Tag Archives: art blog

Polar Bear in Dark Water

Dark Water 1 is an oil painting portrait of a beautiful polar bear swimming.  The water is dark, as daylight is diminished in the arctic fall.


Dark Water 1. © Christine Montague 30″ x 30 ” oil painting. Available at Artworld Fine Art Gallery until July 20, 2017.  Please contact the gallery here

But dark water has another implication. The earth’s bright white polar ice cap, which serves as a giant reflector for the sun’s heat, is being diminished by climate change from carbon emissions. The melting polar ice increases the darkness of the planet’s surface (hence “dark water”), decreases the sun reflected back into space, and increases the heat absorbed by the earth. More ice melts, which creates more dark water,  and so the loop continues.

This loop of sea ice loss and increased dark water endangers the polar bear. Although this magnificent bear is a highly intelligent (think great ape), top-of-the-arctic-food-chain marine mammal (the only bear that is such), and is a powerful swimmer (slightly webbed front paws, highly insulated and buoyant body), it is dependant on the frozen sea for hunting (only seal fat sustains them, not berries or birds’ eggs), resting, feeding (can’t nurse in water) and denning (necessary for mother bears with cubs, semi-hibernation, and to ride out storms).  The increase of the period of open water from spring to fall, and the distance between ice tops in winter, leaves the polar bear and its cubs vulnerable to starvation, attack, and drowning.

The polar bear in Dark Water 1 gazes back upon her path, her body twisted as if in question.

It is up to the viewer to imagine how far outside the picture frame the next ice floe waits, and whether or not, until this moment, her journey was a solitary one.

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Filed under Arctic, Art Shows, Call to Artists, Canvas (Paintings), Climate Change Art, New Painting, Polar Bear Art, Polar Bears, Portrait Paintings, Uncategorized, vanishing Ice

New Polar Bear Painting – Benediction

Polar bear painting by Christine Montague www.ChristineMontague.com

Benediction. New polar bear painting. ©ChristineMontague.com

Fresh Off the Easel

Benediction, a 36″ x 12″ polar bear oil painting on canvas is the latest painting off my easel.  This polar bear, suspended upright under blue free water,  seems to be giving a blessing. Who would be the recipient of such a gift, do you think?

As with other paintings in the polar bear  Sink/Swim Series, we are at that tipping point of loosing much that is wonderful in this world. We need all the blessings we can get, and we should not only count them, but protect and nurture them, too.

I’m very blessed I can take the risk to follow my polar bear muse and look forward to where this polar bear art will take me.  Are you enjoying these polar bear paintings?  Let me know as I enjoy and appreciate your comments!

If you would like to purchase a polar bear painting or some of my other representational art, simply visit ChristineMontague.com for perusal and contact links.

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Filed under Canvas (Paintings), Polar Bear Art, Polar Bear Art 2015, Polar Bears

New Polar Bear Cub Painting Study 4

Polar bear cub painting by Christine Montague www.ChristineMontague.com

Polar bear cub 4. Sink/Swim series study. Original painting © Christine Montague 2015

New Oil Painting Study in the Sink/ Swim Series

The polar bear cub in Polar Bear Cub 4 , a 6″ x 12″ oil painting study on canvas, is the latest study off my easel  for the Sink/Swim Series.  Once again, as with the oil paintings posted in  New Painting – Shrodinger’s Cat, er, Bear and Polar Bear Cub Painting for International Polar Bear Day , a polar bear cub is depicted mid-swim, beneath the water’s surface. This polar bear cub, is a solid little bear, isn’t he?

The Sink/Swim Series

My polar bear Sink/Swim series of oil paintings offers commentry on the effect vanishing polar ice has on the survival of the polar bears. The delay in the formation of the sea ice, leaves the baby polar bear more vulnerable to attack by hungry male polar bears. The increased open water means the distance a mother polar bear must travel, polar bear cub(s) on back, before ice is found to rest on or hunt seal from,  increases the odds the polar bear bear cub(s), and even the mother, will make it safely ice top.

The sink or swim aspect can apply to the bigger picture of our planet as well. The decrease in the polar bear population is but one of the many consequences of increased global warming, and the resulting polar and glacial ice loss. Less ice means more dark water. Read more about that cycle on my previous post. As polar caps melt, sea water rises, and as a good part of our population lives near the water’s edge, well, we could all be swimming for it.

Anecdotal stories state that human babies will sometimes play as they drown, not realizing they are in danger.  With this chilling fact in mind, I wondered if polar bear cubs are aware they are in danger as they drown. I hope not.

Some may think of these polar bear cub paintings as “cute“, not exactly a word a fine artist loves to hear. But, the fact is, it is difficult to paint around and escape the cute factor of a polar bear cub. I hope that the affection, admiration and concern I feel for these wonderful bears is evident, and that they evoke similar emotions in you, too. The thought that in the next 50 years these polar bears may cease to exist, is the furthest from polar bear cute I can imagine.

To sign up for my blog & newsletter, or for more info on my polar bear paintings or to buy a painting, please visit Christine Montague Polar Bear Art.

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Filed under Canvas (Paintings), Polar Bear Art, Polar Bear Art 2015, Polar Bears

Here There Be Polar Bears

Fantasy sketch by Christine Monatgue www.ChristineMontague.com

Crossroads. Fantasy Sketch. ©Christine Montague CRAM: Polar Bear World.  ChristineMontague.com

Polar Bear Goodness: a New Polar Bear Art Website & Art Blog at ChristineMontague.com

In case you are new to this art blog Camera & Canvas, I  am a visual artist who, until recently, created representational art i.e. realism oil paintings of figurative landscapescommissioned portraituregiant cat paintingscanoes, lakes & more.  After the polar bears were put on the animals “of concern” list, I painted the polar bear painting  With the Northern Lights in tribute.  I continued to have polar bears on the brain when shortly after that I created CRAM, a Polar Bear World for 2013 The Sketchbook Project. Increasingly, I found myself thinking about polar bear art, polar bear graphic novels, polar bear vacations…,you get the picture, all the while continuing with my portraiture practice & creating other representational art.

One Big, Giant, Scary, Polar Bear Step Forward

Onward into a polar bear world of my own!  Polar bear art, polar bear blog, and yes, a trip to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, polar bear capital of the world, is in the works for the fall.

My new website ChristineMontague.com is all about my new POLAR BEAR ART.

My new art blog? I hope you will visit www.christinemontague.com/blog 

I have a new newsletter for the freshest painting off my easel, why I have painted it, art & polar bear news, art tips, Subscribe

Whatever the new year will bring, one thing is certain, in my part of the realm… Here there be polar bears. I hope that here there be you, too. 

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Filed under New Painting, News, Polar Bear Art

New Art – Bright Light Names for Northern Stars


Christine Montague original oil paintings of polar bears

Aurora. New polar bear oil painting 6″ x 12″ ©Christine Montague 2014 (available)

Polar Bear Paintings Aurora & Borealis

Here are two new oil paintings in my Celebration of Polar Bear Series. I’ve named the polar bears (and the paintings as well) Aurora and Borealis for the aurora borealis, the northern lights that dance so brilliantly in the arctic sky. The size, beauty, and intelligence of the polar bear, makes this bear as magically magnetic as the northern lights.

Polar Bear Painting Aurora

Aurora (above) is the name of the polar bear portrayed in the oil painting at the start of the post. I’ve read that some Inuit communities believe that the aurora borealis are animal spirits,  but this Aurora has her paws firmly planted on the ground.

Polar Bear Painting Borealis

Canadian artist Christine Montague polar bear oil paintings

Borealis (Boris) . New polar bear oil painting. 6″ x 12″ ©Christine Montague 2014  (available)

Borealis is a latin word that originates from the Greek personification of the north wind boreas.

Canada’s arctic is home to over 60% of the world’s polar bears but they also live in the arctic areas of Alaska (U.S.A.), Greenland, Norway and Russia (that’s it, folks).

The word Boreas reminded me of Boris. They are not pronounced the same , but close enough, and so I often think of this painting as Boris, a popular Russian name that is fun to say, and is a nod to all the Russian polar bears, too.

A group of polar bears is known as a celebration of polar bears.  That is exactly what my new (there are 14 so far this fall) polar bear oil paintings are, happy, heartfelt celebratory tributes to these magnificent arctic animals.

Meet polar bear Ursa

Meet polar bear  Silatuyok

Meet polar bear Grace

Please visit Christine Montague Portrait Oil Paintings & Polar Bear Art for more information about these and other paintings.




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Filed under Arctic, Canvas (Paintings), New paintings 2014, Polar Bears

Brush With Beauty Nunavut Part 3: On to Cape Dorset

On to Cape Dorset

The great expanse between Iqaluit & Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: Christine Montague 2014 www.christinemontague.com

The great expanse between Iqaluit & Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Photo: Christine Montague 2014 http://www.christinemontague.com

In late May I travelled from my home in the Greater Toronto Area (pop. 8,000,000+) to the Canadian arctic. I flew first to Baffin Island in Nunavut, the largest and northernmost territory of Canada. I stayed overnight in Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital, and had a good look at that city’s public art (Read Brush with Beauty: Part I and Brush with Beauty: Part 2.).   But my true destination was Cape Dorset, on Dorset Island, near the Foxe Peninsula and on the Hudson Strait.

Cape Dorset (map https://goo.gl/maps/Ycjoz) is an Inuit community of about 1300 people. The Inuktitut name for Cape Dorset is Kinngait (high mountain) as the hamlet sits by the magnificent Kinngait mountain range.

Cape Dorset is the self-proclaimed “capital of Inuit art” and home to the world-renowned Kinngait Studios, the oldest professional printmaking studios in Canada. It is the most artistic community in Canada with over one fifth of the population employed in the arts (printing and carving). Walk the streets, and it is guaranteed you will meet carvers, either at work in their yard, or on their way to Kinngait Studios to sell the work they’ve completed.

Reaching Cape Dorset

Cape Dorset, on Dorset Island, can only be reached by plane, or when the ice breaks up by ship.  The turbo-prop planes of Canada North Air and First Air make the daily flight in. Below is a Google satellite view of the hamlet and runway. The narrow grey bar on the right is the small Cape Dorset runway.  To the left of the runway, are the few roads of Cape Dorset, about 4 kilometres worth.

The airplane will only take one try to approach the runway and will return to Iqaluit if unsuccessful.  This means sudden fog, snow, and winds blowing in the wrong direction (wouldn’t be good to be pushed back into the sea!) can result in the return to Iqaluit.

As a newbie to travel in the north, I didn’t know to look for the  infamous green sticker on my boarding pass.  The green sticker, for that is exactly what it is,  indicates the airline is not responsible for any expenses occurred when, if turned back, one  waits for the next day’s flight (or the next day’s flight after that, or the next day’s flight after that…).

Google satellite view of the runway in Cape Dorset.

Google satellite view of the runway and of the town (hamlet) Cape Dorset.

On the late May morning I made the flight to Dorset, I and the other three passengers seated in the sun-filled plane, thought the very personable steward was joking when, as we began our descent to the Cape Dorset runway, he announced we were turning back. A sudden snow squall below made landing risky. The others on the plane, regular travellers to the north, wildly looked at their boarding passes and proclaimed gleefully “No green stickers!”.  And with relief,  I saw there was no green sticker on my boarding pass either. Back in Iqaluit, my good fortune held. The other airline had room for me on their flight that day, and to the relief of the young clerk who had originally assigned me my pass without the sticker, I happily declined the hotel and food vouchers.


Looking down  at the dramatic beauty of the landscape between Iqaluit and Cape Dorset.   Photo: Christine Montague 2014

Approaching Dorset Island. Photo: Christine Montague 2014 www.christinemontague.com

Approaching Dorset Island. Photo: Christine Montague 2014 www.christinemontague.com


Descending… Photo: Christine Montague 2014

Landing.... Photo Copyright Christine Montague 2014

Photo  Christine Montague 2014

Down! Photo: Christine Montague 2014

Down! Photo: Christine Montague 2014

I like small planes and found landing at Dorset exciting. Like the roads, the runway is not paved, so the surface is rougher. And the wind pushes the plane. I have never been on a flight where the plane wagged (the only word I could think of) as it came to a stop.

I am a big city girl who always flies out of Pearson International Airport. Pearson is Canada’s largest airport, second only in activity to the JFK Airport in the USA.  In 2013, it handled over 36 million passengers. It  directly employs almost as many people who live in Cape Dorset and if you include all the other employees at the airport,  you have 40 times Dorset’s population). So, I found it a memorable and favourable experience to disembark a 20 seat plane, have my large luggage in hand, and be on the road to the hotel in about 5 minutes.

My first view of Cape Dorset. Photo: Christine Montague 2014

My first view of Cape Dorset. Photo: Christine Montague 2014 www.christinemontague.com


The view from my hotel, Dorset Suites. In the foreground is the parking lot. The green and yellow building is the famous Kinngait Studios. Beyond that is the still frozen water,  and the imposing Kinngait Mountain. With every pass of a cloud the scenery changed dramatically. Photo: Christine Montague 2014

Cape Dorset Walk About

I shot the photos above about 6 p.m. shortly after I arrived in town. (FYI Nunavut uses EDT in the summer and EST in the winter). The skies were overcast, as they had been apparently for days before my arrival.

But when I stepped out the door early the next morning, the weather was glorious!  Since my itinerary was to consist mostly of me exploring and photographing the hamlet, alone and on foot, what more could I have asked?!


Approaching the road from the entrance of Dorset Suites. Photo: Christine Montague 2014

I took this photo as I walk downed the drive of Dorset Suites Hotel. Turn right and a stone throws away is Kinngait Studios and the Dorset Arts Outlet Store. Turn left, and you walk past the homes of some of Dorset’s famous artists, including master carver, Nuna Parr. But most roads loop and so at some point one will be back in familiar territory. Photo: Christine Montague 2014

So that first morning, glove and care free, and my Sony a7R  in hand (my iPhone 5S camera served as backup), I turned right at the road towards Kinngait Studios, and the water beyond.  To be continued…


Filed under Arctic, Arts, Camera (Photographs), Life as a Visual Artist, travel

Who’s For Dinner… or is That Tea?

Who's for Dinner. Large scale Main Coon cat oil and oil stick painting by Christine Montague in situ at new home.

Who’s for Dinner. Large scale Main Coon cat black, white and silver oil and oil stick painting by Christine Montague in situ at it’s new home.

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.


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Filed under Art Business, Canvas (Paintings), Cat Paintings, Portrait Paintings

Polar Bear Sky Spirit

Polar Bear painting copyright Christine Montague

Sky Spirit. Polar Bear oil painting copyright Christine Montague. 24″ x 18″

New Polar Bear Painting

Drying on the easel is the 24″ x 18″ polar bear oil painting above.  This painting is the direct result of the painting  I created before it. That painting is “Blue Bear” (here) , a  large polar bear portrait I totally enjoyed painting. However, at 30 ” x 40″ in size, and monochromatic in palette, it took a lot of time, focussed attention, and physical effort to create.

How Things Unfold

One of the joys of painting is that artist often goes into “the zone”. You may have heard runners speak of this loss of time and in the moment experience, but did you know that painters experience this, too?  The day I finished Blue Bear, I still had the time and urge to paint. I spontaneously decided to work on a smaller canvas I had in the studio, and not begin the next large work I had planned.  Because this painting was unplanned, I had no clear vision of what it would be other than to keep to my Polar Bear Dreams Series theme of monochromatic blue polar bears.  I was pretty relaxed as  I blocked in the bear’s portrait,  as after all, I was basically playing at the end of the day.  As I laid down the blue under painting, I got to thinking how much I enjoy showing movement in the fur (see the dashes on Blue Bear’s portrait below), and that I love doing the brush stroke that emphasises this.

Detail. Blue Bear. Polar Bear painting copyright  Christine Montague

Detail. Blue Bear. Polar Bear painting copyright Christine Montague

Next thing I knew I had a swirly sky with stylized northern lights and stars. And colour followed the day after.  I think the fun and joy I felt while creating this polar bear tribute shines through in the work.  And the portrait has that odd mix  found in the polar bear – mighty, beautiful, intelligent, and somehow goofy at the same time.  My good spirits played a part in conveying the spirit of the bear and sky above.

A friendly reminder and invitation. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area,  this weekend, April 12 & 13, my polar bear paintings (and me) will be at  Arts on the Credit, http://www.artsonthe credit.ca The Waterside Inn, 15 Stavebank Rd. S., Port Credit, Mississauga.




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Filed under Canvas (Paintings), Life as a Visual Artist, New paintings 2014, Polar Bears, Portrait Paintings

New Painting: Premonition: Ophelia and the Polar Bear

Polar bear painting by Christine Montague The Premonition

Premonition: Ophelia and the Polar Bear. Polar Bear Dreams Series. Copyright Christine Montague 2014

Drying on the easel in my studio is “Premonition: Ophelia and the Polar Bear“, a 36″ x 48” oil painting on canvas, and another work in the Polar Bear Dreams Series.  Like the other polar bear paintings in this series (here)  this art work is a blue, white and black dream-like tribute to the mighty bear.  This painting, however, has a mystery to it, a hint of tragedy, and possibly, foreboding.

The light of the aurora borealis (northern lights) reveals a young woman trapped in the ice to a passing polar bear. Who is she, and what is her connection to the polar bear and the north?

Artist Notes:

In 2011,  Canada’s Environment Minister declared the polar bear as a species of special concern under the Species at Risk Act.

The woman in this painting is after “Ophelia” by Sir Henry Millais (Tate Gallery, London, England). See the famous Pre-Raphaelite painting that depicts the death of Ophelia and innocence lost in Shakespeare’s tragedy “Hamlet” here. 

Flowers representing the Canadian provinces and territories replace those found in the garland in the Millais  painting.


Filed under Canvas (Paintings), New paintings 2014, Polar Bears, Uncategorized

New Painting Spirit of the Polar Bear

Polar Bear Aura. Oil painting copyright Christine Montague.

Spirit of the Polar Bear. Oil painting copyright Christine Montague 2014.

Introducing my new oil painting Spirit of the Polar Bear. This 48″ high by 36″ wide painting is the beginning of a new polar bear series. The mighty bear, sihouetted against the deep blue of the arctic sky, is surrounded by white light. Is it the moonlight?  Or something more transcendent? Is it the polar bear’s spirit that shimmers, aura-like, in the darkness and reflects in the ice ?


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Polar Bear Dreams in Orangeville

Polar bear oil painting by Christine Montague

On the Move. Polar Bear Dreams oil painting. Copyright Christine Montague 2014.

On the Move“, and more of my new polar bear portrait oil paintings, are on the move to the Featured Artist Wall of Dragonfly Arts on Broadway, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada, February 12, – March 12, 2014.

Polar Bear Dreams

These polar bear oil paintings are part of the Polar Bear Dreams Series. (see more paintings here

The very real polar bears of the Toronto Zoo , Inukshuk, Aurora (this painting), and Nikita are the reference for my bear paintings and drawings. However, the Polar Bear Dreams paintings are designed to symbolize more. They are a dreamlike, wistful, and spiritual tribute in oil to the mighty polar bear, whose threatened future always seems open to debate.

Why “Polar Bear Dreams“?

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.  These paintings show the physical beauty and power of the bear. 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 to have a real polar bear in the neighbourhood to admire. For now, I hope my paintings of polar bears at Dragonfly Arts on Broadway Gallery, in beautiful downtown Orangeville, will do.

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   From Feb. 12 – Mar. 12, 2014 contact Dragonfly Arts on Broadway. 189 Broadway, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada L6W 1K2 (519) 941-5249  Parking is FREE in Orangeville’s downtown. 


Filed under Art Shows, Call to Artists, Canvas (Paintings), Polar Bears, Portrait Paintings

Polar Bear & The Rubin Vase: Positive & Negative Space in Art

Angry Polar Bear. Colored pencil Illustration by Christine montague. The Sketchbook Project 2014.

Angry Polar Bear. Colored pencil Illustration copyright Christine Montague. The Sketchbook Project 2014.

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.

I had fun with the use of positive and negative space in my colored pencil drawings for this year’s The Sketchbook Project. More about my sketchbook entry here.

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 Infamous Heart-Nosed Hedgehog. Coloured pencil illustration copyright Christine Montague. The Sketchbook Project 2014

The Infamous Heart-Nosed Hedgehog. Coloured pencil illustration copyright Christine Montague. The Sketchbook Project 2014

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.

Two colored pencil illustrations demonstrating use of positive and negative space. Copyright Christine Montague. The Sketchbook Project 2014

Two colored pencil illustrations demonstrating use of positive and negative space. Copyright Christine Montague. The Sketchbook Project 2014

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 

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Filed under Design, Drawing, Illustration, Life as a Visual Artist, Polar Bears, Uncategorized

Polar Bears in My Kitchen

Polar bear drawing and fox drawing by Christine Montague

Creatures in my tiled backsplash. Looks like a fox, a Zebdonk (Zebra-donkey cross?) with lemmings , and a polar bear. Copyright Christine Montague 2014. 

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 .

Christine Montague fantasy drawings

Ape-like humanoids, hopefully discussing anything but me. Copyright Christine Montague. Sketchbook Project 2014

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 2014’s 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



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He may be a Polar Bear, But He Comes With Good Wishes for 2014

Polar bear painting by Christine Montague

Looking to the Future. Polar bear and the Northern Lights. Copyright Christine Montague. 12″ x 16″ oil painting.

I hope, like this polar bear,  you can look ahead to 2014 with hope, and that your year will be full of good health, caring, and whatever success you wish.  Happy New Year, everyone!

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Polar Bears Found at Small Arms, Doors Open Mississauga

Polar bear digital art copyrigt Christine Montague.

To learn how this polar bear was found at the Small Arms Building in Mississauga, scroll down.  Digital art Copyright Christine Montague.

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?

Floors of Small Arms. Copyright Christine Montague. Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Floors of Small Arms. Do you see the polar bear? Scroll down to the next photo. Copyright Christine Montague 2013.

Polar bear hiding in the floors of small arms..

There he is! Polar bear hiding in the floors of small arms.(Guess who’s learning Photoshop?) Copyright Christine Montague 2013

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New Portraits: Twice as Nice

Portrait oil painting of baby twin brothers. 6" high by 12" wide. www.littleportraitpaintings.com Copyright Christine Montague

Portrait oil painting commission of baby twin brothers. Commissioned as a surprise 1st birthday present.  6″ high by 12″ wide. http://www.littleportraitpaintings.com Copyright Christine Montague

As you may know, LittlePortraitPaintings.com is my portrait business where I offer 6″ x 6″ portrait oil paintings (from a photograph) for a set price. It is a way for clients to buy original art, a one of a kind oil painting created personally  for them, at a good value.

I paint these smaller portraits with the same care and attention to spirit and detail I give to the larger , more traditional portraits I paint.

Interestingly, almost all these portraits are ordered as a surprise gift. When the client wants two portraits done on the same canvas, the solution is simple –  I paint on a 6″ x 12″ canvas.

Above is a 6″ high by 12″ wide portrait oil painting of  baby twin brothers, commissioned by a proud great grandparent. A loving first birthday present that these handsome little boys can treasure forever.

Below, is a 12″ high by 6″ wide portrait of a newly married couple, the happy young bride looking with adoration at her equally happy groom. This portrait was commissioned by the husband as a surprise (and romantic, don’t you think?) 25th anniversary present for his wife.  Read more about this portrait  http://littleportraitpaintings.com/2013/09/06/painting-with-love/


weddin portrait oil painting copyright Christine Montague

Wedding portrait oil painting of newly married couple. Commissioned to mark the 25th wedding anniversary of the bride and groom. 12″ high x 6″ wide.  Copyright Christine Montague




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The Dog’s Gone

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

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


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Dogs, Fog, and Collateral

Christine Montague "Black Dog Study". Oil painting on canvas

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.


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Polar Bear Portrait Painting 7

Polar bear Portrait painting 7 copyright Christine Montague

Polar Bear Portrait 7. Oil painting copyright Christine Montague 2012

The seventh in the series of little polar bear portrait oil paintings joins the fifth and sixth portraits of polar bears in the moonlight. The Toronto Zoo‘s male polar bear “Inukshuk” is the model.

By painting these little portraits  I am familiarizing myself with the shape of the polar bear’s head and the structure of his eyes, snout and ears.

The eyes , although intelligent, are so small, I have to ignore my natural inclination is to paint them larger.  I love painting his thick, rounded fuzzy ears – the only thing “teddy bear” about him. But I’m not fooled. In Portrait 8, which I also finished this week,  I painted Inukshuk’s very  large teeth.

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More Little Portrait Paintings

6 x 6 inch young woman oil painting portrait on canvas. Copyright Christine Montague

For those of you who don’t know I am gradually filling one of my studio walls with my 100 Little Portrait Project a series of 6″ x 6″ portrait oil paintings on canvas portraits. Here are a few of the portraits commissioned before Christmas.  I work from photos e-mailed to me, or from photos I take, if the subject comes to my studio on my “open to the public” days.

6 x 6 inch portrait oil painting on canvas. Copyright Christine Montague

But so far, to my surprise,  almost every painting commissioned  is as a surprise gift for a loved one. Do you know that goes for my large portraits, too? They are almost always a gift!

6 x 6 inch cat portrait painting on canvas. Copyright Christine Montague

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