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Like most artists, Lake County Illinois artist Gregg Hangebrauck was deeply interested in creating at a very early age. Upon seeing a realistic drawing for the first time, Gregg knew that all he wanted to be was an artist. Drawing was something he took very seriously from that day forward.

Much of Gregg's grade school works were pencil or pen & ink drawings of animals or people he knew. Many of his high school subjects were his teachers and friends. Gregg realized early on that he had a gift for capturing very realistically the people he came into contact with. When Gregg should have been learning about Science, English or Math, he would be distracted by studying his latest artistic victim, drawing him or her over and over until he had a perfect likeness. He would then drop them into elaborate, often humerous scenes in which the subject became the brundt of a visual parody, much like what you would find in the then popular Mad or Cracked magazines. "One poor teacher would find themselves a slave in the Roman Collisseum being bitten by a Tiger, another falling from a Medieval castle wall after being arrow-shot. I was very popular with my close friends each time a new masterpiece was hung in the school cafeteria under the guise of Phantom Artist. No one in authority knew where the art originated because I had not taken any art classes. When my cover was finally blown, the Dean handed me a three day suspension and strongly urged that I take art in the following semester!"

Shortly after graduating high school Gregg was intrigued after touring a local pre-press graphics firm. He knew his artistic ability would serve him well in the trade and his natural ability as an artist landed him a place in the company's prestigious art department. After an abbreviated apprenticeship Gregg became a journeyman dot-etcher. The years of training in this cutting edge company further honed Gregg's skills of observation, color, tone, perspective, and composition. As a retoucher before the advent of the computer, a skilled artist such as Gregg would be asked to "Photoshop" special effects by hand in a dark room, etch sink, or light table. The results Gregg achieved conventionally were as seamless and natural as the work being done on today's computers. Later, when his company was one of the first to purchase a digital machine ( at a staggering cost of just under a million dollars ) Gregg was selected to learn and operate the rare and expensive color and retouching equipment. Labeled as a top digital artist in the infancy of the digital age, Gregg was being sought after by some of the top graphics firms in the country. " At that time I was a big fish in a very small pond." Soon Gregg was retouching imagery on dozens of publications including Vanity Fair, Vogue and Glamour. Gregg personally retouched every cover of Vanity Fair for the span of a decade which included the iconic Demi Moore ( pregnant ) cover by New York photographer Annie Liebovitz.

Throughout his career as a leading retoucher in the graphic arts, Gregg continued to create his fine art whenever time would allow, sometimes entering local, regional or national art competitions, with much success. With his main artistic interest in the human form and the face, Gregg stopped entering the juried shows and focused his efforts on commissioned portraits. After exploring many different mediums including watercolor and egg-tempera, Gregg discovered his real love was painting in oils. "There is no other medium I know that traps the light as well as oils do. With each subsequent layer, the color becomes richer and to me, that depth of color and the ability to hold light is the real magic of the medium." Now working almost exclusively in oils, Gregg's favorite subject is still the figure, but he now finds himself returning to his artistic roots, adding a narrative to his current body of work. "What has always driven me as an artist is the process and exploration that each new painting brings. With few exceptions, I rarely even glance at what I have already produced. I am too busy looking forward to the next painting. It is a precious gift from God the Creator to be blessed enough to take part in your own very small act of creation. Making something from nothing is very fulfilling."


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