Armstrong artist Dale Cooper

Armstrong artist Dale Cooper

Cooper ready for new challenge

Armstrong artist Dale Cooper commissioned to create a painting for the city’s centennial in 2013

Dale Cooper wants to reinvent himself as an artist.

And his hometown of Armstrong will get to see what comes of the reinvention.

Cooper, a former garbage man-turned-artist, best known for his sports paintings, has been commissioned to create a special painting for the city’s centennial in 2013.

“It will be a painting using my new style,” said Cooper, who has been commissioned to do works for the 1988 and 1998 Winter Olympics, the Grey Cup, the Vancouver Canucks and the Players International Tennis Championships.

“It will be the same as my old style but a little more detailed.”

The old style included Cooper’s use of watercolour and coloured pencil. The reinvention will have a Hollywood feel to it, thanks to one of his mentors, Drew Struzan, a well-known artist whose main body of work is creating movie posters for Hollywood, including the Indiana Jones movies.

“He textures the backgrounds then airbrushes in the colours and finishes off with coloured pencils. I’m going to try that style,” said Cooper.

“Drew is so adept at taking a whole two-hour movie, boiling it down, choosing the right pieces that fit and make the story.

“It’s decorative, alive. That’s what I want to do. Tell a story of Armstrong’s 100 years but do it in a way that’s going to be alive. I want to have the old and the new.”

Cooper said his idea is to have one dominant image, and work off of that.

He’s getting help from centennial committee organizer Terri Wong, who has worked with Cooper in the past.

“The hardest part is putting the pieces together and getting the sketch done,” said Cooper.

“Then it will take a week or two to paint it.”

Wong said once Cooper’s painting is completed, it will be made into prints, numbered and signed by Cooper, and Armstrong council will decide how many will be made and if they go for the sale.

“The original painting, I’m guessing, will probably hang at city hall,” said Wong. “The city will own it.”

“I’m excited to do this project,” said Cooper of the Armstrong centennial painting.

Cooper began his love for art in 1981 while recuperating as a labourer.

He picked up a learn-to-draw kit to stave off boredom while being away from work.

Cooper then registered in a night school art course and moved on to the graphic and visual design program at Kwantlen College in Vancouver, where he graduated from in 1986.

One of his original water colours, A Fine Line,  a picture of famed Crazy Canuck men’s downhill team member Steve Podborksi, was created for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

Those prints were bought out by the 2010 Olympic Committee to use as gifts for all Olympic delegates.