culture

Here There Be Polar Bears

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

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

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

One Big, Giant, Scary, Polar Bear Step Forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

Polar Bear Dreams

About Polar Bear Dreams

These polar bear oil paintings are part of the Polar Bear Dreams Series, a dreamlike, wistful, and spiritual tribute in oil to the mighty polar bear, whose threatened future always seems open to debate.

Polar Bear Dreams. On the Move. Oil Painting ©Christine Montague

Polar Bear Dreams. On the Move. Oil Painting ©Christine Montague

Symbols

In dream intrepretation, the symbolism held by a bear is independence, strength, death and renewal, and/or resurrection.

And, if that bear is a polar bear? Reawakening.  

I try to show the physical beauty and power of the bear in my paintings. The night sky, the aurora borealis (northern lights) , the use of color, and lack of detailed landscape show how this beautiful bear has a foot in our world, but may be edging closer to the spiritual one. Hopefully,  knowledge, awareness, and empathy, will ensure that the ursus maritimus remains firmly planted in this world.

The limited color pallette of Prussian (or Indigo) blue, white,  black, (and sometimes green ) creates the other-worldy mood, spirituality, and mystery.

Polar bears are actually not white, but we do see them that way. (Read the Polar Bears International article on their fur here).

The white in my polar bear paintings represents strength, intelligence, innocence, and hope.

Blue is the most popular colour. Looking at blue is proven to make one feel well, and is helpful to sufferers of SAD. The blue in these paintings is more than representation of the night sky. It symbolizes the earth, the spiritual, the unknown, and beauty, too.

When I paint the green of the northern lights, it is one of the colours of the aurora borealis, but also represents nature, fertility, life and balance. The colour reflects off the bear's fur, connecting it to all this colour represents.

And, as in many of my paintings, the concept of living life "in the moment" and of solitude that is not lonely is prevelent. But, longing lingers there, too.

In these paintings, the longing can be as simple as wanting these polar bears and their progeny to live a long. healthy life. 

I welcome your comments and inquiries. To see more polar bear art, or to make inquiries about my polar bear paintings (portraits, too), please feel free to comment below, or contact me  www.christinemontague.com

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

Group of Seven Fan? This is for You

Group of Seven. The Narrows. Photograph by Christine Montague A few years ago, I participated in  "Following in the Footsteps of Carmichael", an en plein air painting excursion  organized by the Art Gallery of Sudbury for the  Group of Seven 85th anniversary. The photograph above is of the The Narrows, on the way to Grace Lake where Franklin Carmichael famously painted.  If I  remember correctly, Carmichael's cottage, which his family still owned at the time, was just to the left past this aptly named spot. And further on, to the right, is the shore where we would eventually disembark to hike up a canoe portage path (bear whistle on hand) to Grace Lake. Not seen in the photo, is the cold rain  that horizontally smacked at our faces, and never let up (way to south of us Toronto was flooding). Nor does it tell the story of how, once up the path,  the downpour made climbing  the rocky vantage point to where Carmichael painted out of the question.

Jim and Sue Waddington, however, were much more successful in their quest to follow in Carmichael's footsteps, and have the photographs to prove it. In fact, they followed all the Group Of Seven's footsteps (A.Y. JacksonFranklin CarmichaelArthur LismerLawren HarrisA.J. CassonJ.E.H. MacDonaldTom Thomson, and Frederick Varley). Their new book,  "Following in the Footsteps of the Group of Seven" (Gooselane Press), tells the story of their 36 year adventure in which they tracked down, documented and photographed the actual landscapes that inspired the GO7 paintings. The book also includes the reproductions of those paintings. Here's the lovely poster Poster Waddington Cover Gooselane

Our paths connect again. This Sunday, December 1, 2013, the creative couple are talking about their adventures at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre, Glen Williams, Halton Hills, Ontario.  For more information please visit www.williamsmill.com  A.J. Casson painted in the very picturesque Glen Williams where I once I had my artist studio, and the Learning Centre, where I know you will be inspired by  the Waddington's talk, was once my artist studio!

Note: Do you know you can follow "Tom Thompson" on twitter?@TTLastSpring  Follow his tweets exactly as they occurred 96 years ago - his paintings, and journal - and learn of the mystery of his death in Algonquin on July 8, 1917. Canoe Lake · TTLastSpring.com

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.

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

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 Dog's Gone

We've had such a great winter here in the Toronto area. The artists at the Williams Mill have been more than grateful not to face the ice and snow on the steep hills that lead into Glen Williams and the Mill studios.

But still, I felt a great sense of relief that spring officially arrived this past week.   And this expressed itself in the painting seen centre of the photo above.  Meant to be the finished painting "Dog in Fog" inspired by the study at the left  (also done last week ), I 'm thinking it could easily represent the departure of the "dog days" of winter and that the title needs a rethink.

About the chair. My daughter adored this chair  owned by Naomi Assenheim, (Opal Wing Creations) the talented young jeweller here at the Mill.  Naomi was my studio mate in the Stone Building, until her move to a new studio in the Williams Mill Yellow Mill (The  Mill has four buildings housing artist studios).  So I purchased this magical chair as a surprise gift for my daughter, but somehow it's never made it out of my studio.  Any visitors to my studio who are old enough to remember their parents having such a chair, or have owned one themselves,  are not too impressed by this new edition. But for those into retro furniture from the sixties and seventies, it's a definite hit.

And for me, its soft green and gold material inspires thoughts of spring and magic in the air.

What do you think?

PS. Normally, I load my high walls with my paintings. I enjoy this airier look, although it won't last for long as new paintings come to life.

Polar Bear Portrait Painting 7

Polar bear Portrait painting 7 copyright Christine Montague The seventh in the series of little polar bear portrait oil paintings joins the fifth and sixth portraits of polar bears in the moonlight. The Toronto Zoo's male polar bear “Inukshuk” is the model.

By painting these little portraits  I am familiarizing myself with the shape of the polar bear's head and the structure of his eyes, snout and ears.

The eyes , although intelligent, are so small, I have to ignore my natural inclination is to paint them larger.  I love painting his thick, rounded fuzzy ears - the only thing "teddy bear" about him. But I'm not fooled. In Portrait 8, which I also finished this week,  I painted Inukshuk's very  large teeth.

Related articles

Happy New Year and a January 1, 2012 Thumb Up from Norway!

I just wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year! Hot of the presses, I just received this Jan. 1st, 2012 photo of my url www.christinemontague.com from Matt Cook and Sorin Mihailovici, the "dart guys" from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Matt and Sorin, are presently in Svalbard, an archipelago in the arctic that makes up the northernmost part of Norway and where there are more polar bears than humans.  It has been 2012 there for a few hours!

So why are  these two adventurers (who I don't know) holding a poster with my web site markered on it up at Norway's North Pole?

Matt and Sorin are fundraising for the polar bear in a very unique, highly creative and fun way . Go to www.polarfaith.com to learn more and to follow their journey. You'll find out why they are called the "dart guys, too!

And, If you're like me, you'll envy them , ...um, offer a bit of financial support to their very worthy cause.

Wishing you all two thumbs up for 2012 from here in southern Ontario . Not quite as exciting as one thumb up from Norway, but the wish is sincere all the same.

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.

 

 

 

Lake Dreams: New Art Show Dec. 1 - 24, 2011

I hope you can attend Lake Dreams, my solo show of new oil paintings,  at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre, in Glen Williams.  December  1 - 24, 2011. Wednesday - Sunday 12 - 5 p.m. You can read about some of the Lake Dreams paintings here.

Williams Mill Gallery Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre,  515 Main Street, Glen Williams, (Georgetown), Halton Hills, Ontario, Canada L7G 3S9

Tel: 905-873-8203                                    

gallery@williamsmill.com.

Alert! Mini Portrait of a Big Bear

"Alert"  is the fourth oil painting in a new series of miniature polar bear portraits.  Meet Inukshuk, the big male bear in the Toronto Zoo.  He's quite the character . I am familiarizing myself with these wonderful bears in preparation for working further on the fantasy  series "Polar Bear Dreams". See the first painting of the series here.     

 Canada has put Polar Bears on  a "Special Concern" list. Here is the Toronto Star article http://bit.ly/s9FZGu 

Blue Sky in Cold Wax Art

Every once in a while I  experiment with cold wax and oil paint.  So when I had some spare time a couple of Saturdays ago,  I created these little "Yellow Mill" blocks.  I painted (squigeed, is more like it)  them en plein air, except I was working from the comfort of my Williams Mill Stone Building studio. This is the view from my studio window. The Yellow Mill (an 1850's lumber mill by the Credit River) was freshly painted this summer  (an enormous task as this is one big building) and its yellow clapboard now glows against the bright blue sky. The sky really is more blue here at the Williams Mill. It 's gotta be all that "blue sky" thinking we do. lol

I made four of these cold wax panels. One sold before I had even signed it, and I received commissions to do two more.  All this before they have even appeared in public  in  the "Big Show, Small Works" art exhibition & sale  at the Williams Mill Gallery, (along with my chipmunk panels & Scotsdale Farm paintings) opening Nov. 9th, 2011. They are happy little paintings, aren't they?

New Art: Polar Bear Dreams Swimming in the Night

In my new oil painting, Swimming in the Night, a polar bear swims among the stars. The aurora borealis (northern lights) glows in the sky beyond. The wistful feelings and the ambiguity of water and sky in my  Lake Dreams Series inspired this painting's mood and story.

Recently, I made the journey to the  Toronto Zoo for one last look at the elephants before they're sent away. (Read that story here). But what's a trip to the zoo without a visit to the polar bears?  I love polar bears, an intelligent, beautiful, and mighty creature.

Only one bear was out that day. As she swam idly in the pool below me,  she watched me out of  the corner of her eye.

In Swimming in the Night, the water my Toronto Zoo polar bear swims in becomes the night sky. Reflected light and water ripples become the northern lights and stars. A portrait of a very real bear (Thank you, Toronto Zoo polar bear), this oil painting is also a sad testimony that this spirit in the sky may someday be all we have left of this endangered species.

.

Canoes in Fog & Other Lake Dreams

"Canoes in Fog' a 24' x 48" oil painting, is the latest  in the Lake Dreams Series, my series of paintings of canoes &  water at the dock's edge.

Torn between labeling the series Dreaming of Summer and Cottage Dreams I did some  "dream"  research online. A dream about a lake that has still water represents a reserve of inner peace and spiritual energy. Such a dream provides solace and  security, as well.

My longing for an end to the gloomy spring and for escape to a lake (any lake!) inspired these paintings.  It wasn't the hot, noisy, splashy days by the water I craved. I dreamed of  those still and solitary moments at the water's edge. Those moments alone on the dock, reflections of clouds and blue sky leaving me wondering which world is real. Or the quiet of early morning, before the others are awake. The mist or fog not yet cleared, and the world  dreamy and undemanding. Time to contentedly reflect and contemplate, the spirit replenished.  Yes, these are definitely Lake Dreams paintings.

But what about canoes and dreams? A canoe in a dream represents serenity, simplicity, and independence. I don't know what six canoes overturned represents though. Normally in art, odd numbers of items, make for more interesting composition. Artistically this still applies to my work, as the overlapping canoes read as one shape. Squint and you'll see what I mean. (See some other canoe paintings here here)

However, there are six of them. In dreams, "six" stands for co-operation, balance, tranquility, perfection, warmth, union, marriage, family and love. Mental, emotional and spiritual states are in harmony.

And the fog? Positive changes are afoot if the fog clears in the dream. In this painting, Canoes in Fog, the fog is lifting. The promise of clear day, with time spent on the water, lies ahead.

Fall is now officially here. I never did get away this summer, or was anywhere near a lake. These paintings, and  the paintings of "dreams" to come, will have to give the solace I need until next summer.

This winter, if you need solace, or a reminder that summer will return,  you are welcome to see what "Lake Dreams" are in my Williams Mill studio most Friday and Saturdays 12 - 5 p.m..

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.

 

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.