Drawing

Polar Bears in My Kitchen

It wasn't long after the stone tile backsplash was installed in my kitchen, that I started seeing things. Movement, right there in the 2" x 4" tiles.  As I stared, the tan, grey and white striations in the stone shapeshifted into landscapes. Snowy ones. Cloud-filled and foggy ones.  Dark ones.

As if portals to other worlds like in old school Star Trek .

Polar bear  drawing and  fox  drawing by Christine Montague

Polar bear drawing and fox drawing by Christine Montague

Christine Montague fantasy drawings
Christine Montague fantasy drawings

And these worlds, they seemed to be..gulp..inhabited! Polar bears and other bear-like animals, fox, and fish, and others, that I couldn't begin to classify.

I sketch portraits of these creatures when I can.   For the most part, they seem unaware I am there, as they fly, swim, and run past my window to their world. But when some stop  and gaze my way, I confess I sketch faster.

When Strange Neighbors appeared as a category in The Sketchbook Project, I sent my sketchbook their way. I had to let you know what lives with me in my kitchen. Even if you only believe it's all in my imagination.

The Sketchbook Project (www.sketchbookproject.com), is a global, crowd-sourced art project  and interactive traveling exhibition, of handmade books. It  is the flagship endevour  of Art House, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.. It consists of three libraries: Brooklyn Art Library, Mobile Library, and The Digital Library

Happy International Polar Bear Day!

"In the Presence of Royalty" Illustration for CRAM, Sketchbook Project 2013 copyright Christine Montague 2013 Today is International Polar Bear Day. Here's an interesting FAQ page from Polar Bears International. http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/about-polar-bears/faqs

And although most of us have learned by now, that penguins and polar bears do not co-exist, I did not know "arctic comes from the Greek word for bear, and Antarctic comes from the Greek meaning the opposite, without bear" (Polar bears International). 

How sad would it be, if re: the polar bear,  "Antarctic " applied to the world?

Perhaps , all the snow we have received today in the Toronto Area, will not seem as miserable, if regarded as a tribute to the mighty ursus maritimus.

Polar bear Spirit in the Sky. Illustration from CRAM, The Sketchbook Project 2013 Copyright Christine Montague

Cram the Polar Bear World: The Sketchbook Project 2013

Copyright Christine Montague. "In the Presence of Royalty". The Sketchbook Project 2013". Grpahite. The little envelope containing my sketchbook from The Sketchbook Project, somehow was mislaid during my studio move, and completely out of mind with the excitement of family home for Christmas. My memory was suddenly jogged when The Sketchbook Project people wisely sent out a "deadline tomorrow" email yesterday.

There was no way I was going to miss out on this  terrific drawing project where artists from around the world have their sketchbooks (provided by the project) on display in the Brooklyn Art Library (U.S.A.), as well as online, and in a travelling art show.

So, what to do?! With less than 24 hours to fill a sketchbook, I would do the student "thing" and CRAM which, by the way,  became the sketchbook title, and maybe more than that , too.

And what did I draw? Why I followed The Sketchbook Project recommendations:

" The Sketchbook project is a space for new work and experiment - it's not intended to be a portfolio" and  " ...follow your book wherever it takes you and change your mind along the way".

And that's exactly what I did, I veered off the course of the few sketches I had done before Christmas and my move out of my Williams Mill studio, and spent well into the night immersed into my polar bear fantasy world.  You know how it is when you have a good book you can't put down? That's how I felt last night as I worked deep into the night with ease.

To read more about The Sketchbook Project 2013, and to mark it on your calendar to take part in,  visit www.thesketchbookproject.com

Also I'd love to know what you think of my foray into fantasy illustration, and if you'd enjoy more posts on this.

Art & Healthy Eating - Recipe for a Good Life

Recipe For a Good Life. Cook book by Paulette Murphy & Dawn Friesen

I have the good fortune to have the friendship of talented artist & art leader, Paulette Murphy.  Because of  her, I had the unique & rewarding experience to help create Beaux-Arts Brampton Artists Co-operative  - a both feet plunge, steep learning curve dive into the world of fine art. Below is a repeat of what I wrote for the Williams Mill Artist Blog http://www.williamsmill.blogspot.com

"Recipe for a Good Life" is a beautiful looking cook book as well a source of delicious, nutritious recipes prepared using the key ingredients thought to combat cancer. Paulette Murphy, an award-winning visual artist, and recipient of Brampton's "Artist of the Year Award" is the founder and visionary behind the successful Beaux - Arts Brampton Artists Co-operative Dawn Friesen is her friend, a fellow artist, and graphic artist working in Brampton.

Passionate about good health, proper eating, and art, as well as having a personal connection to cancer, the two artists conceived of a book combining this insight. They put a call out to their large network of artist friends for  art work and favourite recipes using the anti-carcinogen ingredients  .
The art work of three Williams Mill artists - Christine Montague (me!) , Sheri Tenaglia & Eileen Millen -  are included in this book. My mom's fish bake recipe is also in the book. This attractive book is ideal for art lovers, foodies, and those in search of a yummy and nutritious recipe.
All recipes have been tested by a nutritionist.
Only $25 - a portion of which goes to charity.
You can see and buy this terrific cooking & art book in Sheri Tenaglia's studio in the Yellow Mill, Williams Mill.
OR scroll down for some other locations.
Pastel drawing Soy Beans by Christine Montague, Williams Mill artist
Directly through Potluck Projects c/o Paulette Murphy
Downtown Brampton area, call for address and an appointment 905-457-0058
The book is available from any bookstore. If you can't find it on the shelf, ask the sales person to order by the ISBN # 978-1-77067-262-8
Chinguacousy Wellspring Centre
5 Inspiration Way, Brampton, ON
905-792-6480
Hours: 9 am - 5 pm Monday to Friday; 9 am - 12 noon on Saturday
Prefer to purchase online? Go to -
www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/ Located in both the art and the cooking sections. FYI  There is no personal connection between  Dawn Friesen, the author, and Friesen Press.

Finished Big Cat Painting Today

Detail of Big Cat Painting Copyright Christine Montague

I didn't want to leave the studio today until I finished this painting - I was so anxious to see it completed. Although I adore painting in oils, drawing was my first love, and so, it was exciting for me  to both draw (oil sticks) & paint (oils) in this art work. This piece also combines my love of portraits, my love of animals and my love of black (I am only painting in black until they invent something darker). Equally as fulfilling was my use, for the first time, of silver oil paint as my "white" - although its reflective values proved a little trickier to photograph. My iphone camera, couldn't quite do the trick.

Do you know that many artists give a lot of thought to the placement & appearance of  their signature on their paintings? Well, I am one of those artists. This new work called for a different look to my signature. Traditionally, on my carefully rendered, realistic paintings, I carefully print my full name in block lettering. I don't like my signature to distract from the work, and even will use more than one colour to print it so that the signature  flows with the work. This painting called for something more expressive. Artist Carmen Hickson of www.theredpigstudio.com lent me a nifty colour pushing brush* ( a rubber chisel tip instead of bristles). It was perfect for carving out a cursive signature with values that suited the painting.

By the way, "Big Cat Painting" is not the official title of the painting...

* I don't know the official name of these rubber tipped brushes, and tried unsuccessfully to  google them for this post. My son, who used to work at Curry's Art Supplies, informed me they weren't big sellers, but I sure found it terrific to use.  Do you know what this type of brush is called?  I did however find this new neat little cleaning gadget while trying to find the rubber brush name https://www.currys.com/catalogpc.htm?Category=A021B006823&Source=Search. I could have used this when washing piles of black oil paint out of about 8 brushes this evening :D

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.

The Artist's Shadow. Happy Groundhog Day?

Happy Groundhog Day! Wiarton Willy and Punxsutawney Phil did see their shadows today, so six more weeks of winter in sight.  Hang in there, everyone.

Warming up to Plein Air Painting

Minus 32 degrees celsius with the wind chill did not deter 8 members of the Ontario Plein Air Society (OPAS) from meeting at the heritage Scotsdale Farm, on the Maureen Smith trail area of the Bruce Trail in Ontario. Swirling Snow at the Scottsdale Farm Silo. Plein air painting copyright Christine Montague

Ontario Plein Air Society Scottsdale Farm. Jan. 2, 2010

This was my first visit to the lovely American colonial style farm buildings, and my need to explore and photograph, took precedence over my need to paint. Long tree shadows crossing over white clapboard buildings, a stone silo dusted in snow, and weather vane topped cupolas made for inspiring photo taking.

As there was so much to see, it took me a while to settle down to draw with my Cray pas oil pastels. But by the time I did, the weather changed - everything going grey. Still beautiful, but we all became a little more conscious it was winter. Shadows disappeared, and snow  swirled off the roof tops, as in the little 8" x 8" oil pastel drawing on canvas I did, and am quite fond of, even though it was quickly produced, for the grand jaunte it represents.

By drawing on location, my feet buried in the snow,  in a farm pen that I had to climb over a fence to get to, for the view I wanted, I can still feel the crispness of the air, and replay the image of the snow swirling past the silo I was drawing. The paintings of Scotsdale Farm that will be created  in the comfort of my Williams Mill studio - these paintings, will certainly benefit from the plein air experience.

To see a video by Zan Barrage on this plein air day, with some great tips (e.g. how to use socks..) click here. For the OPAS blog with plein air painting info, click here.

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 ?

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:)

Visual Artist Christine Montague Painting & Photography Fine Art Blog

Welcome to Camera and Canvas!  I paint realistic, representational oil paintings on canvas & am an avid nature photographer. 

I entered into the world of art years ago primarily out of the love of drawing. I drew all the time - from life and my imagination - and I was good at it.  But in 2002 after an invitation to help create the artist co-operative Beaux-Arts Brampton, I entered the art world full time with the ambition to be a painter - to finally have a real go at using oils. Until then, with no space of my own at home & conscientious of my children's  health, oil painting had never been an option for me.

After two years in a studio at Beaux-Arts Brampton, I moved into a larger studio in a beautifully rennovated old mill , the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre in  Halton Hills. Inspired by the wonderful art buzz of the community and my beautiful art space in the countryside, my painting skills progressed to a new level. My very first painting there , The Magnificent Ascent of the Mighty Bear, a 3' x6' oils & oil stick painting took top prize at two juried art shows. And my photographs, initially taken as possible future reference for my paintings, began to take on a following of their own. Exhibited in my studio for interest, they began to sell, and one was used on the 2006 Halton Hills Tourist Guide cover. In 2008 I had two solo photography shows. "The Hidden Garden", a year long study of the Chappell House residential gardens in Riverwood Park was part of CONTACT 2008 Toronto Photography Show and the first photography show at Visual Arts Mississauga.

For almost 5 years I observed how important having ones own studio and what an important support being surrounded by a creative community is to this solitary business of visual art. But I also observed these artist communities work best for those in them. I lived in a completely different city to the communities above . And I wanted what those communities offered to be offered to not only me, but the other artists of my city - Mississauga. And thus AIM  - Artists in Mississauga - and the grassroots movement AIM4Studios were born.

So onto my journey. In 2009 I want to put away the habits I have developed over the past few years- ie. painting realistic paintings straight from photographs. I want to get back to my roots of drawing, incorporate that in my painting. I used to love graphic novels and wonder can I get that back?  can I retrigger my imagination? I also I want to tell more stories with my camera & bring my view of looking at nature more into the public eye.

And finally, I passionately want to make progress for AIM and find us a home to create.  

Wish me luck! And I invite you to comment on what you think of any new art I post and anything else art related.