Friday, April 14, 2017

DINK 2017

Had the chance to show work at DINK this year! It took quite a bit of prep work, but was worth it. It was a good time, and I met a ton of great folks who stopped by the booth I shared with Ryan Morse and Clay Brooks.

Here's the only shot I got of part of our set-up.

First day sketch. 

I forgot my sketchbook on the second day, but had a manila envelope to draw on.

And the sketch page with the finally-completed big-mouth.

Be sure to check out both Ryan's site and Clay's site too.

Thanks for the visit!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Great John D. Batten

John Dickson Batten (1860-1932) has been a favorite illustrator since I was a kid. While not as celebrated as many of his contemporaries, his pen work illustrations and works in tempera are amazing. This image of a group of frog-like goblins remains a favorite of mine; its weirdly cheerful atmosphere--and especially the goofy expression on the middle figure--cracks me up.

Nosing through a used bookstore while in art school, I was fortunate to find this old edition of Joseph Jacob's English Fairy Tales from 1891. It contains many of Batten's greatest images--plus this sweet cover!

Here's one of my all time favorites!

My parents gave me a set of illustrated books early on. This is the Batten image that first caught my eye as a five-year-old.

Characters (and musician characters) give me a charge, and Batten drew many.

He also painted dramatic works using tempera on gesso.
The painting of Snow Drop and the Seven Little Men can be seen large and gorgeous here:
Hope you enjoy Batten's works as much as I,
and thanks for checking out my blog!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Preliminary Sketches

I'm working away at a bunch of paintings for an upcoming solo show at Helikon Gallery.
One of my favorite ways to relax away from the studio is adding pen-work to my preliminary sketches for those paintings.

 The original prelims are most often loose, red-pencil drawings on toned paper. I do a bunch, and they simply help me in thinking out compositions.

But when hanging out at home, I like to sit on the couch, pull out one of the preliminary sketches, and then apply outline and value using a brush pen, white highlights, and pen and ink. It's meditative (like fishing!) and a great way to unwind from a day at the studio.

 You'll be able to check out all the prelims and finished art this coming June at the show, and I hope you'll join me!
And thanks for checking out my blog :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Recent Drawings from My Sketchbooks
Some recent, selected works from a variety of sketchbooks. 
These fellows are spontaneous drawings from my head, with the exception of the blue lantern--drawn using an actual lantern as reference. 

Sketching is almost as good as meditation when I'm needing a bit of peace. I've been doing a lot of sketching lately.

I wish peace for you as well.

Thank you for checking in!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Landscape and Urban Sketching
Last Sunday's Plein Air group decided on an urban site. Instead of my paint set-up, 
I'd brought a sketchbook and drawing materials, planning on doing 
some research for a new project.
When doing on-location sketching of this type, I usually go for 
simplicity and quick studies, but...
...this intricate scene caught my eye. The planned research sketching went right out the window.
The complexity was a bit daunting, but decided to interpret the scene while 
capturing much of the detail.
Materials: Kona Classic toned paper sketchbook, Verithin Colored Pencil (Scarlet), 
Pentel Brushpen, Pilot Hi-Tech-C Pen (03), Uniball Signo (for white).
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Prelim Process

Detail crop of a recent painting.

I used to do detailed drawings and transfer them to the painting surface. But pretty sure that skipping that step has given my work a freshness it would lose with all the re-drawing and transferring.

Now I do preliminary composition sketches. Here's the one I chose for the painting above. I get carried away with the details and values sometimes, but I find working up the sketches to be relaxing and fun!

Here's an example of one for a different painting. I like to use red pencil first. I've found using red--instead of a graphite pencil--frees me up a bit for some reason.

This is a sketch page of some prelims for Sir Baffle and the Dragon...
...and here is the finished acrylic painting.
Thanks for checking out my blog!


Thursday, January 19, 2017

More Border Designs and Influences

 Border Design, acrylic.
As promised in a post a few weeks ago--more borders!

This one actually has a subject within the proscenium, but I've removed it for this post. Been working on a crop of new pieces, and this is one of them. I like imperfect, almost-symmetry much more than the opposite.

Antique toy theaters are definitely an influence, and some of my strongest childhood memories are of going to the old theaters in Denver--before most were torn down--and looking at the amazing plaster and tile decorations.

Book covers used to have great designs--I like to hunt in old bookstores and antique shops, and photograph them.

And there's always the internet.

This is a border--the interior also removed--done for a show at Helikon Gallery...
...and the amazing Sendak artwork (from his Nutcracker) that inspired it.
Old engravings, like this book plate by P. Voight, are also great catalysts for new works.

This owl, a fragment of a larger acrylic work, sits atop a clutch of oak leaves.
Leaving you with one of my favorites; a watercolor border that in fact holds a Cupboard Goblin instead of my watermark.

I could go on and on, but that's plenty. If you missed the previous Borders post, here's the link:
Borders Part One

Thanks, as always, for your interest and support of my work!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Feature in Imagine FX

 I was very happy to learn that my submission to Imagine FX magazine resulted in a feature in the January 2017 issue. 

In a regular section called Fantasy Illustrator Exposé Traditional, several of the editors pick and critique several traditional-media fantasy illustrators.

Everyone who contacted me from the magazine was genial and considerate, and as you can see, the feature is concise and very nicely done. If you are a fantasy artist working traditionally, what are you waiting for? Submit!

Here's their Facebook page

and their Instagram

And thanks for checking out my blog!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Some Border Designs and Influences
Borders interest me greatly, and influences vary from

the illustrations of George Cruikshank, to

the stained glass windows of Harry Clarke.
Sometimes I get carried away with preliminary sketches.
Can't say I like drawing better than painting. Good thing there are both available.

 Maurice Sendak; designs for The Nutcracker

The 70s and 80s saw a surge in border designs by contemporary artists. Maurice Sendak's wonderful sketches have always been a huge influence.

Trina Schart Hyman; Detail crop from Saint George and the Dragon

Same with the amazing illustrations of Trina Schart Hyman.
Borders give an artist the ability to extend the "story" within an artwork, but often are simply wonderful, decorative touches.

Playing around with new border ideas and methods remains a favorite endeavor. 
I'll be posting more influences and borders next time. Until then, please check out and follow me on  Instagram   tomsarmo_art.

Thanks for the visit!

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