Monday, August 22, 2016

Five Hundred and Forty

The Cranky Bird Theatre Production of The Old Curiosity Shop (detail).

This is my 540th blog post.  I want to sincerely thank everyone who has followed and read this blog over the past 8 years. Writing an online journal can seem like navel-gazing at times, and trying to avoid that is challenging when posting at least once a week. Still, it's been helpful to me to keep a record of my art-life, so thanks for sticking with me!

The painting detail above is from my latest work for an upcoming show at Valkarie Gallery in October. The finished size of the piece is 18" x 24", and it's exciting to be showing this and other large pieces along with works by artists I admire.

 Soliloquy, ca. 2010
I was pretty happy with this theater-themed piece done 6 years ago, but am pleased by the evolution and improvement in my newest works.

I'll be posting details about the Valkarie show in the near future, and hope you can come and see all the works. In the meantime, check out Valkarie Gallery --they have fantastic new shows every month!

This month's show features the fine work of Hallie Packard
Don't miss it!

Thanks for supporting the arts, and again for staying with my blog all these years!




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Monday, August 15, 2016

Plein Air in Telluride, Colorado

Painting on location in the park at Telluride. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Morse)

This summer I had a chance to hit Telluride for three days of plein air painting with a couple of Denver Illustration Salon members; Clay Brooks and Ryan Morse*. I made progress fast, from the sorta-sad first paintings to the almost-there paintings near the end of the trip.

We arrived in town at about 5 pm, and were painting by 6.  I'd decided to try gouache for the trip, and had pre-grounded most of my paper with a greyed reddish color. I'm new to the medium, but not unhappy with the attempts.

Every day we were up early in order to bag as many paintings as possible.

It rained off and on the whole time...

...but the clouds were nearly as dramatic as the scenery. Here's another view from the top of the Gondola...

 ...and another. What a place! (Photo by Ryan Morse)

The few remaining shacks in the gentrified town gave me my favorite painting of the trip.

The rain was steady on the last day of painting...

...but it was a good one anyway.

Unfortunately, I had painted under a green umbrella, which totally skewed my color choices. I'd also made the poor decision to experiment with a blue ground. Still, the falls and surrounding landscape were so gorgeous I can't complain. And I was learning quite a bit about what not to do, too.

(Photo courtesy of Ryan Morse)

The trip was initiated by Clay, who was there for the Telluride Plein Air Festival. Here's all his work from the trip on the first sale-day of the festival (my last day there).

Yeah, it was still raining at the beginning of the sale. (Photo courtesy Ryan Morse)

When I got home, I still had the plein air itch, so the maple tree in my front yard was a great, (although more-ordinary-than-Telluride) subject.
The previous three days of continual on-location painting had helped tremendously. I'd gained confidence, and solutions and techniques were still fresh in my memory (unlike the forgetting I tend to do when painting on-location only once a week or so).

*One of Clay's oils from the top of the gondola.
 Be sure to check out  Clay Brooks' site

*A couple of Ryan's oils from the trip. Click for Ryan Morse's site

And thanks for reading!


Monday, August 8, 2016

A Creature Design Technique

Blue Creature
A short post on an ink technique I enjoy.  This fellow was first drawn in pencil on toned paper.

Second step: Inking over the pencil lines (which would be the first step) with a crow quill pen and rapidograph ink.

Third Step: Adding white highlights with white acrylic gouache. When working on toned paper, I like to add the highlights before the cross-hatched shadows because I have a tendency to cover up too much of the toned paper (which serves as the mid-values) when I ink the darks. It's a personal problem.

The Fourth Step is the cross hatching.  
The Fifth step is adding transparent acrylic inks for color as seen in the first image.

A big "thank you" to Salvia at Pinzellades al Mon for the kind feature of my monstrous absurdities (visit that cool blog for wonderful, world-wide illustrations):

Btw, feel free to email me at tomsarmo4{at}gmail{dot}com or comment here with questions about this fun ink technique!

Thanks for the visit, and for checking out Salvia's blog!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Art Makers Denver 2016!

Coming up fast--Art Makers Denver 2016!

Every year I'm pleased and very excited to be part of this fun and innovative urban art conference! It's like no other art-learning experience. Art Makers Denver offers a warm and friendly environment in which to learn and make new friends. I'm a friendly, patient, and knowledgeable teacher, and my workshops are designed to be easily understood. They feature lots of one-on-one, personalized instruction to fit your level of experience.

This year, fresh from doing a series of character designs for an upcoming animated film, and multiple gallery shows and commissions, I am extra-ready to share everything I know, from traditional to new illustration and art techniques.

So here are my workshops, going backwards from Day Three to Day One:

 Watercolor Techniques from the Golden Age of Book Illustration
I'm very stoked to be able to share my techniques! I've studied the great British Golden Age illustrators for years, gleaning their processes and integrating them into my own work. Designed for children's book illustrators (aspiring or experienced) and watercolor artists, here's the description:
Tom's Day Three Workshop

 Creating Illuminated Letters and Decorative Borders
I love hand-lettering, illuminated manuscripts, and innovative border design. If you've ever wanted to explore these for your own work, or want to grab fresh techniques and ideas, my Day Two workshop is for you:
Tom's Day Two Workshop

 Illuminating Illustration: 3-D Drawing with Forms
If you are new to drawing and/or illustration, or want to expand your creative drawing ability, my Day One workshop is designed to give you the information you need to construct creative and amazing drawings and illustrations onto the paper. I take you through the process in step-by-step, easily understood methods that I use everyday in my own artwork! Check it out here:
Tom's Day One Workshop
 
Tier IV pricing ends very soon, so now's the time for you and your friends to sign up!

And a bonus: Everyone who signs up for my workshops will receive a gift package and discounts at my online store
Tom Sarmo Store
 
and at my new Denver studio at Helikon Gallery!
Sarmo's Helikon Studio

Thanks, as always, for the visit!





Wednesday, July 13, 2016

You Can (and Oughta) be an Art Collector: Part Three

By Kayla Edgar

Kayla is a Colorado Artist/Illustrator. I bought this at a show we were in together called Monkey Business; at Valkarie Gallery. It's an 8" x 8" artwork that holds its own on any wall in my house.

Continuing from the previous post Collecting Art: Part Two

By David Thierree

I use Facebook for art inspiration--that's where I saw this. Luckily, I enthusiastically shared David's post with my family, and they later got the drawing for me as a Christmas present.
Also lucky--it happened to fit perfectly into this nice old frame.

By JB Monge

Etsy is great for inspiration, and a gift or two to myself. This drip-nosed goblin sketch was sized to fit into a 10" x 8", ready-made frame.
My taste in art doesn't suit everyone. Yours shouldn't either. Disconnect your fear of buying art by remembering that you aren't trying to please your guests; you are collecting to please yourself.

I hope these three posts on collecting art have given some incentive to become an art collector and support living, working artists. My aim was to show that great art can be found in a variety of places. The media focuses on the huge, million dollar art sales in NYC, and that seems intimidating to lots of folks. But everyone can and should enhance their life with original artworks, hand-made by real people, not the stuff churned out on foreign printing presses.
Check out more of the aforementioned artist's works here:


 Next post: Great digital art to collect!
Thanks for reading!









Tuesday, July 5, 2016

You Can (and oughta) be an Art Collector: Part Two

By Irwin Peralta
Irwin Peralta is a Colorado artist. I found this landscape at his booth at the Art Student's League Summer Art Market.

Continuing from the last post  Collecting Art: Part One:

Myth Four: Posters are cheaper.
Not always. Often by the time you shell out the money for framing a poster, your cost ends up being the same or more than buying an original. Yeah, a poster-sized original might be expensive--I get that. But for me, a group of small originals is more satisfying than a big piece of paper from the local mall.

Myth Five: No difference between a poster and an original; both are just decoration.

Sorry, I'll never believe that. Original art is more than decoration. I'm a collector of many things, but having original artworks in my home and in my studio space has added the spirit of the artist to those places. You don't get that from a poster. Yes, when I was a kid, I bought posters to decorate my dorm room and apartments. They ended up faded and yellowed and in the landfill.

(Also, I'm not talking about prints carefully made by artists--digitally or otherwise. I have digital prints of my works, and immensely admire and respect digital artists and their works. I'm talking about posters made in China and sold in stores and places like allposters.com--with no regard for the artists who made them.)

 By Frank Moss Bennett 
Bennett was an English watercolorist.

I had my eye on this piece at a local, trusted gallery for years. Because it was an unsigned painting from the artist's estate, it was not expensive--it cost no more than a night on the town. And I didn't want it because of the artist's name; I just loved the painting. I suppose if I were accumulating pictures for a museum or a public collection; or I cared about status, I'd need to worry about signatures, or the artist's name or fame or something. But I hang artworks on my walls that resonate for me.

And I love landscapes. They add a peace to a room. You need calming? Just gaze at a favorite landscape--maybe study the brushwork and mood--lose yourself in it. That's as good as meditation. Believe me, a poster from Z Gallerie won't give you that.

Click on the names below for more art and info from these guys:


Thanks for reading, and for supporting the arts and artists.

Next week: More sweet originals!





Friday, June 24, 2016

Parallel Universe Presents: A Unique Show at Helikon Gallery!

A detail crop of my artwork for Parallel Universe Presents

Very pleased to announce a new show, coming July 1, 2016 to Helikon Gallery in Denver!
This show is the brain-child of illustrator Thomas Haller Buchanan and gallery director and illustrator Cayce Goldberg.

Helikon is known for it's fresh and uniquely exciting shows, and this one will be no exception.
From Gallery Director Cayce Goldberg:
"Helikon Gallery is pleased to host ‘Parallel Universe Pictures Presents...’ this July! P.U.P.P. is a group exhibit where illustration reigns supreme over Hollywood, and features powerful drawings and paintings of posters for movies that exist only in the cinematic imagination of the artists."

This is Sherlock Holmes from my Parallel Universe offering of the movie The Hammersmith Ghost.

I love anything Victorian, and the Conan Doyle stories, but have always wanted to see Sherlock pitted against an actual, supernatural being. Hence this version of my dream film.
 
Along with your chance to see amazing finished paintings and posters by a group of stellar illustrators, you'll view the process each artist used to reach the final artwork. Each illustrator has the opportunity to show the sketches--thought processes--that went into the production of the final works!

From the chicken-scratchings of my initial idea...


...to character studies of Holmes and Watson...

...to value and composition thumbnails; this is only part of my process.

You won't see this at the show, but using my scary self as a model helped me draw...

...the initial sketch for the Hammersmith Ghost.

Here's a list of all the other fantastic illustrators in the show:
 
Thomas Haller Buchanan
Mike Kloepfer
Elena Gunderson
Matt Needle
Daniel Shaffer
Rob Jordan
Brooke Vandevelder
Arna Miller
Vinni Alfonso
Cayce Goldberg

I can't wait to see their finished artworks--and their sketches and processes and posters too!

And a huge bonus: Portals and Parralax!
 
 
"Portals & Parallax is a duo exhibit of new work by Thomas Haller Buchanan and Willa Haller. Shown simultaneously with Parallel Universe Pictures Presents..., the work in this exhibit stands as a conceptual and narrative bridge between both shows, exploring an organically unfolding story of two artists seeking to pierce the veil of time and space. Thom works in charcoal and pastel, while Willa presents large watercolor paintings. Both artists contributed to collaborative works where their concepts and aesthetics overlap."
 
Check out more details about both awesome shows by clicking the link below:
 

And if you're in Denver, don't miss this show!!

Thanks, as always, for your support :)






Tuesday, June 21, 2016

You Can (and oughta) be an Art Collector: Part One

By Elliot Lang
(Elliot's an artist/illustrator in Colorado. I bought this at his show at a local coffee house a few years back.)

This post, and the next few, are about the joys--and ease--of collecting original artwork. Living with original art enriches your life, the lives of your friends, and the lives of working artists,
The pieces you see are from my own collection. And I'm going to kill a few myths along the way:

Myth One: You have to be wealthy to afford original art.  
Nope. I am far from wealthy. 
Most of  the art in this blog-post series, while not huge pieces, cost less than dinner and drinks at a restaurant.

Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites are great places to get acquainted with artists and the work that they do. But few of us really examine art on the internet. Scrolling quickly past a variety of images--and liking some of them--is a pleasurable pastime for me, but there's nothing quite like owning original pieces that I really get to know in-depth.

By Bernie Petterson
(Bernie Petterson is an animation artist from California. Got this one via his Etsy store.)

Myth Two: Art has to match your couch/interior/wall color.
Nope. It only has to please you. 
My couch is green. Bernie Petterson's cool sketch pleases me very much. 
I saw the piano player-piece after discovering the artist on Facebook.

By Justin Gerard
(Justin Gerard is a studio artist and illustrator in Georgia. I bought this fantasy sketch at his booth at Spectrum Live, 2015)

Myth Three: Art on your wall has to be a painting.
Nope. Justin Gerard's sketch is on my wall. Sketches are amazing things in themselves! You get a peek into the artist's thoughts and work process, for one; and two, they are often much more affordable than a full color painting.

What are you waiting for? Go find some some art to own and love--you won't be sorry!
And an added benefit: Your support of working artists allows them to make more art for you see and live with!

Please check out the sites, art, and stores of these featured artists by clicking on their names:


Thanks for reading, and for supporting living artists!


Monday, June 6, 2016

Costumed Life Drawing

I really enjoy costumed life draw sessions. Since I like drawing goofy costumed characters from my imagination, being able to study the way cloth behaves on a real figure is right up my alley. And I love the relaxed, unpretentious, and friendly atmosphere at Helikon Life Painting.
Have to admit that I got burned-out on drawing and painting nudes in college and art school--nude pose was the only rule back then. And yes, it was great for learning the figure and anatomy, and I don't regret the experience, but give me a costumed figure any day at this point in my career.

In these sessions, I'm not into drawing and painting beautiful pictures to sell. I'm into studying and learning more about the clothed figure and trying out new media. Also, since seeing accurate values is not my strong suit, the exercise is definitely necessary and helpful.
I don't mind doing the occasional nude study...

...and these fishy-net stockings were cool to draw.
Partially clothed figures are always interesting...


...but being able to study a costume like this makes for a truly great session. This is Cayce, the director at Helikon Gallery and Studios, doing a three-hour pose in the medieval outfit from his own collection. There was so much detail to study that even coming close to finishing proved impossible, but what a learning experience!

Life Painting at Helikon Gallery happens every Saturday from 5 to 8 pm. Come and join us--here's the link on Facebook:

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Starting to Paint like Myself

https://www.facebook.com/mikeyzart/
Here I am, looking cranky, working on a plein air painting last Sunday. I'm not irritated at all--just concentrating. The morning was perfect for watermedia, being cool and cloudy with high humidity. And it was a gorgeous setting. The photos and painting above are by Mike Kloepfer, who joined me for an early excursion.

Since doing more plein air work (with the DIS Plein Air Club) my skill--and confidence--has grown. Both are huge, as both were needed.

https://www.facebook.com/tom.sarmo
 The thing that excites me the most? I'm beginning to paint, finally, like me. Prior to hitting the plein air thing seriously, my style (kind of hate that term) was not visible in the studies. I'd get out there and work like a dog at painting what I saw, and the works were all over the board. This new emergence feels much better. This is the second time I've used gouache.

https://www.facebook.com/tom.sarmo
 Here is the first--that paint is magical and a blast to use!

On Sunday, we chose to paint the same bridge, and Mike's piece was definitely more accurate. The atmosphere that morning was all misty and cool greys. I'd pre-grounded my watercolor paper with a warm golden brown, so my study looks like a sunny day. A mistake, but I still like the piece.

https://www.facebook.com/mikeyzart/
Here's Mike's--he nailed it!
See more of Mike's amazing work here: Mike Kloepfer's Art 
and thanks for checking in!




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