Canadian art

Cape Dorset Walkabout

Follow the Yellow (make that ochre) Dirt Roads

I visited the Canadian Arctic for the first time in May, 2014. After a day in Iqaluit (Nunavut's capital) I flew to Cape Dorset (pop. approx 1300) at the southern tip of Baffin Island. 

Although the landscape surrounding Cape Dorset is stunning, it was the ochre ribbon-like roads looping through the hamlet, and the constant activity on them, that intrigued me most.  Most people walk or drive ATVs (skidoos in winter) to socialize, shop and work. There are few larger vehicles, but the school bus seems always on the go, as are the trucks that deliver fresh water and empty the septic tanks. Thus my first steps out on the town (well, hamlet) were a delightful contrast to my city experience, where the roads are hectic and the sidewalks empty.

The hope and promise of Cape Dorset is represented in it's wonderful children. Photo: ©Christine Montague

The hope and promise of Cape Dorset is represented in it's wonderful children. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Next to my hotel (Dorset Suites), and across from Tellik Inlet, is the world-renowned Kinngait Arts Studio, the oldest printing studio in Canada.  The distinctive red-roofed, green and yellow buildings (seen below), have been around since 1957. This summer (2017) work has begun on the new cultural centre and studios. To see larger images please click on the photos below. 

Panoramic view of Kinngait Arts and kellit bay, Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague 2014

Panoramic view of Kinngait Arts and kellit bay, Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague 2014

Below:Tellik Inlet by Kinngait Arts. Turn right to go to the two grocery and supply stores, and the RCMP station. Turn left to find the Wildlife Office, the municipal pier, and the gazebo on the hill.


The gazebo, seen from most vantage points of the hamlet, is an unusual landmark for such a northern community, but, hey, I loved it. A sheltered bit of architecture, where I could start each day and take in the glorious landscape. In the picture below, you can spot the gazebo above the Wildlife Office (the building on the left ). Click on the picture below to see a larger image

Wildlife Dept.building.  Cape Dorset. Photo:Christine Montague
Wildlife Dept.building. Cape Dorset. Photo:Christine Montague
Huge. and I mean,  huge , polar bear skin dries on stretcher. Photo: ©Christine Montague 2014

Huge. and I mean, huge, polar bear skin dries on stretcher. Photo: ©Christine Montague 2014

The polar bear hide seen above was huge. I mean hair-raising, goose bump inspiring big. I wish I had thought to put my hand or iPhone by a paw for reference.

Meanwhile, on the same day I happily arrived in Cape Dorset,  a polar bear attacked two Arctic Bay hunters as they slept in their tent.  They survived, but only after a fight for their lives. For a dramatic account of the attack, and some equally dramatic polar bear facts, read

I love polar bears, and my polar bear paintings are portraiture tributes to these great mammals whose future is of concern. But up north? One can never forget these beautiful, intelligent, powerful kings of the arctic are dangerous.

Big Bear Passing (48" by 36" polar bear oil painting by Christine Montague )

Big Bear Walking  . polar bear painting ©Christine Montague

Big Bear Walking. polar bear painting ©Christine Montague

So, up the hill to the gazebo.

Up to the gazebo. Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Up to the gazebo. Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Gazebo. Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Gazebo. Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Looking down at pier on Tellik Inlet from gazebo. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Looking down at pier on Tellik Inlet from gazebo. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Kinngait mountain as seen from the gazebo. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

Kinngait mountain as seen from the gazebo. Photo: ©Christine Montague 

 Below. Snowmobilers travel on frozen Tellik Inlet to get to open water beyond.

Inuit hunters head out on the land. As seen from the gazebo in Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Inuit hunters head out on the land. As seen from the gazebo in Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague


I was forewarned to expect roads thick with mud, but they were dry and solid. Later in summer, when the roads become too dry, passing ATVs and the odd car send up clouds of pervasive dust. But for now, as it was the first week of sunny, cheery weather, children, especially boys, were out on their bikes, pedalling uphill with admirable ease.

Bicyclist in Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague

Bicyclist in Cape Dorset. Photo: ©Christine Montague

To be continued...

Note: I use a Sony A7r with 35mm Zeiss lens.  iPhone 5s was my back up. 

10 Canadian Landscape Artists

I was a guest artist for a beginner's class where the students were learning landscape painting in acrylics and water-soluble oils.  I thought they would enjoy a quick look at some of our present day Canadian landscape painters and at the variety of landscape painting available.  I thought you might enjoy these artists and their work, too. Do you have a landscape artist you love? Let me know and I will create a new list withe the results.

Centre of Attention. Scottsdale Farm, Halton Hill, Ontario, Canada. Private collection. Oil painting copyright Christine Montague

Centre of Attention. Scottsdale Farm, Halton Hill, Ontario, Canada. Private collection. Oil painting copyright Christine Montague

  1. KIm Dorland Toronto, Ontario. Canadian Art writes "Synonymous in Canada with the idea of “extreme painting,” Kim Dorland rose to the forefront of the contemporary painting scene with his sculptural approach to impasto painting and his art is very much in demand.
  2. David LidbetterOttawa, Ontario.  "Contemporary feeling Group of Seven scenes pared down to their essentials. [Where] mood seems more important than the actual details of forests, rivers and skies." - Algonquin Art Centre
  3. John HartmanPenetanguishene, Ontario. Vivid, large-scale landscapes "straddle the line between abstraction and representation" -Studio 21
  4. Gregory HardySaskatoonSaskatchewan. Landscapes abstracted. Strong colour, bold, painterly. One of Canada's top landscape artists.
  5. Rebecca LastRice Lake, Ontario.  Of interest, Rebacca paints the same view of Rice Lake exploring its "turbulent chaotic swings of nature".
  6. Cesan d'Ornellas LevineRichmond Hill, Ontario. Cesan is an abstract expressionist painter who uses brilliant colour and thick impasto of acrylic gels, mediums, pastes etc. for her trees and topography on panel. Landscape painting is not Cesan's only subject matter.
  7. Georgina HuntCrescent Beach, B.C. Canadian wilderness, particularly the Rockies
  8. Gerald SquiresSt. John's,Newfoundland. A member of the Order of Canada for his contribution to the Arts
  9. Doug PurdonToronto, Ontario.Proficient in watercolour, acrylic and oil painting, and a Winsor & Newton rep for many years, this artist is a fountain of information.
  10. Robert GennVancouver, B.C. A prolific and popular painter who travelled the world painting en plein air (as well as the studio) and writing about the experience for Painters Keys. Painters Keys is a website Robert created to offer information, inspiration, advice, friendship and connectivity for artists worldwide. Robert Genn passed away in May 2014. His art and free Painters Key Newletter continues to managed by his daughter, Sara Genn.

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

Saimarnek.    ©Christine Montague. For information on my art, please   contact me

Saimarnek.  ©Christine Montague. For information on my art, please contact me

Looking to the Future

I hope, like this polar bear,  you can look ahead with hope, and that your year will be full of good health, caring, and whatever success you wish.  

Looking to the Future ©Christine Montague

Looking to the Future ©Christine Montague

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.

A Winter Treat - Don't Miss Sommer Art Show Opening. A Five-Fold lesson in Visual Arts Vision, Legacy & Generosity

Being a visual artist in Canada is a rough haul, but there are certain wonderful people one meets along the way that lighten the load, and encourage the journey. There are also certain art shows and  venues that enlighten the path. Here's how an upcoming art show, A Lasting Gift: The John & Gisela Sommer Collection January 8th - Feb 6th (Opening Jan. 16th) carries the five fold whammy of John & Gisela Sommer,  The Sommer Collection, Art Gallery of Peel, Sybil Rampen, and Joshua Creek Heritage Arts Centre. For many years, Georgetown's John and Gisela Sommer have been enthusiastic supporters of  visual artists in the GTA*, particularly in the western region of Halton Hills and Peel.   Many a visual artist has been the lucky recipient of their generous support  either in word or deed. The Sommers not only collected art, they exhibited it at Gallery Sol, their home turned gallery, in Georgetown, Halton Hills, Ontario.

I first met John, when, as juror, he awarded my painting Top Award at a juried art show. A few months later,  I discovered that this soft-spoken and lively gentleman, and his charming wife Gisela, were popular visitors at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre in Glen Williams, where I just opened a studio. John often made reference to the Gallery Sol, which was, at that point, after decades of being open,  was winding down.

My mistake was in assuming it was a showcase for regional artists. What I didn't realize was that the Sommers had an incredible collection of contemporary printmaking, painting, sculpture and photography that included Andy Warhol, Jack Chambers, Leonard Hutchinson and David Hockney. Luckily, I will get a another chance to see this art, and so can you!

The Sommers have recently generously donated their art collection (ensuring their legacy as well as that of many regional artists) to The Art Gallery of Peel (Peel Heritage Complex, Brampton). This art gallery, in the midst of transformation into a remarkable new venue across from Brampton's Gage Park, is temporarily closed. Until then,  200 of these art works will be on exhibition at Joshua Creek Heritage Centre in Oakville, Ontario.

The grand opening of this art show and opportunity to meet the very wonderful John & Gisela Sommer is Sunday, January 16, 2011, 2 - 4 pm.  Joshua Creek Heritage Centre Gallery . Click here for map.

Oh, and as for Joshua Creek Heritage Centre, and artist & visionary Sybil Rampen, who created it, that my friends,  is a whole other incredible story of inspiration, generosity, and legacy! Click here to read more.

*Greater Toronto Ontario

Art connections - Me, the Mill & the AGM

The Model Visits the Studio, the oil  painting I recently completed of my Williams Mill studio, has  been accepted into the Visual Arts Mississauga 33rd Annual Juried Art Show at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. That's not the only Williams Mill connection. My daughter, the figure featured in the painting, and the subject of many of the paintings within the painting, worked in the  Williams Mill Gallery throughout the summer. The show opens Thursday, January 13th at 6 p.m. and continues until Feb. 16th. Jurors for this competition were visual artist Corinne Duchesne and Oakville Galleries Curator of Contemporary Art, Marnie Fleming.  



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.



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.

Casson, Christine Montague, & the Contemporary Art Connection in Glen Williams

In early June, an A.J. Casson landscape oil painting "A Street in Glen Williams" sold for the record-breaking price of $542, 800. To see this Group of Seven Canadian landscape painting click here Do you know that Glen Williams - probably considered Ontario cottage country when Casson painted what was a contemporary painting then - is a hamlet only 15 minutes north of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada? And for travelers from Toronto, this cultural destination is only a 40 minute trip away. (It is also accessible by Go train and bus) This painting is not particularly successful in its depiction of a "unique" place - these little houses and fall colors could be almost anywhere in Canada. But then that wasn't Casson's goal. What is remarkable that "Glen Williams" is still a beautifully preserved hamlet of 1850's homes in a true glen, and that it is home to many, many present day artist studios! Glen Williams is protected by the Sheridan Nurseries farmland and the limited growth in the green belt around Toronto.  This fabulous place with the Credit River running through it is protected from urban sprawl. But even more importantly, at Glen Williams's heart is the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre - home to a huge centre of contemporary artists' studios and where I have the good fortune to have my artist studio.

The Williams Mill moniker is deceptive. The mill is only one of FOUR buildings which house visual artists and crafts people.

  1. The 1850's lumber mill is home to graphic artist, painters, sculptors and potters.
  2. The 1850's stone power plant is home to jewellers, a quilter, framing service, painters (including , and my studio mate found art assemblage artist
  3. The courtyard has painting, woodcarving, stone carving (4 sculptors) . The gallery connects from the courtyard & represents the mill artists, and has monthly shows of other artists too.
  4. The last building is home to Glen Williams Glass Blowers.

So for those of you in wonder of this lovely bit of Canadian art history, or in sheer amazement at the price paid for this Group of Seven, Casson painting , appreciate  the place this painting depicts as well. It is well worth the trip to visit this historic  town - alive and well  with a diverse group of  award-winning  contemporary artists.  And you won't have to pay half a mil to enjoy their work.