Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: The Year in Review at DREGstudios!

Strange Days, strange days and a few more strange days filled my life and art "career" over the past 12 months.  I've been drifting back in and out of calling what I do a career.  Is it a career? a hobby? a passion? a lifestyle? a daily therapy session?  Monetarily, my art brings home only around 5% of my income (on top of my day job in the marketing biz) so am I an amateur? Alas, the problem with labels, titles and positions in life muddying the waters.  All I know for sure is I take solace in my work no matter the storms I'm weathering.  I find home at my drawing table and find hope in the universal art spirit.  Thanks for tuning in with me.  Here are some highlights from 2014 at DREGstudios...


The first week of the year, my Soluble Heroes exhibit opened at The Coup here in Clarksville (click HERE for pics from the Opening Reception).  This was a bit of a nostalgic event for me.  The venue had recently relocated to what used to be the Icehouse Cafe here in town.  The Icehouse served as a meeting place for some lifelong friends I made nearly 10 years ago when I first started exhibiting artwork and curating shows there.  Another dose of nostalgia came to surface as Gikuyu hosted a Tour of Wurdz at The Coup in January also to coincide with the exhibit.  For those in the know, this open-mic event also took place at The Icehouse circa 2005-07.  The Universe went on to tell an even stranger tale when one of my paintings was stolen from a concert at the venue toward the end of the month.  I posted a picture of the missing work on facebook and a hundred or so shares later, the painting found its way home to me!  You can read the whole story HERE.


February 5th marked the Centennial of the birth of one of my all-time favorite authors, William S Burroughs. The author's work is the most macabre and outlandish of all the beat generation- the movement he will forever be entwined with.  In reality Burroughs was a movement in of himself.  I created a portrait of the author and artist in memoriam for the occasion which was pretty well received across the interwebs.

Aurora and I attended the Masquerade Ball at Boeheme Collectif in East Nashville for Valentine's Day in February.  The exhibit brought together a great group of artists, dancers and hipsters for quite an entertaining evening.  For the occasion, I exhibited my crowd-pleasing "The Devil and Sarah Palin."  Click HERE for pics!


The end of February brought some nasty weather and nasty bouts of flu to the area.  I found myself watching the snow from a hospital bed for a week after an abscess on my leg had to be removed while I had the flu.  My body just couldn't fight off the combination of sicknesses. Subsequently, I was home bound for almost six weeks with a hole in my leg slowly healing.  Unfortunately it was a pretty unproductive haze of painkillers, movies and working from home on the phone and laptop to keep my office moving the best I could.  Fortunately, I have a great staff and supportive family and friends who helped to get me through.  Despite not being able to sit at my drawing table comfortably, I did fill up a small sketchbook (which reminds me- I was going to make a video of the finished book! Stay tuned!)


After my medical ordeal, I was ready to hit the ground running when Spring rolled around.  Speaking of the sketchbook I filled while on the mend, I shared some decorative egg drawings for Easter.  These were scattered throughout the book, but you can view them collected HERE.  

On 4/20, Gikuyu hosted another edition of Tour of Wurdz at The Coup.  This was one of the last shows at the venue before it said farewell after a great run of bringing independent music to Clarksville through their three venues.  I worked on another live painting during the show with Wolfman Bennett and Mike McKelvey...

If you like the collaborative paintings, click HERE for some pics of another group session from April with Wolfman Bennett and Jesse Shaw.  If you have an hour to burn, you can also click the SOUTHERN POP SURREALISM logo on the right-hand menu of my site to see a full stream of all our collaborations from the past few years!  At the end of the month, I also finished up a really nice album cover for Zo- you can see some preview pics HERE of the illustration before the album's release!


This summer, a local band Undiscover commissioned a t-shirt design from me.  Aside from some Cafe Press gags, this was the first real run of shirts to feature my artwork!  We had a lot of fun coming up with the design and the band was great to work with.  Click HERE for pictures from the drawing process.  

Some treats from what was a very productive month also include portraits of Maya Angelou and H. R. Giger I created in memoriam.  Both passed away in May.  Each was a prolific master of their craft and inspired me along my journey to creative freedom.  


In the hustle-bustle of summer, life in general and working six days a week, sometimes I just get lost in the grind.  It seemed that way this summer with very few live events and lots of trying to "keep my eye on the prize" at my day job. For those of you close to me, you know I spent most of the Summer and Fall working on a business acquisition which just recently didn't go through.  Lost summer, gained experiences...   

I managed to do a lot of sketching, doodling and finish just a couple of real projects.   Here's a takeaway from the dog days of summer featuring my incarnation of the slasher fan-fav Jason which I shared on Friday the 13th back in June!


For the past several years, I've submitted work to the now-traditional Tomato Art Fest in East Nashville.  Along with the weekend festival, Art & Invention gallery and its founder Meg host the annual artist exhibit loaded with tomato-inspired work.  As I mentioned, I was in the grind and away from the drawing table too much at the time.  After not hearing from me about the show this year, Meg gave me a little nudge of encouragement via email to not stand her up this year!  I went home and cooked up this Roma-American Gothic for her based on Grant Wood's American Gothic.  Ironically, later in the month, I got to see the historic painting in person at the Art Institute of Chicago on a business trip.  

Aurora and I also had our 5th Wedding Anniversary this August!  To celebrate, we spent a romantic weekend at Fall Creek Falls.  Click HERE to see all the scenic pictures we got.


Another local exhibit I've been a regular patron and exhibitor with is Tour D'Art which coincides with Clarksville's RiverFest each year.  Hosted at the Smith-Trahern Mansion, year after year I received Honorable Mention and 3rd Place ribbons in my two categories: Professional Painting and Professional Illustration.  Well, this year was a milestone and streak-breaker as I scored my very first 1st Place ribbon for "Guernica in Roses and Blues" in the Professional Illustration category!

Over the summer, I picked up a group of Sketch Variant comic covers.  These books are released by the comic book companies for artists to draw custom artwork on.  Through the Fall, I hand-illustrated a run of these covers (with many more to come!)  Click HERE to see my Thanos Cover and HERE for Wolverine- both finished in September.


In October, I was honored to be a part of the release of a new book from the Clarksville Arts & Heritage Council.  C is For Clarksville on the Cumberland collects the artwork of local artists to represent historical figures and the culture of our town.  I was asked to create a portrait of Cave Johnson, the US Postmaster General who created the Postage Stamp.  Despite having never been given the honor by the good ol' USPS, I put Cave on a stamp of his own!  

As I mentioned in the previous month's highlights, I was on a comic book sketch cover kick through the fall.  Click on the names of the following Heroes and Villains to see my custom cover illustrations of each: Galactus, Sabretooth, Michonne and Superman!  Man, looking back at these makes me want to get to work on the rest of these blank covers!!!


I started the month off with a weekend daytrip down to Tupelo, MS where Aurora and I made a drive up the northern half of the Natchez Trace Parkway.  We took about 1,000 pictures of the leaves changing (and some mushrooms we found!) Click HERE for Pics!

I did a very groovy live painting in November which was auctioned off at the Tour of Wurdz Lupus Benefit hosted by The Flying Saucer in Nashville.  The folks from the foundation were blown away by the event where I painted live while poets and musicians took the stage for an entire evening of inspiration!

Toward the end of the month, we got a bit political around here with my portrait and prose in response to the hot topic of police shootings.  Click HERE for Michael Brown's Shoes and Click HERE for Pig's Head Soup.


As the year draws to a close, I celebrate my successes and productivity of the past 12 months.  I spent a good portion of the year focused on an advancement in my professional career which just didn't pan out for me.  The past few weeks I've spent drawing and realigning my energies back toward my family, friends and artwork.  While I have a string of small successes with my art, I haven't achieved physically many of the lofty goals I've aspired to.  Each trial and each win along the way is another step in the right direction.  Thank each and every one of you for encouraging and challenging me along the way.  2015 is coming soon and I have so much more to show your fresh eyes... please do continue to visit. 

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