Rosemarie Armstrong loves painting Canadian landscapes

August 23, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Artist Rosemarie Armstrong has a mini studio at Dragonfly Arts on Broadway and told the Citizen, “I have been there – this is my sixth year – I was going off and on, giving her [owner, Joan Hope] some art to show in her window. 

“What attracted me to it – I just think it was the set-up and the interaction with artists. I’m there three days a week, in the afternoons, also by appointment. Oh yes, I paint there and answer questions and meet the public and give them a insider view of what it takes to create a painting.”

She said, “I’ve always liked that. I was in Kitchener, painting at the Mennonite Market, upstairs. I really liked that, except for getting up at 3:00 a.m., to get there and set up. Otherwise, it was exciting to meet people.”

That meant that coming to Dragonfly was an interesting idea. 

“I was admiring the Dragonfly window one day and I told Joan, ‘If you ever have a have a spot, call me.’ So, one day she called me and said, ‘I have a some space’ and I took it.”

Some of Ms. Armstrong’s time is spent with her granddaughter. “I babysit my granddaughter but she’s going to day care. She’s only two but it will give her an opportunity to interact with other children.” 

About her own history with art, “I started – I’m in my sixth decade – when I was 16, I was fascinated by my mother’s oil painting. She did old masters style, kind of Biblical. She was intrigued by my interest in materials and technique. Eventually, she took me to the art classes: figure sketching at the ski club, Valley Schuss on Hockley Valley Road. They hosted art shows there and I sold my first painting there.”

A pause in the action. “I went to university and I had no time to paint. There were notebooks full of doodles. I did general courses, ecology, sociology and finished with English, the construct of language, words, why writers construct sentences they way they do.

“Then I got married and had children. Started to make baby cloths and clothing and designing quilts. I wrote a children’s books for my kids. That’s where my art talent lay at the time, in educating my kids, making things out of chestnuts and play dough. There were weddings or gifts that needed to be something special; so, I would make something for them, a sketch or a painting, an osprey nest for my father- in- law or painting of flowers for my mom.”

Once her children were out on their own, Rosemarie Armstrong returned to her art.

“My son has the gift of music and our daughter is a toastmaster speaker. She also has her little boy in Vancouver. I’m in Vancouver a lot. My best friend moved out there when she was 30. She asked me to come out and the first time, I was so amazed: I’ve been out there every year since and painted while I’m there. I drop them off to the gallery when the oil is still wet and they frame them when they’re dry.”

Earlier this year, “I took a trip out to Vancouver by road, up to and around Lake Superior, out through the prairies. I did 14 paintings and left nine of them at the gallery in Victoria. My friend’s home there is my base, unless I stay someplace when I travelling in the area.”

People accustomed to travelling in their own ways, have personal systems. As Ms Armstrong explained hers, “When I’m travelling the county with my little box of paints – I make a crate – I’ll stop when I find a place I like to paint. I feel the spot, it’s quite intuitive.

“The west coast is a focal point; I like painting Canada. 

“I am a member of Artists for Conservation (AFC) in Vancouver. I’m going back in September to donate to the conservation cause. There is a festival in the VanDusen Botanical Garden in downtown Vancouver.”

This is a three-day “art and environmental education event in the VanDusen Botanical Garden, featuring AFC’s annual show, the world’s top environmental-themed art exhibit and artist expo, benefitting wildlife,” says the website.

She related one of her adventures into what should been an isolated moment. “While I was visiting the West Grasslands National Park, in Saskatchewan, I went into the office, where they told me there, they were doing a burning. I went out into the park and I though I was alone, when people making a documentary about riding horses in the grasslands went thundering by. 

“One thing I’ve learned; it’s hard to get away from people. When I go on these excursions, there’s nothing else, including my cell phone. That’s when my best work happens then.”

Back at Dragonfly, when she likes to meet people, “I will admittedly say that when I’m working in my studio I try not to be too tight [with details]. I am a representational painter but the longer I’m in the studio, the harder I have to work to relax. There has to be the feeling there too.

“I’m a real storm chaser. I was just at Port Dover and there were amazing storm clouds over the lake. I hurried back to Dragonfly to paint them.”

Reflectively, she commented, “One thing about this work, art, is there is no end. I’m looking forward to doing my best work yet.”

To be sure of saying it, she commented, “I can’t say enough about Dragonfly. It’s just a great collection of art and artisans and a way to show what can be done.”

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