Sold a copy of this print on canvas today. I painted the original from a sketch I did on a scrap of paper I had in my purse. We were at a concert of the Grand Junction Symphony. I did the painting as a demonstration of how to use a sketch at a workshop for kids at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts. The style is spontaneous and expressive. Though painted just a few years ago, it represents a return to my early figurative expressionist style. Paintings in this style were shown and sold in California under the name Gene Armstrong from Holly Wood’s (not kidding) gallery in Montecito and elsewhere. I often worked from small sketches. I enjoyed sketching people at produce markets, the beach, Stearn’s Wharf in Santa Barbara, the charming Miramar Hotel in Montecito, and on bus stops. Those paintings were done before I spent years in life drawing groups, so recent expressionist figurative works like this one are different.
In the 1990s, my husband and I walked our dog every morning under a group of bridges in the Arroyo Seco, a wooded canyon between Los Angeles and Pasadena. I took photographs, videos, and did a series of paintings based on the area. One group of paintings shows the bridges from a distance. This gives context to the second group of larger works, which seem much more abstract, but are actually studies of patterns of light and shadow on the concrete supports of the bridges.
The bridge in the foreground of this landscape study is a historic landmark. It has 13 graceful arches and two curves. In the background is one of the old bridges across the creek, and beyond that, the 210 freeway bridge. That one is magnificent, too. It swoops across the canyon with four sets of broad arches supporting multiple lanes of traffic. Standing under it is like standing behind a waterfall.
Arroyo Trail Giclee Print by Linda Armstrong at Art.com
In the nineties, I painted many figurative works. Some of them were done at the Barnsdall Art Center in Hollywood. Others were done in private groups. This was one of my favorite models. He was a retired dancer who had been featured on the cover of Dance Magazine. He was very gifted and had a wonderful flair for costume and set design. I painted his setup at another artist’s studio in a day-long shared model session. There are two paintings in the set. Each is about 30″ x 30″. They were done in acrylic on canvas, and I had a wonderful time!
A couple of weeks later, as part of a painting demonstration for school children, I pulled the drawings out of my purse. I did this quick painting to show students that you can make drawings at any time and use them later in a composition.
If you teach,
1. Encourage students to fold a sheet of newsprint or recycled white paper once in either direction.
2. Tell them to carry the paper, along with a short pencil, in a pocket for a day.
3. Encourage students to make at least three quick sketches.
4. Allow them time to create a color version of the drawing.
5. Use crayon, tempera, torn paper, textures from magazines, or watercolor to create the composition.
6. Emphasize that the sketch is just a starting place.
I painted this abstract acrylic on canvas while listening to live jazz at Grand Junction’s popular annual street festival. It’s part of my improvisational series. I enjoy allowing a work to reveal itself . I haven’t had time to paint since Spring Art Week, but it’s instructive to look back at previous work.
At the time, I had just finished the manuscript for my phonics book, "ABC, Follow Me!" The book concerns itself with the shapes of letters as well as the sounds they represent. It also includes a number of craft projects to teach these shapes. In short, I had letters on my mind.
I started the first painting with an elaborate concept, but it just wasn't working, so I let it dry and moved to another. The same thing happened. The deadline was approaching, and I didn't know what to do.
Then, I decided to use letters as English words. I painted each of the large canvases with a different pure hue. I started with I, I, I, I; moved to three U's ("Oh lucky You"), which add another layer, as they suggest horseshoes. The one shown here is "Oh, Oh, Oh". It calls to mind the famous joke:
A first grade teacher comes out to the parking lot and sees her bumper dented. Then she fumes, "Oh, oh, oh! Look, look, look! Darn, darn, darn!
Recently, I used the concept I developed with these paintings in a demonstration for school children. We made paintings on bright hues if single letters.
This is a great painting problem for artists of all ages and stages. There is a lot of room for stylistic interpretation.