Happy New Year! New Works, The World is a Brighter Place With You In It

Happy New Year!  2021 and 2022 has been quite a ride as due to the pandemic, COVID variants and recurring lockdowns. Many are feeling the strain, there is general unrest and the cracks in our society are more apparent than ever. One can only hope, that we’ll come out on the other side stronger, wiser and united on a positive front.

I’ve started a new series of paintings titled: The View From Here. This body of work depicts various scenes from inside Marie Curtis Park (Toronto, Canada). The works for me are considered mindful meditations, a series of personal moments where I felt connected to Nature.

You can view the  paintings here.
Also take a look at my preliminary studies on paper in the: From the sketchbook series.

New paintings will be added to this series throughout the year. Also, I have few ideas in the works for my art practice, so be sure to check back for updates.

Until then, be well, please take care of yourself and your loved ones. Just know the world is a brighter place with you in it.

 

The View From Here

There’s a place in Toronto that I love to visit. It’s home to various local wildlife and is a waypoint for migratory birds. The trees are densely packed and the light that bounces off their leaves casts a kaleidoscope of shadows on the forest floor. As I look north, south, east and west, it is here that I feel grounded, deep in thought and entranced by the sunlight.

The View From Here (June 2020 – ) is a growing series of paintings which depicts the surrounding scenes viewed from some of my favourite spots inside Marie Curtis Park.

 

 

Watch me paint the Light at the Edge of the Forest

The Light at the Edge of the Forest – Sep 2020

I’ve posted my video documenting my painting session of the work titled, The Light at the Edge of the Forest. Watch the video on my blog.

This work is part of the Wild Imperfections series.

Painting the Light at the Edge of the Forest | video

The Light at the Edge of the Forest was painted on a primed birch panel that is 18” x 24” (46 cm x 61 cm). I’ve painted a similar forest scene a few years ago and I wanted to revisit the subject, to see how far I can push the lights and shadows – to create a sense of mood or drama.  I didn’t want to repaint the scene exactly so I’ve made a few changes to the composition along the way.

The trees, cast shadows and light were what inspired me to create The Light at the Edge of the Forest.

There’s a ravine that I love to frequent close by my home that’s just teeming with life. The trees are densely packed together and is home to life, several species of birds, deer, foxes, coyotes and other small animals. Not to mention the varying species of trees and naturally growing herbs.  In this place I feel grounded. Here I’m deep in thought and I’m entranced by the light that bounces off the leaves casting a kaleidoscope of shadows on the forest floor. And then as I get close to the edge of the forest, I emerge refreshed and inspired to continue creating works that will move and  inspire others.

This work is part of the Wild Imperfections series.

YouTube video

 

Watch me paint Our Neighbour, the American Robin

Our Neighbour, the American Robin – June 2020

I’ve posted my second video documenting my painting session of the work titled, Our Neighbour, the American Robin. Watch the video on my blog.

This work is part of the Wild Imperfections series.

Painting Our Neighbour, the American Robin | video

Our Neighbour, the American Robin is the second of a two-panel painting (also known as a diptych). Created using oil paints on a 18″x24″ canvas, this piece took me about 1 week complete. And since this is the second panel, I started off by drawing a rough sketch of the Robin’s nest just so that I have an idea of its placement in relation to the subject in the first panel.

After observing robins for a few years, I’ve come to appreciate how resourceful they are. For example, the nest depicted in this painting was built on the downspout of my neighbour’s house and stood intact for four years – until the home owner finally decided to take it down after it was abandoned. I’ve seen this nest withstand wind gusts of up to 90 km/h and weathered many storms – while the female robin was sitting on it! Each year a robin returned, she would add new twigs, and grass to it, in preparation to lay her eggs. After the babies have hatched and left the nest, sparrows would take bits and pieces from it to build their own. I’ve seen three generations of robins hatch in this nest and was I amazed with each experience.

This work is part of the Wild Imperfections series.

If you want to see how I painted the first panel, check out my previous video.

YouTube video

Watch me paint the American Robin

American Robin – May 2020

I’ve posted my first video documenting my painting session of the work titled, American Robin. During this time I learned about the editing process: camera, music, voice over, titles, the whole deal. There’s so much more to learn.

This work is part of the Wild Imperfections series.

Watch the video on my blog.

 

Painting the American Robin | video

American Robin took me about 30 hrs to complete and has gone through quite the evolution. The bird in this oil painting was inspired by an actual Robin that nests in my backyard.

My vision for this painting was to have the Robin perched atop a tree. I want the painting to have a feeling of movement and colour. Imagine being out on a walk in the morning, the sun has already risen, the air is warm, but slightly breezy. The world is awake. Sounds of Cardinals, Finches, Starlings, Chickadees and Sparrows fill the air, but it’s the American Robins greeting that gets my attention today and is my inspiration for this art piece. Having observed Robins for a few years, I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate these industrious birds from their nest building skills to how they nurture their young.

This is my first video, so I’m still trying figure out the ideal set-up for film and editing, so there will be some instances where I’m blocking the shot – but I sincerely tried my best and I’m still learning.

This work is part of the Wild Imperfections series.

YouTube video

Plastic Dreams, Broken Promises: The making of “In Conversation”

Plastic Dreams, Broken Promises exhibition, Feb 2020

Plastic Dreams, Broken Promises exhibition, Feb 2020

We live in a culture where consumption and waste are common habits. Plastic seems to be everywhere, and while it is useful we need to recognize the effects it has on our environment and daily life.  In Conversation (Red) and In Conversation (Green) are two soft sculptures, crocheted using recycled and repurposed shopping bags. Featured earlier in February in the exhibition entitled Plastic Dreams, Broken Promises at The Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, the pieces stand 102” high and approximately 51.5” to 74.8” diameter, each sculpture is self-illuminated and fitted with an electronic brain which scans the surrounding environment. When a viewer is in close proximity, the electronic brain, through its motion sensor, causes the sculpture to come to life.  The lights “dance”, alternating colours (depicting an emotion) for as long as the viewer is nearby. Effectively, the viewer becomes part of the “dialogue” between the sculptures.

Below is a series of photographs documenting the process of their creation – from prototype to final form.

It took around 4 months to construct In Conversation (Red) and In Conversation (Green). During this time I’ve experienced a range of emotions – from excitement to anxiety and then finally a sense of calm. And so these emotions have also been embodied within these sculptures.

Once the sculptures were completed, the transformation of the throw-away bags gave them a new life, taking them out of the context of mundane everyday objects we all take for granted. The process forever changed my approach and relationship to this material.

Nesting, November 2019

Cocoon, January 2019

With a heavy heart, October 2019

Illumination, February 2020

Babel, February 2020

In Conversation- at rest (Green), February 2020

In Conversation (Green), February 2020

Wild Imperfections at S. Walter Stewart Library, July 4-30 , 2019

Thanks to everyone who showed their support for Women’s Art Project (WAP), art exhibition Wild Imperfections at S. Walter Stewart Public Library. Works from the exhibition are now posted to the Paintings gallery. Here are some photos of the show just after set-up.

 

Wild Imperfections

The Story of the Sun and the Moon: An Inspiration

Celestial Dance - by Michelle Montague

Celestial Dance, May 22, 2017, 39″x 63 1/2″, acrylic, ink, oil sticks on canvas

“Tell me the story about how the Sun loved the Moon so much he died every night to let her breathe.”

The quote itself have inspired, writers, poets and artists alike. Though the quote’s cultural origin is unknown, many believe its roots come from an earlier folk-tale Why The Sun Chases the Moon. However, there are several Sun and Moon mythologies around the world which may have inspired the quote as well. Whether depicted as lovers, siblings or mother and son, each cultural myth offers its own explanation of how the celestial bodies depend on each other for life, which would otherwise not exist.

As part of the 4 Cardinal Points exhibition, my newest work Celestial Dance (shown above) depicts the setting sun and the rising moon. The sun has to die every night so the moon can live, for without the sun there would be no moon. They depend on each other and her death every morning gives him life. It is their bond that gives each other what they want and need.

I’ve included a variation of the story below:

 

“Tell me the story about how the sun loved the moon so much he died every night to let her breathe.”

There once was a moon, as beautiful as can be, only the stars could fathom, but the sun could not see. The sun so radiant, he burns so bright. The moon so luminous, but only showed her face during the night. She was untouchable, surrounding herself with a blanket of darkness. The sun would give anything to catch a glimpse of the Moon illuminating the beautiful night sky.

Until one day when the Sun was sliding out of the heavens, he caught a glimpse of her. She was peeking up, a rare side of her being exposed to the light. And while the Sun could shine, he knew the Moon could glow.

Just as the Stars were wandering into the night, the Sun fell in love like a snowball hurdling down a mountain. How he wished to see her move than the fleeting moments he shared with her at both dawn and dusk. But they were a world apart.

“Go,” she whispered to him one of those nights, her voice as sweet and sorrowful as the last light of morning. “Go and let me breathe, for you and I have decided fates. You illuminate the day, and I cast a glow on the night. We will never be. Our connection would go against what all the people believe, all they know” During the summer he would stay a little longer just in case she would change his mind. It was no use.

“Don’t you dare abandon your blessing of light for my darkness.” And those were the last words the Moon was strong enough to speak to the Sun.

The Sun could feel her peaceful soul and it soon became clear. He would die each and every night to let his true love breathe, for it would put an end to all her misery.