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In Honour and Celebration

Polar Bear Painting About Tribute Wins an Award of Its Own

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

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

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

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

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

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

(See more polar bear art here)

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Helpful Art Business Books for Visual Artists

The Model Visits the Studio. Copyright Christine  Montague For the most part, I have been responsible for the promotion and sales of my portraiture and other oil paintings. But like many artists, I often felt uncomfortable talking about my art and closing the sale. I 'd like to share with you the art business books I have personally found helpful to navigate the art biz world. What books have helped you?

  1. Starving to Successful The Fine Artist's Guide to getting Into Galleries and Selling More Art  by J. Jason Horejs.  With a professional artist as a father, Jason Horejs grew up in the art world. He has owned the successful Xanadu Gallery, in Scottsdale, Arizona since 2001. Very respectful to artists, and passionate for art, he generously shares his insights into the art world in a sincere manner. If you have ever taken a workshop with, read his books, his blogs, or otherwise dealt with Mr. Horejs, you already know he is quickly becoming a respected artists' guru, if not one already.
  2. How to Sell Art A systematic Approach to Creating Relationships with Collectors and Closing the Sale by J. Jason Horejs More helpful how-to information,  perfect for the artist and the gallery owner who wish to build, and  improve relationships with the collector, and therefore do the same for sales.
  3. My Painting is Done, Now What Do I Do? Simple Business Solutions for Artists by Suzie Seery-Lester . Suzie Seery- Lester is an established wildlife artist from Florida, U.S.A. Along with her world-renowned wildlife artist partner John Seery-Lester , she has travelled the world, culminating years of experience in creating art, art marketing, and selling art in art fairs and exhibitions. She shares her knowledge of practical business applications in this terrific handbook on how to keep track of inventory, shipping, price setting, and preparing for the show.  I normally do not do the art fair thing, but when a family member for whom I cared, took seriously ill right before my first art fair, this book was a bible-of-a-check-list on how to prepare and what to bring. I did not forget one thing, and the trauma that was going on in my personal life was not evident in my professional one. Thank you, Suzie Seery- Lester! 
  4. Self Promotion for the Creative Person Get the word out about who you are and what you do by Lee Silber. The very first art business book I bought, it is now over 10 years old. But holy smokes, click the link above to Lee Silber. This man has been busy! I admit I haven't read it recently, but definitely was a help in how to market without money, a problem most artists face, and Mr. Silber definitely knows how to promote.
  5. Artist Survival Skills How to Make a Living as a Canadian Visual Artist by Chris Tyrell. Mr. Tyrell ran the Presentation House Gallery and worked for decades with visual artists. He is now an arts consultant and teaches the business of visual arts practice at Emily Carr University, British Columbia. I'm a Canadian artist so it was great to read a book that uses Canadian specific examples.  I see Mr. Tyrell has a 2011 book out Making It! on case studies of successful artists

Also: A helpful booklet.   Survival Skills A Visual Artist's Guide to Professional Practice.  Originally published by Visual Arts Ontario, it looks like it no longer is available. However, CARFAC ( (Canadian Artists' Representation/le Front des artistes Canadians) offers a good choice of artists help publications http://www.carfacontario.ca/page/cat/publications/

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.

What the Cat Saw

"What the Cat Saw",  an exhibition of 13 cat art works, is on display at the Dragon Fly Arts on Broadway Gallery in Orangeville, Ontario, until the morning of May 24th, 2011. The majority of the art work are oil paintings but there is  also an original lithograph.  You can see part of the black and white original litho "yes?!"  in the bottom right of the photo  above.

What's a lithograph you ask? Although the term lithography is often used in reference to posters or other fine art reproductions, that is NOT what this is. This type of lithography refers to an original work of art, the way an original etching or serigraph is. I drew this cat in reverse on a big piece of limestone that had to be sanded perfectly flat.  The drawing was then etched on the stone, and special lithography black ink was rolled over it. Arches paper I had torn to size was placed on top of the inked image, a cover felt on top of that and then the whole thing was run through a press, ONCE.  Details, texture and values are achieved through the accurate etching, the quality of the drawing on the stone, and the careful inking. I did this 13 times to achieve an edition of 13. The drawing on the stone was then ground off. The resulting 13 prints are the art.

It was great fun to set up in the window of the Dragonfly Gallery, a first for me. Why the Dragonfly Gallery? Quite a few reasons actually. I don't mind selling amongst potters and jewellers at all. At the Williams Mill, I am quite accustomed to working alongside professionals who work in all media. The Dragonfly is a mini Mill type gallery with studios at the back.  A bigger reason through is Joan Hope, the owner of Dragonfly. She LOVES her artists. She is proud of them,  can talk knowledgeably about what they do and she looks out for them.  As well, she values her customers and works hard at knowing what they want!  In fact, she  won the the 2010 Hills of Headwaters "Best Customer Service Experience ". Plus, many local hardworking, creative artists I know and admire  sell out of the Dragonfly. So, count me in!

As the work went up in the window, many a passerby would stop, watch, and comment, too. A young man enquired about the 5 foot high "Silver Light" painting, and the slightly smaller "Blue Eyes Inside". After a pleasant conversion about my art, we discovered, he was the great nephew of the iconic Joyce Wieland, often regarded as Canada's foremost female artist and the late wife of  the equally important artist Michael Snow. It was a long time ago, but when I did lithography (the lithograph Yes?! is an earlier art work), I did a residency at St Michael's Workshop in Newfoundland. At that time it was located in a small village about 30 minutes outside of St. John's. The previous tenant who I had just missed?  Joyce Wieland.  When I left, if I could have stayed just a few hours more I would have had the privilege of meeting Christopher Pratt and his then Wife Mary Pratt. How great would that have been!

Oh, life and its mysteries! lol

And speaking of mysteries.. if you would like to solve the mystery of  "What the Cat Saw" visit Dragonfly Arts on Broadway until the morning of May 24th.

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

Where they Are Now! Yup. I'm Still Here Seeing Rainbows.

 

 

I' m lucky. I may be off to a later start than many of my artist peers, but at least I'm here - painting in my very inspirational studio at the Williams Mill.  You'd never know it is only 15 minutes north of the big city. Looks right out in the country doesn't it? There it is - that promised pot of gold - pointing the way to the studio.

 

The OCAD University Alumni has had an exciting new initiative in the works. Alumni, of which I am proudly one, could enter work in the very first  alumni juried show entitled "Where They Are Now!".  Jurors were Melissa Bennett, Curator of Contemporary Art - Art Gallery of Hamilton, Maggie Broda, AOCA, Drawing and Painting, President of OCAD Alumni Association, and William Huffman, Associate Director at Toronto Arts Council.

I'm honoured my painting "Down the Light House Stairs" , a figurative painting in the Kincardine Lighthouse, was accepted into the show.

The Opening Reception  - Nov.12  sounds intriguing as all 12 of OCADU's  disciplines will be on display. As well, it will also be the official launch of "In Quest of a Countenance", a new book by OCAD alumni & past faculty, John Inglis. John will donate $5 from each book sold to the OCAD University Alumni Association.

Steam Whistle Brewery and Kacaba Vineyard and Winery are being supportive too. (Wahoo!)

Nov. 18 - 28, 2010. Art Square Gallery. Across from the AGO. 334 Dundas Street W. Toronto , Ontario, Canada. Daily from 9 am to 11 pm.

 

 

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?"