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!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Box o' Drawings and other WIPs

Every once in awhile a backlog of works that need finishing happens. Even though I try to complete each work before getting too far along on another, now's one of those times things got pretty much out of hand.

Sorry if my (lack of) video skills got you car-sick--but thanks for staying with my ol' blog :)

Btw, my original art is available for purchase here: 

and some originals and miscellaneous products here:

Your purchase from either helps a lot and is much appreciated!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Art Critic--Another Death Image
Art Critic (detail crop). Mixed media (Colored pencil, India ink, white gouache) on toned paper.
Art Critic

What can I say--I like drawing skeletons  :D

Thanks for the visit!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mischievous Death
Skeletons and skulls have been an intermittent subject for me. The idea of "memento mori" appeals for certain, but many death-images have been swirling up from my unconscious mind since last September for some reason.
While death is a serious subject, and I sometimes treat it as such (see previous post ), the idea of a mischievous personification intrigues me. Hence this work-in-progress.
The first two photos above are drawings done on slightly textured, brown toned paper. I began this one on 300 lb. watercolor paper (because watercolor was to be the main media). I like to sketch out the picture using red pencil.
I fixed up the red sketch with a fine brush dipped in india ink...
...then toned the paper using Quinacridone Gold watercolor. Next, highlights with white acrylic paint. All the cross-hatching followed with a crow-quill pen and ink, and blue-green inks accented the skeleton's eyes and pin.
Sometimes but not always, I sketch out little ideas first.

So much for death--I'm not one to delve into much philosophy in this blog; save that for quiet conversation over a beer :)

Thanks for checking out my art!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Something a Bit Different
Timekeeper (detail). Mixed media (pen and ink, red pencil, white ink).

I worked on many art pieces this past year, some colorful, some storybook-like, and some humorous. But last September some darker images were stirring inside me.

When I was invited to participate in an un-traditional landscape show--Otherworlds--at Helikon Gallery, I worked on  Timekeeper and its companion piece...
...Musician. Mixed media (pen and ink, red pencil, white ink).
Musician (detail)

The original work, Timekeeper, has sold, but quality prints are available.

Musician is available as an original 8" x 10", framed as shown above, and also as a quality print. 

For information, please contact

Phone: 720-502-5635

 Thank you in advance for your support of the arts, artists, and wonderful galleries like Helikon.

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