new painting

Into the Sunset - A New Polar Bear Series

In this new series of polar bear portrait oil paintings on canvas, a beautiful polar bear is portrayed against the setting sun, and the arctic sea.

It is spring. The polar bear’s solitary journey in search of seals, a mate, and shelter on the sea ice is coming to an end for another year.

The darkness of the arctic winter day vanishes along with the sea ice. Sunshine returns and so do the glorious big sky sunsets.

As the day draws to an end, the sun’s glory is reflected off the open water, the remaining ice, and the polar bear's translucent fur - sea, ice and polar bear connected by its light, colour and warmth.

We can reflect, too. What will we lose under the threat of climate change? A setting sun offers hope with a new day ahead, but "into the sunset" can also signify the end. 

This is the first polar bear painting in the new series . Let me know what you think.

New! Into the Sunset 1. 24” x 24” x 1.50” oil painting on canvas. ©Christine Montague 2019  ChristineMontague.com

New! Into the Sunset 1. 24” x 24” x 1.50” oil painting on canvas. ©Christine Montague 2019 ChristineMontague.com




A Polar Bear Benediction

Polar Bear Blessings

In Benediction, a 36" x 12" polar bear oil painting on canvas a polar bear, suspended upright under blue free water,  seems to be giving a blessing. Who would be the recipient of such a gift, do you think?

As with other paintings in the polar bear  Sink/Swim Series, we are at that tipping point of loosing much that is wonderful in this world. We need all the blessings we can get, and we should not only count them, but protect and nurture them, too.

I'm very blessed I can take the risk to follow my polar bear muse and look forward to where this polar bear art will take me.  Are you enjoying these polar bear paintings?  Let me know as I enjoy and appreciate your comments!

"Benediction" has a new home, but if you would like to have a polar bear in your home or office, or lucky you, polar bear lodge,  please check out what's available at  ChristineMontague.com 

Benediction  Polar bear painting SOLD  ©Christine Montague www.ChristineMontague.com

Benediction Polar bear painting SOLD  ©Christine Montague www.ChristineMontague.com

New Polar Bear Cub Painting Study 4

Sink/ Swim 3, A Polar Bear Cub Painting

Polar Bear Cub 3, a 6" x 12" oil painting study on canvas, depicts a polar bear cub mid-swim, beneath the water's surface.

The Sink/Swim Series

Sink/Swim3. Polar bear cub painting © Christine Montague www.ChristineMontague.com

Sink/Swim3. Polar bear cub painting © Christine Montague www.ChristineMontague.com

My polar bear Sink/Swim series of oil paintings offers commentry on the effect vanishing polar ice has on the survival of the polar bears. The delay in the formation of the sea ice, leaves the baby polar bear more vulnerable to attack by hungry male polar bears. The increased open water means the distance a mother polar bear must travel, polar bear cub(s) on back, before ice is found to rest on or hunt seal from,  increases the odds the polar bear bear cub(s), and even the mother, will make it safely ice top.

The sink or swim aspect can apply to the bigger picture of our planet as well. The decrease in the polar bear population is but one of the many consequences of increased global warming, and the resulting polar and glacial ice loss. Less ice means more dark water.

When polar caps melt, sea water rises. As a good part of the earth's population lives near the water's edge, well, we could all be swimming for it, couldn't we.

Anecdotal stories state that human babies will sometimes play as they drown, not realizing they are in danger.  With this chilling fact in mind, I wondered if polar bear cubs are aware they are in danger as they drown. I hope not.

Some may think of these polar bear cub paintings as "cute", not exactly a word a fine artist loves to hear. But, the fact is, it is difficult to paint escape the cute factor of a polar bear cub. I hope that the affection, admiration and concern I feel for these wonderful bears is evident, and that they evoke similar emotions in you, too. The thought that in the next 50 years then number of these magnificent polar bears may decline dramatically, is the furthest from polar bear cute I can imagine.

To sign up for my blog & newsletter, or for more info on my polar bear paintings or to buy a painting, please visit Christine Montague Polar Bear Art.

Soft Snow Polar Bear

New Polar Bear Painting

Mauja I sa 6" x 12" portrait of a polar bear taking it easy ion some soft snow.  Mauja is Inuktitut for soft snow. Inuktitut is the language of the Inuit from Nunavut, an arctic territory in Canada.

The painting above is just one the polar bear oil paintings available in my series A Celebration of Polar Bears, my way of creatively celebrating a celebration  of bears (what a group of bears is known as).

Mauja . 6" x 12" polar bear oil painting on canvas ©Christine Montague. Canada.

Mauja. 6" x 12" polar bear oil painting on canvas ©Christine Montague. Canada.

For more polar bear paintings please visit here.

To contact me about my art contact Christine Montague

Polar Bear Sitting Pretty

A Celebration of Polar Bears Painting

Inerkartok, is a 6" x 12" portrait oil painting on canvas of a polar bear sitting in the snow.  "Inerkartok" means pretty in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit in Nunavut, an arctic territory in Canada.  The polar bear in this oil painting is a pretty one, and I would like to believe she is sitting pretty, too.  Sitting pretty is an old idiom that means in a good place or a in a good situation. However, this recent Polar Bears International video on the retreating sea ice and the 40% decline in the polar bear population is far from pretty.

Canadian visual artist Christine Montague portraits and polar bears in oil on canvas
Canadian visual artist Christine Montague portraits and polar bears in oil on canvas

Inerkartok is just one of the paintings in my series A Celebration of Polar Bears.

More more polar bear info -

A Beautiful Bear...

...But Aren't They All?

Anana isa 6" x 12" portrait oil painting on canvas of a beautiful polar bear.  And that is what "Anana" means, beautiful in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit in Nunavut, Canada's arctic. This painting is another of the polar bear oil paintings available in my series A Celebration of Polar Bears.  This painting is not framed, but the painting carries around the edges and is ready for hanging.

Christine Montague polar bear oil paintings, Ontario, Canada. Contact me at   Christine Montague

Christine Montague polar bear oil paintings, Ontario, Canada. Contact me at Christine Montague

There's a Bear Model in My Studio

As fascinating as it would be to actually have a polar bear in my artist studio to paint "live" from, I realize the "live" part probably wouldn't apply to one of us for long.

Polar bear portrait study 1.   ©Christine Montague. Polar bear oil paintings on canvas. 12" x 12". Contact Christine  here .

Polar bear portrait study 1. ©Christine Montague. Polar bear oil paintings on canvas. 12" x 12". Contact Christine here.

So to simulate this experience I brought up one of my photos of the wonderful Inukshuk (the adult male bear at the Toronto Zoo) on my laptop.  I positioned my laptop at a distance and height a human model would sit in front of the easel.  Imagining the model before me was 3D,  I blocked in the shapes, values and colours I observed on the blank canvas. There was nothing drawn up before hand.

Detail: Polar Bear Portrait 2  . (private collection). ©Christine Montague 12" x 12" polar bear oil painting. Please feel free to comment below or comments & inquiries are always welcome   here  .

Detail: Polar Bear Portrait 2. (private collection). ©Christine Montague 12" x 12" polar bear oil painting. Please feel free to comment below or comments & inquiries are always welcome here.

 

In this style of painting, the background is more than a backdrop of colour to hide the white canvas. The paint helps carve out  and define the outer edge of the head, helping it to stand out from the canvas. Only at the end of the portrait painting are the fine details, and pure blacks and whites added.

Of course, for me, whether the portrait subject is human or otherwise, the big reward is always when I get to finish the eyes. Thanks to the magic of oils, the polar bear eyes in these portrait paintings, as well as in my imagination, are very much alive.

Polar Bear Portrait Study 3.   ©Christine Montague (Please note that this image is slightly cropped. ) . For comments and questions about any of my art please   contact me.

Polar Bear Portrait Study 3. ©Christine Montague (Please note that this image is slightly cropped. ) . For comments and questions about any of my art please contact me.

Northern Stars- On the Ground and in the Sky.

Polar Bear Paintings Aurora & Borealis

Here are two more polar bear oil paintings in the Celebration of Polar Bear Series -.Aurora and Borealis. They are named, or course,  for the aurora borealis, the northern lights that dance so brilliantly in the arctic sky. The size, beauty, and intelligence of the polar bear, makes this bear as magically magnetic as the northern lights.

Polar Bear Painting Aurora

Aurora . ©Christine Montague (6" x 12" )original oil paintings of polar bears  I've read that some Inuit communities believe that the  aurora borealis  are animal spirits,  but this  Aurora  has her paws firmly planted on the ground. Contact   Christine Montague Polar Bear Art  .

Aurora. ©Christine Montague (6" x 12" )original oil paintings of polar bears  I've read that some Inuit communities believe that the aurora borealis are animal spirits,  but this Aurora has her paws firmly planted on the ground. Contact Christine Montague Polar Bear Art.

 

Polar Bear Painting Borealis

Borealis (6" x 12") . ©Christine Montague polar bear oil paintings Contact   Christine Polar Bear Art. 

Borealis (6" x 12"). ©Christine Montague polar bear oil paintings Contact Christine Polar Bear Art. 

Borealis is a latin word that originates from the Greek personification of the north wind boreas.

Canada's arctic is home to over 60% of the world's polar bears but they also live in the arctic areas of Alaska (U.S.A.), Greenland, Norway and Russia (that's it, folks).

The word Boreas reminded me of Boris. They are not pronounced the same , but close enough, and so I often think of this painting as Boris, a popular Russian name that is fun to say, and is a nod to all the Russian polar bears, too.

A group of polar bears is known as a celebration of polar bears.  That is exactly what my polar bear portraits oil paintings are, happy, heartfelt celebratory tributes to these magnificent arctic animals.

 

Please visit Christine Montague Portrait Oil Paintings & Polar Bear Art for more information about these and other paintings.

Meet Polar Bear Painting Silatuyok

Meet a Polar Bear Named Silatuyok

Silatuyok is the Inuit word for cute and intelligent,  and so the perfect name for the lovely polar bear in the oil painting below. But as adorable as the big guy in this polar bear painting may seem, I have given a nod to his real nature -  an intelligent, playful, but deadly predator -  by making sure his giant nonretractable claws are clear. I actually love painting those big paws with the claws almost as much as those thickly insulated ears, and coal-black nose. 

Silatuyok.  (6" x 12" oil painting) Polar bear oil painting ©Christine Montague. Canada.

Silatuyok. (6" x 12" oil painting) Polar bear oil painting ©Christine Montague. Canada.

Silatuyok is just one of the recently created paintings available in my new A Celebration of Polar Bears Series

Meet Polar Bear Painting Ursa

Here is another polar bear portrait oil painting from my A Celebration of Bears Series. I have named the little bear in this painting Ursa, for the northern sky constellation Ursa Minor or Little Bear. Please feel free to contact me or comment about any of these little bear artworks.

Ursa . (private collection) ©Christine Montague. Celebration of Polar Bears Series. 

Ursa. (private collection) ©Christine Montague. Celebration of Polar Bears Series. 

Celebrating Grace

Grace Joins the Celebration of Polar Bears Series

Here is my polar bear portrait oil painting "Saimarnerk" (the Inuit word for grace.) The largest predator in the Canadian north, this big bear moves with grace and ease across the frozen sea. A group of polar bears is known as a celebration. Saimarnek, or Grace was the first painting in my "A Celebration of Polar Bears" series of 6" x 12" oil paintings depiciting these magnificent arctic animals. Inspired by my recent journey to Cape Dorset, a remote Arctic community, most of these bears will have Inuit names. To see more polar bear paintings visit ChristineMontague.com

Saimarnek.    ©Christine Montague. For information on my art, please   contact me

Saimarnek.  ©Christine Montague. For information on my art, please contact me

The Polar Bear Zone

New Polar Bear Painting

Drying on the easel is the 24" x 18" polar bear oil painting above.  This painting is the direct result of the large painting  I created before it that took a lot of time, focussed attention, and physical effort to create.

How Things Unfold

One of the joys of painting is that artist often goes into "the zone". You may have heard runners speak of this loss of time and in the moment experience, but did you know that painters experience this, too?  

The day I finished the big painting, I still had the time and urge to paint. I spontaneously decided to work on a smaller canvas I had in the studio, and not begin the next large work I had planned.  

Because this painting was unplanned, I had no clear vision of what it would be other than to keep to my Polar Bear Dreams Series theme of monochromatic blue polar bears.  I was pretty relaxed as I blocked in the bear's portrait, as after all, I was basically playing at the end of the day.  As I laid down the blue under painting, I got to thinking how much I enjoy showing movement in the fur, and that I love doing the brush stroke that emphasises this.

Polar Bear painting copyright Christine Montague
Polar Bear painting copyright Christine Montague

Next thing I knew I had a swirly sky with stylized northern lights and stars. And colour followed the day after.  I think the fun and joy I felt while creating this polar bear tribute shines through in the work.  And the portrait has that odd mix  found in the polar bear - mighty, beautiful, intelligent, and somehow goofy at the same time.  My good spirits played a part in conveying the spirit of the bear and sky above.

 

Premonition: Ophelia and the Polar Bear

"Premonition: Ophelia and the Polar Bear", is a 36" x 48" oil painting on canvas, and another work in the Polar Bear Dreams Series.  Like the other polar bear paintings in this series, this art work is a blue, white and black dream-like tribute to the mighty bear.  This painting, however, has a mystery to it, a hint of tragedy, and possibly, foreboding.

The Premonition (Ophelia and the Polar Bear) ©Christine Montague

The Premonition (Ophelia and the Polar Bear) ©Christine Montague

The light of the aurora borealis (northern lights) reveals a young woman trapped in the ice to a passing polar bear. Who is she, and what is her connection to the polar bear and the north?

Artist Notes:

In 2011,  Canada’s Environment Minister declared the polar bear as a species of special concern under the Species at Risk Act.

The woman in this painting is after "Ophelia" by Sir Henry Millais (Tate Gallery, London, England). See the famous Pre-Raphaelite painting that depicts the death of Ophelia and innocence lost in Shakespeare's tragedy "Hamlet" here.

Flowers representing the Canadian provinces and territories replace those found in the garland in the Millais  painting.

Dogs, Fog, and Collateral

About four years ago, as I turned onto Mayfield Road in Halton Hills, the rumps  of two large dogs, trotting amicably along, appeared immediately before me in the thick fog. Luckily, for the dogs and me, I was driving slowly having just stopped at a light, and that my car's fog lights were doing their job.

Upon hearing the car,  the dogs, both German Shepard, one black, and the other brown and black, traversed  to the opposite shoulder. They never changed pace, or even looked back.  It was only as I snapped a photo, that the brown and black German Shepard,  in the lead,  gave me a glance.

Have you seen the movie Collateral ?  There is a scene where coyotes cross in front of the taxi that holds Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. It was my favorite scene in that film, and that is how I felt when these two dogs crossed my path in the thick of the fog.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago. It was overcast and had recently rained. Driving along 22nd side road, on my way out of the glen, I glimpsed two dark shapes emerge from the trees on the hillside to the marshy field below. My first hope, however unlikely, was that these were wolves. I excitedly turned the car around, and over to the side of the road.

Lo and behold, there they were, the same two dogs I had enjoyed photographing in the fog years before.  I fumbled to get my camera out of its bag, and still keep both eyes on the dogs.  They were on the go, when suddenly, these two "littlest hobos"  plunked themselves  down in a large, dark,  mucky puddle. These two must have need a cooling off, further proof, of just how eerily warm March is here in Southern Ontario.

Before I could snap a shot, up and away they went, into the woods, and out of sight.

Back in the studio,  I took another look at the old photo of them.   I knew the brown and black German Shepard had a collar, but that pixellated item around the black dog is a broken rope? Could they be feral? Lots of good rabbit eatin' here in the glen.

No matter, whether farm dog or feral, they seemed healthy, happy, and a team.

Dogs are usually not my thing, but I love the image of the black dog, his pale breath clear in the fog, and the contented freedom the pair represent.

I immediately started the drawing of the black Shepard in fog on a large canvas. But the Mill  "open studio" days, Friday and Saturday afternoons, are  in reality "clean hands days".   So contentedly I painted  the tidy  18" x 24" oil painting study above.

And the dogs? If they do have a home, and I hope they do, I am uncertain how content the owner will be with their muddy exploits.

More Little Portrait Paintings

For those of you who don't know I am gradually filling one of my studio walls with my 100 Little Portrait Project a series of 6" x 6" portrait oil paintings on canvas portraits. Here are a few of the portraits commissioned before Christmas.  I work from photos e-mailed to me, or from photos I take, if the subject comes to my studio on my "open to the public" days.

But so far, to my surprise,  almost every painting commissioned  is as a surprise gift for a loved one. Do you know that goes for my large portraits, too? They are almost always a gift!

A Timbit Paints Another Polar Bear Portrait

"Polar Bear Portrait 1" is an 8" x 8"  head on portrait of  Inukshuk, the male polar bear at the Toronto Zoo.

It is the first of four studies in my  new miniature oil paintings series of polar bear portraits. By painting this little canvases, I' ve improved my understanding of the polar bear face and head.

Polar bear eyes are brown, close-set and face forward. I've learned that their eyesight is similar to our own, and that they are fortunate to have a protective membrane over their eyes may shield them from ultraviolet light. No snow blindness for them.

The polar bear 's rounded ears lie flat against his head when underwater.

And the polar bear does not, as I believed , hide that terrific black nose,with either his left paw (or the right one) when  hunting. You can learn more about polar bear myths and misconceptions at this Polar Bears International page.

Don't you just love the mighty Inukshuk's great big, handsome, snuggly toy of a face? Don't you just want to hug him? But I'm not fooled. I know in Inukshuk's eyes, I'm just a  Tim Hortons timbit in waiting. Better make that a Boston Creme.

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 

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.

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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.