New painting drying in my studio at the Williams Mill in Halton Hills. It is the second oil painting in the Dreaming of Summer Series. Night brings a surreal look to the canoes tucked away for the evening. There are 9 paintings planned for this series, but who know how many more will be dreamed of along the way.
Christine Montague http://christinemontagueart.wordpress.com/ The Invasive Species
June 9th, 2011 Salmon Run Project Opening. Great Hall, Mississauga Civic Centre After June 9th, see Christine's sculpture at "Zest for Living", 6 Elizabeth St. S., Port Credit
Christine Montague is an award-winning Mississauga visual artist who paints and exhibits figurative landscape oil paintings in her studio at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre. She is also a portrait artist (Dr. Oscar Peterson, Living Arts Centre) and an emerging photographer.
With The Invasive Species, Christine wishes to provoke thought on how urban development has been "built on the backs" of the Credit River salmon. The increase of impermeable surfaces such as roofs, patios, and roads means rain carries debris, oil, gas (from roadways) and silt through the hundreds of Mississauga storm sewers directly into the river. This black and brown water stresses the salmon, kills the insects they feed on and buries their spawning grounds.
Christine has written about her salmon run process on her blog.
Today I delivered my finished salmon "The Invasive Species" to the Art Gallery of Mississauga (AGM). Although, it was officially unveiled 3 days ago on "daytime" a Roger's television show, these are the first photographs I've publish of the finished sculpture. The rain finally let up enough for me to photograph the work outdoors. Here is the summary of my proposal:
Through my Salmon Run Project, I wish to provoke thought on how urban development has been "built on the backs" of the Credit River salmon. The increase of impermeable surfaces such as roofs, patios, and roads means rain carries debris, oil, gas (from roadways) and silt through the hundreds of Mississauga storm sewers directly into the river. This black and brown water stresses the salmon, kills the insects they feed on and buries their spawning grounds. I will attach miniature houses with acrylic gels (representing tar & oil) in clusters similar to those of an invasive species such as the zebra mussel. These clusters will represent development that has the potential to impede, choke, and threaten the salmon with death, if not controlled.
Since I am an artist who usually works 2D, I found myself hesitating for a second when I picked up the brush to paint the salmon cast. But I quickly realized I should use the same approach to this sculptural fish as I use with any portrait painting on canvas. Start with the eyes! The ol' the "eyes are the mirror of the soul thing". As soon as I did this, I found my "connection" to this pre-made form. I only had salmon photos off the internet to use as reference. Thus I realize, for any salmon aficionados out there, the salmon is probably not exactly like the Coho. Apparently, the cast itself is not quite correct, the fins are too small, etc. But that's not really the point. To create what I proposed, all I need to start with is a shape that is easily recognizable as a healthy salmon, no matter the breed or how exact its representation is.
My poor salmon. He only stayed "healthy" for one day. Stay tuned.
How to spray paint plastic? As an oil painter, working with acrylic paints and plastic materials is more or less new to me, too. First, the plastic must be cleaned with mineral spirits. A base coat spray paint for plastic is available, but I figured I didn't need it. A wide variety of colour topcoat spray paint for plastic is available, but I only needed black. I will also use Rust-oleum's Stone accents for the illusion of a roof shingle's surface.
One should wear wear a protective mask, gloves, and goggles when using spray paint. And the work area, well ventilated. My "well-ventilated" area is my unheated garage with its doors open. And, as spray paint works best when the temperature is above freezing, the uncooperative GTA cold weather, delayed my project's progress. But, hey, delayed progress? As the past owner of two new homes that were not ready on time, it's all in keeping to the spirit of building development.
I love using spray paint, and if I was a lot younger, my art path might have followed a different path. But after putting a fair bit of work into the research for my proposal, and discovering how building development affected the salmon in the Credit River, with hindsight, a project that uses fiberglass, spray paint, plastic, mineral spirits, electrical power, sandpaper and rags, is a contradiction to its intent.
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.
I don't know what tools a taxidermist uses on fish casts such as this, but I found a drywall saw effective for the edges of the fins and for cutting out the mouth. I also used a small hand saw, a metal file, a box cutter and sand paper. Below you can see the scooped out mouth and a sample of the cut out material. The whitish edge is plaster and fibreglass. The fish is not hollow, but filled with the yellowish substance that is some type of foam.
So finally, the fish is sanded. Next step? To attach the fins, and drill the holes for the stand. Then hurrah, the project actually begins!
Ta da! A salmon surprise, indeed! Revealed to you at last! This is the salmon form the artists chosen for the Art Gallery of Mississauga's & Office of the Arts "Salmon Run Project" have been given. #158415 is mine, all mine! But there are more surprises in store!
Surprise #1. I was expecting an artist designed cast , not the taxidermist model this is. Still happy this project is up and "run"ning. A community sculpture project first for Mississauga!
Surprise #2. Fellow participants Sonja Hidas and Carmen Hickson were curious as to what I was going to do with the extra fins. Fins? What fins? Well, ah ha! Under that cardboard at the tail, guess what I found -
Surprise # 3. This should be called BIG surprise #3., GIANT surprise #3. There are seam lines from the casting process all over the fish! And the fins! This is a lot of prep work, people! This cast appears to be of fibreglass (protect your lungs!) , possibly some plaster and filled with foam. Sanding will have to be done in a well ventilated area, i.e. outside and with proper tools and protection. So, I readied my Mastercraft reciprocating sander, my mask, and my goggles. And it's still winter here, folks, so I wore somebody else's coat .Wasn't going to get my own "resiny" LOL. So here's a sight that would definitely scare the neighbourhood children, not to mention the fish.
Here's the tools in action.
Here's me in the cold in action.
Surprise #4. Quite possibly to you, but not to all the professional visual artists out there. Creating art for a living requires discipline, a broad selection of know how, tenaciousness, the ability to laugh at life (in Canada, we sure can't laugh because of the money)and remain ever optimistic (the tenacious part). I will laugh out loud as I spend a second day in tenacious hope that this flipping fish will be "fin" ished (Dam it, Jim, I am a painter, not a sander) so that I can actual begin my proposal, submit it and get back to the studio.
No surprise there.
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.
Suddenly, there are a lot of new visual art shows on the radar in the western Greater Toronto Area, specifically Mississauga, Burlington, Alton (Hills of Headwaters). Calling all visual artists - In Mississauga
- NEW DEADLINE! March 4, 2011. The Salmon Run Project. Proposal due tomorrow! You can do it, what's Red Bull for anyways?!..... Create a concept for a pre-made fibreglass salmon. Info due by 5 pm., Friday, Feb. 18th at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. See info here. http://www5.mississauga.ca/agm/agm_root/upcomingex.html#salmon
- Hotbox Riverwood Mentorship Project. A professional development program to challenge artists to create temporary natural, site specific outdoor sculpture on the grounds of Riverwood Park, an amazing urban wilderness just 3 miles west of Square one on Burnamthorpe Rd. 4100 Riverwood Park Lane, Mississauga, ON. International artist Reinhard Reitzenstein will mentor artists selected to take part in this exciting transformative learning experience. Monthly meetings begin March 2011. The project will conclude with an exhibition in the Fall of 2011.Application Deadline: February 28th apply please send; 10 jpeg images of your work (size 72dpi) or website, a C.V. and a letter of interest to; HOTBOX24@LIVE.CA
Hills of Headwaters
- Time Frame. Heritage Caledon presents an open juried showat the Alton Mill Gallery. Celebrates Ontario's cultural and natural heritage through art. Open to all artists. 3 pieces may be submitted. April 1st deadline. Show May 28th - July 10th. Entry fee $25. All pieces must be available for sale. Entry forms downloaded from www.caledon.ca
I have heard there is another theme related juried show out there having to do with the escarpment - will post more as soon as I find it.
Brampton: Beaux- Arts Brampton Annual Open Juried Show. Entry Form and payment due Mar. 15, 2011. Delivery of works for jurying. Sunday, April 3rd. 8:30 - 10:30 am. Pick up of declined work Sun. April 3, 2011. 4 - 5 p.m. Show runs April 5 - 30th. Download form here.
Williams Mill Gallery, Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre. The first ever theme based juried art show is about to be announced! Stay tuned!
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!
Today I was to paint with the new group Ontario Plein Air Society, but rain got in the way. Instead we held a very constructive meeting in OPAS leader Zan's SUV, and roughed out goals for the next year. OPAS will be holding plein air painting sessions every Sunday until November and yours truly will help organize at least three of them, including the three day paint out to be held in conjunction with the international plein air paint out day! To find out more about and /or to join OPAS (it's free!) visit http://ontariopleinairsociety.blogspot.com/ Meanwhile here are a few hits of colour on what was a very gloomy day.
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)
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.
Find us on Facebook Ontario Plein Air Society(OPAS)
Follow us on Twitter twitter.com/O_P_A_S
Last week was busy! I finished this 20" x 20" oil painting of a youth going down the lighthouse stairs at Kincardine, Bruce County, Ontario, Canada. The challenge to myself was to paint whites in shadow (expand my gray palette). I wrote a blog on this painting & mini color mixing lesson. Click here.
Above is a 9" x 12" oil painting of a Go train emerging from the trees over the Credit River in Port Credit, Mississauga, Ontario. Young boaters from the nearby Mississauga Canoe Club stop to watch it go by - thus the title Stop and Go on the Credit River (Please note: This painting is now sold).
The Credit River in Port Credit is fabulous spot to spend an urban summer evening. Boaters, birds, coffee and ice cream - Lots of places to stroll, shop, sit & people watch.
The original painting isn't as dark as this photograph. Unfortunately it sold so quickly I never did take that quality RAW photograph. Artists out there ! Heed this lesson. A painting is NOT finished until you have taken that quality image for your records.
I often have the problem - when the painting is glossy and glazed - of getting a true representation of the painting. Either the gloss of the paint from my use of liquin (which speeds drying time) reacts like a varnish layer and reflects the light, even on an overcast day. OR even worse, the camera is too efficient and somehow photographs through the top glaze layers and The image photographs as if in an unfinished state!
My husband has decided this is his favourite of all my paintings. Hmmm. I am flattered, but considering I have done some fairly ambitious pieces over the past six years, I am bit "stopped" by such enthusiasm, but I will admit it was fun to have a "go" at a train.
(Last week I also did my first plein air painting . Here is that painting & blog - Click here) This painting will be auctioned off at the 2010 Art Gallery of Mississauga Annual Art Auction.
2010 Update: This original plein air oil painting, painted on location by the Credit River, -under the bridge at Burnamthorpe Bridge between Riverwood Park and Erindale park - has been given as a charitable donation to the Art Gallery of Mississauga (AGM) for its 2010 7th Annual Art Auction Fundraiser, April 29th, 2010.
Above is a 6" x 12" oil painting of a man fishing by the Credit River. We are both under the enormous Burnamthorpe Road bridge - between Erindale Park and Riverwood Park. The day was sunny but the shadow and the wind was cold! After 3 hours my convulsive shaking told me the painting was now finished.
Today I had the fun of plein air painting with the newly formed group, Ontario Plein Air Society (OPAS). I had not painted on location in years and never before with oils ( the exception Tapatoo Tree (sold) in water soluble oils ) . Painting on location is quite exilarating - at least that is what I felt after I was done, and could seek relief from the cold and wind in a more sunny spot.
Just before I headed out to meet up with OPAS at Riverwood Park, I quickly thumbed through some International Artist & other art magazines for some helpful hints. Painting on location requires effort put into the logistics.
Following the example of British artist James Hart Dyke (American Artist magazine November 2003) I used the limited palette French Ultramarine, cadmium yellow, cadmium red light, raw umber and titanium white. What freedom!
Once on location, I struggled a bit with what to paint. I sat across from an enormous old tree, partiatially in decay - but what I wanted to say about this tree could not be said on my 6" x 12" canvas. Suddenly I found my self doing a quick - almost Japanese brush like gesture of the fisherman before me ( I could have drawn him all afternoon) and that was that - I had my subject. I guess I just cannot escape the call to put a figure in my landscapes.