She isn’t sure how many paintings she’s completed in her career, but Lora Armbruster estimates it’s in the thousands.
“In 2017 I did 48 paintings — in one year. I’ve done three, four paintings for this year,” the 87-year-old proudly stated, while showing off a binder that documents her work.
“I never run out of ideas.”
Dozens of her softly painted flowers, billowing seascapes and picturesque garden scenes are hung in her Langley City apartment, accompanied by displays of wooden duck carvings, stone sculptures and quilting works. Many were created right from her chesterfield in her living room.
Armbruster’s favourites, however, have migrated out of her home and down the road to the Timms Community Centre’s walkway gallery, where they are on display until Feb. 13.
She has numerous works featured in the hallway between the Timms lobby and Langley City Library, ranging from paintings (there’s more than 20 of them) to handmade porcelain dolls, a quilt, a handmade bear and an antique detailed blouse. Afterwards, her work will be hung on the walls of McBurney Coffee & Tea House on Fraser Highway and the Surrey Arts Centre.
Armbruster is originally from Stony Plain, Alta., and came to B.C. in 1954 for the British Empire and Commonwealth Games. She settled in Vancouver before purchasing a home in Langley in 1975.
Shortly after moving, she enrolled in art classes with seascape painter Lauren Adams, and was asked — a bit prematurely — to teach classes of her own.
“I had joined a club or two here in the valley, and one of the ladies says, ‘Well why don’t you teach what you’re being taught?’ she laughed.
“But that in itself is a lesson again, because you remember a lot more by trying to tell other people what you’ve learned. I ended up teaching about painting for years.”
Armbruster has been an integral part of many arts groups, including the Port Kells Arts Club, for which she served as president twice, and the Langley Arts Council, an organization she has been a member of since the early 1980s.
She continues to give lessons here and there, as she loves “the joy it gives others.”
“I used to teach here at the Langley Lodge for years and years. And it used to amaze me, people who are 80 years old want to learn how to paint. There’s three of them that ended up being 100 years old.”
For her, inspiration for art can come from many places — gardens, water, animals, and totems frequently show up in her work.
“I used to like to do a lot of seascapes, and for a while a did a lot of florals, but it varies. You go through the mountains, you do mountain paintings,” she said.
“Painting is a relaxant. If your mind is busy, your hands are busy — you forget about a lot of other things.”