Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: The Year in Review at DREGstudios!

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When January rolled around 12 months ago, I hadn't thought much about what I wanted to do with my artwork this year.  I had been blogging seriously for just a few months and had fallen in love with the open forum which it provided me to fuse both my voice and my art.  The past few years I had focused on exhibiting  anywhere and everywhere in the world I was accepted, placing my art in over 100 shows across the country and world.  For 2011, I wanted to focus on building an audience here in the digital world.  At the turn of the year, I made the decision to dump my static website which housed galleries for my art and focus solely on turning my blog INTO my site.  I found quickly that it was a learning process and looking back I can see the wonderful evolution of the DREGstudios! site over the past 12 months, which has grown from several hundred viewers a month to 15-20K viewers per month since June!  Falling in love with blogging was the best creative decision I've ever made.

2011 was the most inspiring year of my life so far for my work and passion.  I'm still on the upswing and haven't managed to find a way to make a living doing what I love quite yet but you can go back through my archive of blog posts and see the fruits of my labor.  Here's a look back at just a few of the major highlights of this incredible year...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 10 Comments of 2011 on!

Inks and Typewriter on Paper / 2006
One of the main motivations for turning my entire website over to my blog this past January was the idea of an open forum where my viewing (and reading) audience could give me feedback and comment on my work.  I opted to allow Anonymous commenting whereas many sites do not.  The only comments I remove are those that are blatantly spam and off-topic.  Other than that, this site is free of censorship for my viewers just as I do not expect any entity of government or person to censor me.  If you’ve seen my political art, you understand that the First Amendment is sacred to me as a creator. 

Today we honor ten of those people who proactively voiced themselves here on in 2011.  I painstakingly relived each and every low blow and gob of spit in the face which was thrown my way this year as well as those words which made me laugh and inspired me!  From the hundreds of comments posted, I narrowed down for you my Top 10 Comments of 2011…

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

All in the Family: A Portrait of My Father and Aunts

Every year for Christmas, I create a new work of art for my Grandmother as she says there is no better gift which I can give.  In 2009, I showed you the portrait of my Grandfather Tom which she received (Click HERE if you didn't get the chance) and last year I illustrated her parents, Paul and Clemmie Frye (Click HERE for my special Christmas Post from 2010!)  For her gift this year, I decided to make something even closer to my own heart with drawing of her three children, which I had framed together.  Here are my Aunt Naomi, my Father (Joe Hardin) and my Aunt Liz...
(3) 5in x 7in panels / inks on bristol / 2011
Here's a process picture of my finished line work for the three drawings.

 Merry Christmas Grandma!  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Playing the Awards Season Game (More TOP Movie Picks from 2010)

Making your pick is tough (AND TIMELY) work sometimes!
I've developed a deep love for cinema since my childhood. I have a vivid imagination and found early on that movies gave my mind room to travel and showed me corners of the creative realm which I wouldn't have journeyed to without their stories and visions. Last December, I gave you my Top 10 Movie Picks of 2010. Click HERE to see the List and the brief reviews of each of my recommendations.

Being a movie buff, I annually look forward to the Awards Season at the end of the year where some studios make a timely release of a movie they've sat on for 13 months while others scramble to make the deadline to enter their new flick into the awards pool. The inherent flaw in this marketing escapade around the holidays is most of the general public loses out on seeing these films before the Golden Globes and Academy Awards actually take place.  For the most part, the winner of Best Picture is released in the last quarter of each year.  One of the few recent exceptions which comes to mind is Crash from 2006.  As an avid follower of the awards, I remembered thinking it was a shame the film got a Summer release because I felt it was a strong contender to take home an Oscar.  To my surprise, it shocked many people that year taking home the award over films like Brokeback Mountain and Good Night Good Luck.  Crash deserved the honor by far with its modern commentary on human compassion in the midst of racism but lacked the hype surrounding the other movies with their timely release.  A star-studded cast made the studio seek a more "blockbuster" release date with a summer weekend when in reality they had the sleeper hit of the year with the votes of the critics backing them in the end.  Alas, I'll never have my own say or control of movie studio politics but I will remain an avid viewer of cinema.

Last year, there were several movies I didn't get a chance to see before making my Top 10 Movie Picks of 2010.  I cited several of these following up with you, constant viewer on that post.  While movies like The Fighter garnered praise though awards hype (I found Christian Bale's supporting role the only solid part of the film,) others went straight to video without a cinematic chance in American Mainstream Hell.  Here are three which would have bumped somebody off the Top 10 of 2010 in a perfect world where I had the Golden Ticket access indulged by the Hollywood Critic.

13 (Directed by Gela Babluani)

Babluani's English-language debut is one of mastery and has an independent tone with a style which plays like a Christopher Nolan movie.  We'll have to look forward to more films from this director in the coming years and you'll have to find this gem on video since it barely made an indie circuit run here in the U.S.  Garnering talent for this film with the likes of two of my favorite actors, Mickey Rourke and Ray Winstone, was a big draw for me to lend my eyes and ears to the story.  By fate- Vince, the main character, delves into the underground world of a very dangerous game of chance as he assumes the identity of a dead man in the hopes of following a trail of fortune.  Aspirations of wealth lead him to the most desperate and dangerous game one could imagine- Russian roulette for profit.  As it goes with sports, the main motivation behind this society of promoters and quietly macabre gladiators is the vast amount of money at stake literally placed on the participants' heads.  An ensemble cast really delivers and drives this unique script into a delightfully depraved place where valor and circumstance reign supreme in the ultimate wager.

True Grit (Directed by The Coen Brothers)

Even with a range of direction in their movies, these guys have just never let me down.  While I don't consider Joel and Ethan Coen the very best Directors of our time, they are indeed the most consistent.  I for one was thrilled to regress with them back to the tone of their debut film, Blood Simple with two more recent adaptations of novels in No Country for Old Men as well as last year's gem, True Grit.  There is a common misconception that this film is a remake; nothing is further from the truth.  Adapting from the original book by Charles Portis, the audience takes a surreal journey with Rooster Cogburn through the American West.  Jeff Bridges will be the first to tell you he wasn't playing John Wayne, he was embodying the character directly from the source material of the author.  What seemed a strange creative choice for the film-making duo turned out to be a perfect fit with the original book's material providing the character-driven action which they thrive upon.  Again, the cast makes this film and even the smallest role leaves lasting memories as it goes with many of The Coen Brothers' creations.  The final scene of Cogburn taking up Mattie into his arms and running her to shelter like a warrior beyond exhaustion and running on pure instinct I feel is iconic and fully embodied the definition of True Grit.

Winter's Bone (Directed by Debra Granik)

My explanation above for spotlighting these movies really roots from me finally getting to watch Winter's Bone over the summer, a few month AFTER the Academy Awards.  I was absolutely floored by both the script and the acting.  Debra Granik's masterpiece WOULD have been my #1 Pick of 2010 having been given the chance to be part of an audience for what was a limited-release movie in US theaters.  With all the glitz, glamor and CG of movie-making today, there is so much to be said about a film like this.  Winter's Bone has a razor edge to it and left me speechless, especially in the final scenes of the movie where we finally find Ree's father and she horrifically does what she must in order to use his fate to her advantage in saving her family's home.

Make certain to drop back by in a couple of weeks for my Top 10 Movie Picks of 2011 (so far... LOL!)

How many times have you had to change your mind about the Best Movie of the Year?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's a Zombie Christmas with Clark Griswold and DREGstudios!

First and foremost, I hope you- Yes YOU Constant Viewer have a Wonderful Holiday which blesses your family and brings them together.  Keeping with tradition, I'm out to be a jolly bastard and with the gift of art get out a slew of limited edition postcards out to you again this year!  Every year now I'll be sending out a new postcard designed by yours truly to everyone who's helped support me here in my one man factory in my head I call DREGstudios!  The first few hundred will be in the hands of the good folks at the USPS this morning!
This year's DREGstudios! Christmas Card featuring Zombie Chevy Chase from the Zombie Walk of Fame Series!

When working on my Zombie Walk of Fame series last year, I embodied Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold.   The depiction was a rare move in the series as I had not drawn many other actors from the series in specific roles, but rather simply zombified their portrait.  I knew right away he'd be on my Christmas cards this year!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Illustration Friday - Octopus's Garden

In 1970, the foundation of the Entertainment Industry shook and the world gasped as Paul McCartney announced the break up of the most successful band in the brief history of popular music, The Beatles.  There are numerous issues cited for the formal demise of the band.  In fact, all four members had been working on solo projects for a while before the announcement, which Paul made in anticipation of his first solo album over forty years ago.  Today's theme for Illustration Friday is "Separation," which prompted me to share my Beatles portrait, Octopus's Garden in response to the theme and one of the most infamous "separations" of the century.
Inks on Bristol / 2009
Octopus's Garden is a part of my Topsy-Turvy series where all works can be hung in multiple directions.  The final framing on this piece is wired to hang all four directions.  I usually present it the direction you see here since John is my favorite!  Which is your favorite Beatle?

Today's feature illustration was exhibited at my Cult of Personality Exhibit in 2009.  Click HERE for more about the exhibit!

Click HERE for my Memorial Portrait of John Lennon posted just yesterday on the 31st Anniversary of his passing.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dimebag Darrell Tribute Video

Inks on Bristol / 2011
On today's date 7 years ago, Dimebag Darrell, guitarist for Pantera was shockingly murdered on stage in Columbus, OH while playing with one of his side projects, Damageplan.  The shooter, Nathan Gale killed three others and injured seven in his rampage.  Gale was shot dead by a shotgun blast to the face from a police officer in the ensuing mayhem.  I created a tribute portrait of Dimebag this week for Rock Star Martyr who will be covering the guitarist today on the anniversary of his passing.

Dimebag was recently voted one of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time by Rolling Stone but by many accounts should have been closer to the top of the list.  He helped define a unique Southern Heavy Metal sound which drew Pantera legions of devoted fans and a posthumous cult following since his abrupt death.

Here's the time lapse video I created of the coloring process for my portrait! If it gets a little foggy on the footage when I'm coloring the sweet leaf, don't adjust your screens, it's all natural and part of my tribute, in memoriam for Dimebag...

Originally I had a Pantera track set to the time lapse video but low and behold, the record company doesn't allow it to be used (some do and some don't I'm finding.) Anyhow, I found a new band and their thrashing track to use!  This cover of "Cowboys from Hell" is by a group of students of Aaron O'keefe in Ohio!

John Lennon: Just Imagine

Thirty-one years ago today John Lennon was tragically murdered in New York City after recently returning from a nearly four-year hiatus from music.  I just finished up my portrait of the musician inspired my his music, his politics, his poetry and passion.  The portrait will be featured today at Rock Star Martyr, where there will be an article about Lennon by Joebot as our collaborative series continues today memorializing the dearly departed legends of popular music.  The year is almost over and our series brought to a close so I'll be looking for a gallery setting to display these works next year as we polish things up and prepare to format the entire series into a book format!  
inks on bristol / 2011
Can you tell what imagery is influenced by which songs and facets of John's life?

 Here are some process pictures from my initial sketch and a few of my favorite tracks which have touched me from the man himself...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Notes on Patriotism (NEW LIVE PAINTING)

When the Third Eye opens and funnels the Universal Artistic Spirit into swirling images in your mind, you have to take charge and act as translator.  As it works with visionary energies, you don't get to choose oftentimes when this rush occurs.  Yesterday I had a vision at work inspired by a song which serves as the soundtrack for the video I made when I left the office.  I got to let out some political aggression which has been building within me lately.  I was blessed with a beautiful day of Tennessee weather to work in and the results are what you see here...

God Bless America and A Special Thanks to my fellow artist and amateur super-villain Charles Bennett for letting me do this in his back yard so I wouldn't get arrested in the parking lot of my apartment building for such anarchy! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Illustration Friday: The Tough on Crime Skeleton

"Said the Tough on Crime Skeleton - Tear Gas the Mob"
"Brigade" is an unusually macabre theme coming from Illustration Friday this week.  Coincidentally, these past few weeks have seen brigades of armed Police in riot gear swooping down the streets of our nation in response to the first ever GLOBAL Protest in the Occupy Movement.

These largely peaceful protests are scaring the Upper Class and Big Business's hand in our Government because they are reaching beyond the control of the main stream voice in Big Brother.  Despite little press coverage or acknowledgement in its first month, the movement became a world-wide phenomenon with Occupy groups springing up in over 80 countries across the planet.  Of course, the spin doctors are at work and justifying the unconstitutional removal of these protesters across the country the past few weeks as our Government shows its strong arm by beating, tear gassing, pepper spraying and arresting over 1,000 citizens here in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. Occupy is exposing the corruption of our Government by Wall Street.  Occupy is exposing the Police State you really live in.  Occupy is here to stay and keep pulling back the curtain and lifting the veil and nudging open your third eye.

My featured illustration this week is from my Ballad of the Skeletons series inspired by Allen Ginsberg's poem of the same name.  I have shared a few of these works through Illustration Friday and you can Click HERE to see a stream of ALL of my entries from this year!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Postcards From the Edge: Geisha For a Cure

"Geish" inks on bristol / 2011
"Geisha" is my donation to this year's 14th Annual Postcards From the Edge Exhibit for Visual AIDS, which opens on January 7th at Cheim & Read in NYC.  This illustration will be my 2nd year exhibiting an original postcard-sized work of art with the organization.  I feel it's one of the worthiest causes I can support with my vision and hope to continue to contribute to their cause.  You can click HERE for Visual AIDS web site to find out more about their organization!

Visual AIDS utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving the legacy -- because AIDS IS NOT OVER!

There are always challenged when creating very small works of art and submissions for this annual show are only allowed to be 4in x 6in.  I took a couple of detail shots with a coin for reference so you can see just how small I had to get!