Armando, a native of South San Antonio, grew up drawing and sketching and recalls that as a child in elementary school his teachers would ask him to use his artistic skills to help decorate the classroom for holiday events such as Thanksgiving and Halloween. At age ten, his family moved to Detroit, where his father worked at the Ford Motor Company. Armando decided at that time that he wanted to be an artist. He tried to enroll in the Detroit Art and Craft School but was rejected because he was only twelve years old. After three years in Detroit, his family returned to San Antonio, and he enrolled at Burbank High School where he took art classes in the mornings and and spent the afternoons and evenings at the public library. At the library he sat for hours studying the lives and works of famous artists. On many days he would stay until closing time.
One Burbank teacher noticed his art skills, in particular, his excellent lettering, and suggested that Armando work as a sign maker. The following year, Armando left Burbank before graduating and started working at the Schuler Sign Company. Not satisfied with just his lettering abilities, he sought out art classes at the Art Institute at the McNay and Coppini Academy of Fine Arts.
He credits the mentorship of another self-taught artist, Doro Perez, who also worked at the signcompany, with giving him informal art lessons and creative tips as well as encouragement. Perez was an excellent landscape painter who often accompanied the very accomplished bluebonnet artist Porfirio Salinas on his plein air art activities in the countryside.
(Photos Courtesy of Dr. Ricardo Romo)
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