Gallery One: Oil Painting

"Under each painting thumbnail you will find a description and time period date. Each piece I create contains a story and time period on which it was based. Sometimes I know who the people were if I have used an old photograph of the period as reference or, of course, a model. At other times I do not know who they were. Every piece has a story associated in as much as my intention, as an artist, is to create a "real" snapshot in time. This story may be based on details I have from images I use, or they may be details I intentionally design and infuse into the image as it develops."

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Click HERE to go to Gallery 2.



First Steam Car in Town, 1899
Oil on Canvas, 48 " x 72 "


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Weighing 550 pounds and with solid rubber tires mounted on wheels that were 28 inches in diameter, this noisy red steam powered automobile had a tank that burned kerosene to heat water which created the steam that powered its engine - while leaving an impressive cloud of steam in its wake! Curious, delighted, surprised, angry and even frightened onlookers came out in droves to witness the event and to contribute their opinions. From excited waving young boys, to interested and inquisitive men and women ... from a traumatized fine lady about to faint to a disapproving old widow ready to throw a cabbage from the vegetable market, everyone had something to say! Scenes like this repeated themselves across the country, whether in small towns or large cities, and regardless of the opinions and reactions, the automobile was here to stay.

The year is 1899 and the U.S. is forging ahead into a new century powered by the momentum left over from the end of the Gilded Age (1893) and the start of the Progressive Era of reform. The Spanish-American War has just ended and anti-Imperialist Americans, as well as President William McKinley, are experiencing the dilemma of having acquired Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines from Spain. In Africa, the Second Boer War is starting where the forces of British Imperialism are clashing with tribesmen.. Blizzards ravage much of the U.S.early in the year, devastating Florida and Georgia citrus crops. Some areas measure their 3 day snowfall in feet, not inches. New York City is the battlefront between newsboys and newspaper moguls who raise the price of papers so that many boys take a loss. The boys go on strike and win a victory, leading to similar strikes in other cities. 1899 sees both the patent for aspirin and the first distribution of Bayer aspirin, the invention of the paperclip, the development of the wireless telephone, the invention of the magnetic tape recorder - and the first automobile dealership opening in New York City, to sell Winton automobiles. Mile-a-minute-Murphy earns his nickname by being the first man to ride a mile on his bike in less than one minute. NEC Corporation is organized and is the first Japanese joint venture with foreign capital. Kmart is founded. Scott Joplin composes Maple Leaf Rag. And on December 31, a large standing stone at Stonehenge falls over - the last time this has happened. Also, Missouri becomes the "Show Me" state; Wisconsin's last wild passenger pigeon is shot; Carnation evaporated milk goes on sale for the first time; and Coca-Cola is bottled for the first time. Born in 1899 are Al Capone, gangster; Walter Lantz, animator; Duke Ellington, musician; E.B. White, writer; James Cagney, actor; Alfred Hitchcock, director; Noel Coward, playwright; Harold Abrahams, athlete; and Humphrey Bogart, actor. Deaths include Princess Kaiulani, last monarch of Hawaii; Johann Strauss Jr., composer; Cornelius Vanderbilt II, railway magnate; Percy Pilcher, aviation pioneer and glider pilot; and Garret Hobart, 24th Vice President of the U.S. In literature, Rudyard Kipling publishes "The White Man's Burden"; "Who's Who in America" is published for the first time by Albert Nelson Marquis; Frank Norris publishes "McTeague"; and H.G. Wells publishes "Tales of Space and Time." Paul Gauguin paints "Two Tahitian Women," Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec produces "Red-headed Woman Sitting in M. Forest's Garden," Mary Cassatt paints "Mrs. Horace O. Havemeyer," and Thomas Eakins completes "The Agnew Clinic." In theater, major productions include "Barbara Frietchie," "Children of the Ghetto," "The Rounders," and "The Tenor." Popular songs include "My Wild Irish Rose" "O Sole Mio," and "Hello, My Baby." In sports, James J. Jeffries wins the world heavyweight title from Bob Fitzsimmons with an 11th round knockout; the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers win their first National League pennant - steroids-free; the liquid-center gutta percha golf ball replaces the solid gutta percha ball used since 1848, which sill soon be succeeded by a ball with tightly wound rubber threads wrapped around a solid rubber core; and George Grant receives a patent on the world's first golf tee - originally made of rubber. 1899 also sees the production of over 900 silent motion pictures, some 30 minutes long, others just over one minute.




Watching The Raising Of
Father's Flag 1931
Oil on Canvas, 48" x 36"


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His father fought in the American Civil War (1861–1865). He fought in the Spanish American War (1898) and later volunteered for duty in World War I. For this retired veteran and his family, the raising of the colors possesses a very close and special meaning - and so they watch with silent dignity and respect.

By 1931, the depression had hit hard. Unemployment soared to 25% and the average family income was reduced by 40%. Milk cost 14 cents a gallon, bread was 9 cents a loaf, and round steak was 42 cents a pound. Herbert Hoover was president. In 1931, the Star-Spangled Banner became the National anthem, Japan began takeover of Manchuria, New Delhi became the capital of India, the Chinese People's Republic was proclaimed by Mao Tse Tung, Nevada legalized gambling, and the Empire State Building was completed in New York City. Thomas Edison submitted his last patent application and died later this year. Knute Rockne, American football coach also died. Births included Tom Wolfe, author; Ernie Banks and Willie Mays, baseball players; actors Charles Nelson Reilly, Robert Duvall, James Dean, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy; also TV personality Regis Philbin. Popular songs included "Just a Gigolo" by Ted Lewis, "I Got Rhythm" by Red Nichols and also Ethel Waters, "Minnie the Moocher" by Cab Calloway, and "I Found a Million Dollar Baby (In a Five and Dime Store) by Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians. Books included "A Fighting Man of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs, "The Waves" by Virginia Woolf, and "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck.




Dear Mother, 'Gator or Croc'? 1929
Oil on Canvas, 48" x 36"


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"Dearest Mother,

A funny thing happened to me on my business trip to Kalamazoo. Folks in this town told tales of an annoying, ornery critter that was running amok and I decided to help them out. Is it a 'gator or a croc'?

Your loving son,

Doc"

1929 is marked by the start of the Great Depression and the Great Wall Street Crash which began on October 24. U.S. banks suspended all loans to Europe. The Vatican, the smallest independent political entity in the world, was established as the spiritual center of the Roman Catholic Church. The President was Herbert Hoover. William Faulkner was busy publishing "The Sound and the Fury" and "Sartoris," while Ernest Hemingway released "A Farewell to Arms." Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford starred in the sound picture, "The Taming of the Shrew." In music, Louis Armstrong was busy releasing "After You've Gone" and "St. Louis Blues," while a young Bing Crosby (with the Ipana Troubadors) released "I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)."                                                      




The Old Swimmin' Hole 1926
Oil on Canvas, 48" x 72"


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Friends of the Erling Armstrong family have gathered for a picnic outing in the hills outside of Ojai, California. There, on this hot summer day, a few of them have hiked down to the stream where a dam of natural rocks has produced this old swimming hole in which to cool down, play, and enjoy the day and good company.

1926 saw the birth of Fidel Castro and Marilyn Monroe, as well as the creation of that soft cuddly character, Winnie the Pooh, by English humorist and children's storyteller Alan Alexander Milne. In 1926 Calvin Coolidge was President, Italian Dictator Mussolini survived an assassination attempt, the 1907 film "Ben-Hur" (2nd silent version) was remade starring Ramone Navarro, Rudolph Valentino starred in "Son of the Sheik," "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway was published, and Jelly Roll Morton released his record, "Original Jelly-Roll Blues."                                                      




Ice Skating with Pops 1929
Oil on Canvas, 48" x 60"

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Travelling back home to East Hampton, Massachussetts from San Francisco during Winter in 1929 was not the easy or fast trip that it is for us now - but it was certainly worth it. Grandpa's 4 grown children made the trip for Christmas, 1928, and decided to stay until the New Year came. They went ice skating out at the frozen lake just like in the "old days." Everyone is taking great care to ensure that Grandpa doesn't lose his balance - funny thing is, he's the only one who hasn't taken a spill!

1929 is marked by the start of the Great Depression and the Great Wall Street Crash which began on October 24. U.S. banks suspended all loans to Europe. The Vatican, the smallest independent political entity in the world, was established as the spiritual center of the Roman Catholic Church. The President was Herbert Hoover. William Faulkner was busy publishing "The Sound and the Fury" and "Sartoris," while Ernest Hemingway released "A Farewell to Arms." Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford starred in the sound picture, "The Taming of the Shrew." In music, Louis Armstrong was busy releasing "After You've Gone" and "St. Louis Blues," while a young Bing Crosby (with the Ipana Troubadors) released "I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)."




Old Friends 1918
Oil on Canvas, 36" x 48"

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Although World War I had been dragging on for four long years, the end of 1918 brought an end to the war and so, despite many losses, people could again relax and celebrate their blessings with family and friends. In this painting, two best friends - one who just returned from overseas and the other who was rejected from service due to health - visit and enjoy a cool December day on an automobile outing stop in the San Bernardino Mountains, California .

The big event for 1918 was the official end of World War I on November 11. The President was Woodrow Wilson. Despite the end of the war, this year also ushered in a major catastrophe when a particularly virulent strain of influenza claimed the lives of 20 million people around the world. Born in this year were conductor, composer, and pianist Leonard Bernstein as well as one of the greateset jazz singers of all time, Ella Fitzgerald. In literature, Willa Cather published "My Antonia," and the O. Henry Award for the short story was established. Charlie Chaplin starred in "Shoulder Arms," D.W. Griffith directed "Hearts of the World," Arthur Fields recorded the war-time based song "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning," and one of Thomas Edison's hand-picked recording stars, Henry Burr, recorded "Au Revoir but Not Goodbye."           





Story Time with Grandpa 1905
Oil on Canvas, 60" x 48"


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This portrait is based on photographs of my own great grandfather taken at the turn of the 20th century. Sitting in popular rattan furniture of the period, he reads a bedtime story to two of his grandaughters - my aunts.

The President in 1905 was Theodore Roosevelt, one of our most intriguing and multi-facted Presidents, having won the Nobel Peace Prize, the only President awarded the Medal of Honor, the first President to travel outside the United States (Panama), the youngest President - and, the teddy bear was named after him. In this year, the largest diamond ever found (Cullinan Diamond) was discovered, science fiction author Jules Verne died, two moons of Jupiter were discovered, the first theater intended exclusively for motion pictures opened in Pittsburgh, the first manned flight longer than 30 minutes was achieved by Orville Wright, ignition locks were introduced in automobiles, Las Vegas Nevada was founded, Albert Einstein presented his theory of relativity, Tyrannosaurus Rex was first identified by H.F. Osborn, the automobile exceeded 100 mph, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid held up a bank in Argentina. In literature, Edith Wharton published "The House of Mirth." In the music industry, Bob Roberts recorded "Everybody Works but Father," and the Criterion Quartet recorded "My Gal Sal," both on wax cylinders.




Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat? 1949
Oil on Canvas, 72" x 48"

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This is Aunt Morilla. Based on her photograph found at an estate sale, Aunt Morilla was on her way to Sunday Brunch - after early morning services of course - with her terrier. She sent her picture to a friend or relative in the Armstrong family, and actually wrote on the back what eventually became the title of this piece, "Does this dress make me look fat?"

In 1949 Harry Truman was President, the Council of Europe formed and met for the first time, the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb, the People's Republic of China was formed, Israel was accepted into the U.N., Los Angeles received its first recorded snowfall, the last U.S. troops were withdrawn from South Korea, the Tucker Automobile Company folded, and the last 6 remaining veterans of the U.S. Civil War met in Indianapolis. In Sports, boxing legend Joe Louis retired. George Orwell published his now-classic book, "Nineteen Eighty Four." Salvador Dali painted "The Madonna of Port Ligat." Olivia de Havilland starred in "The Heiress," and Cary Grant appeared in "I was a Male War Bride." In music, top hit records include "Deep in the Heart of Texas" by Bing Crosby and Woody Herman, "Mule Train" by Tennessee Ernie Ford, and "You're Breaking My Heart" by the Ink Spots.




Man's Best Friend 1919
Oil on Canvas, 36" x 24"

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Embarrassed to pose for a portrait alone, Cyril agreed to have his photo taken only if Spencer, his Spaniel, could pose with him.

1919 found President Woodrow Wilson in the White House, although he suffered a heart attack followed by a stroke. The Treaty of Versailles was signed and the League of Nations founded. This was also the birthday of the Grand Canyon National Park, opened this year by Congress. The Prohibition Act became law. 1919 also marks the year of the Steel Strike. Fathers Day was first celebrated this year. Postage stamps dropped from 3 cents to 2 cents, wireless telephone was developed which would allow pilots to talk in-flight, the very first U.S. air passenger service began, Radio Corporation America (RCA) was formed, Edsel Ford succeeded his father Henry as head of Ford Motor Company, and Babe ruth hit a record 29 home runs - and was sold to the New York Yankees. Born in this year were Comedian Red Buttons, Singers Tennessee Ernie Ford and Nat King Cole, Publisher Malcom Forbes (Forbes Magazine), and Actor Ricardo Montalban. It also saw the death of former President Theodore Roosevelt at the age of 60. Booth Tarkington won the Pulitzer Prize for the book "The Magnificent Ambersons." In film, Charlie Chaplin starred in "Sunnyside," Mary Pickford appeared in "Daddy Long Legs," and Cecil B. DeMille directed "The Admirable Crichton." In music, Enrico Caruso recorded "Salvator Rosa - Mia piccireila," Campbell and Burr recorded "After You've Gone," and Arthur Fields released "How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)."                                        

Click HERE to go to Gallery 2.