Monday, December 23, 2013

One of the Best Ghost Stories

www.tomsarmo.blogspot.com
Scrooge's Door Knocker. Mixed media on wood, private collection.

"One of the most enduring Christmas traditions is the telling of ghost stories and the most famous of all frightening festive tales is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol originally published on the 19th December 1843. It tells the story of miserly business man Ebeneezer Scrooge and his life-changing encounter with the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future one creepy Christmas Eve night and has been filmed many times over the years. Perhaps the most creepy of all the adaptations is the 1971 animated ABC-TV special starring Michael Redgrave as the narrator and Alastair Sim as Scrooge. Indeed, this version was held in such high regard that it was eventually released to cinemas and won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short in 1972. With its emphasis on death, gloom, ghosts and horror this short film is a real treat for classic horror fans particularly during the festive season." *

Quoted the above because I couldn't have said it better.

I loved it then, I love it now. Here's the film in its entirety:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN6IMZFwY50

I'm sure the movie's version of Marley's Ghost influenced me as a youngster, and I attempted this version a few years later, in art school.

But the film's artwork--in fact the whole film--is amazing!

Thank you for following my blog. I hope you enjoy this Holiday Season, and my best wishes for a contented New Year!

*http://www.classichorrorcampaign.com/2012/12/10/a-christmas-carol-scary-seventies-cartoon/

 


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Saint Elmo (Saint Erasmus) Prelims

www.tomsarmo.blogspot.com
Preliminary head study for St. Elmo, 9" x 12", graphite and prismacolor on toned paper.
I am working on a commission for Saint Elmo, the patron saint of sailors.
 Legend has it that when a bluish light--an electrical discharge--appeared on mastheads or riggings before and after a storm, seamen took it as a sign of Saint Elmo's (or Saint Erasmus's) protection. Thus, it became known as "St. Elmo's fire".
Before I do anything, I like to put down at least 8 - 10 thumbnails. Here's a sketchbook page, with some early thumbnails and some 18th century traveler's clothing studies. (Which I decided suited him, as the painting was requested as a companion piece to a Saint Cecilia, whom I costumed in that same era several years ago.)
Who could not appreciate Howard Pyle's amazing Flying Dutchman?
Therefore, my work will be a bit of a tribute to that great illustrator. Hope he doesn't mind.
Sketch of Saint Erasmus on the stern.
In developing the costume, a few sketches like this prepare me for the larger work, except in this case I got carried away with the pen and ink. Still, I don't consider studies like this time wasted; I learned a lot about this type of clothing, and revisited some great pen and ink artists too. Among my favorites; Joseph Clement Coll, Heath Robinson, and A.B. Frost.
And there will be a Raven on board, because one legend describes Saint Erasmus starving in prison, kept alive by a raven which brought him food (and also because I love those birds).
An early, messed-up prelim.
 I find straight-on head studies a challenge--even more than three-quarter views. A mistake I tend to repeat: Drawing the features way to big for the size of the head. (Maybe I oughta quit sketching on the couch, and get serious at the drawing table.)
Redrawing the head to the correct proportion was a wise choice, resulting in the sketch at the top of this post. He's looking pretty Nordic instead of Italian, though.
(As final ghoulish note: If you look up images on the internet, you'll find many paintings of Erasmus being martyred by having his intestines wound up on a spit. They had me wincing. The lives and deaths of the saints often make for some gripping reads!)
Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Objects, and the Thingness of Them, etc.

www.tomsarmo.blogspot.com
Special Rum. Mixed media.

Two, related subjects: The importance of being bushwhacked, and the importance of a "thing".

First subject: I'm constantly sucker-punched by new art discoveries. I admit to then getting easily sidetracked. But it's a wonderful thing! This past year I was blindsided by some amazing still-life works by French artist Guillaume Mongenet*.

But as I wrote in my previous post, I've not been one to happily draw objects myself until recently. Mongenet's approach to objects is an example of what a creative person can do with them--taking them far beyond mundane studies.

An example: Lantern (used in Mongenet's catalogue above) now hangs in my studio. I was thankful it was still available. It is beyond visual; it is tactile, filled with spirit, and it inspires me to try harder.

Look at this detail of Mongenet's Lantern--gorgeously haunting. What use of mixed media, and what a cool treatment of Object!

Now I've also been recently blindsided by object art digitally created for video games. Many of those artworks are wonderfully rich, with the same appeal as the objects drawn for classic Disney animated films many years ago. Between Guillaume Mongenet's objects, and game-artist's objects, I'm hooked on making a bunch of my own.

Here is Special Rum, prior to the addition of color. I am enjoying drawing objects immensely.

Second subject: I thrive on actual objects. One-of-a-kind things; vintage objects with wear and tear and age have always attracted me, and art objects have the same attraction. Both types are things, but special things that enrich my living space and my life. For me, neither objects nor art need to be expensive or large--they simply have to have a soul.

Now I am not one to dismiss digital art, and never will. Art is art, period. I admire and am intrigued by so many great people who create amazing artworks via digital media.  But I will always want the "thing"--the one and only, made-by-hand, piece of art. So while I'm incredibly inspired and in awe of digital art, it could only sit there on my computer screen, or come to me as a print. And a print hasn't got that "thingness" that will breathe its spirit into me.
This view of Mongenet's Lantern gives you an idea; the achingly-marvelous, tactile surface of the original. No print can affect me like this--the real, handcrafted thing.
 You can accuse me of being elitist or a materialist. I don't think I am. Art is art--it doesn't need labels or corrals in order to be legitimate. But for me, the unique piece with the hand of the artist or craftsman stamped on it is essential.

*And check out more works of Guillaume Mongenet!
http://art-comtois.fr/artistes/index.php?p=mongenet

Thanks for the visit!



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Snow Scenes--A Couple Favorites

via www.tomsarmo.blogspot.com
Bird Trapper. Jean-Francois Millet
 
A few subjects really stick me hard in the gut. Some snow scenes seem to do it, and this is one of them.
 Sometimes I'm not sure if it's because of a memory or a dream, but whichever, the feeling stirred is deep and profound. Is it really only the light--the verisimilitude?
 
via www.tomsarmo.blogspot.com
Snow, Real Snow. Honore Daumier
 
Here is another work that hits my sweet spot. In this case, the light again is perfect and stirring, and that goofy fellow in the nightcap? He's Everyman.
 
I know it's not officially winter, but it is snowing hard right now in Denver. It's quiet and still, but the view out my window just doesn't measure up to those masterpieces.
 
Nonetheless, a peaceful day to you--and thanks for stopping by!
 
 
 
 

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