8" x 8" oil painting on canvas of a blue canoe. Part of the Lake Dreams Series. Copyright Christine MontagueRead More
8" x 8" oil painting on canvas of a blue canoe. Part of the Lake Dreams Series. Copyright Christine MontagueRead More
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.
I hope you can attend Lake Dreams, my solo show of new oil paintings, at the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre, in Glen Williams. December 1 - 24, 2011. Wednesday - Sunday 12 - 5 p.m. You can read about some of the Lake Dreams paintings here.
Williams Mill Gallery Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre, 515 Main Street, Glen Williams, (Georgetown), Halton Hills, Ontario, Canada L7G 3S9
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
This Saturday, October 1st, is Doors Open Mississauga 2011, and Day 2 of the Canadian Culture Days. If you have even the slightest interest in anything having to do with the arts, heritage, your family, your city, real estate, entertainment , or, quite simply, being wowed, you owe it to yourself (and your family and friends) to seize this chance to tour the remarkable Small Arms Building, 1352 Lakeshore Road East, Mississauga (416) 661-6600 ext.5223 (Free parking, wheelchair accessible).
Built in 1941, this 144, 000 sq. ft. office and small arms inspection building was part of Small Arms Ltd, a World War 2 arms manufacturer. The company has an incredible wartime history. Tens of thousands of women came from across Canada to work there, and the dormitories and houses built for them revitalized the Lakeview area of Mississauga. The Arsenal Lands upon which it sits was home to the Long Branch Rifle Ranges, to Canada’s first aerodrome and a military flight training school.
So what does this have to do with you, your family, the arts, real estate, and everything else I listed?
A dedicated volunteer group, The Lake Legacy Foundation (with whom I've had the privilege to work with), has worked tirelessly to lay the ground work for Small Arms to repurpose it as a centre of arts and culture.
You may be wondering, what, exactly , is a centre of arts and culture, and what does it have to do with me?
Well, for starters, this space will offer much-needed affordable work and performance space for Mississauga's artist and cultural groups. Mississauga is just over 30 years old. Older buildings with minimal dollars per square foot rental are pretty well nonexistent, so independent artists must leave our city to live and work. This venue will offer studios of all kinds: from personal, affordable live work space for visual artists (painting, ceramics, sculpture & more) to practice space for theatre, dance and music. Theatres for performance and galleries that both show and sell, will introduce us to our artists. Small Arms has the potential to help Mississauga keep its creative people (especially the young ones), and to attract other cultural sorts to the city as well.
The building itself, now saved from demolition, will be a living museum with creative tips of the hat to its historic roots and its Rosie the Riveter inhabitants throughout.
The Lakeview community will have a long overdue cultural jewel in its crown.
All of Mississauga (and the GTA and beyond) will have an inspirational venue to visit , and I mean inspirational in every way! A cultural venue where you can shop, learn, teach, exhibit, view, entertain or be entertained, work and sell, and become involved. A place to hang out alone, or with family, or your peers. Time spent there may be contemplative or celebratory. High ceilings, big windows, at the edge of a great lake.
Don't miss this chance to see what could be.
Any one who has owned a cat, or even been around one for a while, knows that cats have a thing about bags. If a bag is open, the cat will do its best to make its home. Well, this seal point Rag doll cat, has set up house in a paper bag, his "cat cave", if you will. He figures that if he can't see you, you can't see him, and all is well with the world. From the safety of his trusty paper bag he will watch the world go by until he succumbs to a nap.
I finished this larger than life cat painting of a Seal Point Rag Doll cat in a bag, today. It is the latest in my series of big cat paintings. As you may have surmised, by "big cat", I don't mean tigers and lions (and bears, oh my). The reference is literal in meaning. Domestic cats painted big. Very big.
These oil paintings pay homage to the character (talk about character) of our feline friends, by the fact that we look up at the subject portrayed. But the cat, himself? He probably thinks that these paintings show us in our true light as something much, much smaller (see "Who's For Dinner?").
Whatever the case, this cat, drying on the easel in my studio in the Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre, is not yet ready to be out of the bag and on the wall.
Saturday, June 18th , 1 - 4 p.m. join the Williams Mill artists and me at the opening of our annual show "Where Art Comes to Life" (formally our annual "Spring into Art" show) in the Williams Mill Gallery. I have 3 paintings in the show, and you will a diverse selection of the Williams Mill Artists work - oil, acrylic and watercolour painting, glass, ceramics, wood, stone sculpture, jewellery and more. Refreshments will be served. Then, take a look at all the studios where this fine art work was created! Our studios are always open to the public Saturdays (Fridays, too) 12 - 5 p.m.
Then on Sunday, don't miss out on a unique and creative way to spend Father's Day! On Father's Day, Sunday, June 19, 2011, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm, art comes further to life at the Williams Mill. Demonstrations, Workshops, Discussions & Interactive Displays – pick up your detailed brochure and guide at the Williams Mill Gallery. FYI In the top left photo in the flyer above, that's yours truly in my old studio. I will have my studio open on Father's Day - rare indeed!
The fact that magnolias in this area are always out and sometimes even finished by Mother's Day, inspired me to paint a magnolia portrait entitled, you guessed it, "Just in Time (for Mother's Day")" .
The weather today, Mother's Day 2011, is so glorious, the bloom is not off my day, by the lack of Magnolia blossoms. It simply means Mother's Day should be extended a few more days, don't you think?
Happy Mother's day!
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.
I have the good fortune to have the friendship of talented artist & art leader, Paulette Murphy. Because of her, I had the unique & rewarding experience to help create Beaux-Arts Brampton Artists Co-operative - a both feet plunge, steep learning curve dive into the world of fine art. Below is a repeat of what I wrote for the Williams Mill Artist Blog http://www.williamsmill.blogspot.com
"Recipe for a Good Life" is a beautiful looking cook book as well a source of delicious, nutritious recipes prepared using the key ingredients thought to combat cancer. Paulette Murphy, an award-winning visual artist, and recipient of Brampton's "Artist of the Year Award" is the founder and visionary behind the successful Beaux - Arts Brampton Artists Co-operative . Dawn Friesen is her friend, a fellow artist, and graphic artist working in Brampton.Passionate about good health, proper eating, and art, as well as having a personal connection to cancer, the two artists conceived of a book combining this insight. They put a call out to their large network of artist friends for art work and favourite recipes using the anti-carcinogen ingredients .The art work of three Williams Mill artists - Christine Montague (me!) , Sheri Tenaglia & Eileen Millen - are included in this book. My mom's fish bake recipe is also in the book. This attractive book is ideal for art lovers, foodies, and those in search of a yummy and nutritious recipe.All recipes have been tested by a nutritionist.Only $25 - a portion of which goes to charity.You can see and buy this terrific cooking & art book in Sheri Tenaglia's studio in the Yellow Mill, Williams Mill.OR scroll down for some other locations.
Pastel drawing Soy Beans by Christine Montague, Williams Mill artistDirectly through Potluck Projects c/o Paulette MurphyDowntown Brampton area, call for address and an appointment 905-457-0058The book is available from any bookstore. If you can't find it on the shelf, ask the sales person to order by the ISBN # 978-1-77067-262-8Chinguacousy Wellspring Centre5 Inspiration Way, Brampton, ON905-792-6480Hours: 9 am - 5 pm Monday to Friday; 9 am - 12 noon on SaturdayPrefer to purchase online? Go to -www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/ Located in both the art and the cooking sections. FYI There is no personal connection between Dawn Friesen, the author, and Friesen Press.
It has been a while since my last adventure with cold wax and oil painting (Read more about it here).
Experiments that I had begun since that time didn't seem to set. I wondered if I had received the wrong Dorland's wax product, or if I used too much oil paint in my ratio of wax to pigment. But as it turned out, I had my work too textured, and the under layers could not dry. When I shaved off the thicker parts the drying process began.
So, the other day, I decided I would put some left over paint to good use and mix in some wax. There was enough for one little small panel. But, like trying to eat one just one peanut , next thing I knew - I had pretty well used up my little stockpile of prepared wood panels (i.e.panels were gessoed, sanded, & their sides masked). A whole series of pink, white & silver of heart & Valentine's Day inspired works lay drying in the studio - hearts emerging from the clouds, floating over the falls ("falling in love" get it?), hearts rising. A couple of bouquets too.
As the cold wax process uses a lot of oil paint - the cost of artist quality Winsor & Newton oil paints does limit how much I can afford to experiment. With Valentine's Day in mind, I added Permanent Rose (what better colour for true love), and Silver to the Dorland's cold wax.
First I dolloped the oil and wax mixture on the panels with a palette knife, then used the Wilton Dough Scraper spread and smoothed it over the surface. I also used the scraper to remove and push the wax mixture to create my texture, and values. The light pink is the stain from removed wax. The darker pink is where the wax is thicker and smooth.
A week later, some of the areas still weren't setting fast enough for my liking. Out came the palette knife to remove areas too thick. I accidentally scratched a piece with the sanding paper I was using to clean up the back of the work. Hmmm. I liked the way that looked, and next thing I knew, I was dramatically changing some of the 3" x 4" blocks by incorporating sanded away texture. Isn't that what experimenting is all about?
Below you see the Wilton Dough Scraper I bought at the Janice Mason Steeves cold wax workshop.
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.
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
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.
Imagine this big Main Coon cat greeting you in the hallway when you get home or on the big wall at the stair landing! Well loved by all that visit my studio - even by those who aren't cat fans (as one woman stated "Imagine if it was a horse!") this cat would be a unique art work for the home. Painting #2 in the Giant Cat Series. 60" high by 40" wide. Black and white oil painting with gold and silver oil paint and oil stick. Next up - "Who's for Dinner" - the 3rd in the series is almost finished too.
American artist Andy Warhol sums it up exactly "I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anyone could ever want to own." Today I was reunited with a painting I feared had gone astray. On exhibit at an unknown location through an art rental service experiencing difficulty, I feared this was one painting I may never see again.Read More
Minus 32 degrees celsius with the wind chill did not deter 8 members of the Ontario Plein Air Society (OPAS) from meeting at the heritage Scotsdale Farm, on the Maureen Smith trail area of the Bruce Trail in Ontario.
This was my first visit to the lovely American colonial style farm buildings, and my need to explore and photograph, took precedence over my need to paint. Long tree shadows crossing over white clapboard buildings, a stone silo dusted in snow, and weather vane topped cupolas made for inspiring photo taking.
As there was so much to see, it took me a while to settle down to draw with my Cray pas oil pastels. But by the time I did, the weather changed - everything going grey. Still beautiful, but we all became a little more conscious it was winter. Shadows disappeared, and snow swirled off the roof tops, as in the little 8" x 8" oil pastel drawing on canvas I did, and am quite fond of, even though it was quickly produced, for the grand jaunte it represents.
By drawing on location, my feet buried in the snow, in a farm pen that I had to climb over a fence to get to, for the view I wanted, I can still feel the crispness of the air, and replay the image of the snow swirling past the silo I was drawing. The paintings of Scotsdale Farm that will be created in the comfort of my Williams Mill studio - these paintings, will certainly benefit from the plein air experience.