The Fall is a portrait of a polar bear on its solitary journey in the arctic night, unaware that a red maple leaf (Canada’s national symbol) falls before it from above. The fall colour of the maple tree isn’t part of this bear’s autumn landscape, but the frozen sea, so vital for its survival, is. Increased periods of open water from spring to fall, due to climate change, increases the polar bear’s vulnerability.
Painted in wonder and warning,The Fall pays tribute to an iconic Canadian animal, and connects Canadians in the responsibility to protect it, thereby protecting and saving ourselves.
Why the Canadian connection? Although one of the world’s most favourite animals, polar bears are only found in Canada, Alaska (USA), Russia and Norway. 60 - 80 % of the world’s population are found in Canada. The Fall has a “sister” painting, the award winning “The Canadian Flower Crown”. Read about it here
I am pleased to announce The Fall has been accepted into ARTWORKS 2018, the OCADU Alumni Show, December 2 -8, 2018. The Great Hall, OCADU. 100 McCaul St., Toronto. More Info and opening reception date & time here
Polar Bear Painting About Tribute Wins an Award of Its Own
My polar bear oil painting Canadian Flower Crown was accepted in, and was awarded 1st prize, The Jurors’ Award, the respected Headwaters Arts Annual Juried Art Show, (on until October 8, 2018) Headwaters Arts Gallery, Alton Mill, Caledon. It was an honour for me, that my polar bear painting about tribute and celebration of this magnificent animal, received a tribute of its own!
It was especially gratifying and encouraging that not only did the accomplished jurors, Sue Powell, Regan Hayward and Jill Price, accept my polar bear painting into the show, but that they so clearly understood its message.
The effect of climate change, particularly vanishing sea ice is central to all my art work. In this polar bear portrait, a solitary bear is adorned in honour and celebration with a flower crown composed of the flowers of the Canadian provinces and territories, as well the nation’s symbol, the maple leaf. The polar bear is one of the world’s most loved animals, but it is Canada, that is home to 60 - 80% of the polar bear population. This magnificent, highly intelligent bear is significantly intertwined with the Canadian identity, and yet, its status in Canada, is vulnerable.
Canadian Flower Crown, although a recent creation, was one I had in the works in my head for a few years.
(See more polar bear art here)
I was often surrounded by beautiful flowers, especially magnificent flower crowns, as my daughter was a floral designer. Keeping her company I would doodle, and flower-crowned polar bears made their way on the page.
But it wasn’t until I started to create my work for my 2018 Dark Water solo exhibit, that a flower crown polar bear insisted it appear on canvas. It became a mental block to my creating new paintings that were to be of polar bears in dark water. The only way to solve this, was to paint it, so I could get on with the show!
Canadian Flower Crown took more research and planning than most of my paintings. I had learn what the flowers of each province and territory are, their size, and their proportion in relation to a polar bear’s head. It would be so easy for this bear to be “cute” or “pretty” in a flower crown.
By showing its very large teeth, this polar bear remains the powerful animal it is.
Months ago, when the Artworld Fine Art Gallery and I planned the opening date of my "Dark Water" solo art exhibit (March 24, 2018, on until April 3rd) we had no idea it was the same date as the 2018 Earth Hour. the world's largest grass roots movement for the environment, co-ordinated in part by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF).
Dark Water is an show about the wonder of polar bears, and the threat posed to them through climate change. Polar bears are the world's largest land predators, the only bear that are a marine mammal, are highly intelligent, playful, strong swimmers, devoted mothers, and are beautiful, too....Read More
You are invited! Below is the invitation to my solo show of new paintings about polar bears and climate change. Special Guest: James Kushny, a University of Toronto researcher, and Board Director for the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, the remarkable, Leed certified centre in Churchill, Manitoba, where scientists from around the world, study northern sustainability . A portion of sales will be donated to this independent, not for profit, Canadian research centre.
An RSVP for the opening night would be appreciated. For more info, directions or to RSVP please click here.
Although polar bears are solitary animals, when there is a group of them, it is known as a celebration of polar bears. Can you think of a better word to describe a gathering of these magnificent arctic animals?!
Each painting is a tribute to these intelligent, mighty arctic mammals. These portraits give a nod to their beauty, fuzziness, playfulness (goofy even?), but one should never forget their awesome teeth and powerful claws are ever present. Can you see their distinct personalities, too?
Please feel free to contact me through Guestbook atwww.christinemontague.com or visit there for more polar bear art.
To learn more about polar bears, please visit Polar Bears International
About Polar Bear Dreams
These polar bear oil paintings are part of the Polar Bear Dreams Series, a dreamlike, wistful, and spiritual tribute in oil to the mighty polar bear, whose threatened future always seems open to debate.
In dream intrepretation, the symbolism held by a bear is independence, strength, death and renewal, and/or resurrection.
And, if that bear is a polar bear? Reawakening.
I try to show the physical beauty and power of the bear in my paintings. The night sky, the aurora borealis (northern lights) , the use of color, and lack of detailed landscape show how this beautiful bear has a foot in our world, but may be edging closer to the spiritual one. Hopefully, knowledge, awareness, and empathy, will ensure that the ursus maritimus remains firmly planted in this world.
The limited color pallette of Prussian (or Indigo) blue, white, black, (and sometimes green ) creates the other-worldy mood, spirituality, and mystery.
Polar bears are actually not white, but we do see them that way. (Read the Polar Bears International article on their fur here).
The white in my polar bear paintings represents strength, intelligence, innocence, and hope.
Blue is the most popular colour. Looking at blue is proven to make one feel well, and is helpful to sufferers of SAD. The blue in these paintings is more than representation of the night sky. It symbolizes the earth, the spiritual, the unknown, and beauty, too.
When I paint the green of the northern lights, it is one of the colours of the aurora borealis, but also represents nature, fertility, life and balance. The colour reflects off the bear's fur, connecting it to all this colour represents.
And, as in many of my paintings, the concept of living life "in the moment" and of solitude that is not lonely is prevelent. But, longing lingers there, too.
In these paintings, the longing can be as simple as wanting these polar bears and their progeny to live a long. healthy life.
I welcome your comments and inquiries. To see more polar bear art, or to make inquiries about my polar bear paintings (portraits, too), please feel free to comment below, or contact me www.christinemontague.com
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.
Interpreting positive and negative space is one of the compositional skills practised by visual artists when they draw and paint. It is also a handy method to trigger one's imagination either as a drawing exercise, or when illustrating.
What is positive and negative space?
Positive space is the space occupied by the subject. Negative space is the space on the page around it. A classic example of this is the image below, the Rubin Vase -
The positive space is the yellow vase. The negative space is the inverse of this space, i.e. everything outside the vase. In this picture, can you see the two profiled faces in the negative space? This is a well-known example of illusion, thanks to its use of positive and negative space. However, negative space usually does not have another recognizable image.
Using a printout of an image of one of my stone kitchen tiles, I drew a scene on that printout inspired by the shapes and tones I saw there. The Angry Polar Bear (above) is one such illustration. The Infamous Heart-Nosed Hedgehog below, is another of these The Sketchbook Project drawings.
What is the positive space in the drawing below? What is the negative?
The Positives (and negatives) of the Polar Bear & The Hedgehog
Surprise! Although you probably guessed it, the same tile image inspired the polar bear and hedgehog drawings. Here they are, together.
The Infamous Heart-nosed Hedgehog . The positive space is the hedgehog. The negative space, is all the other space. In this case, that space is filled in with clouds.
The Angry Polar Bear. Using another printout of the same tile, I placed my subject, the polar bear, in what was the negative space of the hedgehog illustration. You can see the shape of the hedgehog in the space to the left of the polar bear. So, in this drawing,the positive space is the polar bear.
But wait! There are actually two subjects in this drawing! There is a little figure in a fur-trimmed hooded parka in the bottom left corner. His head is where the hedgehog's eye is in the hedgehog drawing. This little figure is also a positive space (although his actions may be negative. I will leave that up to your imagination!). So the negative space of this image is all the space around them, including the top right corner of the image.
Does this help you to understand positive and negative space?
To see my 2013 The Sketchbook Project (Brooklyn Art Library, Brooklyn, New York) about a polar bear world "CRAM" click here
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 .
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.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to being a self representing fine artist. A definite perk is that I get to meet, at least online, the people who will own my work. Just as the client enjoys the story behind the painting, I like to learn why the painting touches the heart of the collector. Who's For Dinner?, a 48" x 48" black, white and silver oil stick and oil painting cat portrait of a silver Main Coon cat was purchased by a collector in Great Britain. The gracious owner sent me the photo above to show the painting in situ.
Some people buy their art totally from their heart and worry about where it will go later. The painting evokes a memory, or emotion or visceral reaction to the colour and/or texture. They will find a spot for it somehow. They will switch around the room or the art in their home to suit the art work. To them, that is part of the excitement and discovery of purchasing new art they are passionate about.
However, it is equally valid to buy art with the intention it blends in with a particular room's decor. The paintings size, colour and texture, will add to setting's ambience. The painting will complete the room, not competes with it.
On the other hand, one may purchase a painting to be the focal point of a room. The art work's size, subject (or lack of it), colour, and texture will dramatically call attention to it. The rest of the decor, like moons to a planet, will rotate around it. The decor will compliment it.
As I self representing artist I am fortunate in that I get to hear the positive reaction to my art in person. There are many advantages to having gallery representation, but as a gallery artist, one often never knows who has purchased the one's paintings, or where they go. But to be honest, although I get to meet the collector, and I always wish that the client has a lifetime of enjoyment from my art, in the past I never gave much thought where the client displays the art in their home.
Last year, I delivered a large Lake Dreams Series painting to a client's home where it got the approval of the decorator. The clients loved the painting's subject and mood, which they saw at the Arts on the Credit art fair, but they were specifically searching for an art work that would go with their newly decorated room. In particular, the painting needed to go with a pair of beautiful taupe chairs. Fortunately for me, the painting really did look spectacular in the room, which was a calm and freshly designed setting. And I was surprised how my painting of a dock and sky reflecting in the dark lake water, became a more formal art work in this environment. With hindsight, I realize I should have asked permission photograph the painting in place.
So imagine my delight, when recently, and unbidden, the lovely photo above arrived in my mailbox. In this case, I know the collector bought a painting he was passionate about. He discovered it online and loved the portrait and scale of the Main Coon cat painting. But doesn't this photo also show he created a dramatic, yet fun, focal point for the room, as well as an attractive decor choice? Don't you love the giant Main Coon cat sitting above those lovely gold chairs and black lamp? I am glad "Who's for Dinner?" made it safely from Toronto Area to Great Britain, and if "Who's for Tea?" is a preferred title, I wouldn't mind at all.
Earlier this morning, Wiarton Willie, the prognosticating (my new word for the day) groundhog, immortalized in the statue above, saw his shadow. So did Punxsutawney Phil. So, 6 more weeks of winter ahead for us!
The verb prognosticate, as you, unlike me, probably know, means to foretell or prophesy. Prognosticating seems to be the word of the day in this year's articles about Wiarton Willie and Punxsutawney Phil. One source even makes reference to the prognosticating "rodent". "Happy Rodent Day" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
Whatever the greeting, it's not hard to believe the prognostications made by our groundhog friends. Last night, the Greater Toronto Area received another huge snow fall - beautiful to behold, but meant about an hour and a half of shovelling for us at our place.
I much prefer the warm breeze, blue sky, and summer sunshine I experienced the day I took the photograph above. "Wiarton Willie", a 4.5 tonnes limestone sculpture by Canadian sculptor, Dave Robinson, stands in a lovely Wiarton park ( www.visitwiarton.ca) at the base of the Bruce Penninsula. The water seen behind the sculpture is Georgian Bay. The real Wiarton Willie lives nearby, in the library.
But, I prognosticate all this snow has an advantage, too. It offers me a great excuse to stay inside, blog, and paint. No procrastination allowed!
Happy, Creative, Ground Hog Day!
Recently, I sold a large oil painting to a client in the United Kingdom. Shipping a large art work from Canada overseas was a first for me, and I came across a variety of helpful information about packaging and how to ship art internationally in my research. The artwork I wanted to ship was a 48" x 48" X 1.5 " oil painting on canvas on wood stretchers. It weighed 11 lb (pre-packaging). I wanted the artwork to travel quickly (air freight vs 6 - 8 week journey by boat), tracked, and insured at full value ( i.e. repaired if damaged, or full compensation if lost).
To find international art shipping companies in my area (not all freight forwarders will ship art), I searched online as well as contacted the good folk at my municipal art gallery, and CARFAC Ontario, for recommendations (they kindly obliged). It never hurts to ask fellow artists about who they use, too!
Companies that Ship Art
Although I made my inquiries just before New Year's, all companies got back to me soon after the holiday. I made my inquiries via email. I have since learned that for some art shippers, if very busy, it may take two weeks for an email reply.
Here are the shipping companies I contacted:
UPS For Canada http://www.ups.com/canada/engindex.html or ups.com Although very helpful, my local UPS store would not insure the artwork for more than $1000. and payout would only occur if the painting was lost completely. This knocked them out of the running for me.
NavisPack and Ship http://www.gonavis.com
Armstrong Fine Arts www.shipfineart.com
Here is a company that insures art (and artists' studios, too), for when you need separate insurance www.assurart.com CARFAC artists are eligible for a discount
Note: When I have a smaller painting to mail in Canada or to the U.S.A., I have always had a good experience with Canada Post Express post. Quick, tracked, insured.
Heads Up on Shipping Costs
The quotes I received for the 48" x 48" oil painting to be crated, insured and shipped to Britain, ranged from $1500 - $2000. One company quoted $3000 just to Heathrow Airport, London. Before I did my research, I had the vague understanding that shipping art is a costly venture, but I confess, the aforementioned quotes took me by surprise! So beware, when selling overseas, be sure to get a quote on shipping before giving an estimate to your client. The size of my painting, not so much the weight, placed it in the "harder to package and ship" higher price bracket.
Luckily, I was able to remove the painting off the stretcher, dissassemble the stretcher, and package sonotube within sonotube, which reduced shipping price substantially. This, however, leaves the clients having to reassemble it at the other end. It is helpful if you can find as much info online to aide them in this task. Also photograph the work as you take it apart showing folds, and bar positions . Include hardware, wire and picture hooks - anything to help them at the other end!
Make Two Copies of Invoice
Your shipping company can help you, but remember you'll need two copies of a commercial invoice (keep another for your records). One for the outside and one in with the art. These invoices should have
- Commercial Invoice
- your name, address, phone, fax numbers, email
- your business number
- the consignee's name, address (postal code!), phone, fax and email and all other pertinent contact info
- a photo of the artwork
- Detailed info of the artwork. Title, Size, medium, weight
- Value of painting(overseas - does not include tax or shipping cost)
- Weight and size of package will have to be adjusted if they are doing the packaging for you
- Its use
- Declaration it is an original _______ by living Canadian artist __________
Videos on Shipping Art
Here are some very informative videos on how to package art yourself.
FedEx how to safely package and ship art http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8zNtyAx8c4
Xanadu Gallery owner, Jason Horejs - webinar on shipping art http://www.xanadugallery.com/webinar/shipping/index.asp
Please keep in mind, if you are making your own crate to ship overseas, most companies have very stringent rules about wood. Crates must be made accordingly.
Here is The Canadian Conservation Institution page on crates http://www.cci-icc.gc.ca/caringfor-prendresoindes/articles/sixsteps-sixetapes/step6-etape6-eng.aspx
A few years ago, I participated in "Following in the Footsteps of Carmichael", an en plein air painting excursion organized by the Art Gallery of Sudbury for the Group of Seven 85th anniversary. The photograph above is of the The Narrows, on the way to Grace Lake where Franklin Carmichael famously painted. If I remember correctly, Carmichael's cottage, which his family still owned at the time, was just to the left past this aptly named spot. And further on, to the right, is the shore where we would eventually disembark to hike up a canoe portage path (bear whistle on hand) to Grace Lake. Not seen in the photo, is the cold rain that horizontally smacked at our faces, and never let up (way to south of us Toronto was flooding). Nor does it tell the story of how, once up the path, the downpour made climbing the rocky vantage point to where Carmichael painted out of the question.
Jim and Sue Waddington, however, were much more successful in their quest to follow in Carmichael's footsteps, and have the photographs to prove it. In fact, they followed all the Group Of Seven's footsteps (A.Y. Jackson, Franklin Carmichael, Arthur Lismer, Lawren Harris, A.J. Casson, J.E.H. MacDonald, Tom Thomson, and Frederick Varley). Their new book, "Following in the Footsteps of the Group of Seven" (Gooselane Press), tells the story of their 36 year adventure in which they tracked down, documented and photographed the actual landscapes that inspired the GO7 paintings. The book also includes the reproductions of those paintings. Here's the lovely poster Poster Waddington Cover Gooselane
Our paths connect again. This Sunday, December 1, 2013, the creative couple are talking about their adventures at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre, Glen Williams, Halton Hills, Ontario. For more information please visit www.williamsmill.com A.J. Casson painted in the very picturesque Glen Williams where I once I had my artist studio, and the Learning Centre, where I know you will be inspired by the Waddington's talk, was once my artist studio!
Note: Do you know you can follow "Tom Thompson" on twitter?@TTLastSpring Follow his tweets exactly as they occurred 96 years ago - his paintings, and journal - and learn of the mystery of his death in Algonquin on July 8, 1917. Canoe Lake · TTLastSpring.com
Are you a visual artist in the Greater Toronto Area? Here are some 2014 western Greater Toronto Area juried art shows to keep an eye out for in the next few months. It's a little to early for some exact deadlines, but I hope the list below helps you plan for 2014. Good luck, everyone!
- Check starting early November 2013. Visual Arts Mississauga (VAM) 36th Annual Juried Show of Fine Art at the AGM (Art Gallery of Mississauga). Entry date & details through VAM is not posted yet. https://www.visualartsmississauga.com Note: Opening reception is listed on AGM site for Thursday, January 16, 2014, 6 pm
- Check from December 2013 on until early 2014 for entry deadline. Ontario Society of Artists " 141st OSA - Annual Juried Exhibition" http://ontariosocietyofartists.org The show dates are Tuesday, April 1 – Friday - April 25, 2014
- Check by March 2014. “Through the Eyes of the Artist” Lakeshore Arts Annual Juried Exhibition. http://www.lakeshorearts.ca
- Start checking in January 2014. Artcetera 2014. Elora Centre for the Arts.http://www.eloracentreforthearts.ca
- Deadline early March 2014. 7th Beaux-Arts Brampton Annual Open Juried Show 2013 www.Beaux-ArtsBrampton.com
- Deadline end of March 2014 5th Annual Open Juried Photography Show 2013 Beaux Arts Brampton Gallery www.Beaux-ArtsBrampton.com
- Deadline early 2015. The Kingston Prize occurs every two years. The 2013 show is on now. Nationwide Juried Portraiture painting show. http://www.kingstonprize.ca
- Check by April 2014. 18th Annual Juried HAFestival Art Show & Sale (Headwaters Arts Festival). Show is in September during Headwaters Arts Festival. http://headwatersarts.com
- Check by April 2014 . “Insights” Wellington County Museum and Archives. (between Elora & Fergus) www.artscouncil.elora.on.ca
- Check by early summer 2014 6th Annual Open Juried Wildlife, Nature, & Native Juried Show 2013 Beaux Arts Brampton www.Beaux-ArtsBrampton.com
- Start checking in the summer of 2014 for the October Canadian Society of Painters In Watercolour show. www.cspwc.com
- Check by September 2014. Colour and Form Society Annual Open Juried Art Show. www.colourandformsociety.org
Some Other Calls for Entries of Interest
- entry starts in December 2013 until early March 2014. Toronto Outdoor Art Show. Nathan Philips Square. www.Torontooutdoorart.org
- Sign up in October 2013 to receive sketchbook. Note: Be sure to include your sketchbook in the tour to your area. Finished sketchbook due early January 2014. The Sketchbook Project.www.sketchbookproject.com
This Saturday, September 28, from 10 am - 4 pm, my portraits and polar bear oil paintings will be for show and sale at the Small Arms Inspection Building, as part of Doors Open Mississauga 2013. The Small Arms Building is near and dear to my heart. Why?
The Small Arms Building is a 144,000 sq.ft example of WWII industrial architecture. During the war, over 40,000 women, "Rosie the Riveters", came from all over Canada to work at this site, where they manufactured about 1 million Lee-Enfield rifles.
The Lakeview Legacy Foundation, of which I was proudly a founding member, has set out to repurpose this impressive, but empty building into a desperately needed arts centre of working artists studios, performance space, art galleries, and museum. In other words, arms to arts. (Read more about it here)
And, to help you envision just how dynamic this centre will be when it houses studios for working visual artists, (and musicians, actors, dancers, filmmakers, creative scientists, etc.) over 20 artists (including me) will each set up shop in an office. We'll show our craft as if a working day in our studios, and offer work for sale.
But that's not all.
The Honorary Colonel Gerald Haddon will speak about J.A.D. McCurdy, the Canadian aviation pioneer.
Heather Brissenden will sing Hits of the Blitz from 10:00 to 14:00.
The Lorne Scots machine gun teams will compete through out the day.
The 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion will also be there.
You can see a Sherman tank.
And best of all, you will have the rare opportunity to meet some of the wonderful Rosie the Riveters who actually worked at Small Arms.
http://www.smallarms.ca/SmallArms.html for contact info, schedule, & parking (it's free!). P.S. a very short walk west from Longbranch Go Station, Toronto.
Now, can you find the polar bear in the photos below?
This is an example of one of the wonders the internet holds for the artist and for the art collector. I have never met this mom or baby. In fact, they live hundreds of miles away.
The mom stumbled upon my web site while surfing online late one night (all new moms can relate to this). She took a photo of her baby in his stroller with her cell phone and emailed it to me. We discussed the commission process by email, including that I leave out details of the stroller straps, etc.
I received payment for the commission via snail mail, but, there are many payment alternatives available to buying online. I used Canada Express Post to deliver the carefully packaged portrait. This insured service supplied a tracking number that I shared via email with the client. By the time I got home from the post office , only a short distance away, the online tracking info informed me the parcel was in the system, about to be on its way, and posted the estimated date and time of arrival.
Pretty amazing, I think.
If you would enjoy seeing more of my little 6" x 6" portraits please visit www.littleportraitpaintings.com
For larger oil paintings, please visit www.christinemontague.com
This 6" x 6" portrait oil painting was commissioned to celebrate this pretty little baby girl's first birthday. I love creating these 6" x 6" portraits, more of which can be seen at my website www.littleportraitpaintings.com Every portrait teaches me something! A first for me? Why baby's first teeth!
Recently, I have had access to a small private forest. I set up a motion camera to get a voyeuristic look at the creatures of the night. My real hope was to get images of a coyote in the brush before foliage appeared. I wanted to use this personally obtained reference for a painting about solitude and alienation. For the first month the only evidence of any wildlife was the tiny silhouette of a bat far off in the darkness. At least I knew the camera worked, but I had to reconsider its place. The results? Something more suitable to a children's story. "Mr. Racoon, Mr. Possum and Ms. Cat live Alone in My Forest". I have more animal action in my urban backyard.
Recently, when I was able to check out the camera, a new character arrived on the scene. About 20 minutes after Ms. Cat prowled by, this fellow appears, and changes his course to follow what I believe are the cat's tracks. Hopefully, on my next check of the camera, I will see that this lovely fox was 20 minutes too late.