Life as a Visual Artist

New 905 Museums and Galleries

In an earlier post (here), I talked about the three E's of art: engage, entertain and educate. Below are some 905 ( Toronto Area) municipal art venues - museums and galleries - that do just that. In case you are unfamiliar with Toronto, (province of Ontario) it is Canada's  largest city. Head your car west along the edge of Lake Ontario and seamlessly you pass into 905 country (the area code), and Canada's 6th largest city, Mississauga. Continue on your trek  west, and you pass with little notice of division into Oakville, and then Burlington. North of Mississauga is Brampton, Canada 9th largest city, and west of it, is Georgetown (Halton Hills). Milton is sandwiched between Oakville and Halton Hills.

Two of the country's major cultural venues , the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) are in the Toronto downtown core. One would think this would be an advantage to all these cities joined at the hip to TO. In fact, many of us face the dilemma that these venues  are actually "near and yet so far". Yes, Toronto, on the google map is "near".  However,  inadequate intercity public transportation, traffic gridlock,  the high costs of  TO parking, venue admission, and time traveled, make these venues "so far".  And, lets face it, if you live in a city as large as Mississauga or Brampton, wouldn’t you expect to have exciting & educational cultural venues right in your own hometowns? Places where you could drop by for an impromptu visit with the family without saving for a month, and clearing the calendar?

Well, guess what! 2012 brought forth a whole slew of  art venues that are renew in energy or size, or just... new! And, there is much more to just looking at paintings on a wall to these places, not that I don't love doing just that. These are family friendly, inspirational,  educational, entertaining, engaging, thought-provoking places with a diverse choice of exhibitions, programming, events, and community collaboration. .

Now remember, in the big scheme of things, all these cities are very, very young, and so grand institutions as one might find in New York, have not had time to evolve. However, there is the new understanding that a cultural city is a healthy city, and that citizens, even if they don't attend cultural venues, like to know they are there, and miss them if they are gone. And, more importantly, each of these cities has their own cultural identities, and affordable accessible art venues are a great place to express, learn,  and celebrate this.

Ta da! Here they are -

Mississauga

The Art Gallery of Mississauga (The AGM). www.artgalleryofmississauga.com/

Outgoing AGM Curator Stuart Keeler and his accomplished AGM team have definitely upped the ante of this relatively small (by city size) municipal gallery. They are energetically committed to connect, engage and inspire the region’s citizens, as well as its’ visual artists.  Here's why it's well worth your while to check out the AGM -

  • Twitter chats. One is coming up Feb. 7th on juried art shows
  • The recent Lord Report recommends the gallery be a building of its own. (Was there a doubt?) Volunteer, be a docent, etc. Be at the grass-roots of exciting things to come!
  • Fee to enter – by donation. But join the gallery to receive a bundle of perks
  • Other notes? Just a door away from Celebration Square. Bring your skates.
  • Parking: Mississauga, all grown up, charges for parking everywhere (at last check $1/hour). However, there is underground parking at city hall, and metered parking on the street. Note: Unfortunately, you are taking your chances to get a ticket if you park in the neighboring Square One Mall.

Brampton

PAMA (Peel Heritage Art Gallery, Museum and Archives) www.pama.peelregion.ca

The former Peel Heritage Museum has always been an attractive, inviting venue.  My whole family has enjoyed visits to what was formerly Brampton’s city jail.  Recently, it reopened after two years of extensive (and stunning!) renovation and expansion. The photos in the link below will give a better idea of this remarkable new arts venue dedicated to art, history and education   http://www.pama.peelregion.ca/en/aboutpama/PhotoGallery_BuildingsAndGrounds.asp

Admission: Free for preschoolers, $1 for students. $1.50 for seniors and $2.50 for the rest

PAMA is located on the east side of Main St., ie. Highway 10 (Hurontario in Mississauga) and overlooks beautiful historic Gage Park with its unique skating paths (bring your skates here, too!). Metered street parking or in the Brampton Civic Centre, kitty corner to PAMA. A short walk north of PAMA brings you to the lovely Rose Theatre and Beaux-Arts Brampton Artist Co-operative and Gallery.

Kitchener

“M” TheMuseum www.themuseum.ca

TheMuseum opened to much fanfare in the fall.  AVATAR: The Exhibition  marked its Canadian première at M and it was the first stop on its North American tour. I haven’t been there yet, but since so many of the western GTA (Greater Toronto Area or 905) students go away universities and colleges in that area, I hope they are checking it out.

Oakville

Queen Elizabeth Community Centre and Cultural Centre Click Here

Oakville has reinvented this former high school as a community centre as well as a venue for many of  Oakville’s not-for-profit arts and culture groups. There are studios, and a gallery and corridor exhibition space. Bring your swim suit as it seems there's a pool, too. The Oakville Arts Council office is also located here. If you are a Halton artist ,you may want to join this supportive group.

Burlington

The Burlington Arts Centre www.thebac.ca

This dynamic arts centre is home to galleries, an impressive fine arts shop and art rental program, area guilds, mentorship programmes, and studios for working and learning. On Sunday afternoons there are often excellent free workshops and discussions for visual artists. This is a great place to visit, be engaged with, and shop for art.

Georgetown (Halton Hills) Here

Newly reopened after two years of expansion is the Halton Hills Cultural Centre, a theatre, gallery and library rolled into one. The gallery was once a church and the beautiful stained glass windows are still there. Formally, the gallery dedicated itself to supporting shows  by local artists, but a large art donation to the centre may have changed its mandate. See here http://www.theifp.ca/news/art-collection-worth-800k-donated-to-town/

Milton http://www.miltoncentreforthearts.ca/en/AboutYourCentre.asp

Opened in 2011, this state of the art facility is home to gallery and performance space and more. Here is the FAQ sheet for this centre of creativity. http://www.miltoncentreforthearts.ca/en/aboutyourcentre/resources/centre_for_the_arts_faqs_aug-10.pdf

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.

The Dog's Gone

We've had such a great winter here in the Toronto area. The artists at the Williams Mill have been more than grateful not to face the ice and snow on the steep hills that lead into Glen Williams and the Mill studios.

But still, I felt a great sense of relief that spring officially arrived this past week.   And this expressed itself in the painting seen centre of the photo above.  Meant to be the finished painting "Dog in Fog" inspired by the study at the left  (also done last week ), I 'm thinking it could easily represent the departure of the "dog days" of winter and that the title needs a rethink.

About the chair. My daughter adored this chair  owned by Naomi Assenheim, (Opal Wing Creations) the talented young jeweller here at the Mill.  Naomi was my studio mate in the Stone Building, until her move to a new studio in the Williams Mill Yellow Mill (The  Mill has four buildings housing artist studios).  So I purchased this magical chair as a surprise gift for my daughter, but somehow it's never made it out of my studio.  Any visitors to my studio who are old enough to remember their parents having such a chair, or have owned one themselves,  are not too impressed by this new edition. But for those into retro furniture from the sixties and seventies, it's a definite hit.

And for me, its soft green and gold material inspires thoughts of spring and magic in the air.

What do you think?

PS. Normally, I load my high walls with my paintings. I enjoy this airier look, although it won't last for long as new paintings come to life.

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.

Happy Ground Hog Day Art

Happy Groundhog Day! Good luck, Wiarton Willie & Punxsutawney Phil! We all have those paintings where we wonder what was I thinking? However, this groundhog has supplied me with a lot of fun in blogs and in the studio. And when it was in the studio, there were visitors who adored it, especially if they were from the Wiarton, Ontario  area. A bit of home.

 

Seth Says

At the centre where I have my studio,  big decisions are waiting to be made, and we artists are invited to have our say. Seth Godin's daily blog has just arrived in my inbox. His message, as usual, is like a horoscope for my day.

Here's some good advice from Seth, with a pinch of Jack Layton , don't you think?

You get to make a choice. You can remake that choice every day, in fact. It's never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence. The best thing is that it only takes a moment -- just one second -- to decide.

Before you finish this paragraph, you have the power to change everything that's to come. And you can do that by asking yourself (and your colleagues) the one question that every organization and every individual needs to ask today: Why not be great?

Happy New Year and a January 1, 2012 Thumb Up from Norway!

I just wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year! Hot of the presses, I just received this Jan. 1st, 2012 photo of my url www.christinemontague.com from Matt Cook and Sorin Mihailovici, the "dart guys" from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Matt and Sorin, are presently in Svalbard, an archipelago in the arctic that makes up the northernmost part of Norway and where there are more polar bears than humans.  It has been 2012 there for a few hours!

So why are  these two adventurers (who I don't know) holding a poster with my web site markered on it up at Norway's North Pole?

Matt and Sorin are fundraising for the polar bear in a very unique, highly creative and fun way . Go to www.polarfaith.com to learn more and to follow their journey. You'll find out why they are called the "dart guys, too!

And, If you're like me, you'll envy them , ...um, offer a bit of financial support to their very worthy cause.

Wishing you all two thumbs up for 2012 from here in southern Ontario . Not quite as exciting as one thumb up from Norway, but the wish is sincere all the same.

Remembrance Day: It's Not Black & White. Red Poppies, Art & Stories

          The 24th Ottawa War Memorial 
 
On November 11, 2010, shortly before 11 a.m., I stood alone at the cenotaph near my countryside artist studio. Thousands of miles away, my first-born son  was stationed  in a FOB, i.e. a forward operating base in Afghanistan. He had been gone for months, and still had a couple of months yet to serve in his extended tour.

I have always observed Remembrance Day,  but never gave it deep thought. In school, I liked to draw poppies and was often the one chosen to recite "In Flanders Field" at assembly. I appreciated that my children's elementary schools put great effort into their Remembrance Day ceremonies, and sometimes I helped. But other than that?

Well, my age is showing. When I was born, in the dawn before internet and satellite tv, heck, colour tv would have been good, anecdotes about any war were ancient history to me.  You might as well have been talking about ancient Egyptians (except they were cooler).

When I was an older teenager, my mom  revealed to me, like a guilty secret, instead of the sad story it was, that she had been married before. Her husband, who she had adored, had been killed in WW2 and was buried somewhere in France.  Even though this was obviously a pivotal event in my mother's life, my teenage brain saw this as a tragic, romantic tale of love, not a story about war.  Still, my mom was old , and  this was all before my time, so even that  story got filed right along those of my WW1 & WW2 veteran family members.

But oh, what a difference  30 years and a truckload of hindsight makes.

My children are now at the age that my grandparents, parents, and their siblings were when they had their wartime experiences.   I can better imagine my predecessors as young people, now that I have a houseful of them myself. Much easier now to imagine them enlisting for idealistic adventure.  Much sadder to imagine the danger,  loneliness, sorrow, exhaustion, terror, and trauma they faced thousands of miles from home.

Now the stories make more sense. Stories of  obedience, endurance and perseverance, and of camaraderie, compassion, and bravery. And if they were lucky to come home, and not all my family members were, they brought secrets, war wounds and, sometimes, a war bride.

Oh, WW1, WW2, Afghanistan.

That is what I thought of as I stood, now joined by a few others, at that cenotaph that day. I snapped a photo of the cenotaph with my phone,  e-mailed the pic to my son telling him I loved him with all my heart, and that the good folk at the cenotaph wished him well.

To my amazement, he answered me right back.

War is the blackest foolishness, but iPhones, black or white, are mighty handy in wartime.

If you would like to send a Christmas wish to those military still serving overseas, click http://www.sears.ca/custom-content/operation-wish?extid=050211_ca_Vanity_EN_Unknown_Operationwish

The 24th: Art & Legacy.

In a short while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will pay a visit to The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the National War Memorial "The Response" in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Great War is a part of our shared history and with many of us still connected to a family history of relatives who fought, this striking memorial is a testament to all we have here in Canada now. When I painted this work of my son climbing on this striking memorial as a surprise gift for  his 18th birthday, little did I realize at the same time he had enlisted as a reservist. There are 23 larger than life figures on this dramatic statue and he is the 24th. His freedom symbolizes what these young soldiers fought and sacrificed for. The grandfather of a visitor to my Williams mill studio had been one of the models for this work. I wish I  had thought to ask her more questions, like his name, so it too, could live on.

What the Cat Saw

"What the Cat Saw",  an exhibition of 13 cat art works, is on display at the Dragon Fly Arts on Broadway Gallery in Orangeville, Ontario, until the morning of May 24th, 2011. The majority of the art work are oil paintings but there is  also an original lithograph.  You can see part of the black and white original litho "yes?!"  in the bottom right of the photo  above.

What's a lithograph you ask? Although the term lithography is often used in reference to posters or other fine art reproductions, that is NOT what this is. This type of lithography refers to an original work of art, the way an original etching or serigraph is. I drew this cat in reverse on a big piece of limestone that had to be sanded perfectly flat.  The drawing was then etched on the stone, and special lithography black ink was rolled over it. Arches paper I had torn to size was placed on top of the inked image, a cover felt on top of that and then the whole thing was run through a press, ONCE.  Details, texture and values are achieved through the accurate etching, the quality of the drawing on the stone, and the careful inking. I did this 13 times to achieve an edition of 13. The drawing on the stone was then ground off. The resulting 13 prints are the art.

It was great fun to set up in the window of the Dragonfly Gallery, a first for me. Why the Dragonfly Gallery? Quite a few reasons actually. I don't mind selling amongst potters and jewellers at all. At the Williams Mill, I am quite accustomed to working alongside professionals who work in all media. The Dragonfly is a mini Mill type gallery with studios at the back.  A bigger reason through is Joan Hope, the owner of Dragonfly. She LOVES her artists. She is proud of them,  can talk knowledgeably about what they do and she looks out for them.  As well, she values her customers and works hard at knowing what they want!  In fact, she  won the the 2010 Hills of Headwaters "Best Customer Service Experience ". Plus, many local hardworking, creative artists I know and admire  sell out of the Dragonfly. So, count me in!

As the work went up in the window, many a passerby would stop, watch, and comment, too. A young man enquired about the 5 foot high "Silver Light" painting, and the slightly smaller "Blue Eyes Inside". After a pleasant conversion about my art, we discovered, he was the great nephew of the iconic Joyce Wieland, often regarded as Canada's foremost female artist and the late wife of  the equally important artist Michael Snow. It was a long time ago, but when I did lithography (the lithograph Yes?! is an earlier art work), I did a residency at St Michael's Workshop in Newfoundland. At that time it was located in a small village about 30 minutes outside of St. John's. The previous tenant who I had just missed?  Joyce Wieland.  When I left, if I could have stayed just a few hours more I would have had the privilege of meeting Christopher Pratt and his then Wife Mary Pratt. How great would that have been!

Oh, life and its mysteries! lol

And speaking of mysteries.. if you would like to solve the mystery of  "What the Cat Saw" visit Dragonfly Arts on Broadway until the morning of May 24th.

The 3 e's of Art Apply to The Salmon Run Project & Credit River

If you live in Mississauga you may have heard of the Salmon Run Project, a call to artists to decorate casts of the Coho salmon to be displayed in the Civic Centre Grand Hall early in May.  Mississauga is stepping up its support of the visual arts and this is the first project between the City's Cultural Office and the Art Gallery of Mississauga. But why salmon?

Three types of salmon inhabit the Credit River, the southern Ontario river that starts above the Niagara Escarpment and winds south  through multiple Mississauga communities before it empties into Lake Ontario at Port Credit.

The Port Credit Salmon and Trout Association volunteers recently put 5000 young Chinook into a holding pen to acclimatize them to Lake Ontario. These 6 month old baby salmon are part of an ongoing project to increase the salmon population. About 85,000 salmon will enter the Credit River each year. Meet Sally, the salmon that tried to get away from that process here.

The Credit River Anglers Association, another great volunteer organization, has done fabulous work in protecting both the salmon and the Credit. Every year they collect the migrating salmon at a point in the river that impedes their journey, and drive them safely up to Norval where they are returned to the water so continue on their way. How impressive is that?!

At one time the Credit River was so thick with salmon, it was said one could walk across the river on their backs. However, by the end of the 1800's, their numbers in Ontario rivers had been dramatically depleted.

Despite efforts to reintroduce the Atlantic salmon, they are still very rare. Reintroduction of the Pacific Salmon, such as the Chinook, has  met with much more success. The original call to artists stated we would be decorating casts of the Atlantic salmon, but what we all received was the Coho or Silver salmon.

Whatever "salmon" we work with, the lessons are the same, salmon are remarkable creatures, if we mess with nature it take a lot of time, effort, and good people to correct,  and art, like nature,  has the amazing ability to engage, educate and entertain.

Salmon Run Art Project Begins

Salmon Run Project Art Gallery of Mississauga. Salmon Run Project leaves city hall. Copyright Christine Montague

Today I went to the Art Gallery of Mississauga to pick up my salmon for the Salmon Run Project.

AGM's Jaclyn & Gail, behind the "fish counter", so-to-speak, handed over my wrapped salmon, while found object artist Carmen Hickson, another salmon recipient looked on.

For some added scale: here I am outside Mississauga's Civic Centre,  the home of the Art Gallery of Mississauga.

Stay tuna'd.

How Art Thou, Wiarton Willy? Happy Groundhog Day, Anyways!

Wiarton Willy and SeaGull Friend. Copyright Christine Montague Well, it's official. Punxsutawney  Phil was not able to see his shadow & the States will have an early spring. Hard to appreciate under piles of snow, but still, great news. Read about that here. Wiarton Willie, as seen to the left, in warmer weather,  is our furry version of a tradition that has German Roots. Did you know that Wiarton has a festival celebrating what our albino groundhog views? Read all about it here

The Wiarton Willie painting I did a while back was inspired by the crazy (wonderful!) statue of Wiarton Willie we saw while on vacation in the Georgian Bay area of Ontario. A giant white obelisk against the blue sky - lots of shadow here. This painting could just have well been called red, white, and blue.

As I sit by the radio, and listen to the never-ending school closings  and events cancellations list - I am quite content If Willie doesn't see his shadow today. G-o-o-o-o, Spring!

Happy Groundhog Day, Everyone!

P.S. Apparently looking at the color blue brings on feelings of relaxation and restfulness, as well as takes aways fear.  I believe it. When I paint big blue skies it always makes me feel good, as if I have been away somewhere.

Yes, Virginia, There Are Art Cards in the Studio

It is always a good day when I open my mail super box & see a key, because a key means that I have a parcel. And who doesn't like a parcel? Inside this parcel, were 90 fine art greeting cards with images of my paintings on them. After having repeated inquiries for greeting cards in my studio, I relented. I ordered a small trial batch before Christmas...and without any effort on my part, they sold out! Seemed only natural to order more.

Now I had nothing against greeting cards. It is just that self producing them, i.e. printing & packaging, is a time-consuming process. If you consider the value of the time better spent in the studio, time spent making one's own cards, well.. it just wasn't for me.

So when I heard of a company that not only prints them, but packages them nicely too....well... I reconsidered, gave them a try, and here I am, checking out 10 different styles of cards.

I have to admit it's pretty fun to open a box filled with cards with my paintings on them. Now, just to someday open that box with the books with my paintings in them............

Anyhow, there are art cards in my studio and I hope you'll like them too.

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!

Forgetting & Remembering: Remembrance Day Art

 

 

Somehow, I forgot I did this oil painting. A gift to my son on his 18th birthday, it hangs in our house in the dining room - a room we rarely use (isn't a dining room table for folding laundry?). It shows him climbing, carefree,  at about the age of four, on the War Memorial, located near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,  in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He is painted realistically, and static, while the figures on the statue are more "ghostly" and moving.

On the eve of Remembrance Day, I though I would share it with you. With all the gut wrenching news in the Toronto Star recently about Canadian War soldiers injured in Afghanistan, and some pretty heart-rending reporting on CBC radio as well, an image of youth,  hope and peace can never hurt.

 

Note: One day, when I was working in this oil painting, a visitor to my studio mentioned her (great?) uncle had been one of the models for one the figures in this monument to peace.

Where they Are Now! Yup. I'm Still Here Seeing Rainbows.

 

 

I' m lucky. I may be off to a later start than many of my artist peers, but at least I'm here - painting in my very inspirational studio at the Williams Mill.  You'd never know it is only 15 minutes north of the big city. Looks right out in the country doesn't it? There it is - that promised pot of gold - pointing the way to the studio.

 

The OCAD University Alumni has had an exciting new initiative in the works. Alumni, of which I am proudly one, could enter work in the very first  alumni juried show entitled "Where They Are Now!".  Jurors were Melissa Bennett, Curator of Contemporary Art - Art Gallery of Hamilton, Maggie Broda, AOCA, Drawing and Painting, President of OCAD Alumni Association, and William Huffman, Associate Director at Toronto Arts Council.

I'm honoured my painting "Down the Light House Stairs" , a figurative painting in the Kincardine Lighthouse, was accepted into the show.

The Opening Reception  - Nov.12  sounds intriguing as all 12 of OCADU's  disciplines will be on display. As well, it will also be the official launch of "In Quest of a Countenance", a new book by OCAD alumni & past faculty, John Inglis. John will donate $5 from each book sold to the OCAD University Alumni Association.

Steam Whistle Brewery and Kacaba Vineyard and Winery are being supportive too. (Wahoo!)

Nov. 18 - 28, 2010. Art Square Gallery. Across from the AGO. 334 Dundas Street W. Toronto , Ontario, Canada. Daily from 9 am to 11 pm.

 

 

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

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?

Happy Hipstamatic

Just got the Hipstamatic app. I love it. Here are pics just outside my studio at the Williams MIll Visual Artist Centre.