Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Copying to Learn: Feet and Shoes

Hatching an Egg (detail). Acrylic on board.
Feet and shoes can add an incredible amount of character to a figure!
Below is a peek into my "feet/shoe resource file" as promised:


The Death of Brutus sketch (detail) by Henri Fuseli. 
All the master's works are great places to find interesting feet. Fuseli interests me because of the way he simplified--almost shorthanded--the feet in his prelims.


Oliver and Fagin (detail) by Joseph Clement Coll.
I've loved Coll's cool penwork since college. Even without the title, you know that the owner of these shoes has to be quite a character.


From Tutto Doppio (detail) by Hermann Vogel. 
Perfect, personality-filled shoes! If you like this style and are not familiar with Vogel's illustrations, check out more.


Treasure Trail (detail) (Top)
Book Cover (detail) (Bottom) Both by Wayne Anderson.
He is the creator of some wonderfully weird shoe styles--and other amazing things!


Feet and shoes from Otto of the Silver Hand (detail), by Howard Pyle.
He was some artist!


From Burne Hogarth's masterful drawings to my practice sketchbook.
Hogarth's "Dynamic" how-to books are among the best--look them over here:


And some more of mine:

 
Imaginary shoe sketch. Pencil, from my sketchbook


 Saint Francis and the Birds (detail). Acrylic on wood. Private collection.


Witch sketch (detail). Mixed media on paper bag.


Mr. Yellowstripes and the Bird (detail). Acrylic on canvas, private collection.

It may be that hands are more expressive, but for character and fun, feet and shoes are definitely worth the study!
Add Norman Rockwell, Arthur Rackham, Trina Schart Hyman--all the artist's discussed in the earlier post (http://tomsarmo.blogspot.com/2013/03/copying-to-learn-hands-by-some-greats.html ) to the artists I continue to study above, for a pack of people who can help you in removing some bumps from the 
learning-trail.

Thanks for reading--hope you found some new artist's works to explore!



Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mobile Art Supplies

 This trip's tools
(clockwise from top left) Caran d'Ache watercolor pencils, pencil box, sketchbook, watercolor sketchbook, mechanical pencil, Pentel Pocket Brush, Pentel waterbrush.

Some vacations are specifically art-related and some are pure relaxation, but I take a pack of supplies along in both cases. There's a bit of a panic feeling for me prior to heading out--not because of a fear of flying, but because I know I'll get to the destination and wish more tools for making art were in my pack.

I'm always on the lookout for compact and convenient art supplies just for that reason.  Recently read about a few that seemed worthy, so I bought them. This past vacation was for playing around--that's what I did with these new tools. Here are a few examples and some pros and cons:

 The Changeling sketch (detail)
Done in a watercolor sketchbook with the Pentel Pocket Brush (shown below).

Pentel Pocket Brush
I love this thing!
Pros: 
It uses waterproof ink.
It doesn't clog or drip.
The ink is in convenient cartridges. 
It has a really sharp brush that stays pointy and springy without mushing down (like most of the un-refillable ones do).
 It beats hauling an ink bottle and a brush while traveling--I used it on the airplane, too.
Cons:
The ink feed is a bit slow, so you can't move the brush too fast. No big deal.
The ink is not quite as dark as india ink.

 The Changeling sketch

Watercolor pencil chart
Had to do this to see what the colors were like when mixed.

Watercolor pencils seemed like a good idea at the time (less hassle than my usual travel watercolor box and water bottle) and the colors looked good on the watercolor paper. But I had no  patience with coloring multiple layers and then adding water with the waterbrush. Three or four slow steps--instead of two quick steps with a watercolor set--to get results.

Saint Raphael sketch
And the watercolor pencils (unlike liquid watercolor) did not work well in the Strathmore sketch book. Well, at least I couldn't make them work--it was a struggle painting Saint Raphael.

 Pentel Aquash waterbrush
I did sort of like this tool.
Pros:
The tip stayed sharp and springy.
It cleans up between colors with a single stroke on paper towel.
It has its own water supply, so no water cup needed (nice on the airplane).
Cons:
It tended to drip a bit (but only when the water supply got low).
It took me some practice time to get the feel of it. (It's not like using a regular brush.)

Watercolor pencils
Not sure about these...
Pros:
Compact and easy to carry.
Unlike a watercolor box, you don't have to wait for these to dry out before you throw them in your pack.
The colors seem rich and dark (unlike the old watercolor pencils).
They sharpen easily and without breaking.
Cons:
All that coloring of layers takes too much time.
They tend to go muddy quite easily (or maybe that's just my lack of practice with them).
They lose their crispness/brightness unless used on watercolor paper.

Oh well, those are my opinions, for what they're worth.  Hope you found this helpful!







Saturday, March 9, 2013

Some Illustration Work and Inspiration

 "Four sacks of gold, no less!" exclaimed the old woman.
Illustration by Tom Sarmo from The Crimson Elf: Italian tales of Wisdom, by Michael Caduto. 1997. Original illustration is pen and ink, 5" x 7". Collection the artist.

Back in the day, when I supplemented my income with illustration work, I was very influenced by the strangely exaggerated figures of the great British illustrators of the golden age. Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac were two in particular, but there are so many fine illustrators from all over the world to learn from.

Magic. Unpublished illustration, pen and ink, 3" x 5". Collection the artist.
I was also terrifically fascinated and influenced by the work of Brian Froud. My ladle-hatted witch shows that influence, as well as the inspiration of the Northern Renaissance artists Breughel and Bosch.

Jack O'Lantern. Unpublished illustration, pen and ink, approx. 8" x 8". Collection the artist.
I find it odd to study these older works, because while my character styles haven't really changed, the obsession with detail and perfection has loosened immensely. The wonderful thing (for which I'll always be grateful) is that my then-tormented desire for precision honed a practice-ethic that stays with me today.

I pretty much sucked as a commercial illustrator; I hated the pressure, chafed at the lack of creativity in most of the assignments, and was blasted by the self-doubt that flared with each job. As a result, little of it pleased me. Still, I don't regret the training one bit, and it's a great feeling to have the skills in my tool box whenever I need them.

That's why I'm passionate about teaching the basics; not as iron-clad, inflexible rules, but as invaluable tools of the trade.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Copying to Learn: Hands by Some Greats

The Old Woman Who Lives Under a Hill (detail) by Arthur Rackham

I sincerely appreciate email inquiries, and this past year a few have included questions about my method of practice/learning. That has always included the study and purposeful copying of other artist's works, so most of my sketchbooks contain lots of copying.

Drawing hands from life is great (I guess), but I'm an impatient sort, and have found quicker improvement in my own work from copying the art of the greats.
This post features a peek into my "hands file"--a collection of hands drawn by artists I most admire and learn from; people whose hands are clear, expressive, and satisfy my creative investigations. Arthur Rackham (above and below) tops the list.

 Arthur Rackham

Edmund Dulac

Harry Clarke


Two of the most beautiful ever drawn, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Two by Norman Rockwell

Maxfield Parrish

 Lisbeth Zwerger

 J.C. Leyendecker

Albert Dorne

Trina Schart Hyman

I hope you will check out the paintings and drawings of all these incredible artists--some of the best teachers I continue to learn from.

 More teachers--part of my learning library.

Hope this was informative.  
Thanks, as always, for checking out my blog!











Friday, March 1, 2013

A Painting Sequence

 Silent Village (detail). Private collection.
 Continuing an exploration of greyed color in a limited range.
The old photo of Robin Hood's Bay

 Totally intrigued by the village (see post http://tomsarmo.blogspot.com/2013/02/english-village-smugglers-and-secret.html ), I enlarged it and found this great section of old houses.

 That led to this slightly exaggerated drawing on a board primed with cad red.

 I threw in an under-painting of grey--a bit of an experiment.

I scrubbed in very greyed-down color--thinly. I was going for a snaking back of the buildings, so I used the blues for that.  I wanted muted color and close values for a haunted sort of look. Still, there wasn't quite enough contrast.

Silent Village. Acrylic on cradled hardboard, 8" x 8", Private collection
The finished piece. No cheerfulness here I hope.

Thanks for the visit!






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