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 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!
I love this series of expressionist works. I begin each one with a random element, such as a word chosen from a printed source, background music, or a brushstroke contributed by an onlooker. I then add more thick paint, or a glaze and see what the canvas has to tell me.
To create this demonstration painting for school children at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts, I began by reading the poem “Night Clouds” by Amy Lowell. I asked the students to name their favorite images (word pictures) from the work. This particular group chose the “vermillion tongue” of the rising sun. Students took turns painting red tongues on the blank canvas. Between sessions, I added more color to the images and layered them with glazes that included various shades of reds and orange. The kids loved the poem and I enjoyed sharing the experience.