Tim Armstrong: Where Courage Resides
Tim Armstrong is an intentional man. A builder. It is clear almost immediately, even in casual conversation with him, that there isn't much he does without thought or purpose. It is this quality of his personality that I think makes his paintings so stunning. You see, the beauties in his work emerge like a whisper, almost in secret. They seem to be a mysterious and spontaneous gift, even, or perhaps, especially; to the artist himself.
How often do you paint?
I paint every day. Often five to six hours at a time.
What's your day job? And how does it play into your creative work.
I am a carpenter by trade and it informs my process greatly. It actually dictates every action. I am not a number 5 Red Sable, I'm a Sheetrock knife and a sander.
Tell me about the AHA moment when you see a figure emerging from a painting.
They usually come in the form of circles. Bodies are comprised entirely of circles. It can be a knee or even just the tip of a finger but once it's recognized the pathway begins to clear and the form emerges.
Do your paintings have names?
Most of them do. They are words or things that I overhear and jot down. So many things, especially our words, have so much power in them when you juxtapose the context with the imagery .
Tell me about your "signature block".
It came about because people told me I needed to sign my paintings, which I was uncomfortable with because it seemed so inconsistent to slap text on an image that I'd extracted from such a deeper place. My son makes wood block prints and I decided I would make my "signature" an object in the work. I create a new one every year.
Your Grandmother was an artist? Can you tell me about her and how she influenced you.
This is a hard thing to explain. Yes, she was a real working artist and she did so all of her adult life. Consequently, I saw all of this growing up. Her frustrations, her dreaming, her pride. I was saturated with abstractions, with context, with form all my life. Not the least of which is my love for her and the quality of our observations together. Yes, she influences me but it goes much further than that. She is me. My hand has become her...
Where do you buy your art supplies?
Mostly building supply centers. I don't mix colors, I use the materials for what they are. Nature does not mix colors, generally speaking. It presents them together, each material made of its elements. I try to react in kind. There are a few supplies that I need from an art store so I go to Wet Paint in St.Paul. But it's mostly because I have crushes on the women who work there.
WHY do you paint?
Because it takes me to a place where I feel like I'm truly challenged; like I have meaning. It insists that I risk everything, it presents, like a mother, the extent of the damages. It makes me crawl inside and see the suffering. It reveals to me that the will is where courage resides.
Copy & Photos by Jennifer Sandquist