Sunday, April 29, 2012

Goblins on Wood

 The Spyglass (detail)
I drew/painted these little goblins on a wood plaque, using acrylic paint and a very fine brush, as well as paint marker and pen. I like 'em a lot.

Illustration by W. Heath Robinson from his Adventures of Uncle Lubin. Robinson's penwork continues to amaze me--it's a huge influence on my work.

The Spyglass. Mixed media on wood plaque. Private collection.
It was available at my Etsy store:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/TomSarmo
but it sold. Please visit for more though!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bookends and their Tenniel Inspiration


Since I'm between paintings, this post revisits sculpture done when I had access to a gas-fired kiln.
These bookends are about 9" tall and heavy.  I built one out of clay, carved more detail when it was leather hard, and then cast it in plaster.  The mold is ridiculously huge and unwieldy!  Clay pressed into the mold resulted in two busts, and slab backs and bases were applied. So the finished fellows are substantial-but-hollow stoneware--perfect for a shelf of large books.

 Father William's Son (detail). Illustration by Sir John Tenniel.  This insouciant guy continues to be an inspiration for my drawings and sculptures. Actually, most of Tenniel's drawings have been for certain. In the case of the bookends, he and Pinocchio morphed a bit.

Medieval Bust. Stoneware with Cushing Green glaze. Private collection. 
Cast from the same mold, but carved differently, this toothy man is sort of scary. The lady who bought him was very excited by her find though.

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thinking in the Sketchbook

I've been taking it pretty easy lately, art-wise anyway.  Not much production but a lot of thinking.

Every couple of weeks, some fellows and I get together to work on projects, drink some beer, and talk.  This week's meeting provided the only time I gave to sketching. Sketchbooks are great for unconscious-flow creating, and I was glad I had mine with me. Not having a sharp enough pencil took me out of my comfort zone a bit, and not concentrating too hard on what I was drawing was a nice release.

 Was initially trying to come up with a design for a new carnival punk, but thinking these little guys will end up in a watercolor that's cooking in my brain right now instead.

I pretty much like these sketches, especially the pigs. They came out of nowhere.
Pigs in art/literature are intriguing--it's amazing to me that such grotesque, stinky, scary, slop-nosed, eat-anything-animals have ended up being portrayed as cute, Porky Pig types

And the sketchbook is gonna be open a lot more in the coming days.

Thanks for visiting!


Monday, April 16, 2012

An Actual "Color Splash"!

 Saint Matthias (detail). Acrylic, complete painting is 30" x 84".

I'm stoked to have this commission completed.  It's colorful and bright--an antidote for this beige-loving country we live in.  Watching HGTV the other night, I was struck by the absolute irony. The title of one particular show was "Color Splash" and the endless commercials all pushed intense paint colors--brilliant aquas and rich purples pouring lushly out of cans. 
And the interior that the "Color" Splash guy designed? Beige on taupe on tan. Dreadful and monotonous, that bland-as-a-band-aid "color" is all I saw being used on that and several other shows. Oh wait, the other favorite "color" seemed to be white trim. "Color Splash" my eye! More like Puff o' Dust.

 Following that program, another designer enthusiastically explained that he was adding color (yes, to a brand new beige great room) using original paintings. Seriously, they were brown and white abstracts--one of which he shoved behind a giant white piece of coral. I'd have shoved it somewhere.
I just don't get it. The highways are full of taupe and white autos (colorful cars have to be specially ordered); the subdivisions--uniform and vapid--are matched by a measureless parade of enforced taupe and beige houses (What really is an "earth-tone" anyway?). Whatever, it's all boring as hell!

Is this brown-surround all born of some color-phobia in this culture?  And if so, what's so scary about the potential richness of a world filled with luminosity and chroma? We plant vivid flowers, visit parks and gardens and marvel at the blossoms, and gasp at the pure-hue-dripping Van Goghs in museums. Then we drive home in non-colored cars to houses with less color than the dirt they're built upon.

Someday I'll be buried in that beige dirt for a long, long time. Until then, give me a world of saturated, luminous, color.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Another Little Guy Sketch

 Creepy Little Lady. Micron pen.

The little guys (in this case a female little guy) will never leave me. They lurk around, mostly in dreams, often emerging spontaneously in my sketchbook. I sketched this figure from a face/expression that was one of the standouts of a creepy nightmare. The body and costume just emerged as I drew the face.


 A Goon sketch by Tom Oreb or Ward Kimball.

There's no question that the Goons from Disney's Sleeping Beauty are an elemental influence.
The designer of the Goons isn't credited, but most researchers feel that they were conceived by Tom Oreb. Some believe that the originator was Ward Kimball.


Still from Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

In the film, the Goons were the cowardly and inept henchmen of Malificent, but for me, they were much more fascinating and terrifying than the evil fairy. I first saw the film at the age of three, and while I don't remember the viewing, I absolutely remember the aftermath--imagining them hiding all over the house, and being frightened--but exhilarated--by the thought.

Most illustrative artists I know have been profoundly influenced by the artwork from Disney classic films and cartoons and I'm no exception. Be sure to check out other works by Disney artists like Albert Hurter, Gustaf Tenngren, Tom Oreb, Mary Blair--the list is long and the research is rewarding. Those artists were amazing.

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Normal Bird (without teeth)

Blue Bird in a Green Hat. Watercolor, brush and ink, 4" x 6".

Springtime always makes me long for my watercolors.
But I've been occupied with a large acrylic commission, now complete. So we took a short vacation--a totally non-art, non-technology vacation. 
Hence, this watercolor is an older one.  But the process was simple, and if you are interested, the technique follows:

I drew it in pencil on 300 lb. Arches watercolor paper, then went over it using a small brush loaded with india ink. After drying it with a hot hair dryer to make sure the ink was set, I mixed up two strong washes; one of burnt sienna, and one of cerulean. (I like Winsor & Newton watercolors best.)

The paper was then selectively wet (the wood frame and the surrounding area of the bird). Then I flowed the burnt sienna wash into those areas. When it was still damp but not glistening, the cerulean was worked into the frame and the bird's body.

After letting those initial washes dry, the thicker, richer color was painted on in ever darker layers.  Shading was added and subsequently blended. The final touches were the lifting of the highlights on the bird with brush and clear water, and the addition of white gouache highlights on the eye and jewels.
If that isn't enough info, feel free to email me with questions.

Watercolor should be simple, fun, and relaxing--a great fit for springtime.
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