Oakville

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.

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

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?

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

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 Exhibit Opening & Art Event at the Big Daddy Festival on Father's Day

Saturday, June 18th , 1 - 4 p.m. join the Williams Mill artists and me at the opening of our annual show "Where Art Comes to Life" (formally our annual "Spring into Art" show) in the Williams Mill Gallery. I have 3 paintings in the show, and you will a diverse selection of the Williams Mill Artists work - oil, acrylic and watercolour painting, glass, ceramics, wood, stone sculpture, jewellery and more.  Refreshments will be served.  Then, take a look at all the studios where this fine art work was created! Our studios are always open to the public Saturdays (Fridays, too) 12 - 5 p.m.

Then on Sunday, don't miss out on a unique and creative way to spend Father's Day! On Father's Day, Sunday, June 19, 2011,  11:00 am - 4:00 pm, art comes further to life at the Williams Mill. Demonstrations, Workshops, Discussions & Interactive Displays – pick up your detailed brochure and guide at the Williams Mill Gallery. FYI In the top left photo in the flyer above, that's yours truly in my old studio.  I will have my studio open on Father's Day - rare indeed!

Activities include:

  • Free Demonstrations: Clay Wheel Throwing, Clay Pressed Moulding & Handwork, Cut Glass Creation, Working Stone, and Wood Carving Techniques
  • Free Discussions of Work: Painting, Graphic Arts, Jewellery, Illustration & Painting
  • Free Interactive Activities: Hand Building, Soapstone Carving , Pyrography/Wood Burning, Watercolours, & Leather work & Children’s Book Readings
  • Free Historic Tour of The Mill with owner Doug Brock: 40-minute tour of the Mill at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm learning about our artists and its history (meet at the Gallery)
  • Pre-Booked Workshops with Take-Home Art – 10 sessions starting at 11:00 am (register at 905- 873- 8203/ gallery@williamsmill.com): Also Adult Glass Blowing – $20.00/30 minute session Father & Child Hand Casting - $40.00/30 minute session

A Bridge to Beauty: Gushue Cove

 

 

 

I'm working in a blurb book about a trip to Stephenville, Newfoundland I had in the summer of 2010. This photo of the a bridge at "The Gravels" just beckons one to cross, don't you think? There is a mystery to it, but not a threatening one, certainly not in hospitable Newfoundland.

"The Gravels" is a  breathtaking walking trail about 15 minutes out of Stephenville, at Port au Port. Lots of tuckamore trees, wild roses, forest, stunning coves, huge fossils in the rocks and a well maintained path to boot.

Little portrait painting #6

Sold.  Above is portrait #6 completed March 18th, 2011.  Started number #7 today. Only ninety-three and a half 6" x 6" portraits to go for my "100 Little Portraits" project.

100 Little Portrait Paintings Begins

Baby Portrait Painting Copyright Christine Montague 2011 Last fall, I created a 6" x 6" cold wax portrait oil painting in an inspiring cold wax workshop with Janice Mason Steeves. The little monochromatic portrait received a lot of attention in class, on my blog and in the studio. At Christmas I was commissioned to paint a 6" x 6"  Siamese cat portrait oil painting. Not only did I enjoy creating this little portrait, it was surprising what a little treasure a portrait this size is. So for the sheer joy of it I decided I will paint 100 6" x 6" portraits over the next few months. I have other painting commitments so I won't be following the theme other artists have followed, for e.g. 100 portraits in 100 days, but I hope you'll keep checking back to see what's new. Better yet, subscribe to my blog and those portraits will arrive in your mailbox!

Meanwhile, I have other exciting news. My concept for the Salmon Run Project was accepted. This show opens June 9th, Art Gallery of Mississauga.  As soon as I pick up my "salmon" I'll start posting on that art project, too. Stay tuna! lol

Call to Artists: New Mississauga, Halton Hills & Hills of Headwaters Art Shows

Suddenly, there are a lot of new visual art shows on the radar in the western Greater Toronto Area, specifically Mississauga, Burlington, Alton (Hills of Headwaters). Calling all visual artists - In Mississauga

  1. NEW DEADLINE! March 4, 2011. The Salmon Run Project. Proposal due tomorrow! You can do it, what's Red Bull for anyways?!..... Create a concept for a pre-made fibreglass salmon. Info due by 5 pm., Friday, Feb. 18th at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. See info  here. http://www5.mississauga.ca/agm/agm_root/upcomingex.html#salmon
  2. Hotbox Riverwood Mentorship Project. A professional development program to challenge artists to create temporary natural, site specific outdoor sculpture on the grounds of Riverwood Park, an amazing urban wilderness just 3 miles west of Square one on Burnamthorpe Rd.  4100 Riverwood Park Lane,  Mississauga, ON. International artist Reinhard Reitzenstein will mentor artists selected to take part in this exciting transformative learning experience. Monthly meetings begin March 2011. The project will conclude with an exhibition in the Fall of 2011.Application Deadline: February 28th  apply please send; 10 jpeg images of your work (size 72dpi) or website, a C.V. and a letter of interest to; HOTBOX24@LIVE.CA

Hills of Headwaters

  1. Time Frame. Heritage Caledon presents an open juried showat the Alton Mill Gallery. Celebrates Ontario's cultural and natural heritage through art. Open to all artists. 3 pieces may be submitted. April 1st deadline. Show May 28th - July 10th. Entry fee $25. All pieces must be available for sale. Entry forms downloaded  from www.caledon.ca

I have heard there is another theme related juried show out there having to do with the escarpment - will post more as soon as I find it.

Brampton: Beaux- Arts Brampton Annual  Open Juried Show. Entry Form and payment due Mar. 15, 2011. Delivery of works for jurying. Sunday, April 3rd. 8:30 - 10:30 am. Pick up of declined work Sun. April 3, 2011.  4 - 5 p.m. Show runs  April 5 - 30th. Download form here.

Williams Mill Gallery, Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre. The first ever theme based  juried art show is about to be announced! Stay tuned!

Yes, Virginia, There Are Art Cards in the Studio

It is always a good day when I open my mail super box & see a key, because a key means that I have a parcel. And who doesn't like a parcel? Inside this parcel, were 90 fine art greeting cards with images of my paintings on them. After having repeated inquiries for greeting cards in my studio, I relented. I ordered a small trial batch before Christmas...and without any effort on my part, they sold out! Seemed only natural to order more.

Now I had nothing against greeting cards. It is just that self producing them, i.e. printing & packaging, is a time-consuming process. If you consider the value of the time better spent in the studio, time spent making one's own cards, well.. it just wasn't for me.

So when I heard of a company that not only prints them, but packages them nicely too....well... I reconsidered, gave them a try, and here I am, checking out 10 different styles of cards.

I have to admit it's pretty fun to open a box filled with cards with my paintings on them. Now, just to someday open that box with the books with my paintings in them............

Anyhow, there are art cards in my studio and I hope you'll like them too.

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

Nifty Canadian Tire Taboret Christmas Present for this Artist

This may not  have been on most people's wish list but it certainly was on mine! After purchasing the large cabinet of the same series for my new studio in August, this rolling cabinet has been high on this artist's wish list. This is the taboret that will hold my palettes as I paint. I chase the light in my studio and so a table on wheels is a must. Also, as the Williams Mill, where my studio is located, is open to the public Fridays and Saturdays, I always have a quick bit of cleanup for safety purposes each week. Furniture on wheels is a must!

This item is the Mastercraft Base Metal Garage Cabinet Product #68-1224-2. It is pricey, but we , err, santa, was fortunate to get it on sale. It is built like a tank, and is a terrific height. One door locks. The drawers even come with a liner to keep items from moving.  Warning, though. It took my elf helper about 4 hours to assemble. It assembles beautifully, but you  need to set aside a lot of time, and clear a lot of space for its assembly. The wood table top is so nice (and shiny!) I am going to feel quite guilty getting that first bit of paint on it. I am considering having a piece of glass cut to fit the top and use the whole thing as a palette, Normally, I  use up to four disposable paper pallettes at a time spread across the kitchen cart I have used until now.

Note: The cabinet I first purchased which inspired this one is the Mastercraft Metal Garage Tall Cabinet Product #68-1221-8. It holds a huge amount of goods and the construction is impressive. The bottom shelf holds over 400 lb. if you have a particularly heavy piece of equipment. Both items are very heavy and we used a dolly to take them from the car to the studio.  The box this cabinet came in had a very small dent. We took the chance the contents were not damaged as it was the only one in stock. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The last piece in the box was slightly dented - something we decided we would live with as the box was so heavy, and we had already done so much work.  Lesson: always take the box with no dent!

Hot for Cold Wax Oil Painting Art

One of the joys of being an artist is the opportunity  for life long learning, discovery and play (to misquote Hamlet "The play's the thing!"). Artists are probably one of the poorest (financially) of the professional demographics, but the reward of infinite growth is priceless.

For a while now, I have been curious about the encaustic (from the Greek word "to burn in") or hot wax painting process.  I had a series in mind that I envisioned with the built up, molten, textured, luminous look that results from painting encaustically. However, upon research, I discovered that the traditional hot wax process,  with its fumes (as well as potential toxicity) of melting bees-wax, carnauba wax, damar resin, and pigment, was out of the question in my poorly vented studio which shares air space with 6 other artists.  So recently, when Canadian painter Janice Mason Steeves http://www.janicemasonsteeves.com/ promoted her workshop in the "Cold Wax Process" -no heating wax, no excessive fumes- I enrolled.

Things to find out. How would this process differ from hot wax? How could I apply it my portraiture painting? Would it have the luminous and texture potentials of hot wax? (FYI I have noticed in word searches that bring readers to this article that it is wondered if canvas can be used as a surface. No. You want the solid surface of a panel os some sort so the wax doesn't crack when the canvas bends.)

Jan has a beautiful studio in Rockwood, Ontario, that was large enough for 8 of us to each work at a table of our own. Our goals were to play, experiment with colour, texture, and application on our prepared panels. My biggest challenge was "to play" with the medium. I am goal and product oriented, and any attempts to "play"  resulted in one question "what if I did...?" branching into multiple more. I knew I was hooked when 10 prepared panels just weren't going to be enough!

Dorland's generously supplied the cold wax medium needed. This is the most remarkable product with a multitude of uses. (Sham - Wax!!  :D) Check it out here http://www.paintspot.ca/cgi-bin/advice.pl?s=98 For our purposes we mixed it 50:50 with our oil paint and then squeegeed the resulting colours on in layers. Then the creative exploring started - wiping away, scraping, scratching, writing into, lifting off,  blending, brayering in textured pattern from material, lifting off with newspaper, stencilled into - whatever this creative bunch thought to do.

On the second day, Jan instructed us to make ugly work, i.e., no thinking about finished products. Explore, experiment and play were the order of the day. But at the end of the workshop, when we took a look at each other's work, it seemed, we all failed ! Every piece - and we were a productive group -  had a fascinating element. Eight very tired (playing can be exhausting)  but very happy cold wax converts drove off into the sunset.

Encaustic Painting with Hot wax: Artist Jessie Fritsch has a nice explanation here http://www.jessiefritsch.com/encausticinfo.html

Great explanation here about is cold wax "encaustic". AMIEN stands for Artist Materials Information and Education Network http://www.amien.org/forums/showthread.php?2054-encaustics-with-no-heat

Here's another example of my cold wax work.

Snow Textural detail of cold wax oil painting by Christine Montague

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.

You're an Art Collector and You Don't know It.. Yet

Riverwood Park Koi Pond oil painting by Christine Montague Above is the 18" x 24" oil painting I did for August's "Second Saturday Collectors" Special" at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre , a centre of over 30 working artist studios & their galleries, plus a main art gallery in Glen Williams (Georgetown) , Halton Hills, Ontario.

Artist Carmen Hickson and I (Christine Montague)  started an exclusive art event at the Williams MIll recently entitled "Second Saturday Collectors' Special" . Wait, you say. I am not an art collector and so this event must not apply to me!

But if you think about it, the moment you take that first step, and buy an original work of art, you are a collector. That may not have been your intent, but by making that commitment, you have done more than passively purchase an item to hang in a room, you have done something even better. You have bought something that you respond to emotionally and that speaks to your heart. You have also done something more!  You have just supported your local entrepreneur  -which is what being a visual artist  is (they suffer all the same risks) -  and have contributed to your country's cultural economy.

The event has already created a buzz among the other artists at the Williams Mill where I have my studio and this past Saturday, 5 other artist also participated. Congratulations to Simon MacDonald who immediately sold his painting of a regional scene, with another couple standing by hoping to make it theirs! Wow!

So here's what the buzz about "Second Saturday Collectors' Special" is all about -

  • Purchasing art is exciting and special. We want you to experience that special thrill. So on the second Saturday of each month, a brand new art work is unveiled at 12 noon in the studios of each of the participating artists. The unveiled art is a surprise to all. This is even great fun for the other artists at the mill.
  • While owning original art is as important as the air to breathe for some, we understand that to many original art is regarded as a luxury item. You may love a work, but you are nervous about actually buying it. SO,  for that day only, the art work unveiled, is offered at a very, very special price.
  • Owning original carries bragging rights! The moment you buy a Second Saturday Collectors Special, you have purchased a real work of art, you beat out others to get it, and you have immediately made an profitable investment. How so? Because at 5 p.m. that Saturday if the painting hasn't sold? The "Second Saturday" price label comes down, and the true value label goes up.
  • Original art is an instant heirloom.  It has provenance. Who throws out original art? Who puts it in a landfill? It will live on for ever. Hundred years from now, someone will be admiring that work and talking about you - who owned it.
  • And last, but not least, you will have purchased locally. To be an artist at the Williams Mill, one can not be a  hobbyist. This is a highly disciplined, entrepreneurial profession with long hours . Like farmers, artists  are passionate about what they do, but artists never get to take a day off and every cent counts.  We appreciate your business.

Now You Know How the Mouse Feels

Finally! I  finished the third in the series of "Big Cat" oil paintings. Although visitors to my studio especially love the Big Cat 1 painting and it inspires many a conversation, I have great fondness for the humour behind this work. Wouldn't want to be the mouse. I envision this painting in someone's dining room over the sideboard. It's really title should be " Who's for Dinner?"