In his home town Armand began to establish himself as an artist in his own right. He sought out Jacob Hefner, owner of Hefner’s Art Gallery, a framing shop and the only venue in town for young artists in the 1940s. Hefner’s approval mattered in terms of whose work was recognized as worthy enough to be framed and sold. Repeatedly, Armand would bring in a seascape, a landscape, or a recent portrait. Repeatedly Hefner would study it for a tense moment or two, then shake his head and conclude,” You’re not ready. You’re not ready.”
One day in 1948, in desperation Armand appeared with an easel on Hefner’s front sidewalk and began to paint a view of the park across the street along with the Ryserson Library in the distance. Watching Armand work, Hefner finally nodded affirmatively, “Yes, I think you have something.” Reflecting on that, Armand remarked, “I gained the mouse’s respect. They at least stacked my works in a corner.” He went on to explain, “It took me years to build up until my works were displayed. It hurt, but the old man was right. I wasn’t ready ‘til he said I was (Zandstra Interview, 10-26-02).