw fire as we were talking about different comics and such and after they left, the idea to draw them as comic heroes came to me...
inks on bristol / 2011 / commissioned portrait
Line Work
Initial Sketch
Thumbnail Sketch- Everything starts from humble beginnings!
River & Evan

Click HERE to visit my Portrait Page for more examples and how you can get your own custom portrait started today!

[Update 03/06/2011]
Joel got his portraits picked up from the frame shop and send me a nice picture of the final product on his wall at home... Thanks for the project, Joel!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy V-day!  Check out the DREGstudios! Fan Page on Facebook today to post a pic of yourself "Showing Your Love" (this is open to your own interpretation.)  Winners will get a free print in the mail this week!  Today, I'm going to post a few nudes from several years back in commemoration of the sweetest and sexiest holiday of the year.

Our first piece today is an illustration from 2005 when I was first getting started with the medium of markers.  Lots of my work from that year was random.  This gal made it into my Dip and Trip .45 book (as did a lot of the more random works from 2005-2007.)

"The Dance" (Inks on Paper / 2006)

"The Dance" is from my Scenes of Faith and Devotion exhibit from 2007.  It depicts two nude figures dancing and was a little too racy for the show, so it wasn't included.  I later had an uncensored version of the show at a second venue with all of the intended works on display.  There were a few nice works from this series of figures playing and praying and dancing and such around large flowers.  Most of these works were also highlighted with gel and glitter pens (which is hard to tell from the scan.)
"Love in an Elevator" (2007 / inks on scrap brstol)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Illustration Friday: Swelter

Illustration Friday threw the theme of "sweater" at us this week.  Well, this guy's sweatin' up a storm so I guess he qualifies.  This illustration from 2006 was from my Scenes of Faith and Devotion exhibit, which displayed at The Phoenix Theater in Bowling Green, KY and then at The Icehouse Cafe in Clarksville, TN.  Pardon the pun on this week's theme and keep your fingers crossed for no more snow (I've been snowed out of the office at my marketing job twice this week!)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

VIRAL (Create a Superhero For the Stan Lee Foundation)

Viral Concept Art / 2011 / inks on bristol
An experiment in subdermal networking and the exchange of information by touch transformed scientist Brian Marshall into Viral. He is one with the internet, leaving him omnipotent with the all-knowing eye and ability to control anything managed by computer or network including natural resources, entire weapons arsenals, and the flow of information. 

This is the story my good friend Dan and I developed for The Create a Superhero Contest sponsored by The Stan Lee Foundation, Prismacolor Todd McFarlane and Talenthouse.  The winner will get their design turned into a toy created by McFarlane himself.  Two of my biggest influences and legends of the comic industry will be judging the most popular entries and voting starts, well right NOW!  So I need your help-  just be logged into your Facebook and CLICK HERE and VOTE for Viral on my profile at Talenthouse!

The lucky winner gets a trip to the San Diego Comic Con to meet Stan Lee and a day at Todd McFarlane's Arizona studio.  Thanks for all the support guys!  (And be patient with these links... their site it taking a beating today with the voting just starting.  I'm just one of hundreds of artists so click again if it doesn't connect!)  You can vote through your phone or with Facebook... it's easy!
Sketch and Line Work for Viral Concept Art

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy 100th Gipper!

"Cold War Hollywood" inks on bristol / 2009
Today marks the 100th birthday of former President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

In the early 1940's, Reagan (then an actor and Democrat) became a board member and eventually president of the Screen Actors Guild where he began his life-long mission to rid the world of Communist scum.  In the heat of the "red scare" later that decade, he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee with a vehement defense of Democracy and denouncement of all things Socialist and Communist.  As an act of his own patriotism, Reagan even served as a Hollywood informant for the FBI, providing them with names of actors whom he believed to be Communist sympathizers.  In effect he helped author the infamous Hollywood Blacklist.  

Reagan's film and television career began it's decline in the late 1950's.  He flipped sides of the isle in the 60's after endorsing Eisenhower and then Nixon for their presidential bids.  He famously stated that "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The party left me."  After giving his famous, "Time for Choosing" speech in 1964 in support of Barry Goldwater's presidential run where he stressed the importance of limiting the government's role in the economy, Reagan earned the admiration of much of the public as a well-spoken political figure.  This catapulted him into the limelight for which he was nominated and elected Governor of California in 1967 and served as such for eight years.  In 1976, he attempted to dethrone incumbent candidate Gerald Ford for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party.  In 1980, he succeeded in gaining his party's support and was elected President, also serving in office at the White House for eight years.

Reagan never lost sight of his hatred for all things Communist.  In 1982, he said, "the forward march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history."  One year later in a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, he called the USSR an "evil empire," coining a phrase which has stood to this day.  He also stated, "Communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written." Over the next few years, he would go on to fund anti-communist efforts in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  He also deployed the CIA to train and arm groups of militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan to help fight off occupying Soviet troops.  This Covert Action program is credited for ending the Soviet occupation of the Middle East and at the same time creating the resistance movements which we ironically still fight and lose American soldiers' lives and limbs to on a daily basis today in the midst of our own 10 year occupation of Middle Eastern countries. With the Revolutions of 1989, communism fell in many European countries and Russia followed suit in 1991, just a couple of years after Reagan's presidency.  

Another staple of the Reagan Years (and the inspiration behind an element in my illustration) was his contribution to the War on Drugs (began by Nixon in 1971, who The Gipp supported.)  In 1986, he kicked the program into high gear by signing a $1.7 Billion drug enforcement bill, which also created a mandatory minimum sentence for drug charges.  This bill led to the overcrowding of American prisons and was criticized for creating racial disparities among inmate populations..  Drug trafficking in America and street sales only increased along with the inmate tolls nation-wide.  Nancy Reagan championed her husband's effort by creating the Just Say No campaign to attempt to educate America's youth about the dangers of experimenting with narcotics.  She appeared everywhere from Dynasty to Diff'rent Strokes to Good Morning America to music videos on MTV to campaign her cause.  In the end, a catch phrase had as insignificant of an effect on drug use as throwing money at the "problem."

During his terms as President, Reagan quadrupled the national debt while seeing through a peaceful end to the Cold War (mainly due to the eventual collapse of the USSR, not from "winning" the Cold War.)  He created "Reaganomics," changing tax brackets and policies nearly every year of his presidency.  The American taxpayer was footed with the bill to fund a bulging defense budget and combat drug use among our youth.  We created the largest weapons arsenal in human history and then signed a bill to curb those numbers and destroy a portion of the weapons we paid to manufacture.  All of this, after building a career around the idea of limiting the government's role in our finances and economy.  Reagan passed away on June 5, 2004 at his home in California.  His body was moved to Washington D.C. where nearly 105,000 people filed through his viewing. 

And now for the star-studded music video your tax dollars from the mid-80's paid for....

Friday, February 4, 2011

Illustration Friday: Tribal Idol

The theme for this week's Illustration Friday is "Reverse." Such a theme immediately brings to mind my Topsy-Turvy series. This is an ongoing project in my life. I have displayed two solo exhibits (one in 2006 and one in 2010) of these works. Each work of art from this method may be hung either side up to create a new image and refresh the work so to speak. These works deal with comedy and tragedy, opposite forces, cause and effect, etc.
"Tribal Idol" inks on paper / 2006

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rock Star Martyr: Sid Vicious

"Anarchy" inks on bristol / 2011
JoeBot has launched a brand-spanking new straight-talking, outrageous site at Rock Star Martyr.  This new site is now the home of his article about Hank Williams, for which I made a portrait earlier this year (click here if you need to catch up.)

Without any ado, here is my new portrait for JoeBot's article he posted today for the anniversary of this Sex Pistol's death.  Check out the site linked above to hear what he had to say about the Vicious one and bookmark or subscribe to him while you're there because we have a few collaborations lined up for your viewing and reading pleasure this year!

Click HERE for Prints of Sid in my Web Store!