Life as a Visual Artist

From Polar Bear to Pet Portrait - It's All in the Eyes

Although I am an experienced portrait artist, over the past few years, my online presence has evolved to that of polar bear artist. Recent followers do not know about my portrait painting service. And so recently, when out of the blue, I was contacted to paint a portrait of a very lovely Labrador Retriever, it was interesting for me to learn that one of my polar bear paintings had inspired the commission!

Golden Lab Commission. 24” x 24” x 1.5” oil painting on canvas. ©Christine Montague Contact me  here , or visit  Commission a Portrait .

Golden Lab Commission. 24” x 24” x 1.5” oil painting on canvas. ©Christine Montague Contact me here, or visit Commission a Portrait.

How does a polar bear painting possibly relate to a portrait of a beloved pet?

It lies in that fact that I regard all my subject matter as portraiture, and my polar bear art is no different. I paint with the theory the eyes are the “mirror to the soul”. Until I get the eyes “right”, until they feel alive to me, I personally don’t connect to the painting. When that magical moment of connection happens, then the painting is on its way!

All artists have their own way of approaching a painting, especially when painting from photographic reference. Some artists apply the paint inch by inch, finishing each section completely before moving on to the next.

I use the more “whole painting” approach in my technique, but I start each session with the eyes and work out from there. As each new layer of paint is added, my focus remains on the eyes, until finally, the portrait comes to life in my imagination.

I have a biology degree, a fine art degree and most of an illustration degree. As a result, I like my portraits to be realistic and anatomically correct, yet emotional, too. But my ability to draw from my imagination, honed from my illustration studies, plays an important part in this process, too. One learns to be a bit of an actor - to feel that emotion and spirit of the subject and to try transfer it to the canvas.

For example, when I was commissioned to paint Dr. Oscar Peterson (Living Arts Centre, Mississauga, ON, Canada), I was honoured and thrilled to paint the jazz great’s portrait, but I had also never seen or met him in person. This was a larger than life portrait and I was working from someone else’s photographs. .

How was I to connect to the subject and make it more than a copy of a photograph?

First, I brought the whole painting to the edge of completion. It was a large painting (larger than life) and a complex one , as in fact it was multi-portraits.. Dr. Peterson’s piano was to be accurately represented. His hands were a portrait in themselves. And his face was clearly selected in the piano top!

So with the face roughed in, I began the final painting of it as I listened to the emotion- filled, heartfelt tribute of music and song that aired on CBC Radio that day. As his teenage daughter spoke lovingly about Oscar Peterson, the father, I did the final paint of his eyes and face.

So, when I began to paint polar bears, I wondered, how to bring the bears alive? How to make them more than a reproduction of a photo I took of a polar bear at the Toronto Zoo?

So for the painting below, Polar Bear Portrait Study 1 (Wistful Bear) ( and a couple of others in this earlier series) I placed my laptop on a stool in front me, as if a portrait model on a chair. One of my polar bear photos was up on the screen. I then created the polar bear portrait as if the bear was seated there in front of me. (wouldn’t that have been fun, although short lived.) Once again, the eyes say it all in this painting. (Read more about this painting here)

Wistful. Polar bear portrait. 12” x 12” x 1.5” oil painting on canvas. ©Christine Montague Contact me  here

Wistful. Polar bear portrait. 12” x 12” x 1.5” oil painting on canvas. ©Christine Montague Contact me here

So when Ottawa’s CTV news reporter and anchor, Christina Succi contacted me to paint a portrait of her beloved dog, I was flattered, but also surprised to learn that it was one of my polar bear paintings that inspired her request. But then I learned which painting and then saw a photo of her dear doggy,

Can you see the connection?

Wistful Bear      and the  dog portrait  it  inspired  side by side. ©Christine Montague

Wistful Bear and the dog portrait it inspired side by side. ©Christine Montague

If you would like to know more about my polar bear art , or info on how to commission a portrait, please feel free to contact me here.

Color Fun

Curious about how well you see colour?

No matter how you spell it - color or colour - I think you will enjoy these fun, challenging, and informative  links!

I found this color test from Xrite (a global leader in color science & technology) particularly interesting . Allow yourself some time.

http://www.xrite.com/custom_page.aspx?PageID=77

From Method of Action  (upcoming site for peer to peer education for people who want to get things done design wise). This also works on an iPad. And, don't worry! You are not alone if you find you find the "Triadic" & "Tetradic" tests more physically challenging than the color test itself. (You'll see, she says smiling) .

http://color.method.ac/

And now that you’ve seen color?

Jen Reviews Color Meaning.jpg

Image from JenReviews.com

Color has meaning, too. Artists, designers, architects, all put great thought into the color they use in their work. For some more color fun, and understanding, (as well as some practical help in decorating), Jen Reviews interprets the meaning behind each color. Visit Color Meaning, Symbolism, And Psychology: What Do Different Colors Mean

You’ll see in my polar bear painting The Blue Prince here that I applied the theories of the color blue that JenReviews.com writes about.

Please note: This is a revised & updated repost from my previous blog post Color Test Fun.

Toronto Dark Water

You are invited! Below is the invitation to my solo show of new paintings about polar bears and climate change. Special Guest: James Kushny, a University of Toronto researcher, and Board Director for the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, the remarkable, Leed certified centre in Churchill, Manitoba, where scientists from around the world, study northern sustainability . A portion of sales will be donated to this independent, not for profit, Canadian research centre. 

An RSVP for the opening night would be appreciated. For more info, directions or to RSVP please click here

Polar-Bear-Flower-Crown-invitation-sm.jpg

Polar Bears in Williams Mill. Etobicoke, too

Halton Hills Bears

The weather has been great here in the Greater Toronto Area, and for that I am grateful.

It meant that I could journey to the Williams Mill Gallery in Halton Hills, for the opening night of The Joy of Art, snow, and anxiety, free.  Opening nights are always anxiety filled for us introverted artists, even if a happy event in which I have 6 large paintings and a selection of little polar bears on panel on show.

The Joy of Art exhibit continues until Christmas. And not only would I love if you could see my polar bear paintings in person (and perhaps make one your own),  but I'd also love you to experience the beautiful venue in which I once had my studio, and resided on the Board. The historic Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre, that houses the gallery and a multiple of working artist studios, is centre to the unique picturesque hamlet of Glen Williams.  

Williams Mill is located at 515 Main St., Glen Williams. Only 20 minutes north of Mississauga. 40 minutes north of Toronto. The gallery is open Wed. - Sun., 12 - 5 pm. The 25 + artists studios are open Fridays to Sunday 12 - 5 pm.

As well as myself, other guest artists include Tina Newlove (painting), Naomi Assenheim (jewelry), Bonnie Glass (couturier), are a few of the names that come to mind. 

Visitors to the Williams Mill Gallery discussing Christine Montague polar bear paintings.  ©Christine Montague

Visitors to the Williams Mill Gallery discussing Christine Montague polar bear paintings.  ©Christine Montague

Upcoming: Polar Bears to Artworld Fine Art Gallery

On Saturday, December 9th , 1 pm - 4 pm - I will have sneak preview of two of my new polar bear paintings for my upcoming solo show of polar bear art (March 2018) at the  TWAC exhibit and meet the artists, which is just part of the creative holiday fun at the Artworld Fine Art Gallery Holiday Open House. If you would like to participate in the "Paint with Briar Edmond" event please be sure to RSVP with the gallery.  NHL legend Red Kelly will be signing his book "The Red Kelly Story". A portion of proceeds will go towards St. Joseph's Health centre in Toronto. 

I hope to see you there!

Artworld Fine Art Gallery is located at 365 Evans Ave. Toronto, ON M8Z 1K2

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. 

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©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

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. 

The Polar Bear Zone

New Polar Bear Painting

Drying on the easel is the 24" x 18" polar bear oil painting above.  This painting is the direct result of the large painting  I created before it that took a lot of time, focussed attention, and physical effort to create.

How Things Unfold

One of the joys of painting is that artist often goes into "the zone". You may have heard runners speak of this loss of time and in the moment experience, but did you know that painters experience this, too?  

The day I finished the big painting, I still had the time and urge to paint. I spontaneously decided to work on a smaller canvas I had in the studio, and not begin the next large work I had planned.  

Because this painting was unplanned, I had no clear vision of what it would be other than to keep to my Polar Bear Dreams Series theme of monochromatic blue polar bears.  I was pretty relaxed as I blocked in the bear's portrait, as after all, I was basically playing at the end of the day.  As I laid down the blue under painting, I got to thinking how much I enjoy showing movement in the fur, and that I love doing the brush stroke that emphasises this.

Polar Bear painting copyright Christine Montague
Polar Bear painting copyright Christine Montague

Next thing I knew I had a swirly sky with stylized northern lights and stars. And colour followed the day after.  I think the fun and joy I felt while creating this polar bear tribute shines through in the work.  And the portrait has that odd mix  found in the polar bear - mighty, beautiful, intelligent, and somehow goofy at the same time.  My good spirits played a part in conveying the spirit of the bear and sky above.

 

Looking to the Future

I hope, like this polar bear,  you can look ahead with hope, and that your year will be full of good health, caring, and whatever success you wish.  

Looking to the Future ©Christine Montague

Looking to the Future ©Christine Montague

Polar Bears in My Kitchen

It wasn't long after the stone tile backsplash was installed in my kitchen, that I started seeing things. Movement, right there in the 2" x 4" tiles.  As I stared, the tan, grey and white striations in the stone shapeshifted into landscapes. Snowy ones. Cloud-filled and foggy ones.  Dark ones.

As if portals to other worlds like in old school Star Trek .

Polar bear  drawing and  fox  drawing by Christine Montague

Polar bear drawing and fox drawing by Christine Montague

Christine Montague fantasy drawings
Christine Montague fantasy drawings

And these worlds, they seemed to be..gulp..inhabited! Polar bears and other bear-like animals, fox, and fish, and others, that I couldn't begin to classify.

I sketch portraits of these creatures when I can.   For the most part, they seem unaware I am there, as they fly, swim, and run past my window to their world. But when some stop  and gaze my way, I confess I sketch faster.

When Strange Neighbors appeared as a category in The Sketchbook Project, I sent my sketchbook their way. I had to let you know what lives with me in my kitchen. Even if you only believe it's all in my imagination.

The Sketchbook Project (www.sketchbookproject.com), is a global, crowd-sourced art project  and interactive traveling exhibition, of handmade books. It  is the flagship endevour  of Art House, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.. It consists of three libraries: Brooklyn Art Library, Mobile Library, and The Digital Library

Happy Prognosticating Rodent, er, Groundhog Day!

Wiaton Willie Statue, Waiton Ontario Happy Ground Hog Day! That is, if you consider 6 more weeks of winter happy.

Earlier this morning, Wiarton Willie, the prognosticating (my new word for the day) groundhog, immortalized in the statue above, saw his shadow. So did Punxsutawney Phil. So, 6 more weeks of winter ahead for us!

Read more about what Wiarton Willie saw  here . And, for Punxsutawney Phil here .

The verb prognosticate, as you, unlike me,  probably know, means to foretell or prophesy. Prognosticating seems to be the word of the day in this year's articles about Wiarton Willie and Punxsutawney Phil. One source even makes reference to the prognosticating "rodent". "Happy Rodent Day" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Whatever the greeting, it's not hard to believe the prognostications made by our groundhog friends. Last night, the Greater Toronto Area received another huge snow fall - beautiful to behold,  but meant about an hour and a half of shovelling for us at our place.  

I  much prefer the warm breeze, blue sky, and summer sunshine I experienced the day I took the photograph above. "Wiarton Willie", a 4.5 tonnes limestone sculpture by Canadian sculptor, Dave Robinson, stands in a lovely Wiarton park ( www.visitwiarton.ca) at the base of the Bruce Penninsula. The water seen behind the sculpture is Georgian Bay.  The real Wiarton Willie lives nearby, in the library.

But, I prognosticate all this snow has an advantage, too.  It offers me a great excuse to stay inside, blog, and paint.  No procrastination allowed!

Happy, Creative, Ground Hog Day!

 

Shipping Art Internationally

Recently, I sold a  large oil painting to a client in the United Kingdom.  Shipping a large art work from Canada overseas was a first for me, and I came across a variety of helpful information about packaging and how to ship art internationally in my research. The artwork I wanted to ship was a 48" x 48" X 1.5 " oil painting on canvas on wood stretchers. It weighed 11 lb (pre-packaging).  I wanted the artwork to travel quickly (air freight vs  6 - 8 week journey by boat),  tracked, and insured at full value ( i.e. repaired if damaged, or full compensation if  lost).

To find international art shipping companies in my area (not all freight forwarders will ship art), I searched online as well as contacted the good folk at my municipal art gallery, and CARFAC Ontario, for recommendations (they kindly obliged).  It never hurts to ask fellow artists about who they use, too!

Companies that Ship Art

Although I made my inquiries just before New Year's, all companies got back to me soon after the holiday. I made my inquiries via email. I have since learned that for some art shippers, if very busy,  it may take two weeks for an email reply.

Here are the shipping companies I contacted:

UPS  For Canada http://www.ups.com/canada/engindex.html or ups.com  Although very helpful, my local UPS store would not insure the artwork for more than $1000. and payout would only occur if the painting was lost completely. This knocked them out of the running for me.

Fedex. or www.fedex.ca  or www.fedex.com Fedex has a handy chart for estimating cost of shipment.

NavisPack and Ship  http://www.gonavis.com

Museumpros  museumpros.com

Armstrong Fine Arts www.shipfineart.com

Pacart    www.pacart.ca

Here is a company that insures art (and artists' studios, too), for when you need separate insurance www.assurart.com CARFAC artists are eligible for a discount

Note: When I have a smaller painting to mail in Canada or to the U.S.A.,  I  have always had a good experience with Canada Post Express post. Quick, tracked, insured.

Heads Up on Shipping Costs

The quotes I received for the  48" x 48" oil painting to be crated, insured and shipped to Britain, ranged from $1500 - $2000. One company quoted $3000 just to Heathrow Airport, London.  Before I did my research, I had the vague understanding that shipping art is a costly venture, but I confess, the aforementioned quotes took me by surprise! So beware, when selling overseas, be sure to get a quote on shipping before giving an estimate to your client. The size of my painting, not so much the weight, placed it in the "harder to package and ship" higher price bracket.

Luckily, I was able to remove the painting off the stretcher, dissassemble the stretcher, and package sonotube within sonotube, which reduced shipping price substantially. This, however, leaves the clients having to reassemble it at the other end. It is helpful if you can find as much info online to aide them in this task. Also photograph the work as you take it apart showing folds, and bar positions . Include hardware, wire and picture hooks - anything to help them at the other end!

Make Two Copies of Invoice

Your shipping company can help you, but remember you'll need two copies of a commercial invoice (keep another for your records). One for the outside and one in with the art. These invoices should have

  • Date
  • Commercial Invoice
  • your name, address, phone, fax numbers, email
  • your business number
  • the consignee's name, address (postal code!), phone, fax and email and all other pertinent contact info
  • a photo of the artwork
  • Detailed info of the artwork. Title, Size, medium, weight
  • Value  of painting(overseas - does not include tax or shipping cost)
  • Weight and size of package will have to be adjusted if they are doing the packaging for you
  • Its use
  •  Declaration it is an original  _______ by living Canadian artist __________

Videos on Shipping Art

Here are some very informative videos on how to package art yourself.

FedEx how to safely package and ship art http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8zNtyAx8c4

Xanadu Gallery owner, Jason Horejs -  webinar on shipping art  http://www.xanadugallery.com/webinar/shipping/index.asp

Please keep in mind, if you are making your own crate to ship overseas, most companies have very stringent rules about wood. Crates must be made accordingly.

Here is The Canadian Conservation Institution page on crates http://www.cci-icc.gc.ca/caringfor-prendresoindes/articles/sixsteps-sixetapes/step6-etape6-eng.aspx

Good luck!

Doors Open to Amazing Art, Architecture, and Vision

Spoiler alert! Don't look at the interior photographs of the Small Arms Inspection Building below, if you want to be surprised completely at  2013 Doors Open Mississauga art show and WWII related demos Saturday, September 28, 10 am - 4 pm.  small-arms-turquoise-door-window-8433 small-arms-tree-broken-window8452 small-arms-wood-ceiling-8468 small-arms-skylight-IMG_8477 small-arms-garage-door8492 small-arms-cupboard8518 small-arms-man-at-door-8532 small-arms-windows-welding-IMG_8733 small-arms-water-tower-8594 save-as-small-arms--main-room-8651 small-arms-metalIMG_8667 small-arms-dance-studio8552This remarkable 144,000 sq. ft. architecture has a rich history involving the war effort (where the Lee-Enfield Rifle was manufactured) , women's independence, and the revitalization of Lakeview, Mississauga (then Longbranch). It sits empty now, but  is it any wonder that the space, high ceilings, huge windows and skylights,have inspired plans to renovate it as a world-class  arts centre of working artist studios, performance space, art galleries, a museum and coffee shop?

To give you a hint of just how dynamic this centre will be, 30 artists (including myself)  will show and sell their art. My portraits of people and polar bears will be at the end of the hall on the first floor.

Also in the works! Heather Brissenden will sing hits from the Blitz, the Lorne Scots (this was once their home, too) machine gun teams will compete, The Honorary Colonel Gerald Haddon will speak about J.A.D. McCurdy, the Canadian aviation pioneer  and much, much more (really!).

There is plenty of free parking. Just find your way to Lakeshore Rd., and Dixie Rd, Mississauga, ON.  For more info on what's on, how to get there, and about the Small Arms itself, please go to www.smallarms.ca

 

Happy Spring Tulips

Happy first day of spring, everyone. We may still have snow in the Toronto area, and it is cold, too, but I can feel hope in the air , can't you? Sending some tulips your way! Cheers! (or is that cheer up?) Tulips at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre. Copyright Christine Montague

Christine-Montague-tulips-Before-the-Light

Christine Montague Watering Can with Tulips

Christine-Montague-Tulips-Growing-out-of--her-head

 

Color Test Fun

Curious about how well you see colour?

No matter how you spell it - color or colour - I think you will enjoy these fun, but challenging, as well as informative  links!

Start with this easier colour challenge from RIF (Reading is Fundamental) to warm yourself up!

Color Challenge 

I found this color test from Xrite (a global leader in color science & technology) particularly interesting . Allow yourself some time.

http://www.xrite.com/custom_page.aspx?PageID=77

From Method of Action  (upcoming site for peer to peer education for people who want to get things done design wise). This also works on an iPad. And, don't worry! You are not alone if you find you find the "Triadic" & "Tetradic" tests more physically challenging than the color test itself. (You'll see, she says smiling) .

http://color.method.ac/

And now that you’ve seen color?

Color has meaning, too. artists, designers, architects, all put great thought into colors used. For even more colour fun, and a practical help to decoorating, Jen Reviews interprets the meaning behind each color -

Color Meaning, Symbolism, And Psychology: What Do Different Colors Mean


You’ll see in my polar bear painting The Blue Prince here that I applied the theories of the color blue that Jen writes about.


Seth, Icarus and Travel by Dart

Polar Bear Sketch copyright Christine Montague 2013 In his latest book, The Icarus Deception, marketing guru Seth Godin shares his ideas on how art has evolved, who is an artist, and the importance of the “connection economy” to both.

Seth writes “Art isn’t a result; it’s a journey. The challenge of our time is to find a journey worthy of your heart and your soul…there’s an abundance of things to buy and people to hire…What’s scarce is trust, connection, and surprise. These are three elements in the work of the work of a successful artist…”

He goes on to say “The internet network connects people to one another, people to organizations and best of all, people to ideas... Welcome to the connection economy…anyone with a laptop is now connected to just about everyone else. ..it’s the bridges between people that generate value”

Here’s how two good friends, Matt Cook and Sorin Mihailovici, decided to have an adventure, but created much more. Their vision of travel became a story that surprised and connected us to their ideas. It fanned our trust so that we shared the story and supported its occurrence.  Matt and Sorin did the dreaming, the planning and the travelling, but the connection economy was key to their success.

Matt and Sorin are the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada guys who, in 2011, threw caution to the wind and a dart at the map to choose a destination for an adventure of a lifetime.  Dart thrown, they only had a month to sort out logistics and raise a heck of a lot of money for their trip to… (wait for it)…Svalbard, Norway.

Svalbard. Closest town to the North Pole. 24 hours of darkness. 2000 people.  3000 polar bears.

Now most of us, if we dared to throw the dart, would celebrate that it landed on Svalbard oops, slipsies count, Hawaii, and head straight on down to the closest convenience store to buy us a lottery ticket.

But Sorin and Matt? Not these guys. They got their “grit”, as Seth calls it, going. They made the decision to fundraise for the polar bear, as well as themselves.  Polar Faith.com was on its way.  Through their website, social and traditional media they shared the Polar Faith story.

And the story delighted us. We trusted, and connected to them because their story was fun, and they sounded like fun, too.  They could be the guys next door. The story was new, told with passion, humour and some urgency. They didn’t have a lot of time, these guys, to make it on their way. Let's help.

We helped by further growing the connections. The story spread across Canada in the media and online.

I think we wanted Polar Faith  to work, and so I hope backing was as successful as it seems. It was certainly convenient and trustworthy (paypal).  As well, Matt and Sorin, returned the favor.  From hand warmers to personalized videos, thank-you items scaled to financial contribution.

Matt and Sorin personally answered their emails. There was value in this. Everyone was giving and getting something for their part in the project. Connections and trust? Established.

By the way, this is where my personal involvement came in. I had just competed my large oil painting “Polar Bear Swimming in the Northern Lights” here and I planned for more paintings in the series. So why not give to a project that both captured my imagination and  helped polar bears?

In return for my modest financial contribution to their trip, I received back more than my money’s worth. Shortly before New Years Eve 2011, a photo arrived in my email. Taken  New Year’s Eve, Norway time, the bundled up duo stand in the dark under a North Pole sign. Thumbs up, they are holding a home-made sign with my url www.christinemontague.com My family roars with laughter (the wonder of the internet), I share it online in a blog click here and in Happy New Year Greetings emails to family, friends and clients. An 8 x 10 printout hung in my open artist studio at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre until I left the end of 2012,  and another one hung for months in the only public washroom there (whatever works). (Note: This photo, along with a nice shout out - is on the front page of their new website. Scroll down once you click www.travelbydart.com Thanks Guys!)

Matt and Sorin documented  their very excellent adventure. The short  film "Polar Faith"  premiered March 3rd, 2013 at the Global Visions Films Festival, Edmonton, Alberta.

They have created a pilot for a television series “Travel by Dart”.

By Seth Godin’s definition of art, Matt and Sorin seized new ground and made connections between people and ideas.  They may have started with a map, but continued without one. According to Seth ”these are works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock..”

The journey’s the art, along with entrepreneurship, customer service, invention, connection, technology, leadership, and all those other thing Seth talks about in the evolution of fine art. The internet and “connection economy” allowed Matt and Sorin to share their invention “Polar Faith”, and fund their project.  Previously, the final product, the film, was the “art”, and the journey, the prep work. In this new model,  the journey, and the connections made are the art, and the movie and the TV show, the very fine byproduct.