Rolf Armstrong created this pastel titled “Come On In” for the Brown and Bigelow Calendar Company in 1941. The model is Jewel Flowers, Armstrong’s favorite subject and close friend. Originally, this pastel included the full body of the model, sitting in a pool with a Scottish Terrier. At some point, this illustration (like several other examples by Armstrong that have recently surfaced), was cut down to appear as a portrait. This was possibly altered by the artist himself, as Armstrong would rework and alter his pieces in the cases he retained physical possession of the originals, in order to reuse them for a second commission.
Rolf Armstrong was born in 1889 in Bay City, Michigan and settled in Bayside, New York on the shore of Little Neck Bay, while keeping his studio in Manhattan. Armstrong had previously been a professional boxer and accomplished seaman, and the ruggedly handsome artist was seldom seen without his yachting cap.
Armstrong left Detroit to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. From there, he moved to New York and magazine covers became his primary focus. His first was in 1912 for Judge magazine. He later created artwork for advertisements, calendars, sheet music and patriotic War posters. He created covers for periodicals such as College Humor, Life, The Saturday Evening Post and Shrine Magazine. By 1927, Rolf Armstrong was the most popular and best selling calendar artist at Brown and Bigelow. As the 1930�s began, Armstrong was working with everyone, from the Thomas D. Murphy Calendar Company, Hires Rootbeer, RCA and other advertising accounts, seemingly everyone loved the spirited, colorful and often sporty �Armstrong Girl�.
The wealth he accumulated through these high profile commissions, afforded Armstrong a mansion of his own, in Little Neck Bay, Long Island. There, on his beach and in the sun, he would paint his models. In the mid 1930’s he met Jewel Flowers, his “perfect dream-come-true model. It�s interesting to note that in later life, Rolf Armstrong adopted her. During a high profile illustrator’s conference a member of the press asked Armstrong why he insisted on the use of a live model, now that photographs we so often used. Armstrong�s response came without pause and Jewel Flowers was smiling at his side: “When I paint, I want the living person in front of me. As I look at her again and again and again while I work, I get a thousand fresh, vivid impressions… all the glow, exuberance, and spontaneous joy that leaps from a young and happy heart.”