Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Leaning Forward

Winterbreeze. Mixed media, private collection.
When a cold blast hits, leaning forward feels better than running away. Maybe because the forward bend means resistance rather than compliance; conjures courage rather than cowardice; maintains hope rather than fostering despair.

Here's Winterbreeze in progress...
 ...and another sketch along the same theme. He's gotten a blast of bad news, but he's not gonna run.

I wish peaceful Holidays to all.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Change is Good

Hansel and Gretel, acrylic and collage, private collection.
I think that changing media leads to better artworks because it frees a person to experiment.

This is a work done several years ago. While organizing photo files, I ran across the image and realized that it was one of my first works using acrylic paint. Prior to this, watercolor had been my focus for my career. I'd seldom worked seriously with acrylics, finding them too transparent, gooey, and plastic-shiny. Then an artist friend introduced me to Maimeri Polycolor paint. What a difference--it's opaque, thick and buttery, and dries matte!


And I realize now that there are great advantages to switching up media every so often. I like the feeling of freedom that comes from experimentation, and switching to a different medium allows time to just goof around. This piece has much more freshness than my previous watercolor works, mostly because the focus was on a new-medium adventure rather than precision.


I also drew first with a paintbrush instead of penciling-in. The kids may not be perfectly drawn, but I like their rather offhand character.

Recently I've begun to work more with oils, and am being a bit too serious with it--probably because oils have that reputation for "seriousness". I hope to break out of that soon, and prove my theory that changing to a new medium is a freeing experience. We'll see...

Thanks for the visit!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

My Objective in Object Drawing

Scampering Lantern sketch, drawn from my great grandfather's lantern.

Drawing from life--objects, figures, etc.--never thrilled me as a young student; most likely because I struggled with it. It did not come naturally, and teacher's instructions to "just draw what you see" helped not at all. Bored by replicating something in front of me, no one ever explained to my young-self why it was useful. 

While I figured out its value (as a means to a creative end) in art school, copying objects remains difficult for my short attention span. I sometimes admire the technical ability of photo-realism, but I'll never understand the point of spending that much time with being a human camera as an objective.

 So, figuring out how to tweak an object to suit me helps, as does messing about trying to add a bit of personality. It's a great way to build a mental image library, hone skills, and have some fun.

This clock was drawn from the one that hangs in the living room. If the real clock was this goofy looking, it would please me immensely, but then I wouldn't draw it :)

Being a fan of the anthropomorphic tradition helps too--the illustrations of Sir John Tenniel and many other artists continue to inspire.

This lantern sketch was gestured out pretty quickly using a crimson Colerase pencil on toned gray sketchbook paper, and outlined with a brushpen. Crosshatching was added with Micron pens. A bit of blue Prismacolor and white highlighting--using a Uniball Signo pen--finished the sketch. Hope you like it, and

thanks for reading!


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

From Mice to Poultry

Working with roosters and chickens, as well as mice. The roosters are prep work for a piece that'll be in an upcoming show at Valkarie Gallery called Cock of the Walk. It's a show celebrating the Year of the Rooster.

I don't know quite what the end artwork will be, but preliminaries are never a waste of time;
I'm learning with each sketch, and the ideas will be useful down the road. Even if I don't use any of these ideas for the show, they will probably turn up in a finished work at some point.

Been working on tan and gray toned papers, with pencil, blue and crimson Colerase pencils, and white Signo pens for the highlights.

In the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Rooster is the unluckiest year in the 12 year cycle, but the Rooster is confident, courageous, and best of all, honest--all three are badly needed in these times of ignorance, cowardice, and propaganda.

Hope this coming Year of the Rooster is filled with love, courage, and compassion for you and all people of the world. I will not give up hope, even in this darkness.

Thank you for reading

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Been goofing around with mouse sketches. Mice have been a constant inspiration for artists for years. There's Mickey, and all the other Disney mice of course, plus those of Beatrix Potter. And the  Merrie Melody cartoon rodents, and David Petersen's Mouse Guard. So it's not exactly easy to come up with unique-looking mice characters.

Nonetheless, I'm tryin'...

...and it is fun!

This fellow pleased me--I feel like he is pretty unique. The sketch at the top of the post turned into this detail of a larger acrylic work.

When I was a skinny little kid I had out-sized ears and got called "Mickey" for a time. So here's a less skinny self-portrait prelim in my own honor. I hope it doesn't look much like the famous fellow who inspired my nickname.
Thanks for checking out my blog!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The DYAO Painted Violin, er...Mandolin!

Copyright Tom Sarmo 2016

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Vanishing Violin

This year I was again asked to paint a violin for the Denver Young Artists Orchestra. I enthusiastically accepted; the Denver Young Artists Orchestra is a favorite. It's a group of young musicians auditioned from all over the Colorado Front Range, and the music they make is astounding! I'd painted a violin for their 10th Annual fundraiser, and it was a blast! See it here:
My first Painted Violin

A week or so later, I was given this gorgeous mandolin, instead of a violin, to paint.  It had once belonged to the mother of a musician in the Colorado Symphony, and he generously donated it to the DYAO's Painted Violin.

Dating from about 1918, the mandolin was damaged, but still gorgeous!

I'm a sucker for the character of beautiful old wood--and for craftsmanship. And it about killed me trying to save both the patina of the wood and the decal on the front of the mandolin. I traced it, designed and re-designed it, pestered other artists for advice, and finally realized that sadly, the front had to be covered up.
A coating of Kilz, and then a coating of red acrylic followed. The design was drawn with a fine brush and black acrylic. I was able to save the decorative circle and edge.

A progress shot...

...and a detail of the illustration. I chose a Sherlock Holmes theme because it had somehow become the Year of Sherlock for me; I was in the midst of reading some, and was painting a large Holmes piece for another show.
Click on the link for more info about this mandolin:
And check out all the cool Painted Violins here:
Don't forget to visit the site of DYAO for information about all their sweet concerts and their worthy mission:

Thanks for your visit, and for your support of all of the arts!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Tiny Bit of Peace

Shacks. Lawren Stewart Harris

I needed to see something new, raw, and beautiful this week. And I found it. 
There's a lot of good left in this world, and much more to come. 

Art gives me hope. Artists give me hope.

Thanks for the visit.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Muses and Gameplay (and Open Studios) at Helikon Gallery!

Chasing Coin by Ray Munoz, for Gameplay
Helikon Gallery and Studios continues its gratifying habit of producing high-quality art shows--this time with Gameplay and Muses of Mount Helikon IV!

"Gameplay is a group exhibit of unique and original artwork inspired by the influence, history, and current state of video games. This interactive genre of art has had a major impact on our pop culture, helping define the pastime of a whole generation and sparking heated debates about its role in our lives. 
The show includes tributes to specific games and series, new takes on classic titles, and homages to the aesthetics and themes of video games. All work in Gameplay is small and affordably priced, making it easy to start or expand an art collection or find a unique, memorable gift for the geek in your life."

Below are a few more pieces from the show:

Doorkeeper by Kayla Edgar for Gameplay

Liu Kang by John Van Horn for Gameplay

Here's the link to the Facebook event:

Crude by Joe Vaux for Muses of Mount Helikon IV

The Archer by John Park for Muses of Mount Helikon IV

 About MUSES IV:

"Helikon Gallery is proud to present the next installment of our year-end, definitive group exhibit of inspiring and influential contemporary artists known as Muses of Mount Helikon IV. This annual show is an invite-only exhibit of artists from across the United States, known for being large, eclectic, colorful, and featuring high-level work in the illustrative arts – a loose term encompassing portraiture, figurative art, illustration, and narrative, imaginative artwork.

The Muses were Greek goddesses of inspiration said to dwell upon Mount Helikon. In accordance with this classical myth, Muses IV has no restriction on theme or concept, but rather serves as an encouragement for artists to show their newest and most expressive personal works."

Jésus, a small work by Daliah Ammar for Muses of Mount Helikon IV

Here's the link to the Facebook event:

And there's more!

One of many Suggestive Succulents by Kaitlin Zeismer for the first Shop Showcase
"Join Helikon for our first-ever Shop Showcase, a new program in our retail space that devotes a large area to the works of a single artist.

"Kaitlin Ziesmer has previously shown with Helikon in her duo exhibit with Robin 1000, Electropop, and in a number of group shows including Muses of Mount Helikon II and Screenplay. Her work is well-known around Denver and has been exhibited across the United States.

This feature includes an array of small, affordable original paintings from her Suggestive Succulents series as well as special offers on her collection of prints."

More info and imagery at:

In addition, Helikon's halls are always filled with original art, and the resident artist studios will be open for the Receptions on November 3rd from 6 - 10 pm and for First Friday on November 4th from 6 - 10 pm. The studios are also filled with incredible art for enjoyment and purchase.

Your support of working artists builds your collection, and allows us to continue making great art! 
Entry to Helikon for both evenings is free and open to the public, including complimentary food and drink as well as limited off-street parking.

Come see me in my studio in the BEST gallery in Denver! Click the link for more info:

And thank you for reading and for your patronage of the arts!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Painting Outside in Gouache and Oils

Plein Air Study: Carson Nature Center, South Platte River Trail
Gouache on Crescent Board
Painting on location regularly again has been good for me both emotionally and artistically. There's nothing like getting out into the natural world to center oneself, and translating what one sees into line, value, and color can't help but result in better art production.

I like painting in gouache and watercolor for its convenience and simplicity, but decided to get back to oils for a change. Headed out to the Highline Canal the other day and saw this scene.

Here's my translation of it.
Decided to use a limited palette since it'd been awhile since I'd painted plein air with oils. Been using Winsor & Newton's Ultramarine, Alizarin, Cad Yellow Light, and Rembrandt's Burnt Umber, and White.

My alley neighbor is an amazing gardener, and has gorgeous hops vines growing over his fence and gate. This study was done on a piece of cardboard (hence the horizontal line texture).

My yard has a big Blue Spruce in the corner. I got locked out of the house the other day. I had my paintbox, but no canvas or cardboard. 
Luckily there was a two-by-four behind the garage, which was a decent enough surface for this study.

I like all media, but there's really something special about oil paints. I hope I can do them justice someday soon.

Thanks for checking out my blog!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Crimson and Cobalt at Sally Centigrade!

This pretty much sums it up; there's a cool group show happening at Sally Centigrade in Denver, and this Thursday, October 20th is the opening and artist's reception!

The Boy Who Took the Moon for Himself (detail crop). 
Acrylic on wood panel.

I'm happy to be a part of this great crew of artists for Crimson and Cobalt:

Andre Lippard, Axe Haka, Christopher Stewart, Erin Andrews, Grace Lang, Jess Brick, Johnny Acurso, John Van Horn, Justin Ankenbaeur, Ryan Morse, Tom Bond, Rabies Babies, Tom Sarmo, Victor Escobedo, Vinni Alfonso, Wizard Bong

If you are in Denver, or here for a visit, I hope you can come by and check out this unique show at a gallery I love!

Click on the links below for more info:

and their site:

Thanks for reading!


Monday, October 10, 2016

Aesthetical Zoological at Valkarie Gallery!

The Cranky Bird Theatre Production of The Old Curiosity Shop (detail)
On this post I'm featuring a few details of larger paintings I've been working on for an upcoming show at Valkarie Gallery.
The Art Lovers (detail)
I've done a number of larger pieces for this show, and I'm excited for you to see the paintings. I'll also have many smaller works, as well as ready-to-hang prints and unframed drawings!
I'm showing my new works along with the fine works of Karrie York and Mike Kloepfer. I love both of those artists and their works, and I am sure you will too.

A Lucky Catch (detail)

The show is called Aesthetical Zoological, and features all of our takes on the subject of animals, and I've thrown a few creatures into the mix too.
The Magic Book (detail)

I sure hope you'll come to the reception, meet us, and check out all the complete works!

Here's the scoop from Valkarie Gallery:

October 12 - November 16, 206
Opening reception Friday, October 14, 6 - 9pm

Time to get out your party hats and fancy pants, then grab your favorite critter and head down to one of the of best animal themed shows to hit Denver since the opening of the zoo back in 1896.

Resident artist Karrie York along with guest artists Tom Sarmo and Mike Kloepfer are sure to make you laugh with these wonderful portraits of some of our favorite furry friends.
 If you missed the link to Valkarie Gallery above, here's their Facebook Page. Click on both links for lots of info about this amazing gallery.
Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

First Friday at Helikon Gallery (My New Studio Included)!

Last July, I opened a new studio at Helikon Gallery, one of the best and most fascinating galleries in the Denver area!

It's in the heart of the RiNo Art District, and an amazing, welcoming place--packed full of illustrative art, and more!

There are two main galleries within Helikon...

...both are stunning and inviting spaces.

There's also a great retail area, full of art and complete with a coffee shop.
Plus, the long and open halls of Helikon are lined with art as well!

And from Tuesday through Saturday, artists are in their studios upstairs, working away on their art! All gallery visitors are welcome to stroll the art-filled halls, enter the open studios, and chat with the artists.

It's a great way to spend a day indulging in art and you'll be supporting Denver art and the folks who make it available. It's completely free--there's no admission charge!

This week, the doors will be open for First Friday until 10 pm. You can check out two shows: Four Whales and a Dolphin by artist Sierra Barela and and Splat! by Natan Lawson.

And you can visit with me and all the great artists of Helikon during open studios.
Here's the link--click on it for more info: Helikon Gallery
Hope to see you there!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...