Sunday, January 17, 2021

Free as a bird

Bluebird (family Musicapidae)
on a coffee cup

Bird Study #1
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

Hi everyone. I just finished working this morning, and I’m taking a break.
When I was talking to myself a minute ago (yes I do talk to myself,) I said,
"soon you will be free as a bird." 

Right now the birds are fluttering around the bird feeders my husband hangs
off our garage. It's such a treat to watch them. We see Cardinals, Blue Jays,
Robins, Chickadees, Hawks, Blackbirds, Grackles, and of course Sparrows on a regular basis.

Robin earns his stripes
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 
Begun in 2009, finished in 2019

So I thought I’d show you some bird art today. There was a time when I included
Cardinals, and other birds in my portraits. I’ve never owned a bird as a pet, but I
know people who have. As a child I was very fond of the neighbourhood kid's crow.

I hope you’re having a good day, and if you have work to do I hope you get it done
in time to enjoy the rest of this weekend, and feel free as a bird.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

What hangs over your head? I don’t mean art!


Good news Clementines with Lemon friends
Acrylic on cradled birch panel
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
(You can expect a new painting
like this soon, because I bought the clementines
with leaves today.  They always remind
me of Florence, Italy, because that's where
I first saw them.  I do love and miss Florence.

In an incredibly nervous making, highly tense time, I’m trying to figure out what
worries me, or hangs over my head, and I’m trying figure out how to get those
issues handled. I know I’ve told you about the Six Things list I learned to make
when I was teaching positive psychology.

That short list, (which often goes to 10, or 12 things) helps, but it also helps to
figure out what should be done first. If I write my blog earlier in the day, I feel
happier. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy writing the blog, of course that’s why
I do it. 

And even though this year I didn't promise myself I’d write a blog every day,
I’m in the habit, and I'm happy to have some positive habits in this hard year. 

If I can write the blog earlier, sometimes not knowing whether there will be
new art, or not, I can take some of the stress out of my life. It’s a beautiful day
today. I think we’re allowed to go to the park we love because exercise is allowed
in the severe lockdown we’re experiencing in Ontario. So that’s where I’m going.

My once a week class has started and I have marking to do, so that has to be done,
and will be. What hangs over your head? Is there something that must be done?
If you can do it, I hope you get it done, so that you can enjoy this beautiful day. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Keep in touch

Black marker on paper
5.5  x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

One of the things that’s happening as a result of this ongoing pandemic
is that people are feeling isolated, and that's making them depressed.
These feelings are natural when we can’t get together. So what can we do?

I find that the comments from friends on the blog, on Facebook, and on
Instagram are heartwarming indeed. These messages let you know that
people out in the wide, wide world care about you, and that when this nasty
disease is finally over to the point that we can get together, we will be there
for each other.

Those who study psychology and stress suggest that we call one another,
write one another, and let each other know that we care. Consider this message
from me a support message. I am here in blog land. If you are my friend, or
someone I know through the blog, Facebook or Instagram you can contact me.
I may not respond right away. But if I can I will.

Meanwhile if you have any tips on how to stay cheerful during this long, long slog
of trying to stay safe from a horrific virus, please share them.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Experimenting and catching inspiration

Untitled (work in progress)
Imitation gold leaf on
cradled birch panel
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

My  thanks to Janet Vanderhoof today. She posted a piece about taking smaller
work and blowing it up into a large size. I read about that just as I was wondering
what to do on this piece of birch panel that I gilded with Italian imitation gold leaf
a couple of days ago.

I went upstairs from the studio to read for a few minutes, and all day I’d been
wondering what to paint over the gold. I knew that I wanted to show a person, 
but I didn’t know what image to use. I went on my oldest computer looking for
faces and found nothing that was right. Then after reading for a few minutes I
thought, "what am I thinking?"

Right then I knew I wanted to use the woman in the drawing I showed you on January
5. So I have started. Let’s see where it goes. It’s really just playing. I got the idea
for the gold background from Bob Burridge.  I'd watched his video on using gold,
discovered some imitation gold leaf in my studioand went for it. Have a great day.
Enjoy playing, creating and having fun  .

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Small daily pleasures

Coffee with milk in a cup
and saucer.
8 x 8 inches
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2009
(Steven says they only serve coffee
this way in England, 
but actually
 Starbucks uses cups 
and saucers too
sometimes. I don't take 
sugar, but I
 put some on the side in the painting.
Toronto now you can only get coffee
as take out, so 
no real china cups are
being used.) 
This painting seems perfect
for today.  And 
I like that it went to live in
with the artist Susan Carlin.

What's good in your life right now?  In some ways there's never been
a more important time to think of and enjoy 10 reasons to be happy.

1. When I wake up in the morning, there is hot coffee in the pot in the
kitchen waiting for me.  My husband makes it every morning, and on
the weekend brings it to me in bed. I am very happy to be in a loving

2. Yesterday the sun set at 5:03 p.m. That means we are moving closer,
and closer to longer days of light.  That's a very happy thought.

3.  I have a good and funny book on my iPad, Reasons to be Cheerful
by Nina Stibbe. It's about a girl working as a dental assistant. When I
was a teenager I got a job as a dental assistant part time for our dentist
I did that after school, and in the first two summers when I was in university.
My favourite part of the job was going out to get coffee for the staff because
I got to wear my uniform on the street, and I was very proud of it! 

4. I started teaching my Monday night class this week, and the 
students are wonderful.

5. We have still got our Christmas tree up -- it goes into the
backyard this weekend -- and we've been just sitting and talking
on the couch beside it at night after dinner.  That's been creating
a happy mental space for us.

6. My family are all well, and staying happy during this current
lockdown. Staying well is our primary goal right now, and that is good.

7. I am happy that I get to think about making art, and have lots of
ideas for what I want to do.

8. You and your beautiful and amazing work are a blessing in my
current world.  Tomorrow in our lockdown we are not allowed to
go out at all unless it's to get groceries, or go to the drugstore, or 

9. We have two sweet cats and a dog who are completely oblivious
to this virus problem.  They demand cuddles, games and food, and
time together, and I'm sure help keep us happy.

10. I am so lucky to have this blog, to have Instagram and Facebook.
My blog is a record of where I've been, and what I've been creating,
and thinking about.  And social media gives me an entire world to
see, think about, witness, and learn about.  Thank you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Talking to friends

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic ink and ballpoint pen
on watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021
(I'll try and get a better photo of
this tomorrow.  The pinks are more

Talking to my artist friend Flora Doehler today reminded me of why
I miss being around artists so much. She asked me what inspired me to
use red in my backgrounds, and that made me remember the wonderful
art experiences I used to enjoy with my Seneca College English classes, when
we'd visit the Art Gallery of Ontario. The students would pick a painting
to study, and write an essay about that artist’s life, and how it related to the
essay we were studying.

I got the idea of using a coloured background like red, or my more
frequent rust background in my art at that time, from staring at the work
of the Group of Seven. I don’t know which artist in particular used to use
burgundy behind his forests, but even though I’m not a fan of the colour,
I was excited to see how it made the foreground painting pop.

This painting is coming along. Not quite finished. I can see things I would
change if I did it again, but the excitement of this piece was painting from
live flowers, and they may have one day left.

It was a good day in art, I worked at more than one project all day, thoroughly
engrossed in the process, and happy as can be. Given the news, Ontario going
into a state of emergency because of COVID-19, and very sad problems with
our neighbour to the south (America), you could say that was a miracle, and
I am grateful. Thank you to my friends for the inspiring conversations. Stay
healthy, stay safe, and stay creative.

Monday, January 11, 2021

The Painting spirit

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic ink and ballpoint pen
on watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

Sometimes the painting spirit eludes me, and I find it hard to start a painting.
Today I was listening to Deepak Chopra, someone whose wisdom I love.
He said that if you choose joy you will always be in the present moment,
and you will always be happy.

So I started this painting of tulips because I could tell that they won’t last
much longer, and they are absolutely beautiful. Tulips are not always easy to
paint. Looking at them I realized that if I drew them, and then painted them
with acrylic ink, I might have more success than I could with other mediums. 

I haven't had time to get more done before I publish this, so we’ll call it a work
in progress. I was so happy that the mood struck me, and of course working from
life is best. My thanks to Deepak Chopra and to everyone who helps provide positive
thoughts to keep us going, and creating in these difficult times.

Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!