daily painting

Sink/Swim 1: A Polar Bear Cub & Vanishing Sea Ice Painting

New Polar Bear Cub Painting Series

The polar bear cub painting below comments on sea ice loss and its effect on polar bears. 

Sink/Swim 1  (private collection). 12" x 6" polar bear cub oil painting  ©Christine Montague. www.ChristineMontague.com

Sink/Swim 1 (private collection). 12" x 6" polar bear cub oil painting  ©Christine Montague. www.ChristineMontague.com

You may know that, thanks to climate change (global warming)  mother polar bears, polar bear cub(s) atop their back, must swim greater distances in search of ice tops on which to hunt, rest, feed and occasionally den. The greater distances, and greater sea ice loss, means these trips, are not always successful.  Polar bear cubs just simply vanish along the route, and sometimes the mothers do, too.

I've heard some human babies continue to play as they sink to the bottom of the swimming pool, unaware they are in danger of drowning. I don't know if this is actually true, but, with this concept in mind, I've painted this little bear. This polar bear cub is under water, and not in distress. It's looking right at us though, leaving us to decide the innocence or tragedy of the scene. What do you think happens next?

For my online gallery of  polar bear art - paintings and portraits, please visit ChristineMontague.com

For everything polar bear, please visit Polar Bears International, the not for profit organization noted for their research and advocacy roles re: sea ice loss and effect on polar bear life.

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.

 

Eye-to-Eye With a Salmon

Since I am an artist who usually works 2D, I found myself hesitating for a second when I picked up the brush to paint the salmon cast. But I quickly realized I should use the same approach to this sculptural fish as I use with any portrait painting on canvas. Start with the eyes! The ol' the "eyes are the mirror of the soul thing".  As soon as I did this, I found my "connection" to this pre-made form. I only had salmon photos off the internet to use as reference. Thus I realize, for any salmon aficionados out there,  the salmon is probably not exactly like the Coho. Apparently,  the cast itself is not quite correct, the fins are too small, etc. But that's not really the point. To create what I proposed, all I need to start with is a shape that is easily recognizable as a healthy salmon, no matter the breed or  how exact its representation is.

My poor salmon. He only stayed "healthy" for one day. Stay tuned.

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.

heARTs & Cold Wax Oil Painting

Heart Rising. Cold wax on wood copyright Christine Montague It has been a while since my last adventure with cold wax and oil painting (Read more about it here).

Experiments that I had begun since that time didn't seem to set.  I wondered if I had received the wrong Dorland's wax product, or if I used too much oil paint in my ratio of wax to pigment. But as it turned out,  I had my work too textured, and the under layers could not dry. When I shaved off the thicker parts the drying process began.

So, the other day,  I decided I  would put some left over paint to good use and mix in some wax. There was enough for one little small panel. But, like trying to eat one just one peanut , next thing I  knew - I had pretty well used up my little stockpile of prepared wood panels (i.e.panels were gessoed, sanded, & their sides masked).  A whole series of pink, white & silver of heart & Valentine's Day inspired works lay drying in the studio - hearts emerging from the clouds, floating over the falls ("falling in love" get it?), hearts rising. A couple of bouquets too.

As the cold wax process uses a lot of oil paint - the cost of  artist quality Winsor & Newton oil paints does limit how much I can afford to experiment. With Valentine's Day in mind,  I added Permanent Rose (what better colour for true love), and Silver to the Dorland's cold wax.

First I dolloped the oil and wax mixture on the panels with a palette knife, then used the Wilton Dough Scraper spread and smoothed it over the surface. I also used the scraper to remove and push the wax mixture to create my texture, and values. The light pink is the stain from removed wax. The darker pink is where the wax is thicker and smooth.

A week later, some of the areas still weren't setting fast enough for my liking. Out came the palette knife to remove areas too thick. I accidentally scratched a piece with the  sanding paper I was using to clean up the back of the work. Hmmm. I liked the way that looked, and next thing I knew, I was dramatically changing some of the 3" x 4" blocks by  incorporating sanded away texture. Isn't that what experimenting is all about?

Below you see the Wilton Dough Scraper I bought at the Janice Mason Steeves cold wax workshop.

Winton Dough scraper. Tool for Cold wax. Christine Montague

Emerging Heart. Cold wax. Copyright Christine Montague

Second Second Saturday Spashdown

Today was the second of the "Second Saturday Collectors' Special" series offered in my studio and that of fellow Williams Mill artist Carmen Hickson.

Carmen and I each create a new painting that is not unveiled until the second Saturday of each month. For that day only, each of our new paintings are offered at only a fraction of  their worth.

For example, this month's 18" x 24" oil painting one canvas " Study for Summer Fun" - completed just this morning - was only $100 plus HST.  It's wholesale value is $300 plus tax.

Why was this work offered as a lost leader?

Visitors to our studio are always enthusiastic about our work, but  through conversation, it would seem that many of these visitors have never bought original art.

So, we have set about to ease the struggle  the potential collector  may feel in taking that first  step  in buying original art. We sincerely want to help people experience the joy that comes from owning original art ...and it is a joy!

We also have the fun of challenging ourselves in what special work we will create for this special day.

And to add to the excitement - other Williams Mill artists have decided to take part in August's Second Saturday Collector's Special.  Now we can hardly wait for August. What wonderful works and special deals will August bring?

Ten Little Cat Paintings

These ten little 5" x  7" cat  oil paintings may, I am thinking, be the first of a series of 100. In this first set most are of cats and wallpaper. One is an "Es-cat -ment" (a play on the Niagara Escarpment) , and one is a "harlecat". Most have silver or gold oil paint.

The Big Picture - Art & Land . Happy Earth Day to You!

American artist Andy Warhol sums it up exactly "I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anyone could ever want to own." Today I was reunited with a painting I feared had gone astray. On exhibit at an unknown location through an art rental service experiencing difficulty, I feared this was one painting I may never see again.

Read More

Taking Shape: New Cat Painting Begins

A new giant cat is emerging from the dark in my latest oil and oil stick painting - seen here in my studio at the Williams Mill.

The Colour Shaper tool is again proving useful to both add and remove paint creating great fur texture. Read all about the Forsaline & Starr Colour Shaper & how to use it here.

Finished Big Cat Painting Today

Detail of Big Cat Painting Copyright Christine Montague

I didn't want to leave the studio today until I finished this painting - I was so anxious to see it completed. Although I adore painting in oils, drawing was my first love, and so, it was exciting for me  to both draw (oil sticks) & paint (oils) in this art work. This piece also combines my love of portraits, my love of animals and my love of black (I am only painting in black until they invent something darker). Equally as fulfilling was my use, for the first time, of silver oil paint as my "white" - although its reflective values proved a little trickier to photograph. My iphone camera, couldn't quite do the trick.

Do you know that many artists give a lot of thought to the placement & appearance of  their signature on their paintings? Well, I am one of those artists. This new work called for a different look to my signature. Traditionally, on my carefully rendered, realistic paintings, I carefully print my full name in block lettering. I don't like my signature to distract from the work, and even will use more than one colour to print it so that the signature  flows with the work. This painting called for something more expressive. Artist Carmen Hickson of www.theredpigstudio.com lent me a nifty colour pushing brush* ( a rubber chisel tip instead of bristles). It was perfect for carving out a cursive signature with values that suited the painting.

By the way, "Big Cat Painting" is not the official title of the painting...

* I don't know the official name of these rubber tipped brushes, and tried unsuccessfully to  google them for this post. My son, who used to work at Curry's Art Supplies, informed me they weren't big sellers, but I sure found it terrific to use.  Do you know what this type of brush is called?  I did however find this new neat little cleaning gadget while trying to find the rubber brush name https://www.currys.com/catalogpc.htm?Category=A021B006823&Source=Search. I could have used this when washing piles of black oil paint out of about 8 brushes this evening :D

New Art - Giant Cat Portrait Painting Continues

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

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

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

New Painting Begins: Giant Cat Portrait

I just finished a series of 8" x 8" paintings  - Scotsdale Farm: Snow & Shadows. I needed to stretch my wings after painting so small.

A larger than life portrait painting of a Maine Coon cat in silver, black, and white oil stick and oils seemed the natural next step.

What I have done so far -

  • It is the first time I have used Tri-Art "sludge". I used it to cover the white canvas and add some texture.
  • After applying the sludge, I saw a large cat eye, ear &  head looking right in the swirls of the paint.
  • Decided to go with my instincts. Found a photo of my silver tabby  Main Coon cat to use roughly as a reference.
  • &  voila ... the painting begins. The face emerges some more out of the darkness.

Today's New Painting #6 in Scotsdale Series

Here is #6 in my series of 8" x 8" oil paintings about the shadows, snow & structures at Scotsdale Farm, a heritage site on the Bruce Trail, in Halton Hills, Ontario, Canada. The iron effigy of the horse head,  stands silently, in shadow, by the empty barn. In the sunny background, a car drives by.  More symbolism for such a small regional landscape painting? The horse faces left - representing reflection & looking back. The car faces right symbolizing looking ahead. That it has moved out of the picture frame symbolizes movement forward and leaving the horse behind in its dust..err..exhaust.

Today's New Oil Painting #4 in Scotsdale Series by Christine Montague

By 6:15 a.m. this morning, I was out of the drive through at Tim's and on my way to the studio. I finished this little 8" x 8" oil painting of the bird feeder at Scotsdale Farm by 11. Don't be fooled I did not get this painting done in just a couple of hours. Although, I paint with confidence and rarely go back on what I do - these 8 x 8's still always take 8 - 10 hours of solid uninterrupted painting to complete. This is the fourth in my series of 8 x 8 inch paintings based on my January 2nd , 2010 visit to Scotsdale Farm with the Ontario Plein Air Society (OPAS). It was - 25 degrees C. that day and we experienced everything from bright sunshine to grey snow swirls.

Scotsdale Farm is a heritage property  on the Bruce Trail, just north of Georgetown and my Williams MIll Studio in Glen Williams, Halton Hills, Ontario.

Today's New Painting #2. Scotsdale Series by Christine Montague

Up and out early to my studio in the Stone Building of the heritage Williams Mill this morning, I was painting by 7:30 am.  This little painting 8" x 8" oil painting of the stone silo at the province owned heritage  site, the Scottsdale Farm. This beautiful old stone silo  is on the Bruce Trail  (a popular walking trail - part of the Niagara Escapement in Ontario, Canada).

I love the architecture of the American Colonial Buildings at this farm which I visited for the first time January 2 of this year with my plein air painting group OPAS. With three works of art inspired by this visit completed already, and other ideas lined up ready and waiting - I guess a Scotsdale Farm series is in the works! The photo below is very glossy as so fresh off the easel & it was still too dark out to take outside in more even light.  Not a bad start to my day! And here is a better picture of "The Fourth Tree"  - also a Scotsdale Farm painting.

An Art Full Day in Mississauga- A show, Plein Air Painting too

Plein air painting by Christine Montague - Lakeshore Road from Starch Building This weekend, I had the unique opportunity to exhibit my paintings during the South Side Shuffle Jazz Festival. Five other Mississauga artists and I put on an art show in the historic St. Lawrence Starch Company, on Lakeshore Blvd in Port Credit, Mississauga.

The location was terrific, the venue attractively set up, and the atmosphere, with the Shuffle's live music drifting through the doors, made for a really pleasant experience. The positive remarks on the artwork displayed, as well as the overwhelming appreciation for an art venue in the area was very encouraging. The show reaffirmed just how much an art gallery for Mississauga artists is needed.

This weekend was also World Paint Out Day, a day that individual artists and plein air groups around the world make a special effort or host special painting on location events. Ontario Plein Air Society was too recently formed to organize an official plein air event. Instead OPAS, asked its members to  make an effort to paint and to then post the work on its blog site.

My very full weekend - TIFF (The Men Who Stare at Goats gala ( yes - I saw George Clooney and Jeff Bridges) a street garage sale, and the art show, left me with only a short time to dash out a painting, while working the show at the Starch Building.

A beautiful day to paint! This 6" wide x 12" high oil painting is from the viewpoint of Fram's St. Lawrence Starch Building, looking east, past the iron fence, to Lakeshore Blvd.

Although I prefer not to touch up my plein air paintings, I chatted too much to inquisitive & friendly passers by, and so need to clarify and brighten up a few parts. This includes defining the words "Port Credit" (the focal point) on the red and white banner.

The Great One That Got Away

I thought you might enjoy the retelling of a blog I wrote from 2007. Lessons still apply!

Dry Docked. High & Dry with No Cash in Sight. Or The Great One That Got Away.

Ever read "Blink- The power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell? Well,

read the following and find out how my snap judgement resulted in lost opportunity.
A very long time ago, as part of an OCAD class with the terrific teacher Chin Kok Tan, I was plein air painting (ie. on location) on Toronto’s Ward Island. I sat alone on my little stool (picture one of those little blue and white striped Canadian Tire folding ones) painting a watercolour of a sail boat in dry dock, the CN Tower & Toronto skyline in the background.
Three men came up from behind, and one of them politely complimented me on the painting and asked its cost. As I replied “$50” , I twisted around to look up the man asking. His fair hair was backlit by the bright sun, and I could not see his face.
Meanwhile, another of the three, yakked loudly and addressed me as "sweetheart". He made me uncomfortable, and so I dismissively ascertained all three to be “jocks”, and I was an artiste (even though I was a runner, skier & generally liked physical activity).
The polite, potential customer, continued to compliment my painting, and pulled about $30 from his pockets, stating that was all the cash he had on him. I held firm to my price due my irritation and judgement of the louder man.
The three went off, the polite, potential buyer thanking me, even though he was empty handed.
A while later the three returned. Groan. They had searched for more money (at a nearby boat?) and had come up with $38. “You don’t even have to finish it” they laughed. I proudly held my ground. It was $50 or no sale.
The three men departed, and then, when about 50 feet away, the gentleman who wanted to buy the painting, ran back to me, put his hand on my shoulder, said “Keep up the good work, dear” , and then rejoined his friends.
Immediately, I was swarmed by my classmates who had watched from afar. “What did he say ? What did he want? “
I looked at them. I hadn’t a clue what they were referring to, although by now you may have guessed.
Yes, I had turned down selling my painting to Wayne Gretzky .
Well. Lessons learned.
  • Snobbery does not equal professionalism.
  • Always look a customer in the face.
  • Treat every one with respect. Do not prejudge. Look after your customer. Appreciate when someone has actually taken their time to stop, look, and compliment.
  • Be fair to your clients by being consistent in your prices, but sometimes, it pays to compromise. At the time I could have used that $38, although I have had more than $50 in fun in recounting this story.
  • paint on location with a buddy (maybe a partner might have been more observant than I)

Epilogue: A year later I sold the painting at an outdoor art show at Corbyville, Ontario. By that time I had paid for a matte and shrink wrapped it. After the woman bought it I told her the Wayne Gretzky story. She was delighted as the painting was bought as a present for her husband and he was a huge Gretzky fan. Oh… and the price the watercolor painting sold for? $25!

And with the wisdom of age and hindsight (there's that word sight again) , I mean, how cute were these guys going back to search for change to try to get the $50? What was I thinking?

A New Plein Air Painting

Plein Air Oil Painting Copyright Christine Montague 2009 Tubing & OPAS on the Credit River. Photo copyright  plein air painter Christine Montague 2009

Today was the third gathering of the new group Ontario Plein Air Society.  Nine of us met at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre in Glen Williams.  We used my former studio in the beautifully restored old yellow mill - which can now be rented by the half day - as a home base, but painted down the road by the Credit River.

In my secluded little spot on a couple of feet of eroded shoreline, and only a foot from the water, I painted the tree line that stood at my eye level, resulting in the oil painting on canvas above "Spring Growth by the Credit River. A Glen Williams, Halton Hills scene) . The day was hot, and very bright, but in my tiny shady oasis, I was cool and relaxed by the lapping water. That is, after I decided to ignore the huge yellow jacket that buzzed in front of my eyes every 20 minutes, and the clouds if midges that wafted above now and then!

Some terrific paintings were produced by all, and it is always fascinating to see each artist's interpretation of  the same location.  I am always surprised how  3 hours of painting outdoors feels like a happy day away! (Please note: this plein air painting is now sold)

Today we were honored that J. Bandini, President of the International Plein Air Painters Worldwide Organization drove all the way from Niagara Falls to join us.

And for those of you who think you might like giving painting out doors a try - the following is info on OPAS. By the way OPAS is free, and anyone is welcome. It is a way for plein air painters across the GTA and beyond, to link up to paint.

http://ontariopleinairsociety.blogspot.com

Find us on Facebook Ontario Plein Air Society(OPAS)

Follow us on Twitter twitter.com/O_P_A_S

On the "Go" - Two new paintings, Mississauga landscape, Kincardine Lighthouse interior.

The Lighthouse Stairs Copyright Christine Montague 2009 Last week was busy!  I finished this  20" x 20" oil painting of  a youth going down the lighthouse stairs at Kincardine, Bruce County, Ontario, Canada. The challenge to myself was to paint whites in shadow (expand my gray palette). I wrote a blog on this painting & mini  color mixing lesson. Click  here.

Stop, Go. Copyright Christine Montague 2009

Above is a 9" x 12" oil painting of  a Go train emerging from the trees over the Credit River in Port Credit, Mississauga, Ontario. Young boaters from the nearby Mississauga Canoe Club stop to watch it go by - thus the title Stop and Go on the Credit River (Please note: This painting is now sold).

The Credit River in Port Credit is fabulous spot to spend an urban summer evening. Boaters, birds, coffee and ice cream - Lots of places to stroll, shop, sit & people watch.

The original painting isn't as dark as this photograph. Unfortunately it sold so quickly I never did take that quality RAW photograph. Artists out there ! Heed this lesson. A painting is NOT finished until you have taken that quality image for your records.

I often have the problem - when the painting is glossy and glazed - of getting a true representation of the painting. Either the gloss of the paint from my use of liquin (which speeds drying time) reacts like a varnish layer and reflects the light, even on an overcast day. OR even worse, the camera is too efficient and somehow photographs through the top glaze layers and The image photographs as if in an unfinished state!

My husband has decided this is his favourite of all my paintings. Hmmm. I am flattered, but considering I have done some fairly ambitious pieces over the past six years, I am bit "stopped" by such enthusiasm, but I will admit it was fun to have a "go" at a train.

(Last week I also did my first plein air painting . Here is that painting & blog - Click here) This painting will be auctioned off at the 2010 Art Gallery of Mississauga Annual Art Auction.