Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Sketching Ideas and a Blob Painting

It's been snowing nearly every day here in Colorado. Some days don't feel like dealing with traffic to the studio, so I've been sketching a lot. The collage above shows some sketches and a few details of a finished painting (seen at the end of this post).


This fellow was a quick one--sort of an unconscious bit of drawing. Since all my gouache is at the studio, I used a Pentel Brushpen for the outline, a pilot Hi-Tec-C pen for the crosshatching, and a few Prismacolor pencils for the color.


Same with this fellow. The visible red lines are my initial drawing; I use a red Verithin pencil for that, on either Kona brand paper, a brown paper bag, or wrapping paper.


Then I finally plowed through the snow to the studio and painted this Squashed Pea Fellow with Acryla Gouache. 

Yeah he's weird--I make no excuses--I draw and paint what comes to me, not what I think will please others. To me, that's the philosophy that has added richness and progress to all the arts.

If you share that ideal (and like eclectic art-weirdness) follow me on Instagram:

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Owls in Acryla Gouache: A New Workshop!


I'm excited to be teaching a new workshop at Foothills Art Center in Golden, Colorado!

Been working with Acryla Gouache lately on the recommendation of my studio-mate. (For years I used a quality sign-painters paint--until the quality went downhill.) But Holbein's Acryla Gouache is giving me the perfect matte look, opacity, and smooth application I want. It really is a blast, so sharing some techniques at a workshop was a logical next-step.


Applying the paint to primed wood panels is my method of choice. I use a terra cotta gesso primer most often, which is peeking through the paint layers in the photo detail above. Sometimes rough wood is my choice...


...and sometimes smoother. This fellow with the necktie is painted on a thick, pinewood disk.

There are numbers of different ways to paint with Acryla Gouache. Join me for the workshop--you'll take home your own finished owl... 


...or your subject of choice, by the end of the day! 

Here's the link:

Thanks for the visit :)

Follow me on Instagram: @tomsarmo_art

Friday, January 31, 2020

Winter Sun: A Wood Cut-Out

Last year I delved into monochromatic painting in earnest. Greyed-blues on top of a terra cotta primer became a favorite, although muted orange on top of chrome green took a close second. 

Planned this one out using paper cut-outs arranged within the frame. You can see from the photo upper left that the original face was a sour-looking old-man-face, haha. That changed pretty quickly.

Once the proportions were figured out, the buildings and the sun were drawn with brush and black acrylic, thickly outlined, and cut with a scroll saw (which is a fun and deeply satisfying part of the process).

And then I painted it, assembled it, and varnished it!

Don't want to add tedious details here, but if you have questions, I am happy to answer any. Just message me on Instagram: 
(because Blogspot won't let me respond here anymore for some reason, and unfortunately there's no help or support).


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Back at it: A Captain Ahab Wood Cut-Out

It's been a full-calendar-year, and blogging got back-burnered until now.
This post gets back on track with a wood cut-out piece made for the Character and Narrative exhibition at Foothills Art Center. The exhibition closed at the end of October, 2019.

The process in this case was sketching, measuring (not my strong suit), and cutting out the pieces.
I like to prime the wood with a colored ground--usually terra cotta, sometimes green chrome or ochre.
The monochrome blue-grey in this case was applied from dark shadows to middle tones with highlights last.

I finished Ahab, whale, and frame with crackle glaze and burnt umber ink wash.

Thanks for re-visiting my blog :)
For more of my artworks, please follow me on Instagram @tomsarmo_art

Monday, May 20, 2019

Traveler: A Wood Cut-Out Painting and it's Process


Acrylic on layered wood cut-outs, 11" x 14" framed
One of many pieces being created for Character and Narrative, an exhibition coming to Foothills Art Center 
August 16 - October 20, 20019

Each piece of the cityscape and the three characters were cut out using a scroll saw. All of the wood pieces and the frame were primed with terra cotta primer. The paint is Maimeri Polycolor, a very light-fast and opaque sign-painter's paint.

I like this piece a lot. Below you'll find the process sketches...


...which I began on my iPad. Initially this was going to be a traditional painting on canvas. Somehow these little guys with backpacks didn't hit the mark for me. So...

...I began sketching some scary fellows, which weren't right either. But the little guys in the bottom center were promising. In the meantime...


...I started thinking about the town--on paper. And I could finally...



...start painting!

Thanks for checking it out, and please follow me on Instagram @tomsarmo_art

Thursday, July 26, 2018

New Works at Helikon for Hometown Heroes!

Informal Chat
Mixed media (watercolor, India ink, acrylic inks, UV protectant varnish) on watercolor paper mounted on birch.

This 8" x 10" painting is one of five pieces that I'll have in the exhibition, Hometown Heroes at Helikon Gallery  
The opening is this Saturday, July 28th from 6-10 pm!

Informal Chat was inspired by all of the magical faery-folk in tales and legends. I've always loved little guys, lanterns, owls, and the natural world, so this piece was a blast to create :]

Here are three more of the ready-to-hang works available at the show or through Helikon's site. These are wood cut-outs (mixed media works on watercolor paper mounted to hardboard). I used watercolor, India ink, acrylic inks, and acrylic gouache. The finished works are then cut out on a scroll saw and coated with UV protectant varnish.

Two of these cut-outs (the rooster and mouse; approx. 9" x 15") were inspired by folk tales, while the froggy-fellow (approx. 5" x 10") was inspired by the footman in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Hope you'll join me and all the other dynamic Colorado artists for Hometown Heroes--plus amazing new figurative works by Ryan Morse Underneath in the Annex Gallery!

If you can't attend, or would like more information, just click on this link:

And all works (and more!) are available online through

Please support artists and the arts--it's more important than ever.

As always--Thank you!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

One Fair-Enough Question, and an Answer to Another

I'm often asked, "Where do you get your ideas?"
It's a fair question to which there are many answers. I read a lot of folk and fairy tales and fiction, and I look at a lot of old and contemporary illustrations. Those stories and images 
inform--semi-directly--a lot of the works I create. But...

...sometimes the artworks arrive from my unconscious/subconscious being. When sketching for relaxation, figures and characters just work their way from my brain and heart down my arm and out the fingers that hold the pencil; or in this case, the brush. I liken it to the old-style darkroom experience, when the paper was placed into the developer and the image magically appeared onto the photo paper. There's no pre-visualized image; I put the drawing implement down and let the image happen. And it is magical, and I never tire of the experience.

This work-in-progress happened like that. After some unconscious sketching of figures that really did not resemble this fellow, I dipped a paintbrush into black ink and drew directly onto the primed canvas. To be accurate, I painted the outlines freely with a #3 round brush, allowing the figure and the objects to stay undefined. 

Then I looked for references for the clothing and the objects, adding the details as I saw fit. Because I'd primed the canvas with a reddish-orange ground, I was able to paint over and adjust the initial, loose lines and clean up the parts of the drawing I wanted to preserve.

Above are a couple of detail crops of the finished piece. 
Still haven't a title for it, but it's 12" x 30", and will be in an upcoming show.

I got an email yesterday inquiring about my "average painting process".  I sort of use an average process but it does vary a bit with each artwork. Here then is the process sequence I used for this piece:

1--Coated the gessoed canvas with a reddish ground (in this case a mixture of Art Spectrum Fine Tooth Colourfix Primer (Terra Cotta) and Maimeri Polycolor Yellow Ochre

2--Painted the outline using a brush and India Ink (sometimes I use thinned, black Polycolor, but I like the smoother flow and value of India ink a bit better)

3--Fixed the ink with clear acrylic spray varnish (otherwise the application of subsequent acrylic washes will cause the ink to run)

4--Touched up and corrected the initial brush drawing with the reddish ground and black Polycolor

5--Mixed four values of grey-green Polycolor (dark, medium dark, medium light, and light) in sealable, plastic cups

6--Painted the shadow areas--keeping the grey values accurate to the local value of each area

7--Painted the lighter grey areas

8--Added highlights with white Polycolor

9--Added tinted glazes to punch up the green hue in the character's eyes, and some white tinted glazes  to soften some of the highlight edges

10--Varnished with a coat of acrylic gloss medium. When that's dry,  added final coating of Soluvar (which gets rid of the "tackiness" gloss mediums often have, even when dry).

I'm open to all the questions folks ask--they are a sign of interest in the work I create, and much appreciated.

Thanks for checking this out : ]

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

35 Seconds of Creepy

The Art Critic Contemplates the Artist
Acrylic on canvas, 12" x 30"

I loved 1930's horror movies as a kid--some I love even now. The wonders of modern video technology allowed me to film this painting in '30s style :)

This piece is another in a long line of skeleton/death images I seem compelled to create right now.
This particular piece--like all art--is open to interpretation by you, the viewer. I guess the title is a clue to what I was thinking though.

You can see the preliminary sketch idea here:

Thanks for your interest in my artwork! If you'd like, 
follow me on Instagram

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

These are Happening

It's been awhile, but

I'm working on a bunch of

new little guys; this mouse is only one of many!

It'll be awhile before they are actually

cast in porcelain and finished individually, but I hope you'll check back
in a week :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Saint Francis of Assisi and the Common Good

Acrylic on wood panel. 8.5" x 12" in handmade frame.

This was painted for Creator Mundi's 30th Year Celebration. I have admired--and tried to emulate-- Saint Francis of Assisi because of his joyful work for the Common Good, and his message of peace; peace not only between people, but peace between man and the environment.

Recently viewed the Wim Wenders film, "Pope Francis - A Man of His Word", and loved it for that very emphasis. Pope Francis, and the message of Saint Francis of Assisi, are antidotes to the destructive and divisive actions of the current resident of the White House, of many in Congress, and the propaganda of hate media--antidotes to the poison of all those who refuse to work for the Common Good because of their thirst for money, power, and chaos.

This painting began as a direct drawing on a reddish-painted wood panel. I used a brush and black acrylic paint, correcting the errant lines with the red gesso ground.

Then gray paint was used to establish the values.

The completed "grisaille" painting prior to the addition of colored glazes shown in the first image above.

From the Creator Mundi site:
"Francis encountered God in all of God’s creation and is for this reason now honored as the patron saint of animals, ecology and the environment (as well as the state of Colorado, the Archdiocese of Denver, the city of San Francisco and innumerable other causes). The fact that Cardinal Bergoglio has taken the name “Francis” as his papal name seems to augur his intent to carry out a program of radical reform of the Church. For Christ spoke from the crucifix of San Damiano in 1204 to Saint Francis in a mystical vision and commanded him to “rebuild my church.”
Not only will Pope Francis rebuild the badly damaged Catholic Church, but it's my hope that his message will re-build and fire the passion in me and in others to work for the Common Good and soundly reject the hatred and greed that threaten all people everywhere.

Check out the film--it's message is universal. No matter your faith, if you believe in the power of love and hope over hatred and despair, it will energize you.

Thanks for reading!

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