Cape Dorset Walkabout

Follow the Yellow (make that ochre) Dirt Roads

I visited the Canadian Arctic for the first time in May, 2014. After a day in Iqaluit (Nunavut's capital) I flew to Cape Dorset (pop. approx 1300) at the southern tip of Baffin Island. 

Although the landscape surrounding Cape Dorset is stunning, it was the ochre ribbon-like roads looping through the hamlet, and the constant activity on them, that intrigued me most.  Most people walk or drive ATVs (skidoos in winter) to socialize, shop and work. There are few larger vehicles, but the school bus seems always on the go, as are the trucks that deliver fresh water and empty the septic tanks. Thus my first steps out on the town (well, hamlet) were a delightful contrast to my city experience, where the roads are hectic and the sidewalks empty.

The hope and promise of Cape Dorset is represented in it's wonderful children. Photo: ©Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com

The hope and promise of Cape Dorset is represented in it's wonderful children. Photo: ©Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com

Next to my hotel (Dorset Suites), and across from Tellik Inlet, is the world-renowned Kinngait Arts Studio, the oldest printing studio in Canada.  The distinctive red-roofed, green and yellow buildings (seen below), have been around since 1957. This summer (2017) work has begun on the new cultural centre and studios. To see larger images please click on the photos below. 

Panoramic view of Kinngait Arts and kellit bay, Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague 2014

Panoramic view of Kinngait Arts and kellit bay, Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague 2014

Below:Tellik Inlet by Kinngait Arts. Turn right to go to the two grocery and supply stores, and the RCMP station. Turn left to find the Wildlife Office, the municipal pier, and the gazebo on the hill.

Christine-Montague-tellik-inlet-1
Christine-Montague-tellik-inlet-1

The gazebo, seen from most vantage points of the hamlet, is an unusual landmark for such a northern community, but, hey, I loved it. A sheltered bit of architecture, where I could start each day and take in the glorious landscape. In the picture below, you can spot the gazebo above the Wildlife Office (the building on the left ). Click on the picture below to see a larger image

Wildlife Dept.building. Cape Dorset. Photo:Christine Montague
Wildlife Dept.building. Cape Dorset. Photo:Christine Montague
Huge. and I mean, huge, polar bear skin dries on stretcher. Photo: ©Christine Montague 2014

Huge. and I mean, huge, polar bear skin dries on stretcher. Photo: ©Christine Montague 2014

The polar bear hide seen above was huge. I mean hair-raising, goose bump inspiring big. I wish I had thought to put my hand or iPhone by a paw for reference.

Meanwhile, on the same day I happily arrived in Cape Dorset,  a polar bear attacked two Arctic Bay hunters as they slept in their tent.  They survived, but only after a fight for their lives. For a dramatic account of the attack, and some equally dramatic polar bear facts, read http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674nunavut_polar_bear_attack_survivors_thankful_to_be_alive/

I love polar bears, and my polar bear paintings are portraiture tributes to these great mammals whose future is of concern. But up north? One can never forget these beautiful, intelligent, powerful kings of the arctic are dangerous.

Big Bear Passing (48" by 36" polar bear oil painting by Christine Montague )

Big Bear Walking. polar bear painting ©Christine Montague

Big Bear Walking. polar bear painting ©Christine Montague

So, up the hill to the gazebo.

Up to the gazebo. Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Up to the gazebo. Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Gazebo. Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Gazebo. Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Looking down at pier on Tellik Inlet from gazebo. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Looking down at pier on Tellik Inlet from gazebo. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Kinngait mountain as seen from the gazebo. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Kinngait mountain as seen from the gazebo. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

 Below. Snowmobilers travel on frozen Tellik Inlet to get to open water beyond.

Inuit hunters head out on the land. As seen from the gazebo in Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com

Inuit hunters head out on the land. As seen from the gazebo in Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com

Christine-Montague-cape-dorset-gazebo-view_edited-1
Christine-Montague-cape-dorset-gazebo-view_edited-1

I was forewarned to expect roads thick with mud, but they were dry and solid. Later in summer, when the roads become too dry, passing ATVs and the odd car send up clouds of pervasive dust. But for now, as it was the first week of sunny, cheery weather, children, especially boys, were out on their bikes, pedalling uphill with admirable ease.

Bicyclist in Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Bicyclist in Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague

To be continued...

Note: I use a Sony A7r with 35mm Zeiss lens.  iPhone 5s was my back up. 

On to Cape Dorset, Nunavut

On to Cape Dorset

The great expanse between Iqaluit & Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com

The great expanse between Iqaluit & Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague www.christinemontague.com

In late May 2014, I travelled from my home in the Greater Toronto Area (pop. 8,000,000+) to the Canadian arctic. I flew first to Baffin Island in Nunavut, the largest and northernmost territory of Canada. I stayed overnight in Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital, and had a good look at that city's public art (Read Brush with Beauty: Part Iand Brush with Beauty: Part 2.).   But my true destination was Cape Dorset, on Dorset Island, near the Foxe Peninsula and on the Hudson Strait.

Cape Dorset (map https://goo.gl/maps/Ycjoz) is an Inuit community of about 1300 people (our local high school has more people). The Inuktitut name for Cape Dorset is Kinngait (high mountain) as the hamlet sits by the magnificent Kinngait mountain range.

Cape Dorset is the self-proclaimed "capital of Inuit art" and home to the world-renowned Kinngait Studios, the oldest professional printmaking studios in Canada. It is the most artistic community in Canada with over one fifth of the population employed in the arts (printing and carving). Walk the streets, and it is guaranteed you will meet carvers, either at work in their yard, or on their way to Kinngait Studios to sell the work they've completed.

Reaching Cape Dorset

Cape Dorset, on Dorset Island, can only be reached by plane, or when the ice breaks up by ship.  The turbo-prop planes of Canada North Air and First Air make the daily flight in (there may have been a merger since I first wrote this?) . Below is a Google satellite view of the hamlet and runway. The narrow grey bar on the right is the small Cape Dorset runway.  To the left of the runway, are the few roads of Cape Dorset, about 4 kilometres worth.

The airplane will only take one try to approach the runway and will return to Iqaluit if unsuccessful.  This means sudden fog, snow, and winds blowing in the wrong direction (wouldn't be good to be pushed back into the sea!) can result in the return to Iqaluit.

The Infamous Green Sticker

As a newbie to travel in the north, I didn't know to look for the infamous green sticker on my boarding pass.  The green sticker, for that is exactly what it is,  indicates the airline is not responsible for any expenses occurred when, if turned back, one  waits for the next day's flight (or the next day's flight after that, or the next day's flight after that...).

Google satellite view of the runway in Cape Dorset.
Google satellite view of the runway in Cape Dorset.

On the late May morning I made the flight to Dorset, I and the other three passengers seated in the sun-filled plane, thought the very personable steward was joking when, as we began our descent to the Cape Dorset runway, he announced we were turning back. Ha, ha, ha...no, wait, you're serious?! 

A sudden snow squall below made landing risky.

The others on the plane, regular travellers to the north, wildly looked at their boarding passes and proclaimed gleefully "No green stickers!".  And with relief,  I saw there was no green sticker on my boarding pass either.

Back in Iqaluit, my good fortune held. The other airline had room for me on their flight that day, and to the relief of the young clerk who had originally assigned me my pass without the sticker, I happily declined the hotel and food vouchers.

How can you not love the north?!! It gets in your blood immediately. ©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-plane-blog-3

How can you not love the north?!! It gets in your blood immediately. ©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-plane-blog-3

Approaching Dorset Island. Photo: Christine Montague  www.christinemontague.com

Approaching Dorset Island. Photo: Christine Montague  www.christinemontague.com

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-landing-blog-3

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-landing-blog-3

Landing...  Photo Copyright ©Christine Montague 

Landing...  Photo Copyright ©Christine Montague 

Down! My first gravel runway. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Down! My first gravel runway. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

I like small planes and found landing at Dorset exciting. Like the roads, the runway is not paved, so the surface is rougher. And the wind pushes the plane. I have never been on a flight where the plane wagged (the only word I could think of) as it came to a stop. 

I am a big city girl who always flies out of Pearson International Airport. Pearson is Canada's largest airport, second only in activity to the JFK Airport in the USA.  In 2013, it handled over 36 million passengers. It  directly employs almost as many people who live in Cape Dorset and if you include all the other employees at the airport,  you have 40times Dorset's population). So, I found it a memorable and favourable experience to disembark a 20 seat plane, have my large luggage in hand, and be on the road to the hotel in about 5 minutes.

My first view of Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague

My first view of Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset

Cape Dorset Walk About

I shot the photos above about 6 p.m. shortly after I arrived in town. (FYI Nunavut uses EDT in the summer and EST in the winter). The skies were overcast, as they had been apparently for days before my arrival.

But when I stepped out the door early the next morning, the weather was glorious!  Since my itinerary was to consist mostly of me exploring and photographing the hamlet, alone and on foot, what more could I have asked?!

Approaching the road from the entrance of Dorset Suites. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Approaching the road from the entrance of Dorset Suites. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

So that first morning, glove and care free, and my Sony a7Rin hand (my iPhone 5S camera served as backup), I turned right at the road towards Kinngait Studios, and the water beyond. 

Walking Around Iqaluit, Nunavut: Qikiqtani Hospital Mural

In 2014 I had the good fortune to spend a day in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada, before heading off to the smaller northern Arctic community of Cape Dorset. In my walk around Iqaluit's city centre, art was everywhere. The mural at Qikiqtani General Hospital is a joyous, colourful celebration of the north created under the theme of "Come Together". Created by Iqaluit artist Jonathan Cruz, his  NuSchool Design Agency team, guest artists and community members.

Mural at Qikiqtani General Hospital. Iqaluit. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Mural at Qikiqtani General Hospital. Iqaluit. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Detail. Mural. Qikiqtani General Hospital. Iqaluit. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Detail. Mural. Qikiqtani General Hospital. Iqaluit. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Artist Jonathan Cruz  created the beautiful tribute to mothers and children above, inspired by Sula Enuaraq and her two young daughters. Jonathan, has Greater Toronto Area roots including studies at Sheridan College.  Learn more about this  artist designer , illustrator, youth mentor and entrepreneur here.

Whale Detail. Mural Qikiqtani General Hospital. Photo: Christine Montague

Whale Detail. Mural Qikiqtani General Hospital. Photo: Christine Montague

Jonathan Cruz, Alexa Hatanaka, and Patrick Thompsoncollaborated to create the Bowhead whale mural above.

Faces. Mural. Qikiqtani General Hospital. Iqaluit. Photo: Christine Montague
Faces. Mural. Qikiqtani General Hospital. Iqaluit. Photo: Christine Montague

For Smiling Faces (above), Gene Pendon of Montreal was the guest artist. The community laid down the layers of base colours.  Artist, designer and NuSchool employee, Patrick Beland, coordinated the youth who worked on the mural, and taught them safety guidelines for spray paint.

To read more about the Smiling Faces phase of the mural please read here 

Kamatik (sled). Mural. Qikiqtani General Hospital. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Kamatik (sled). Mural. Qikiqtani General Hospital. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Polar Bear. Mural. Qikiqtani general Hospital. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Polar Bear. Mural. Qikiqtani general Hospital. Photo: ©Christine Montague

A Canadian Feast For the Soul - An Arctic Visit to Iqaluit & Cape Dorset

I had the sudden good fortune to travel to Canada's arctic in 2014.  From the Greater Toronto Area (GTA),  I flew first to Iqaluit, Nunavut's capital city on Baffin Island, and after a day's visit, was off to Cape Dorset, a hamlet just over an hour's flight away on Dorset Island. My learning curve about Inuit art and culture, the arctic landscape and environment, and how to travel in the north was steep (as was food and travel expenses), but oh, what a wonderful, worthwhile feast for the eyes and mind.

©Christine-Montague-Iqaluit-panorama

©Christine-Montague-Iqaluit-panorama

Iqaluit

One of the many art showcases in Iqaluit airport.
One of the many art showcases in Iqaluit airport.

With about 7,000 people, Iqaluit is Canada's least populated capital city. It is the only Canadian capital not connected to any other settlement by road.  Travel to Iqaluit is only possible by plane, or if ice conditions permit, by boat.

It is a new city, declared such in 2001 after quickly rising from its status as a settlement (1970),  village (1974), and town (1980).

Iqaluit serves as the gateway to all the Baffin region communities (such as Cape Dorset), as well as to Greenland, Yellowknife,  Northern Quebec, Montreal and Ottawa. So it is only natural, that art about the Inuit culture, history and Nunavut's wildlife is evident the moment one steps off the plane.  

And, yes, like any place that is building a tourism industry,  much of this panders to what tourists want, and expect to see - polar bears, inukshuks, and romanticized Inuit life. But, that doesn't mean it isn't a joy to see, which it was, it's just that I expected to find art representing modern-day life in the north as well (note: this may have changed in the past 3 years).  

Below, is just a sample of what I saw - all in my first hour of strolling through Iqaluit!

Polar on the exterior wall of new office building in Iqaluit, Nuanvut, Canada. ©Christine Montague 

Polar on the exterior wall of new office building in Iqaluit, Nuanvut, Canada. ©Christine Montague 

Iqaluit. Stone Park. Photo ©Christine Montague

Iqaluit. Stone Park. Photo ©Christine Montague

©Christine-Montague-Stone-park-iqaluit-caribou

©Christine-Montague-Stone-park-iqaluit-caribou

©Christine-Montague-Stone-Park-Iqaluit-pipes

©Christine-Montague-Stone-Park-Iqaluit-pipes

©Christine-Montague-Stone-Park-iqaluit-raven_edited-1

©Christine-Montague-Stone-Park-iqaluit-raven_edited-1

©Christine-Montague-Stone-Park-iqaluit-

©Christine-Montague-Stone-Park-iqaluit-

Me, looking self conscious, but spiffy in my newly gifted hat (made by a textile artist from Pangnirtung). In front of public sculpture. Created co-operatively by multiple carvers.
Me, looking self conscious, but spiffy in my newly gifted hat (made by a textile artist from Pangnirtung). In front of public sculpture. Created co-operatively by multiple carvers.
Polar bear cubs. Public sculpture. Iqaluit, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Polar bear cubs. Public sculpture. Iqaluit, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Public sculpture. Iqaluit, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Public sculpture. Iqaluit, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Bear and Chairs ourside Igluvut Building. Four corners of Iqaluit. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Bear and Chairs ourside Igluvut Building. Four corners of Iqaluit. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Vertical wood trim like runners of a komatik, the Inuit sled. © Christine Montague

Vertical wood trim like runners of a komatik, the Inuit sled. © Christine Montague

Sign outside the Nunavut government building ©Christine Montague

Sign outside the Nunavut government building ©Christine Montague

The People. The other side of the Nunavut Government sign. Photo: ©Christine Montague

The People. The other side of the Nunavut Government sign. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Nunavet Government Building. Stair railings shaped like kayaks. Perdago over entrance like komatik (sled) runners. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Nunavet Government Building. Stair railings shaped like kayaks. Perdago over entrance like komatik (sled) runners. Photo: ©Christine Montague

"No parking" sign in shape of polar bear. Photo: ©Christine Montague

"No parking" sign in shape of polar bear. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Nunavut Vistas: 10 Panoramic Cape Dorset Landscapes

Inspired by family members who loved working in the Canadian Arctic,  I jumped at the chance to visit the tiny hamlet of Cape Dorset, Nunavut when the opportunity arrived in late spring (May 2014). My trip wouldn't allow time for me to paint, but there was endless opportunity for me to use my camera (new at the time)  the very small, very light, but full frame Sony A7r with a 35mm Zeiss lens. This was also my first camera to have a panoramic feature. It was tempting to make every photo a panoramic one, such was the breadth of the landscape before me.

©Christine Montague photographs of Cape Dorset, Nunavut

©Christine Montague photographs of Cape Dorset, Nunavut

©Christine Montague Cape Dorset in the evening sunlight. 

©Christine Montague Cape Dorset in the evening sunlight. 

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-RCMP-pano

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-RCMP-pano

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-park-pano. 

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-park-pano. 

©christine-cape-cape-dorset-park-pano

©christine-cape-cape-dorset-park-pano

©Christine-Montague-rcmp-pano

©Christine-Montague-rcmp-pano

©Christine-Montague-Gazebo-outside-pano

©Christine-Montague-Gazebo-outside-pano

©Christine-Montague. Kinngait Studios, the famous print shop. Construction begins on the new cultural centre and studios the summer of 2017. 

©Christine-Montague. Kinngait Studios, the famous print shop. Construction begins on the new cultural centre and studios the summer of 2017. 

©Christine-Montague_Cape-Dorset-school-bus. Sadly, for the community, the red and blue high school seen on the left, burnt down. 

©Christine-Montague_Cape-Dorset-school-bus. Sadly, for the community, the red and blue high school seen on the left, burnt down. 

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-Black-Roads-white-water

©Christine-Montague-Cape-Dorset-Black-Roads-white-water

Polar Bear in Dark water

Dark Water 1 is an oil painting portrait of a beautiful polar bear swimming.  The water is dark, as daylight is diminished in the arctic fall.

Polar Bear in Dark Water. ©Christine MontagueAvailable at Artworld Fine Art Gallery until July 20, 2017. 365 Evans Ave. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

Polar Bear in Dark Water. ©Christine MontagueAvailable at Artworld Fine Art Gallery until July 20, 2017. 365 Evans Ave. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

But dark water has another implication. The earth’s bright white polar ice cap, which serves as a giant reflector for the sun’s heat, is being diminished by climate change from carbon emissions. The melting polar ice increases the darkness of the planet’s surface (hence “dark water”), decreases the sun reflected back into space, and increases the heat absorbed by the earth. More ice melts, which creates more dark water,  and so the loop continues.

This loop of sea ice loss and increased dark water endangers the polar bear. Although this magnificent bear is a highly intelligent (think great ape), top-of-the-arctic-food-chain marine mammal (the only bear that is such), and is a powerful swimmer (slightly webbed front paws, highly insulated and buoyant body), it is dependant on the frozen sea for hunting (only seal fat sustains them, not berries or birds’ eggs), resting, feeding (can’t nurse in water) and denning (necessary for mother bears with cubs, semi-hibernation, and to ride out storms).  The increase of the period of open water from spring to fall, and the distance between ice tops in winter, leaves the polar bear and its cubs vulnerable to starvation, attack, and drowning.

The polar bear in Dark Water 1 gazes back upon her path, her body twisted as if in question.

It is up to the viewer to imagine how far outside the picture frame the next ice floe waits, and whether or not, until this moment, her journey was a solitary one.

A Very Blue Prince ( A Polar Bear Tale)

A Very Blue  Prince ( A Polar Bear Tale)

Meet The Blue Prince, a  30" x 40" polar bear oil painting.  Why have I titled this painting, The Blue Prince? ...this mighty polar bear painting is created in dramatic shades of blue,.. is a portrait of arctic royalty,  and polar bears, highly intelligent, and the largest and mightiest arctic predator, are often referred to as the Lords of the North.  

Read More

Shrodinger's Cat, er, Polar Bear

A Polar Bear Cub Painting

The polar bear cub painting below,  is the second in my Sink/Swim series of polar bear  oil paintings. This painting comments on  sea ice loss and its negative effect on the polar bear habitat. 

Sinking or Swimming?

©Christine Montague. Sink/Swim 2. 12" x 6" oil painting. 

©Christine Montague. Sink/Swim 2. 12" x 6" oil painting. 

Climate change has decreased the amount of sea ice necessary for the mother bears to hunt seals, feed their young, and sometimes den. The season of open water from spring to fall has increased, delaying the opportunity to hunt. Cubs do not yet have that great insulating layer of fat and so the mother bear must carry the baby bears on her back as she swims to the next ice top.  These trips  are not always successful. Polar bear cubs just simply vanish along the route, and sometimes the mothers do, too.

The bear cub above, does not seem distressed. Like with the experiment Schrodinger's Cat, it is up to the viewer's thoughts about what this bear's state of being is.

For my online gallery of polar bear art – paintings and portraits, please visit ChristineMontague.com

 

 

A Polar Bear Benediction

Polar Bear Blessings

In Benediction, a 36" x 12" polar bear oil painting on canvas a polar bear, suspended upright under blue free water,  seems to be giving a blessing. Who would be the recipient of such a gift, do you think?

As with other paintings in the polar bear  Sink/Swim Series, we are at that tipping point of loosing much that is wonderful in this world. We need all the blessings we can get, and we should not only count them, but protect and nurture them, too.

I'm very blessed I can take the risk to follow my polar bear muse and look forward to where this polar bear art will take me.  Are you enjoying these polar bear paintings?  Let me know as I enjoy and appreciate your comments!

"Benediction" has a new home, but if you would like to have a polar bear in your home or office, or lucky you, polar bear lodge,  please check out what's available at  ChristineMontague.com 

Benediction Polar bear painting SOLD  ©Christine Montague www.ChristineMontague.com

Benediction Polar bear painting SOLD  ©Christine Montague www.ChristineMontague.com

New Polar Bear Cub Painting Study 4

Sink/ Swim 3, A Polar Bear Cub Painting

Polar Bear Cub 3, a 6" x 12" oil painting study on canvas, depicts a polar bear cub mid-swim, beneath the water's surface.

The Sink/Swim Series

Sink/Swim3. Polar bear cub painting © Christine Montague www.ChristineMontague.com

Sink/Swim3. Polar bear cub painting © Christine Montague www.ChristineMontague.com

My polar bear Sink/Swim series of oil paintings offers commentry on the effect vanishing polar ice has on the survival of the polar bears. The delay in the formation of the sea ice, leaves the baby polar bear more vulnerable to attack by hungry male polar bears. The increased open water means the distance a mother polar bear must travel, polar bear cub(s) on back, before ice is found to rest on or hunt seal from,  increases the odds the polar bear bear cub(s), and even the mother, will make it safely ice top.

The sink or swim aspect can apply to the bigger picture of our planet as well. The decrease in the polar bear population is but one of the many consequences of increased global warming, and the resulting polar and glacial ice loss. Less ice means more dark water.

When polar caps melt, sea water rises. As a good part of the earth's population lives near the water's edge, well, we could all be swimming for it, couldn't we.

Anecdotal stories state that human babies will sometimes play as they drown, not realizing they are in danger.  With this chilling fact in mind, I wondered if polar bear cubs are aware they are in danger as they drown. I hope not.

Some may think of these polar bear cub paintings as "cute", not exactly a word a fine artist loves to hear. But, the fact is, it is difficult to paint escape the cute factor of a polar bear cub. I hope that the affection, admiration and concern I feel for these wonderful bears is evident, and that they evoke similar emotions in you, too. The thought that in the next 50 years then number of these magnificent polar bears may decline dramatically, is the furthest from polar bear cute I can imagine.

To sign up for my blog & newsletter, or for more info on my polar bear paintings or to buy a painting, please visit Christine Montague Polar Bear Art.

Sink/Swim 1: A Polar Bear Cub & Vanishing Sea Ice Painting

New Polar Bear Cub Painting Series

The polar bear cub painting below comments on sea ice loss and its effect on polar bears. 

Sink/Swim 1 (private collection). 12" x 6" polar bear cub oil painting  ©Christine Montague. www.ChristineMontague.com

Sink/Swim 1 (private collection). 12" x 6" polar bear cub oil painting  ©Christine Montague. www.ChristineMontague.com

You may know that, thanks to climate change (global warming)  mother polar bears, polar bear cub(s) atop their back, must swim greater distances in search of ice tops on which to hunt, rest, feed and occasionally den. The greater distances, and greater sea ice loss, means these trips, are not always successful.  Polar bear cubs just simply vanish along the route, and sometimes the mothers do, too.

I've heard some human babies continue to play as they sink to the bottom of the swimming pool, unaware they are in danger of drowning. I don't know if this is actually true, but, with this concept in mind, I've painted this little bear. This polar bear cub is under water, and not in distress. It's looking right at us though, leaving us to decide the innocence or tragedy of the scene. What do you think happens next?

For my online gallery of  polar bear art - paintings and portraits, please visit ChristineMontague.com

For everything polar bear, please visit Polar Bears International, the not for profit organization noted for their research and advocacy roles re: sea ice loss and effect on polar bear life.

Here There Be Polar Bears

Polar Bear Goodness: a New Polar Bear Art Website & Art Blog at ChristineMontague.com

In case you are new to this art blog Camera & Canvas, I  am a visual artist who, until recently, created representational art i.e. realism oil paintings of figurative landscapescommissioned portraituregiant cat paintingscanoes, lakes& more.  After the polar bears were put on the animals "of concern" list, I painted the polar bear painting  With the Northern Lights in tribute.  I continued to have polar bears on the brain when shortly after that I created CRAM, a Polar Bear World for The Sketchbook Project. Increasingly, I found myself thinking about polar bear art, polar bear graphic novels,polar bear vacations...,you get the picture, all the while continuing with my portraiture practice & creating other representational art.

Fantasy sketch by Christine Monatgue www.ChristineMontague.com
Fantasy sketch by Christine Monatgue www.ChristineMontague.com

One Big, Giant, Scary, Polar Bear Step Forward

Onward into a polar bear world of my own!  Polar bear art, polar bear blog, and yes, and trips to Cape Dorset, Nunavut, the Canadian arctic,  to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, polar bear capital of the world, followed (but not at the same time!).

If you love art, polar bears, or think about climate change, I hope you will enjoy (or find some solace in) 

My website ChristineMontague.com is all about my  POLAR BEAR ART.

Myart blog? I hope you will visit www.christinemontague.com/blog

I have a new newsletter for the freshest painting off my easel, why I have painted it, art & polar bear news, art tips, Subscribe

One  thing is certain, in my part of the realm...Here there be polar bears. I hope that here there be you, too. 

Soft Snow Polar Bear

New Polar Bear Painting

Mauja I sa 6" x 12" portrait of a polar bear taking it easy ion some soft snow.  Mauja is Inuktitut for soft snow. Inuktitut is the language of the Inuit from Nunavut, an arctic territory in Canada.

The painting above is just one the polar bear oil paintings available in my series A Celebration of Polar Bears, my way of creatively celebrating a celebration  of bears (what a group of bears is known as).

Mauja. 6" x 12" polar bear oil painting on canvas ©Christine Montague. Canada.

Mauja. 6" x 12" polar bear oil painting on canvas ©Christine Montague. Canada.

For more polar bear paintings please visit here.

To contact me about my art contact Christine Montague

10 Canadian Landscape Artists

I was a guest artist for a beginner's class where the students were learning landscape painting in acrylics and water-soluble oils.  I thought they would enjoy a quick look at some of our present day Canadian landscape painters and at the variety of landscape painting available.  I thought you might enjoy these artists and their work, too. Do you have a landscape artist you love? Let me know and I will create a new list withe the results.

Centre of Attention. Scottsdale Farm, Halton Hill, Ontario, Canada. Private collection. Oil painting copyright Christine Montague

Centre of Attention. Scottsdale Farm, Halton Hill, Ontario, Canada. Private collection. Oil painting copyright Christine Montague

  1. KIm Dorland Toronto, Ontario. Canadian Art writes "Synonymous in Canada with the idea of “extreme painting,” Kim Dorland rose to the forefront of the contemporary painting scene with his sculptural approach to impasto painting and his art is very much in demand.
  2. David LidbetterOttawa, Ontario.  "Contemporary feeling Group of Seven scenes pared down to their essentials. [Where] mood seems more important than the actual details of forests, rivers and skies." - Algonquin Art Centre
  3. John HartmanPenetanguishene, Ontario. Vivid, large-scale landscapes "straddle the line between abstraction and representation" -Studio 21
  4. Gregory HardySaskatoonSaskatchewan. Landscapes abstracted. Strong colour, bold, painterly. One of Canada's top landscape artists.
  5. Rebecca LastRice Lake, Ontario.  Of interest, Rebacca paints the same view of Rice Lake exploring its "turbulent chaotic swings of nature".
  6. Cesan d'Ornellas LevineRichmond Hill, Ontario. Cesan is an abstract expressionist painter who uses brilliant colour and thick impasto of acrylic gels, mediums, pastes etc. for her trees and topography on panel. Landscape painting is not Cesan's only subject matter.
  7. Georgina HuntCrescent Beach, B.C. Canadian wilderness, particularly the Rockies
  8. Gerald SquiresSt. John's,Newfoundland. A member of the Order of Canada for his contribution to the Arts
  9. Doug PurdonToronto, Ontario.Proficient in watercolour, acrylic and oil painting, and a Winsor & Newton rep for many years, this artist is a fountain of information.
  10. Robert GennVancouver, B.C. A prolific and popular painter who travelled the world painting en plein air (as well as the studio) and writing about the experience for Painters Keys. Painters Keys is a website Robert created to offer information, inspiration, advice, friendship and connectivity for artists worldwide. Robert Genn passed away in May 2014. His art and free Painters Key Newletter continues to managed by his daughter, Sara Genn.

Polar Bear Sitting Pretty

A Celebration of Polar Bears Painting

Inerkartok, is a 6" x 12" portrait oil painting on canvas of a polar bear sitting in the snow.  "Inerkartok" means pretty in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit in Nunavut, an arctic territory in Canada.  The polar bear in this oil painting is a pretty one, and I would like to believe she is sitting pretty, too.  Sitting pretty is an old idiom that means in a good place or a in a good situation. However, this recent Polar Bears International video on the retreating sea ice and the 40% decline in the polar bear population is far from pretty.

Canadian visual artist Christine Montague portraits and polar bears in oil on canvas
Canadian visual artist Christine Montague portraits and polar bears in oil on canvas

Inerkartok is just one of the paintings in my series A Celebration of Polar Bears.

More more polar bear info -

Remembrance, The Response & The National War Memorial

(From Christine Montague Canvas and Camera Blog,  November 2014 )

In October 2014,  the sudden, violent, and unprovoked attack on two young army reservist soldiers standing ceremonial guard by The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of  The National War Memorial in Ottawa shocked Canadians.  That one of these soldiers, Corporal Nathan Cirillo of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's), was mortally wounded at the foot of this monument, was heartbreakingly poignant.

The National War Memorial  orThe Response was commissioned in response to Canadians' demand  for a national monument that would pay tribute to the tens of thousands killed in World War I.It was to honour the spirit of heroism, self-sacrifice, and all that was noble and great exemplified by the Canadians who served overseas.

©Christine Montague Fine Art Portrait oil painting of young boy by National War memorial, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

©Christine Montague Fine Art Portrait oil painting of young boy by National War memorial, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

In 1926, Vernon March (United Kingdom) won the competition to create this memorial with his vision of a granite and bronze cenotaph The Response. The Response commemorates the enormous response of the citizens of the young and struggling Canada to the call of a war in which sacrifice was on a scale previously unknown.

Armed conflict is deliberately not glorified inThe Response.  Instead, the monument's twenty-two bronze figures, clad in historically accurate uniforms representative of all the services involved,  push forth unto duty. They pass under a giant granite Arch with allegories of peace and freedom atop it.

Ironically, The Response was not unveiled until May 1939, less than 4 months before the start of World War 2.  It has since been rededicated to include those killed in World War 2 and the Korean War.  The dates of Canada's participation in the War in Afghanistan (2003 - 2013)  will also be added.

The Response is now the nation's preeminent war memorial. The attack on the soldiers that stood respectfully and unarmed before it on that recent October day, has tragically strengthened this symbolism. A Canadian soldier went forth and died in his call to duty as an army reservist. The response of Canadians to the events at our nation's heart included examples of  bravery, honour, and duty. But compassion was there, too.

The Remembrance Day ceremony at The National War Memorial is broadcast nationally. Like the granite and bronze the monument is made of, memories of the events that unfolded are hard, heavy and long-lasting.

At the November 11, 2014 Remembrance Day Ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa , the National War Memorial was rededicated to all those who died  and who will die in service to Canada. A constant reminder that peace and freedom come with great sacrifice. The very least those of us who don't serve can do is to remeber those who fought for us in the past,  support our present day veterans and pray for those of the future. 

A Beautiful Bear...

...But Aren't They All?

Anana isa 6" x 12" portrait oil painting on canvas of a beautiful polar bear.  And that is what "Anana" means, beautiful in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit in Nunavut, Canada's arctic. This painting is another of the polar bear oil paintings available in my series A Celebration of Polar Bears.  This painting is not framed, but the painting carries around the edges and is ready for hanging.

Christine Montague polar bear oil paintings, Ontario, Canada. Contact me at Christine Montague

Christine Montague polar bear oil paintings, Ontario, Canada. Contact me at Christine Montague

There's a Bear Model in My Studio

As fascinating as it would be to actually have a polar bear in my artist studio to paint "live" from, I realize the "live" part probably wouldn't apply to one of us for long.

Polar bear portrait study 1. ©Christine Montague. Polar bear oil paintings on canvas. 12" x 12". Contact Christine here.

Polar bear portrait study 1. ©Christine Montague. Polar bear oil paintings on canvas. 12" x 12". Contact Christine here.

So to simulate this experience I brought up one of my photos of the wonderful Inukshuk (the adult male bear at the Toronto Zoo) on my laptop.  I positioned my laptop at a distance and height a human model would sit in front of the easel.  Imagining the model before me was 3D,  I blocked in the shapes, values and colours I observed on the blank canvas. There was nothing drawn up before hand.

Detail: Polar Bear Portrait 2. (private collection). ©Christine Montague 12" x 12" polar bear oil painting. Please feel free to comment below or comments & inquiries are always welcome here.

Detail: Polar Bear Portrait 2. (private collection). ©Christine Montague 12" x 12" polar bear oil painting. Please feel free to comment below or comments & inquiries are always welcome here.

 

In this style of painting, the background is more than a backdrop of colour to hide the white canvas. The paint helps carve out  and define the outer edge of the head, helping it to stand out from the canvas. Only at the end of the portrait painting are the fine details, and pure blacks and whites added.

Of course, for me, whether the portrait subject is human or otherwise, the big reward is always when I get to finish the eyes. Thanks to the magic of oils, the polar bear eyes in these portrait paintings, as well as in my imagination, are very much alive.

Polar Bear Portrait Study 3. ©Christine Montague (Please note that this image is slightly cropped. ) . For comments and questions about any of my art please contact me.

Polar Bear Portrait Study 3. ©Christine Montague (Please note that this image is slightly cropped. ) . For comments and questions about any of my art please contact me.