Thursday, November 29, 2012

My First Ever Etsy Store Sale...is Over!

Moon Visits Bird. Acrylic on wrapped canvas, private collection.

This goofy little painting reflects my long fascination with the Man in the Moon. He's appeared numerous times in my illustrations and paintings--even in my one-and-only published short story.
I was experimenting with color combinations in this one (who says blue and purple don't match?).

Got a sale going on at my Etsy store. 30% off everything in the store until December 10th.
As an added bonus (in appreciation for all of you who follow my blog) send me a message on Etsy--before you purchase--that you read this and you'll get free shipping, too. (I'll instantly reserve it for you and delete the shipping cost.)

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

26th Annual Fine Art Market Show

Pink Quail, Amused. Acrylic on oak wood. 3" x 8".

Last year was my first year to be part of The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities Fine Art Market Show and Sale. Very happy to be included again this year, I'm offering an eclectic bunch of works from landscapes--large and small--to oddments of all sizes!

The show features nearly 100 Colorado artists. Everyone is welcome to attend the
Opening Reception: Thursday December 6, 5:00-9:00 p.m.
Last year's reception was classy and fun--something you will enjoy if you like to see original fine art in a wide range of media, size, and price.
A portion of all purchases benefits the Arvada Center galleries!

The Fine Art Market Show runs December 7-16 at:
 The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
6901 Wadsworth Boulevard
Arvada, CO  80003
Hope to see you there!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Helpful Warning

Marley's Ghost, or Ebeneezer Scrooge's Door Knocker. Mixed media on wood.

Dickens' A Christmas Carol will  always be my favorite Victorian ghost story. And I'm resigned to the fact that Marley's Ghost, which terrified me as a kid, will always be an obsession. That spirit still gives me the chills, but also provides the reminder I seem to continually need:  That "mankind is my business".

And thus, the Holiday Season begins.

Peace!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Different Ground, Different Result

Unexpected.
The landscape in the previous post was begun with a cadmium red ground--that is fairly comfortable for me. But I'd painted this new board black, and it required in an alternate approach, varied brushwork, and a leap of faith. 

"The artist himself is often surprised at the finished work of art. He cannot tell 'how it happened', nor could he repeat the feat at someone's bidding."
-John F. Carlson 
Carlson is right, but in my case, replace "often" with "always". All I can do is write down the sequence which follows, and I hope you find it interesting.

The little house that stimulated the idea.
 Isolated houses buried within trees provoke my need to commit them to paper or canvas. It's a deeply subconscious allure shared by many artists. There's mystery held within walls, and my response to that mystery ranges from vague fear on one end of the spectrum, through curiosity, all the way to comfort and nostalgia at the other end. 

The process:
Using a watery purplish-pink, I brushed in a loose composition, simplifying the house and dispensing with the photo. In my head, I felt that I was pursuing a path similar to the sequence that led to my painting of the previous post. Very wrong I was.

(Sorry about the color in this--it's a cell phone photo.)
My main objective was to keep the painting fresh while still being experimental--I hoped to avoid repainting, over-glazing, or fussing with it.
Keeping in mind that the process is a chase, by allowing my thoughts and brush to scramble over the black surface I discovered some peculiar and exciting methods I'd not used before. 
Of course, some of the process felt familiar, but I'd be a liar if I denied the bit of fear present. I fought the trepidation by telling myself I could always paint black over any mistakes, and start again.
 House at Dusk. Acrylic on board, 8" x 10".

The end product did please me, but the best thing? It had more to do with process than product; more to do with discovery than rote method; and had an unexpected--unpredictable--result.

If I was a different sort of artist, I'd remember all of this by repeating the process again and again (the only way I'm able to retain a sequence), and nail the method. I'm remembering the feeling though, of the unexpected, and the process is calling.
Thanks for reading--I appreciate the visit!






Friday, November 9, 2012

A New Landscape, an Historic Treasure, and a Great Book

September. Acrylic on board, 8" x 8". Private collection.

One of the best things about being an artist is the time when you finish a painting and know that your exploration resulted in a treasure. The adventure and discovery are always my favorite parts of the process, and most times I like the end result, but once in awhile the final work excites me as much as the progression leading up to it. This is one of those times. The inspiration follows:

A photo I took in 1982 of the DeBoer Mansion in Denver. It has fascinated me for years and was the main resource for the painting.

I don't want to digress much into the controversy surrounding this historic building, but this is Denver--infamous for its penchant for destroying historic and/or beautiful properties and replacing them with crap.  This amazing building was nearly demolished, and saved only by a compromise that has left it surrounded by new construction. You can read about that by clicking the link:
http://deboerhistoricdistrict.blogspot.com/
and see photos of the stunning interior and history here:
www.historicalinsights.com/docs/DeBoer-PhotoEssay.pdf

I'm generally not interested in painting portraits of houses or people, so the likeness or historical significance of the building was not part of this process at all. I simply loved the look of the architecture, and used it as my jumping-off point.

What did interest me was approaching a landscape with thick, black outline, and using a strong, dark, foreground to frame the scene.

My all-time favorite landscape-painting book will always be Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting, by John F. Carlson. It is packed with what Carlson likes to call "generalities" (observations, really) that open up an artist's eyes and options--with none of the strident, limiting rules found in the how-to books of less-confident artists. If you love that sort of thing, you'll eat this book up!

I'll leave you with this detail.  The painting will be part of an upcoming group show, details here:
http://tomsarmo.com/news.html

Hope you like this artwork.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nature, Sparks, and Fire

Nothing renews my faith like nature. God is everywhere, but the line from the natural environment to the Creator is direct.
Not gonna lie, election day made me restless. So I got out of the studio for some exercise, and found some peace and beauty at the canal that winds its way through the city. It has always held mystery and adventure for me--it's the place I went as a kid to scramble around and find snakes, frogs, and salamanders. My mom would wait at the front door for my return and yell, "If you have a snake with you, go right on back and let it go!" Most times, I had to go back.

 Yesterday, exploration--as usual--trumped my lame effort at exercise. But it was a gorgeous day, and my camera-eye was wide open. Found this creepy bug-faced root hiding beneath the bank.

I should spend more time drawing out of doors, but I'm about as good at that commitment as I am to exercise. Just getting outdoors though, has a great effect upon my art and spirit.

At the end of the walk, this beautiful old house came into view. 
A lonely building buried in the trees--even better than snakes and frogs!

A small detail of my latest painting--inspired by the weird way autumn creeps into the trees almost without notice. Hoping to finish this artwork today, now that there's some relief from the politics.
Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of my favorite poets. He loved to draw as well, and was totally in love with the natural world.  I'm heading up to the studio, and will leave you with some of his words:


“All things therefore are charged with love, are charged with God and if we knew how to touch them give off sparks and take fire, yield drops and flow, ring and tell of him.”
-Gerard Manley Hopkins







Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Greeting for a Visitor

 Saint Mary at Ephesus (detail). Mixed Media on 6" x 18" canvas, private collection.
 
A traveler, recently home from an overseas vacation, told us about St. Mary's house in Ephesus, Turkey. Thinking about St. Mary as an older person, years after the death of her son, waiting for and welcoming a visitor, inspired this portrayal.
 
 The house in which St. Mary spent her final years. This photo provided a bit of detail for the work.

 Before I attempt any painting of a holy person, I like to do a session of Centering Prayer, learned from Father Thomas Keating and his amazing book, Open Mind, Open Heart 

Emptying my brain of its clamor and distractions and being open to receiving guidance is my goal with Centering Prayer (even when I'm not beginning a painting).
After that period of prayer, I sketch the face or the composition of the new idea--
usually with a new sense of calm and assurance.

Sketch of the face of St. Mary, graphite.

Saint Mary at Ephesus. Mixed media on canvas, 6" x 18", private collection.

Legend has it that St. Luke, the patron saint of artists, painted several portraits of the Mother of Jesus. I imagined him arriving for a visit and receiving this warm welcome from her; a greeting I long for as well.

Thanks for reading!
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