painting daily

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

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

A Celebration of Polar Bears

Although polar bears are solitary animals, when there is a group of them, it is known as a celebration of polar bears. Can you think of a better word to describe a gathering of these magnificent arctic animals?!

Polar bear oil paintings by Christine Montague, Ontario, Canada
Polar bear oil paintings by Christine Montague, Ontario, Canada

Each painting is a tribute to these intelligent, mighty arctic mammals. These portraits give a nod to their beauty, fuzziness, playfulness (goofy even?), but one should never forget their awesome teeth and powerful claws are ever present. Can you see their distinct personalities, too? 

Please feel free to contact me through Guestbook atwww.christinemontague.com or visit there for more polar bear art.

To learn more about polar bears, please visit Polar Bears International

 

100 Little Portrait Paintings Begins

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

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

Nifty Canadian Tire Taboret Christmas Present for this Artist

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

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

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

Hot for Cold Wax Oil Painting Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's another example of my cold wax work.

Snow Textural detail of cold wax oil painting by Christine Montague

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 #5 in Scotsdale Series by Christine Montague

Painting No. 5 (please note: now sold) in my oil series - One Cold Winter's Day - Scotsdale Farm. Scotsdale Farm, a heritage property now owned by the province of Ontario, is a beautiful Bruce Trail farm property with American Colonial architecture just north of my Williams Mill studio in Halton Hills . Standing down by the barn, I turned and looked back across, what in summer I imagine is a lovely green lawn, but is now covered in snow boldly banded in shadow. One strongly edged tree stood directly in my line of vision . It stood out in the circle of trees. I have given this 8" x 8" painting the title "Centre of Attention" but perhaps  "Poser"is more appropriate?

Today's New Oil Painting #3. Scotsdale Series by Christine Montague

Finished this 8" x 8" oil painting of Scotsdale Farm, on the Bruce Trail in Halton Hills, Ontario, Canada. two Muskoka Chairs wait for summer time. Another of the interesting little white buildings to be found on the farm. The white clap board contrasts wonderfully with the dark trees, cast shadows and smooth snow. I don't know the significance of the bell? Decorative? An old school bell? Used to call farmhands to dinner? Can you suggest a better title for this work?

Read More

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.

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

New Oil Painting: Lake Huron Afternoon

Original oil painting copyright Christine Montague 2009 Just finished this painting today, and have another small one almost done.  With my first art fair,  Art 2009 , drawing near, the crunch is on!  I am quite excited about this painting as I made a conscientious effort to apply more paint to the canvas.  After looking at a detail of the brush work of Australian artist Wayne Haag on his blog, I had a Eureka! moment. I am too stingy (not deliberately) with my paint. Although I am a confident painter, and my past paintings have definitely met with success, perhaps I am still caught up in my watercolor roots. Although the painting above  is not textured, the paint is quite loaded on, in comparison to most of my other paintings. I really enjoyed painting this piece - and it wasn't just because I got to paint a scene of my daughter  reflecting in the summer sunshine by Lake Huron.

Note: this is third of a a series I am tempted to call  "The Reluctant Tourist" .  Any one out there who has "forced" their  children or teens to vacation or day trip will relate. Although I am not without sympathy - I certainly remember teen age trips  with my parents, where I spent my time ducked down in the back of the car . Who knows who might have seen me?!

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.

Napkin Art - Taking Stock (everything's coming up roses)

napkin art Copyright Christine Montague 2009 I know I am not alone in being a doodler.  Nothing is safe - the newspaper, telephone book, napkins. If I have a pen in hand any sheet of paper is in danger of being obliterated by doodles.

Tuesday, as I ate lunch, I  mused (obsessed),  pen in hand,  on how best to move forward with my career.  To my surprise, this doodle  was much calmer than one I drew a while ago - me flailing between two pieces of bread, a palette where the lunch meat should go.  Of course, the doodling progressed to another napkin -  penguins in the shape of pink pearl erasers and and me naked doing fan dances with palettes instead of fans, but that's a whole other napkin.

Later that afternoon, thanks to Beaux-Arts Brampton artist Steve Wilson, I learned of a new art fair in Toronto, Art-2009. Thanks to the help of  a very affable organizer, I found myself, the proud inhabitant of Booth 465 0f the upcoming  Art 2009, May 12 -14th, 2009, in the Toronto Convention Centre.

I wonder if the fact I used the good flowered napkin was a sign ?

Mini Art lesson: Drawing to Underpainting. Christine Montague Oil painting "Wishing.." Begins

Do you ever wonder how one begins a painting?  Here are the first steps of my  painting  in progress now. Anxious to start painting "Wishing it was His Turn to Go" ,    and not interested to make my own canvas (the image is a not to standard canvas size), I ordered a Fredrix, artist museum quality primed linen board that I could cut to size.  Bought online, the statement "hand-primed pure Belgium Linen sounded good to me.  But when they arrived approximately a day later, I was surprised to see the warning, in caps,  that includes .., EXPOSURE MAY CAUSE HARM...NERVOUS SYSTEM, KIDNEY OR BONE MARROW DAMAGE. Wash ahnds immediately after use. When using so not eat, drink, or smoke. (shouldn't do that when oil painting anyways). Wear an apron (what kind?! a lead one?)  .

Oh, my.

Still, onward.

The first step in transferring my drawn image is to tape a sheet of tracing paper over the image. I carefully draw the  outline edges first. This serves as my registration reference.

Transferring the drawing to the painting surface Copyright Christine Montague

Next I do an outline drawing fof the image. I do not bother with any shading. In this case I draw quite carefully. I like the original drawing and do not want to leave impressions on it by pressing too hard.  I include all major detail as there is a fair amount of detail in the original image that I do not want to loose.

Detail of tracing Copy right Christine Montague 2009

I  tape the traced drawing onto the linen board & slid a sheet of graphite paper between the two layers.  I had not yet cut the board to size and so had extra space on which to tape. I was grateful after I did this. I usually work on gallery mount canvas (canvas with a deeper profile) that I do not frame. That I had not yet cut the board let me add a 1/4" around the image to accommodate for any frame overlap.

Graphite used to transfer drawing to linen board. Copyright Christine Montague 2009

Here is the transferred drawing.  Somehow , in the using the new board, I have been thrown in my process. For an under painting I usually stain the surface first. If I do it at this step, it will dissolve the graphite drawing. Staining gives me a mid tone to work from. I remove the paint for my lights, and add to it for the darks.  Now, as much as the drawing and redrawing in the above processes helps me really know my painting, so I paint with  confidence,  I don't really want to be that confident, and start the whole process again!

Drawing the outline Step 2 to tranfer drawing to painting surface Copyright Christine Montague

Here is the tonal values of the painting.. Not as well defined as normal due to the lack of staining , but enough so I understand what is going on with the piece when I begin to paint with colour. I did the under painting in Old Holland Classic Oil Colours Burnt Sienna. Note: I found the oil gesso on the linen board very different to gesso on pre purchase canvas. It was shiny and almost acted as a resist.  Also, because I had not precut the board or sealed it with a stain, my hands had been in constant contact with the board. Remember the lead warning at the beginning?

Original drawing & Underpainting Copyright Christine Montague 2009

Begining Steps for a Step painting: Seagull at Gairloch Steps, Oakville

Normally an oil painter, I  have heard good things about Golden's open acrylics. "Seagull at Gairloch Steps, Oakville" copy right Christine Montague

In my post about my painting  "GR33N" I gave them a go for the first time, but not in my usual more realistic style.  I have now started the painting "Seagull at Gairloch Steps" Gairloch is a beautiful garden  park in Oakville, Ontario. A beautiful  heritage home, now a gallery, sits on a hill overlooking the great Lake Ontario. These old stone steps and wall, now just a picturesque resting place for winged and biped visitors are one of my favorite parts of the park.  I have at least three paintings in mind involving this wall.

But what I thought would be the first quick go at the mini series, is taking me much longer. This is not the finished painting. Although I like the open acrylics, they just do not respond to how I like to paint. No glazing for example.  So what should have been a quick study, isn't, as I figure out this new medium.

I'm attempting to keep an open mind about these new open acrylics, which stay wet remarkably long and feel a little more like oils in weight... but for my next paintings.. back to oils!

Have you tried open acrylics? What did you think of them?

Valentine's Day Love for Chickadees at Riverwood Park

Chickadee lands on photographer artist Christine Montague   I was over at Riverwood Park early this morning to take part in the Riverwood Conservacy  "Family Day" bird talk. I wanted to learn more about the birds I see in the park , and was hoping for some great photos too.

Photographing a chickadee that hops down for a moment to pluck a seed from your hand is not easy when one's fingers are numb from the cold and one's arms are aching from patiently standing still  - holding a camera to one's face with one hand and holding the other arm up and out lie a tree branch. But the wait was worth it ! The feeling of the little claws landing on the thumb then hoping to the palm are unique. One can't help but love these cheery little birds. And what a joy to reconnect with naturen on our very urban city.

Speaking of our city..In Mississauga , Valentine's day is also a cause for another celebration - Our Mayor Hazel McCallion,  the mayor of Canada's  sixth largest city, celebrates her birthday. The significance? Not only does Madame Mayor turn 88, but she always hosts a fundraiser for the arts on this day. A year ago today, it was my honour to have my portrait painting of the late, great Oscar Peterson, presented to the Mayor, and Kelly and Celine Peterson, at the Mayor's Valentine day's Tribute to Oscar Peterson "Feelings from the Heart". It was a wonderful moment in my carreer, as well as a wonderful show, produced by Mississauga's own Ron Duquette. The painting now hangs by the portrait of Mayor McCallion in the Living Arts Centre.

So enjoy your Valentines's Day, and for Ontarioians, your Family Day Weekend. Mine is certainly off to a good start!

P.S. A special thank you to all the wonderful, knowledgeable & friendly Riverwood Conservacy Volunteers. As well there is a terrific new free brochure out from the Riverwood Conservacy that identifies the Riverwood birds

The Fine Art of Mystery, Migration in Mississauga

The visitor drawing-wishing-it-was-his1

This is one of two drawings I have started with two very different paintings in mind. I normally don't work on more than one painting at a time  - but both themes have equally grabbed my attention. This drawing , with my son as a model, expresses the sentiment of a young man waiting for arrival of  news that will take him away from his suburban home. He knows he will not hear until the spring.

Migrating birds have settled in the yard on their flight south. The young man startles them and their sudden flight brings catches him in the moment.  He wants to be leaving too.

This suburban yard, and landscape devoid of summer foliage holds no interest for him to stay. He is like the one lawn chair (at the end of the deck) waiting to be put away. The house across the street , representing "man and his castle" is in shadow.

The Cat Series: Here is a marker and pencil drawing to get a feel for "The Visitor" . Although unintentional, I like that  I started the series on Feb. Friday the 13th. The real mystery? How shall I execute this (how Friday the 13th)? A painting done in a graphic novel style? Realistically? Only the shadow knows...at the moment:)