June 2 to 14, West End Gallery, Victoria
By Janet Nicol
“I like to paint images from the natural environment,” says Victoria-based artist Steven Armstrong. His upcoming exhibition of acrylic paintings showcases images of the mountains of Alberta and the BC coastline, “and everything in between,” he says. He’s endlessly inspired by the outdoors, and often returns to the same spots again and again to paint. One of his current Vancouver Island landscapes shows an arbutus tree rooted at the side of a cliff overlooking the Georgia Strait. Called The Old and the New, it depicts the tree's limbs with dead and living branches twisted together. The shapes and textures of the coastal landscape pull him in, and he’s been painting it since 1997, as the atmosphere, light and conditions are always changing. “I will go to an area I like and paint half a dozen paintings and take photographs. I will sit on the image for about a year and then go back.” Armstrong describes his landscapes as having a looseness to them. “The viewer fills in the holes,” he says. “They’re not ultra-realistic. Not everything is defined.” It reflects the artist’s own experience of the landscape, which is variable, according to the season and the year.