polar bear painting

Beauty in Suspense

A flash of northern lights reveals a beautiful polar bear suspended beneath the surface of the sea. A buoyant animal, and a strong swimmer, it is comfortable in this underwater space.

But the frozen sea is its true place, vital to travel, hunting, mating, denning.

Due to climate change, sea ice forms later in the fall, and melts too soon in the spring, leaving the fate of the polar bear species, in suspense.

But for the time, in this painting, we can admire the beauty, and power of the bear, envy its solitude, see the intelligence in its bright eyes. Beautiful deep blues, green, and unlike the situation, black and white.

Contact me here more more info about Polar Bear Beauty in Suspense.

Beauty in Suspense . ©Christine Montague 2018 30” x 30’ x 1.5” oil painting on canvas.

Beauty in Suspense. ©Christine Montague 2018 30” x 30’ x 1.5” oil painting on canvas.

Detail of  Beauty in Suspense ©   ChristineMontague.com

Detail of Beauty in Suspense ©ChristineMontague.com

Beauty in Suspence  was recently on exhibition at  In Situ 2018,  an exciting multi arts festival held at CreativeHub 1352 (Small Arms Inspection Building), Mississauga, ON. Canada. Although this photo is anything but exciting (I don’t have permission to publish the works it was hanging by.), it does give a good representation of how it looks on the wall, and how the edges are painted.

Beauty in Suspence was recently on exhibition at In Situ 2018, an exciting multi arts festival held at CreativeHub 1352 (Small Arms Inspection Building), Mississauga, ON. Canada. Although this photo is anything but exciting (I don’t have permission to publish the works it was hanging by.), it does give a good representation of how it looks on the wall, and how the edges are painted.

The Fall

The Fall is a portrait of a polar bear on its solitary journey in the arctic night, unaware that a red maple leaf (Canada’s national symbol) falls before it from above. The fall colour of the maple tree isn’t part of this bear’s autumn landscape, but the frozen sea, so vital for its survival, is. Increased periods of open water from spring to fall, due to climate change, increases the polar bear’s vulnerability.

Painted in wonder and warning,The Fall pays tribute to an iconic Canadian animal, and connects Canadians in the responsibility to protect it, thereby protecting and saving ourselves.

The Fall. An original oil painting ©Christine Montague 2018

The Fall. An original oil painting ©Christine Montague 2018

Why the Canadian connection? Although one of the world’s most favourite animals, polar bears are only found in Canada, Alaska (USA), Russia and Norway. 60 - 80 % of the world’s population are found in Canada. The Fall has a “sister” painting, the award winning “The Canadian Flower Crown”. Read about it here

I am pleased to announce The Fall has been accepted into ARTWORKS 2018, the OCADU Alumni Show, December 2 -8, 2018. The Great Hall, OCADU. 100 McCaul St., Toronto. More Info and opening reception date & time here

Polar Bear in Dark water

Dark Water 1 is an oil painting portrait of a beautiful polar bear swimming.  The water is dark, as daylight is diminished in the arctic fall.

Polar Bear in Dark Water. ©Christine Montague Available at  Artworld Fine Art Gallery  until July 20, 2017. 365 Evans Ave. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

Polar Bear in Dark Water. ©Christine MontagueAvailable at Artworld Fine Art Gallery until July 20, 2017. 365 Evans Ave. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

But dark water has another implication. The earth’s bright white polar ice cap, which serves as a giant reflector for the sun’s heat, is being diminished by climate change from carbon emissions. The melting polar ice increases the darkness of the planet’s surface (hence “dark water”), decreases the sun reflected back into space, and increases the heat absorbed by the earth. More ice melts, which creates more dark water,  and so the loop continues.

This loop of sea ice loss and increased dark water endangers the polar bear. Although this magnificent bear is a highly intelligent (think great ape), top-of-the-arctic-food-chain marine mammal (the only bear that is such), and is a powerful swimmer (slightly webbed front paws, highly insulated and buoyant body), it is dependant on the frozen sea for hunting (only seal fat sustains them, not berries or birds’ eggs), resting, feeding (can’t nurse in water) and denning (necessary for mother bears with cubs, semi-hibernation, and to ride out storms).  The increase of the period of open water from spring to fall, and the distance between ice tops in winter, leaves the polar bear and its cubs vulnerable to starvation, attack, and drowning.

The polar bear in Dark Water 1 gazes back upon her path, her body twisted as if in question.

It is up to the viewer to imagine how far outside the picture frame the next ice floe waits, and whether or not, until this moment, her journey was a solitary one.

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.

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.

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

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.

 

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.