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When Trial and Error Become Art

Hermit's Song

Hermit’s Song

Amanda Armistead took her first art class — one in ceramics — in 1976 at the local junior college. She couldn’t know at its beginning that misfortune would soon befall her. She worked very hard all semester hand-building, glazing and firing 20 or more ceramic pieces to be shown at semester’s end in a public exhibit. Her professor would use the exhibit to determine grades. While transporting them to the student center to set up for the exhibit, she dropped and broke them all into hundreds of pieces. “Of course, I cried and cried, but still I displayed the pieces in the exhibit. My professor must have felt sorry for me because he gave me a C,” Amanda recalled.

The mettle and backbone that she showed as she went ahead and displayed her shattered work has always led Amanda into new directions. After the ceramics disaster, she decided that the pencil would be a better tool for her. Then, after two semesters of art classes, she left home to pursue her newfound, if unexpected, love for drawing.

Amanda’s first experience with outdoor art markets also tested her nerve. In spring of 2010, she decided to show her work at the Old Town Spring Art and Craft Fair. At the time, her art consisted only of pencil drawings. Though she didn’t have many finished works, she was ready to see what it was like to represent herself as an artist and sell her art.

The fair was her first outdoor event, so to save funds in case she never did another one, she borrowed a tent. She arrived at the venue, set up the tent and went home to get her artwork. When she returned, the tent was gone. Because she had not weighted it, she found it in a tangled mess at other side of the park where it had blown. “On the upside,” Amanda said, “here I am five years later working full­ time creating and selling my art in Houston’s outdoor art markets.”

Amanda’s formal art training from Texas Tech University in Lubbock includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with teaching certification. She was a high school art teacher for seven years until circumstances moved her to Houston. During the summer of 2011, she commuted to San Antonio every week, taking additional art classes at the Southwest School of Art. It was there that she was introduced to the mixed ­media techniques and the watercolor painting she uses in her work today.

Before her semester at Southwest School of Art in 2011, Amanda was drawing fine, detailed versions of birds using pencil only. Though her work is quickly evolving to include different subject matter, Amanda said, “Though I don’t want to become simply ‘the bird artist,’ I love birds and find the feathers particularly interesting because of the lines, colors, patterns and textures I see in the feathers of all kinds of birds. And because of my love for color, I tried to come up with a way I could marry pencil with paint – drawing with painting.”

Currently, she has become more concerned with the patterns, colors, lines and textures than with the birds. In fact, her newest series is called “ORBstractions.” The ORB shape – a repetitive form in nature – is her primary subject matter, but her art reflects an equal interest in line, color, balance and texture. The patterns of bird feathers inspired her to move in a new direction away from art about the whole bird and into art about the patterns, colors, lines and textures she sees in the feathers and elsewhere in all creation.

Amanda’s art is her unique way to share her love and gratitude for creation. She said, “I have so much fun manipulating lines, shapes and colors to capture the beauty I see in nature. I like working on watercolor paper, building up multiple layers of materials by using mixtures of mediums including pencil, watercolor, and acrylic.”

The work of Modern artists have also influenced Amanda’s evolution as an artist. She admires modern artists Joan Miro and Wassily Kandinsky for their use of visual elements like shape and color. The late Houston artist Wendy Wagner’s unified bodies of conceptual work can be seen across multiple applications, similar to Amanda’s style of mixing media.

Recently, Amanda started incorporating linoleum printmaking techniques. She custom-builds her surfaces with wood to provide a stiff backing that works better with her style than traditional canvas does. She approaches each painting as a unique experiment. “Occasionally,” she said, “something beautiful works, and I am happy. Oddly, some of my best work happens after I have deemed a painting a failure and set it aside for a time.”

Rescuing a painting, like the rescue of the ceramics in her first show, continues to lead her to new discoveries. She believes her unique style is a result of her personal mistakes, all the practicing she’s done with varied results and habits she’s grown fond of. “From time to time, when something works, I’m pleased with it and find it interesting enough to share. I guess that is what makes me an artist.”

Amanda resides with her husband Julian Pechacek in Kingwood, where she works full time creating her art to sell in the Houston area. Some of the venues that carry her work are the Bayou City Art Festival, The Woodlands Waterway Art Festival, First Saturday Art Market, Market Street Art Show, Winter Holiday Art Market, Houston Fine Art Festival, Midtown Art in the Park, Friendswood Art In the Park, The Big Show Lawndale, Gen’s Antiques, Bernhardt Winery and JoMar Visions.

Visit amandaarmistead.com or her Facebook page, call 281­-796-­7445 or email amandaspencil@gmail.com for more information on this artist.

Amanda Armistead

Amanda Armistead

We Love it Here

“We Love It Here”

Redheads Have More Fun from Plumage Series

“Redheads Have More Fun from Plumage Series”

Rainbow Promise

“Rainbow Promise”

Pet Orangey

“Pet Orangey”

Peacock Butterfly

“Peacock Butterfly”

Orbison's Stage

“Orbison’s Stage”

Orb-it from Orbstraction Series

“Orb-it from Orbstraction Series”

On Top of the World

“On Top of the World”

It's Peaceful Here from Peace Series

“It’s Peaceful Here from Peace Series”

Damsel Not Distressed from Peace Series

“Damsel Not Distressed from Peace Series”

Bluebird from Plumage Series

“Bluebird from Plumage Series”

Blue Skies From Now On

“Blue Skies From Now On”

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