Canadian artist

The Fall

The Fall is a portrait of a polar bear on its solitary journey in the arctic night, unaware that a red maple leaf (Canada’s national symbol) falls before it from above. The fall colour of the maple tree isn’t part of this bear’s autumn landscape, but the frozen sea, so vital for its survival, is. Increased periods of open water from spring to fall, due to climate change, increases the polar bear’s vulnerability.

Painted in wonder and warning,The Fall pays tribute to an iconic Canadian animal, and connects Canadians in the responsibility to protect it, thereby protecting and saving ourselves.

The Fall. An original oil painting ©Christine Montague 2018

The Fall. An original oil painting ©Christine Montague 2018

Why the Canadian connection? Although one of the world’s most favourite animals, polar bears are only found in Canada, Alaska (USA), Russia and Norway. 60 - 80 % of the world’s population are found in Canada. The Fall has a “sister” painting, the award winning “The Canadian Flower Crown”. Read about it here

I am pleased to announce The Fall has been accepted into ARTWORKS 2018, the OCADU Alumni Show, December 2 -8, 2018. The Great Hall, OCADU. 100 McCaul St., Toronto. More Info and opening reception date & time here

In Honour and Celebration

Polar Bear Painting About Tribute Wins an Award of Its Own

My polar bear oil painting Canadian Flower Crown was accepted in, and was awarded 1st prize, The Jurors’ Award, the respected Headwaters Arts Annual Juried Art Show, (on until October 8, 2018) Headwaters Arts Gallery, Alton Mill, Caledon. It was an honour for me, that my polar bear painting about tribute and celebration of this magnificent animal, received a tribute of its own!

Jurors  Sue Powell ,  Regan Hayward , artist  Christine Montague,  and juror  Jill Price  with   Canadian Flower Crown     at the  Jurors walk,   Headwaters Arts Gallery , Alton Mill, Ontario, Canada.

Jurors Sue Powell, Regan Hayward, artist Christine Montague, and juror Jill Price with Canadian Flower Crown at the Jurors walk, Headwaters Arts Gallery, Alton Mill, Ontario, Canada.

It was especially gratifying and encouraging that not only did the accomplished jurors, Sue Powell, Regan Hayward and Jill Price, accept my polar bear painting into the show, but that they so clearly understood its message.

The effect of climate change, particularly vanishing sea ice is central to all my art work. In this polar bear portrait, a solitary bear is adorned in honour and celebration with a flower crown composed of the flowers of the Canadian provinces and territories, as well the nation’s symbol, the maple leaf. The polar bear is one of the world’s most loved animals, but it is Canada, that is home to 60 - 80% of the polar bear population. This magnificent, highly intelligent bear is significantly intertwined with the Canadian identity, and yet, its status in Canada, is vulnerable. 

Canadian Flower Crown, although a recent creation, was one I had in the works in my head for a few years.

(See more polar bear art here)

I was often surrounded by beautiful flowers, especially magnificent flower crowns, as my daughter was a floral designer. Keeping her company I would doodle, and flower-crowned polar bears made their way on the page.

But it wasn’t until I started to create my work for my 2018 Dark Water solo exhibit, that a flower crown polar bear insisted it appear on canvas. It became a mental block to my creating new paintings that were to be of polar bears in dark water. The only way to solve this, was to paint it, so I could get on with the show!

Canadian Flower Crown took more research and planning than most of my paintings. I had learn what the flowers of each province and territory are, their size, and their proportion in relation to a polar bear’s head. It would be so easy for this bear to be “cute” or “pretty” in a flower crown.

By showing its very large teeth, this polar bear remains the powerful animal it is.

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

Polar Bears in Orangeville

No danger though, the seven polar bears in question are the 8" x 8" polar bear portrait oil paintings I completed earlier this year. This is their first excursion out of my Williams Mill studio, and you can see them at the Dragonfly Arts on Broadway Gallery in Orangeville, Ontario. Joan Hope, the very personable gallery owner, and a great lover of original art, and supporter of Canadian art & Canadian artists, saw them online and asked that I bring them in. Done!

These Ursus maritimus portrait oil paintings, inspired by Inukshuk, the Toronto Zoo's male polar bear, are studies for future larger artworks. Thus I have priced them similarly to my little portrait painting series (here) . They are 8" x 8" gallery mount canvases,  framed in black floater frames, and are easily shipped.

If you would like to see these polar bear portraits in person or would like more information. Here is Dragonfly Arts contact information: 189 Broadway, Orangeville, ON L9W 1K2 (519) 941-5249 ‎ · dragonflyarts.ca

Here's the google map http://goo.gl/maps/fwP4

Well, I realize not quite like the remarkable story of the British Columbia man who can swim with the polar bears, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7rZTZBOrqQ&noredirect=1 but I hope you enjoy perusing these works online, or at Dragonfly Arts.

P.S. Orangeville has a delightful main street, Broadway, with Dragonfly Arts, home design shops, Orangeville Theatre, an art supply store and a myriad of restaurants for every taste.  Plenty of free parking, too. I can't tell you how great it is to find parking almost in front of the gallery so I can unload my work with ease!

Polar Bear Portrait 1. "Inukshuk" 8" x 8" oil painting copyright Christine Montague

Polar Bear 6 oil painting portrait. Copyright Christine Montague

Polar bear Portrait painting 7 copyright Christine Montague

And for a great story about encounters with a polar besr listen to cbc radios The Wild Side with Grant Lawrence. It's great. http://www.cbc.ca/thewildside/

For some great reading about polar bears in Canadian north, and the effect of changes in snow on reproduction, read this related article

The Salmon Run Project, Sanded at Last.

Salmon Run Project
Salmon Run project. Shaping the fin.

I don't know what tools a taxidermist uses on fish casts such as this, but I found a drywall saw effective  for the edges of the fins and for cutting out the mouth. I also used a small hand saw, a metal file, a box cutter and sand paper. Below you can see the scooped out mouth and a sample of the cut out material. The whitish edge is plaster and fibreglass. The fish is not hollow, but filled with the yellowish substance that is some type of foam.

So finally, the fish is sanded. Next step?  To attach the fins, and drill the holes for the stand. Then hurrah, the project actually begins!

A Winter Treat - Don't Miss Sommer Art Show Opening. A Five-Fold lesson in Visual Arts Vision, Legacy & Generosity

Being a visual artist in Canada is a rough haul, but there are certain wonderful people one meets along the way that lighten the load, and encourage the journey. There are also certain art shows and  venues that enlighten the path. Here's how an upcoming art show, A Lasting Gift: The John & Gisela Sommer Collection January 8th - Feb 6th (Opening Jan. 16th) carries the five fold whammy of John & Gisela Sommer,  The Sommer Collection, Art Gallery of Peel, Sybil Rampen, and Joshua Creek Heritage Arts Centre. For many years, Georgetown's John and Gisela Sommer have been enthusiastic supporters of  visual artists in the GTA*, particularly in the western region of Halton Hills and Peel.   Many a visual artist has been the lucky recipient of their generous support  either in word or deed. The Sommers not only collected art, they exhibited it at Gallery Sol, their home turned gallery, in Georgetown, Halton Hills, Ontario.

I first met John, when, as juror, he awarded my painting Top Award at a juried art show. A few months later,  I discovered that this soft-spoken and lively gentleman, and his charming wife Gisela, were popular visitors at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre in Glen Williams, where I just opened a studio. John often made reference to the Gallery Sol, which was, at that point, after decades of being open,  was winding down.

My mistake was in assuming it was a showcase for regional artists. What I didn't realize was that the Sommers had an incredible collection of contemporary printmaking, painting, sculpture and photography that included Andy Warhol, Jack Chambers, Leonard Hutchinson and David Hockney. Luckily, I will get a another chance to see this art, and so can you!

The Sommers have recently generously donated their art collection (ensuring their legacy as well as that of many regional artists) to The Art Gallery of Peel (Peel Heritage Complex, Brampton). This art gallery, in the midst of transformation into a remarkable new venue across from Brampton's Gage Park, is temporarily closed. Until then,  200 of these art works will be on exhibition at Joshua Creek Heritage Centre in Oakville, Ontario.

The grand opening of this art show and opportunity to meet the very wonderful John & Gisela Sommer is Sunday, January 16, 2011, 2 - 4 pm.  Joshua Creek Heritage Centre Gallery . Click here for map.

Oh, and as for Joshua Creek Heritage Centre, and artist & visionary Sybil Rampen, who created it, that my friends,  is a whole other incredible story of inspiration, generosity, and legacy! Click here to read more.

*Greater Toronto Ontario

Forgetting & Remembering: Remembrance Day Art

 

 

Somehow, I forgot I did this oil painting. A gift to my son on his 18th birthday, it hangs in our house in the dining room - a room we rarely use (isn't a dining room table for folding laundry?). It shows him climbing, carefree,  at about the age of four, on the War Memorial, located near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,  in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He is painted realistically, and static, while the figures on the statue are more "ghostly" and moving.

On the eve of Remembrance Day, I though I would share it with you. With all the gut wrenching news in the Toronto Star recently about Canadian War soldiers injured in Afghanistan, and some pretty heart-rending reporting on CBC radio as well, an image of youth,  hope and peace can never hurt.

 

Note: One day, when I was working in this oil painting, a visitor to my studio mentioned her (great?) uncle had been one of the models for one the figures in this monument to peace.

"Who's For Dinner" at the Dragonfly? It's Art.

 

 

If you are up in the Orangeville area - just north of Brampton and north-west of Toronto, be sure to drop into the lovely "Dragonfly Arts on Broadway". My larger than life oil and oil stick painting of a cat , seen from  the viewpoint of "something" much smaller, is featured in the window there until Halloween.  I have heard great things about the Dragonfly Gallery over the past couple of years, but had never been there myself until last week.

Broadway is the "main" street accessed directly off Hwy 10, so the gallery is easy to reach. This main street is attractively maintained, has a variety of shops and eating establishments and the parking is free!

"Who's for Dinner?"  - a huge attraction in my studio - is the latest in my big cat series. I don't paint with decorating in mind, but with its dramatic scale, use of black and silver, I have not been alone in  imagining it over a leather couch or over a server in a contemporary dining room. See it at the delightful Dragonfly Arts on Broadway Gallery http://www.dragonflyarts.ca/ until the end of October.

Crossing Into Night. New P.E.I. Painting

Here is the latest large (60" x 30") oil painting. New looser, contemporary style, but it conveys everything I wanted it to. Can you feel the uplift? My son, crossing a tidal pool in the red sand shore of Prince Edward Island, is doing his best to walk on water and not step on the myriad of life  found in its depth. Past this tidal pool, home and night awaits. The reflection symbolizes this beautifully.

New Art - Giant Cat Portrait Painting Continues

Yesterday I mentioned I used Tri-Art's sludge as the preliminary step (the canvas was already gessoed in white)  to starting this 60" x 48" cat painting. I was quite enamoured of the taupe, neutral colour of the sludge, and began the day by ensuring areas had the sludge show through. This was not my original vision for the painting. Sometimes it pays to go with one's instincts, but in this case it was keeping me from connecting with the portrait. If I don't fall in love with the face, I know something is wrong.

So back to the plan - Black and silver oil paint for this silver tabby. What appears white in this painting, or light gray is actually silver. The painting is not done yet. But the concept that one side of the cat disappears into the darkness, and the other side is awash in silver light -  is becoming clearer.

This oil painting incorporates the use of oil sticks as well as oil paints.