portrait painter

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

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!

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.

 

Like Summer, Art is Just Around the Corner

Just when it seemed winter would never end, suddenly it's almost June! And June is a busy time at the Williams MIll Visual Arts Centre. This is the second year for Halton Hills Big Daddy Festival and once again the Williams Mill figures prominently in the festivities. The Mill will be open as usual Saturday, June 17, 12 - 5. But on Father's Day June 19, you won't want to miss all the special art related activities being offered to Dads and their families. http://www.bigdaddyfestival.ca  The Williams Mill schedule of events is not up yet but the day starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. See you there!

Following the Big Daddy Festival is the MAG (Mill Artists Group)  Exhibition in the Williams Mill Gallery. I will have new paintings in that show.

After the MAG Show is the 5th Annual Eye Full Salon!  I put forth this concept in 2006 before I left the Mill to work at home for almost three years. The Eyeful Salon will run all July. And I will have more art work in that! Think of me kindly, as I have helped hang this show 3 times now, at about 100 paintings each time, and will probably help again this year. Bonus? I always get an exclusive preview!  lol

As well, I am now offering selected work on Fine Art America & Xanadu Gallery Online. Or for more art, see column to the right "Where to buy my art".

Of course, you are always welcome to visit me in my studio most Fridays and Saturdays 12 - 5 p.m.

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.

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

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

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

"Who's For Dinner" at the Dragonfly? It's Art.

 

 

If you are up in the Orangeville area - just north of Brampton and north-west of Toronto, be sure to drop into the lovely "Dragonfly Arts on Broadway". My larger than life oil and oil stick painting of a cat , seen from  the viewpoint of "something" much smaller, is featured in the window there until Halloween.  I have heard great things about the Dragonfly Gallery over the past couple of years, but had never been there myself until last week.

Broadway is the "main" street accessed directly off Hwy 10, so the gallery is easy to reach. This main street is attractively maintained, has a variety of shops and eating establishments and the parking is free!

"Who's for Dinner?"  - a huge attraction in my studio - is the latest in my big cat series. I don't paint with decorating in mind, but with its dramatic scale, use of black and silver, I have not been alone in  imagining it over a leather couch or over a server in a contemporary dining room. See it at the delightful Dragonfly Arts on Broadway Gallery http://www.dragonflyarts.ca/ until the end of October.

New Painting

 

 

A new painting - a 20" x 20" oil painting study of a child created for "Second Saturday Collectors Special" at the Williams Mill where I have my studio.  Admired but still available!

Crossing Into Night. New P.E.I. Painting

Here is the latest large (60" x 30") oil painting. New looser, contemporary style, but it conveys everything I wanted it to. Can you feel the uplift? My son, crossing a tidal pool in the red sand shore of Prince Edward Island, is doing his best to walk on water and not step on the myriad of life  found in its depth. Past this tidal pool, home and night awaits. The reflection symbolizes this beautifully.

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 Artist Studio - Big Cats "Spring Into Art"

[slideshow] Above are a few photos of my studio - all cleaned up for this past weekend's  "Spring into Art" Open House - an annual event on the first weekend of May  at the Williams Mill Visual Artist Centre. Lots of black oil paint going on it those giant paintings of cats! I changed the "wet paint" sign to the more effective "Warning   - Big Wet Cat".

Artist Carmen Hickson supplied the tulips, and not seen,  I had lilacs and crabapple blossoms. As an aside, lilacs are out  in Mississauga, are simply buds in Halton Hills, and a visitor told me are not yet in bud in Ottawa. The coffee was ready to brew on the Keurig, and the chocolates were out. Thank you to everyone who took the time to stop by. I always appreciate your investing in my art.

Couldn't make it this time? My studio, as well as the over 30 others at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre are open Fridays and Saturday 12 - 5 pm. The Williams Mill Gallery is open Wednesday to Sundays 12 - 5 pm.

The Williams Mill is in the western GTA (Greater Toronto Area). It is only 5 minutes south of Terra Cotta, and  is 15 minutes north of Winston Churchill Blvd. and the 401 in Mississauga.

New Found Joy at the Terre Neuve (Newfoundland) Gallery

Artist Christine Montague with Aurora's Mayor Morris. Grand opening of the Terre Neuve Gallery.

The opening of an art show is always exciting and full of promise. Combine this with the opening of the gallery itself - especially one as well conceived as the new Terre Neuve Gallery in Aurora, Ontario - and I knew I was in for one special day.

Packed from the get-go the gallery stayed abuzz with positive energy all day long. I enjoyed chatting about my work with so many enthusiastic Aurora art lovers. In fact, the gallery was so busy,  I didn't even notice that the "Jewel" 88.5 radio team, who had been terrifically supportive and complimentary to the art, had packed up and gone. (Ahhh, the keen eye of the artist)

I 'm honored to have made the acquaintance of Aurora's gracious and fascinating Mayor Phyllis Morris. Although my portrait painting of the Lorne Scots reservist, "Private Romeo" often garners a lot of attention, it's always particularly poignant to me, when someone with military experience, is drawn to it.  Mayor Morris served in the military in the U.K.,  and was recently at the deployment ceremony  for Aurora's Queen's Own Rangers Reservists.

I enjoyed meeting other Terre Neuve Gallery artists - Rebecca Last, & Christina Kerr. Of course, I have known the wonderful sculptor Mary Ellen Farrow, a fellow Williams Mill artist, for a long time.

There wasn't much time left over to talk to those who created  this new gallery - Harold Hillier, Sarah Olson, Andrew Hillier, and consultant Karyn Lockhart.  Their vision, has given me a place to share my vision, and for that I am very grateful.

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.

Gratitude, Hope, Great Art Neighbors & a Little Fun too, Make for a Happy New Year

For an eternity, it seems, my  painting career has been compromised by my grilled cheese membership in the sandwich generation.  Genuine teen angst faced by those of the younger generation in my household, and the  chronic health issues, and subsequent death of those in the older  one, gave me little time to pause for breath, nevertheless paint. However, , thanks to my commitment to be in the art fair, Art-09, in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in June, I did somehow pull through and manage to create new work. It is amazing how financial pressure & a deadline will inspire, isn't it?

And thanks to all the attention one of those paintings received (Stop and Go on the Credit), even though it did not sell at the time , in the fall I made the decision it was worthy of a quality frame. This meant, up to Four Sticks Framing - owned by the very accomplished painter Jim Reid (formally framed  for the AGO & McMichael) - at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre.

After choosing an exquisite little cherry veneer frame (Stop and Go immediately sold!) I popped down the little stairs by Jim's studio to the lower level of the big stone building to check out the The Red Pig Studio . I have enjoyed reading the blog of this studio's owner -  found object assemblage sculptor and painter, Carmen Hickson. I thought I might like to meet this unique artist and see her work in person.

To my surprise, the one very large studio was now two - Carmen's studio on one side and the other empty. Well, long story short - after a couple of hours of animated conversation with Carmen, and an email to the mill's owner, I was the proud occupant of that empty studio space beside The Red Pig Studio.

Just in time  - my art work was included  the Williams Mill Gallery "Big Art, Small Works" show (I think I have now sold four!), and my studio was included in the Christmas Open House  weekend, where the owners of  Georgetown's Main Street Inn toured my studio & invited me to include work in their Christmas Exhibit.

So after, what can only be described as a couple of years " Annus horribilis" I am suddenly...

...grateful to be back painting, grateful to have my studio in this unique artist centre, grateful for all the wonderful and inspiring artists I have as neighbors. Grateful, as well, to all my clients- you let me continue to make art. And, although it has taken hindsight to admit so, grateful that I had the strength, good health and fortitude, to have been there for those I love when they needed it most. My life of art wasn't sacrificed  as I feared, but simply waiting in the wings for my return.

Wishing you a New Year full of hope, happiness, and good health - i.e. a 2010 to be grateful for!

Fondly,

Christine

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

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