Mississauga

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.

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 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

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

 

Polar Bears Found at Small Arms, Doors Open Mississauga

Polar bear digital art copyrigt Christine Montague. This Saturday, September 28, from 10 am - 4 pm, my portraits and polar bear oil paintings will be for show and sale at the Small Arms Inspection Building,  as part of Doors Open Mississauga 2013. The Small Arms Building is near and dear to my heart. Why?

The Small Arms Building is a 144,000 sq.ft example of WWII  industrial architecture. During the war,  over 40,000  women, "Rosie the Riveters", came from all over Canada to work at this site, where they manufactured  about 1 million Lee-Enfield rifles.

The Lakeview Legacy Foundation, of which I was proudly a founding member,  has set out to repurpose this impressive, but empty building into a desperately needed arts centre of working artists studios, performance space, art galleries, and museum. In other words, arms to arts. (Read more about it here)

And, to help you envision just how dynamic this centre will be when it houses studios for working visual artists, (and musicians, actors, dancers,  filmmakers, creative scientists, etc.) over 20 artists (including me)  will each set up shop in an office. We'll show our craft as if a working day in our studios, and offer work for sale.

But that's not all.

The Honorary Colonel Gerald Haddon will speak about J.A.D. McCurdy, the Canadian aviation pioneer.

Heather Brissenden will sing Hits of the Blitz from 10:00 to 14:00.

The Lorne Scots machine gun teams will compete through out the day.

The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion   will also be there.

You can see a Sherman tank.

And best of all, you will have the rare opportunity to meet some of the wonderful  Rosie the Riveters who actually worked at Small Arms.

http://www.smallarms.ca/SmallArms.html for contact info, schedule, & parking (it's free!). P.S. a very short walk west from Longbranch Go Station, Toronto.

Now, can you find the polar bear in the photos below?

Floors of Small Arms. Copyright Christine Montague. Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Polar bear hiding in the floors of small arms..

Camera! (No) Action! Animals!

Recently, I have had access to a small private forest.  I set up a motion camera  to get a voyeuristic look at the creatures of the night. My real hope was to get images of a coyote in the brush before foliage appeared. I wanted to use this personally obtained reference for a  painting about solitude and alienation. For the first month the only evidence of any wildlife was the tiny silhouette of a bat far off in the darkness.  At least I knew the camera worked, but I had to reconsider its place. The results?  Something more suitable to a children's story. "Mr. Racoon, Mr. Possum and Ms. Cat live Alone in My Forest".  I have more animal action in my urban backyard.

Recently, when I was able to check out the camera, a new character arrived on the scene.  About 20 minutes after Ms. Cat prowled by, this fellow appears, and changes his course to follow what I believe are the cat's tracks. Hopefully, on my next check of the camera, I will see that this lovely fox was 20 minutes too late.

Fox checks out the tracks

 

New 905 Museums and Galleries

In an earlier post (here), I talked about the three E's of art: engage, entertain and educate. Below are some 905 ( Toronto Area) municipal art venues - museums and galleries - that do just that. In case you are unfamiliar with Toronto, (province of Ontario) it is Canada's  largest city. Head your car west along the edge of Lake Ontario and seamlessly you pass into 905 country (the area code), and Canada's 6th largest city, Mississauga. Continue on your trek  west, and you pass with little notice of division into Oakville, and then Burlington. North of Mississauga is Brampton, Canada 9th largest city, and west of it, is Georgetown (Halton Hills). Milton is sandwiched between Oakville and Halton Hills.

Two of the country's major cultural venues , the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) are in the Toronto downtown core. One would think this would be an advantage to all these cities joined at the hip to TO. In fact, many of us face the dilemma that these venues  are actually "near and yet so far". Yes, Toronto, on the google map is "near".  However,  inadequate intercity public transportation, traffic gridlock,  the high costs of  TO parking, venue admission, and time traveled, make these venues "so far".  And, lets face it, if you live in a city as large as Mississauga or Brampton, wouldn’t you expect to have exciting & educational cultural venues right in your own hometowns? Places where you could drop by for an impromptu visit with the family without saving for a month, and clearing the calendar?

Well, guess what! 2012 brought forth a whole slew of  art venues that are renew in energy or size, or just... new! And, there is much more to just looking at paintings on a wall to these places, not that I don't love doing just that. These are family friendly, inspirational,  educational, entertaining, engaging, thought-provoking places with a diverse choice of exhibitions, programming, events, and community collaboration. .

Now remember, in the big scheme of things, all these cities are very, very young, and so grand institutions as one might find in New York, have not had time to evolve. However, there is the new understanding that a cultural city is a healthy city, and that citizens, even if they don't attend cultural venues, like to know they are there, and miss them if they are gone. And, more importantly, each of these cities has their own cultural identities, and affordable accessible art venues are a great place to express, learn,  and celebrate this.

Ta da! Here they are -

Mississauga

The Art Gallery of Mississauga (The AGM). www.artgalleryofmississauga.com/

Outgoing AGM Curator Stuart Keeler and his accomplished AGM team have definitely upped the ante of this relatively small (by city size) municipal gallery. They are energetically committed to connect, engage and inspire the region’s citizens, as well as its’ visual artists.  Here's why it's well worth your while to check out the AGM -

  • Twitter chats. One is coming up Feb. 7th on juried art shows
  • The recent Lord Report recommends the gallery be a building of its own. (Was there a doubt?) Volunteer, be a docent, etc. Be at the grass-roots of exciting things to come!
  • Fee to enter – by donation. But join the gallery to receive a bundle of perks
  • Other notes? Just a door away from Celebration Square. Bring your skates.
  • Parking: Mississauga, all grown up, charges for parking everywhere (at last check $1/hour). However, there is underground parking at city hall, and metered parking on the street. Note: Unfortunately, you are taking your chances to get a ticket if you park in the neighboring Square One Mall.

Brampton

PAMA (Peel Heritage Art Gallery, Museum and Archives) www.pama.peelregion.ca

The former Peel Heritage Museum has always been an attractive, inviting venue.  My whole family has enjoyed visits to what was formerly Brampton’s city jail.  Recently, it reopened after two years of extensive (and stunning!) renovation and expansion. The photos in the link below will give a better idea of this remarkable new arts venue dedicated to art, history and education   http://www.pama.peelregion.ca/en/aboutpama/PhotoGallery_BuildingsAndGrounds.asp

Admission: Free for preschoolers, $1 for students. $1.50 for seniors and $2.50 for the rest

PAMA is located on the east side of Main St., ie. Highway 10 (Hurontario in Mississauga) and overlooks beautiful historic Gage Park with its unique skating paths (bring your skates here, too!). Metered street parking or in the Brampton Civic Centre, kitty corner to PAMA. A short walk north of PAMA brings you to the lovely Rose Theatre and Beaux-Arts Brampton Artist Co-operative and Gallery.

Kitchener

“M” TheMuseum www.themuseum.ca

TheMuseum opened to much fanfare in the fall.  AVATAR: The Exhibition  marked its Canadian première at M and it was the first stop on its North American tour. I haven’t been there yet, but since so many of the western GTA (Greater Toronto Area or 905) students go away universities and colleges in that area, I hope they are checking it out.

Oakville

Queen Elizabeth Community Centre and Cultural Centre Click Here

Oakville has reinvented this former high school as a community centre as well as a venue for many of  Oakville’s not-for-profit arts and culture groups. There are studios, and a gallery and corridor exhibition space. Bring your swim suit as it seems there's a pool, too. The Oakville Arts Council office is also located here. If you are a Halton artist ,you may want to join this supportive group.

Burlington

The Burlington Arts Centre www.thebac.ca

This dynamic arts centre is home to galleries, an impressive fine arts shop and art rental program, area guilds, mentorship programmes, and studios for working and learning. On Sunday afternoons there are often excellent free workshops and discussions for visual artists. This is a great place to visit, be engaged with, and shop for art.

Georgetown (Halton Hills) Here

Newly reopened after two years of expansion is the Halton Hills Cultural Centre, a theatre, gallery and library rolled into one. The gallery was once a church and the beautiful stained glass windows are still there. Formally, the gallery dedicated itself to supporting shows  by local artists, but a large art donation to the centre may have changed its mandate. See here http://www.theifp.ca/news/art-collection-worth-800k-donated-to-town/

Milton http://www.miltoncentreforthearts.ca/en/AboutYourCentre.asp

Opened in 2011, this state of the art facility is home to gallery and performance space and more. Here is the FAQ sheet for this centre of creativity. http://www.miltoncentreforthearts.ca/en/aboutyourcentre/resources/centre_for_the_arts_faqs_aug-10.pdf

List of Call to Artists: Art Show Submissions Western Greater Toronto Area 2013

In the last two years, the western Greater Toronto Area (GTA) artist community has lost two annual juried art shows to show their paintings, photography & sculpture. No longer are the Peel Heritage Centre's prestigious annual show (Brampton) and Halton Hills Cultural Centre’s community “The John Sommer Annual Juried Art Show” (Georgetown).  Both venues have undergone remarkable renovations in the past two years. The Peel Heritage Centre is now reborn as PAMA. An unexpected donation of an art collection altered the Halton Hills Cultural Centre's gallery’s focus from community-centric exhibition to a more staid model. But take heed; there are still  juried art shows to enter in 2013.  For some of the shows,  it is too early in the season for the posting of exact deadline dates. Thus I have included a "heads up" date based on when the show deadline was the previous year.

By the way, there is a lot of discussion out there that juried shows are a "money grab" and other negative thoughts.

But juried shows are a very useful tool in your art career strategy. They are one way to build your c.v. when starting out, get a new work or style out before the public, get your work before juror you admire, support your local art community, (club, gallery, or council) and do that all important networking at that opening party, that is, oh, so important (as well as so painful to many of us).

And sure, the judging has a subjective element; after all, it’s art! Judges react, just as you would, with their hearts and personal preference, but they also judge with the years of ability for which they have been hired. Most shows hire more than one adjudicator, and I have witnessed first hand, the very careful thought behind the choices.

Happy planning & best of luck, everyone!

2013 CALLS TO ENTRY Please remember to check requirements & eligibility.

Some Other Calls for Entries of Interest

Cram the Polar Bear World: The Sketchbook Project 2013

Copyright Christine Montague. "In the Presence of Royalty". The Sketchbook Project 2013". Grpahite. The little envelope containing my sketchbook from The Sketchbook Project, somehow was mislaid during my studio move, and completely out of mind with the excitement of family home for Christmas. My memory was suddenly jogged when The Sketchbook Project people wisely sent out a "deadline tomorrow" email yesterday.

There was no way I was going to miss out on this  terrific drawing project where artists from around the world have their sketchbooks (provided by the project) on display in the Brooklyn Art Library (U.S.A.), as well as online, and in a travelling art show.

So, what to do?! With less than 24 hours to fill a sketchbook, I would do the student "thing" and CRAM which, by the way,  became the sketchbook title, and maybe more than that , too.

And what did I draw? Why I followed The Sketchbook Project recommendations:

" The Sketchbook project is a space for new work and experiment - it's not intended to be a portfolio" and  " ...follow your book wherever it takes you and change your mind along the way".

And that's exactly what I did, I veered off the course of the few sketches I had done before Christmas and my move out of my Williams Mill studio, and spent well into the night immersed into my polar bear fantasy world.  You know how it is when you have a good book you can't put down? That's how I felt last night as I worked deep into the night with ease.

To read more about The Sketchbook Project 2013, and to mark it on your calendar to take part in,  visit www.thesketchbookproject.com

Also I'd love to know what you think of my foray into fantasy illustration, and if you'd enjoy more posts on this.

An Artfelt Wish for a Happy New Year

ImageToday was my last day as an artist with an open studio at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre, Glen Williams, Ontario.  I have had a great three creative years there, including my time as the Mill Artist Group Chair. But a new year and a desire for more time to paint, blog, tweet and more, has me taking new steps. To all the hundreds of people that have visited my studio, and I hope you are one, I wish to thank you for your patronage, and wish you all a happy, healthy and creative 2013!

 

Seth Says

At the centre where I have my studio,  big decisions are waiting to be made, and we artists are invited to have our say. Seth Godin's daily blog has just arrived in my inbox. His message, as usual, is like a horoscope for my day.

Here's some good advice from Seth, with a pinch of Jack Layton , don't you think?

You get to make a choice. You can remake that choice every day, in fact. It's never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence. The best thing is that it only takes a moment -- just one second -- to decide.

Before you finish this paragraph, you have the power to change everything that's to come. And you can do that by asking yourself (and your colleagues) the one question that every organization and every individual needs to ask today: Why not be great?

New Cold Wax Oil Painting Collectibles

 

Cold wax painting is the search word subject most used to bring visitors to my blog.  It's been just over a year since I took my workshop with the  creative Janice Mason Steeves and my curiosity about this interesting medium (along with yours) continues to grow.

I haven't experimented with cold wax as much as I 'd have liked, but I enjoy how my painting style changes when I do these little art works.  I work  fast and free with my Wilton pastry cutter and oil paint mix. I think some of these small works would translate well into large acrylic paintings on canvas, don't you?

So scroll down to see my most recent cold wax and oil paintings below. The Williams Mill Gallery has added them to the "Big Show, Small Works" one of a kind gift show on until Dec. 24th.

Once again, the historic 1850's yellow lumber mill outside my Williams Mill studio window are the inspiration for these cold wax panels. And when I do a painting involving koi, water-lily and ponds, the Chappell House Pond at Riverwood Park, Mississauga is my inspiration.

 

 

 

Call for Visual Artists Juried Shows Dec. 2011, Jan. 2012

Here's the most recent "calls for entry" for visual arts juried art shows in the Greater Toronto Area. I'll gladly post any others you know about. Just leave me a note in comments. Good luck!

Deadline Dec. 1, 2011.  For OCAD University alumni "Where They Are Now!" http://www.ocad.ca/Assets/pdf_media/submission+form+2012.pdf   Note: 2 years at the college/university qualifies for alumnus status

Deadline Dec. 18, 2011. Artists Network  "MonArchy". As a playful acknowledgement of Queen Elizabeth II DIamond Jubilee in 2012, Artists Network are asking artists which side they align with. http://www.artistsnetwork.ca/node/330

Deadline Dec. 20, 2011.  Visual Arts Mississauga 34th Annual Juried Exhibition. Art Gallery of Mississauga. FYI : art work must be made in 2011 - 2012.  Application: http://www5.mississauga.ca/agm/agm_root/downloads/VAM34.pdf

Deadline January 24, 2012. Ontario Society of Artists (OSA)  139th Annual Open Juried Exhibition. John B. Aird Gallery, Toronto.  Theme: "Darkness and Light" http://ontariosocietyofartists.org/member_events_exhibitions/open_juried_exhibition

Deadline January 31, 2012 World of Threads Festival .Fibre Art.  http://www.worldofthreadsfestival.com/submissions.html At least seven venues in  Toronto and Oakville, including Abbozzo Gallery (Oakville), Joshua Creek Heritage Centre (Halton) and the Sculpture Society of Canada Gallery (Toronto).

Deadline Feb. 2012 Paint Ontario Art Competition, Sale & Show http://www.paintontario.com/form.htm Lambton Heritage Museum, Grand Bend, Ontario

Doors Open for Small Arms & Big Vision

This Saturday, October 1st, is  Doors Open Mississauga 2011, and Day 2 of the  Canadian Culture Days.  If you have even the slightest interest in anything having to do with the arts, heritage, your family, your city, real estate, entertainment , or, quite simply, being wowed, you owe it to yourself (and your family and friends) to seize this chance to tour the remarkable Small Arms Building, 1352 Lakeshore Road East, Mississauga (416) 661-6600 ext.5223 (Free parking, wheelchair accessible).

Built in 1941, this 144, 000 sq. ft. office and small arms inspection building was part of  Small Arms Ltd, a World War 2 arms manufacturer. The company has an incredible wartime history. Tens of thousands of women came from across Canada to work there, and the dormitories and houses built for them revitalized the Lakeview area of Mississauga. The Arsenal Lands upon which it sits  was home to the Long Branch Rifle Ranges, to Canada’s first aerodrome and a military flight training school.

So what does this have to do with you, your family, the arts, real estate, and everything else I listed?

A dedicated volunteer group, The Lake Legacy Foundation (with whom I've had the privilege to work with), has worked tirelessly to lay the ground work for Small Arms to repurpose it as a centre of arts and culture.

You may be wondering, what, exactly , is a centre of arts and culture, and what does it have to do with me?

Well, for starters, this space will offer much-needed affordable work and performance space  for Mississauga's artist and cultural groups. Mississauga is just over 30 years old. Older buildings with minimal dollars per square foot rental are pretty well nonexistent, so independent artists must leave our city to live and work. This venue will offer studios of all kinds: from personal, affordable live work space for visual artists (painting, ceramics, sculpture & more) to  practice space for theatre, dance and music. Theatres for performance and galleries that both show and sell, will introduce us to our artists.  Small Arms has the potential to help Mississauga keep its creative people (especially the young ones), and to  attract other cultural sorts to the city as well.

The building itself, now saved from demolition,  will be a living museum with creative tips of the hat to its historic roots and its Rosie the Riveter inhabitants throughout.

The Lakeview community will have a long overdue cultural jewel in its crown.

All of Mississauga (and the GTA and beyond) will have an inspirational venue to visit , and I mean inspirational in every way!  A cultural venue where you can shop, learn, teach, exhibit, view, entertain or be entertained, work and sell, and become involved.  A place to hang out alone, or with family, or your peers.  Time spent there may be contemplative or celebratory. High ceilings, big windows, at the edge of a great lake.

Don't miss this chance to see what could be.

Cat Not Out of the Bag...Yet

Any one who has owned a cat, or even been around one for a while, knows that cats have a thing about bags. If a bag is open, the cat will do its best to make its home. Well, this seal point Rag doll cat, has set up house in a paper bag, his "cat cave", if you will. He figures that if  he can't see you, you can't see him, and all is well with the world. From the safety of his trusty paper bag he will watch the world go by until he succumbs to a nap.

I finished this larger than life cat painting of a Seal Point Rag Doll cat in a bag, today. It is the latest in my series of big cat paintings. As you may have surmised, by "big cat", I don't mean tigers and lions (and bears, oh my). The reference is literal in meaning. Domestic cats painted big. Very big.

These oil paintings pay homage to the character (talk about character) of our feline friends, by the fact that we look up at the subject portrayed. But  the cat, himself?  He probably thinks that these paintings show us in our true light as something much, much smaller (see "Who's For Dinner?").

Whatever the case, this cat,  drying on the easel in my studio in the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre, is not yet ready to be out of the bag and on the wall.

 

Night Canoes

Night Canoes. Latest work drying in the studio! 24 inch tall by 48 inch wide oil painting on gallery canvas. Glowing in the moonlight these vessels are in limbo between yesterdays adventures and tomorrow's excitement. I wonder what their masters are dreaming of? Where they were, what lies ahead or a jumbled story of both.

Please note: The colour isn't quite correct in  this iphone shot.

New Painting "To Valinor"

Through the looking-glass of the lake, there is another world. Like  passage into Valinor, this indigo world patiently awaits your visit. Can you feel the stillness? The relief and solace from the difficult world beckons. It is time to go.

Still Dreaming of Summer: Ghost Canoes

New painting drying in my studio at the Williams Mill in Halton Hills. It is the second oil painting in the Dreaming of Summer Series.  Night brings a surreal look to the canoes tucked away for the evening. There are 9 paintings planned for this series, but who know how many more will be dreamed of along the way.