Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Learning and the power of galleries

Ode to fields (sketch)
Acrylic on bond paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

Thinking about learning -- I think every time a painter
paints it is something about learning.  We have magnetic
eyes.  We see everything.  I'm watching a TV show
about the American government and I see the grass outside
the window and notice the shape it makes.  And I notice
the rugs, the portraits, the colour of people's ties -- everything.

So painters see the works of other painters and even without
formal lessons from that person, it goes in.  Directly like
lightning hitting the brain.  My little sketch tonight
references the huge abstract works I saw in a gallery in
Ottawa, by an artist whose name I failed to get as my
crew was galloping along to the next adventure.

I got home from class tonight, and thought I have to try
that.  I just want to see how it feels -- which by the way
is great.  So thank you Ottawa artist, and all of you out
there, and every artist whose work I've ever seen.  It goes
in and influences me.  And I am grateful.  No I'm not
going to go full on abstract, but yes I love how that
fellow painted.

Have a loving to see art day.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Happy Anniversary to my darling husband

The two of us in Quebec City
watercolour and marker on
watercolour paper
9 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013
(I must do a current portrait of us.  I will
one day, but for now -- this is us.)
Today is our wedding anniversary and we spent a good part of
the day on the road coming home from a delightful trip
to Ottawa.  We stayed in a magnificent room overlooking the
canal and the parliament buildings. Each morning we had
breakfast in our hotel room (my favourite) at a table set with
lovely linen and china.  And we marvelled at the beautiful
scenes below.

My brother and his wife celebrate their anniversary two days
before ours, and it's become a bit of a tradition to go out
for dinner together to mark the occasion.  This time we
had two dinners out, and had so much fun.

The views along the highway today will no doubt become
the subject of future paintings.  The entire world seemed
vibrantly alive and begging to be painted.  On top of
everything else, that is an effect my sweet husband has
on me.  He does make me feel vital and alive, and is
probably the reason I am moved to paint what I see
in our journeys together.

Have a celebrating your art filled world day.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Gaugin exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada and a self portrait

Self portrait sketch 
at the Gaugin exhibition
crayon on art paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
We have been in Ottawa celebrating our wedding anniversary, and
today visited the Gaugin Portrait exhibition. What's great about
the National Gallery of Canada in addition to hosting superb
exhibitions (I think this one is magnificent), is that they often add
a fun element to the exhibition.  The story of Gaugin, which is
explored in great detail in this show, is often somber.  He was a
very serious person.

But the gallery encouraged visitors to have fun with what they'd
seen by creating a self portrait room with chairs and a mirrored wall.
Plus they provided good paper, and crayons so art lovers could create
their own self portraits. The docent on that room was a wonderful
man with a great sense of humour.  While my family finished
visiting the extensive exhibition, I drew in the portrait room,
creating this very simple self portrait, which was placed on the wall
in a frame for me when it was done.

Now the concept of that is pretty exciting.  I know the minute
I was gone, someone else's image would go into that frame, but
for that brief moment, it was quite satisfying having work in
the National Gallery!

Have a supporting the arts day.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Celebrations and serious talk about the environment

Kitchen China
Acrylic on canvas
24" x 48"
Barbara Muir ©

We are visiting family in Ottawa.  At our celebration dinner
today for two wedding anniversaries, conversations got
mighty hot about the environment.  We all care
passionately about the environment, and are staring the
severity of global climate change in the face, but don't know
what to do about it.

I love this painting because it has everything I care about it
in it: celebration, hearts which I cannot get enough of as
a symbol of love, and a young person enjoying life.  How
do we protect the young people growing up today in the
oncoming climate crisis?  And it is a crisis getting more
intense every minute.  Yet on holiday in every store and
restaurant we see that people are still selling water in plastic

What do you think we can do to reverse the current
damage we've done to the planet?  This is the conversation
everywhere I go, yet politicians and big business don't
seem to be even looking at it.  They are distracting us
with discussions about everything else, but this is
the main issue we currently have to deal with, so
that the girl in my painting can continue to eat cake
and so that she can have a long and fulfilling life.

Have a thinking about the environment day.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Elton John is given France's highest civilian award -- I met his song writing partner

Bernie Taupin
Black marker on drawing paper
10 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013
We are on the road, and when I heard on the news tonight that
Elton John received the Legion of Honour from France's
President Macron, I immediately knew what I wanted to put
 on my blog tonight. I had the honour in June of 2013 to meet
Bernie Taupin, the song writer partner to Elton John's wonderful music.

Bernie Taupin had an exhibition of his paintings at the Liss
Gallery in Toronto, and I was invited to attend.  Taupin was
humble, friendly, a very good abstract painter, and allowed me
to get a photo with him.  Plus I did a black and white pen sketch
of him afterwards from reference photos. I haven't met Elton John, but
of course I'd love to.  His music is fabulous, and he is deeply
involved in working on fighting AIDS.

I do not have a drawing of Elton John, but if I ever get to meet
him in person, I certainly will do his portrait.

Have an honouring your super experiences day.  

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The allure of reading -- and a timeless drawing

In the kitchen researching for the doctorate
Black marker on bond paper
12 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
When I first did this drawing I was up to my ears in
teaching. This was a superbly busy working week
so it seems appropriate to put this drawing on the
blog.  Plus I love it.  It is of a girl named Julia,
who was actively working on her doctorate while
I drew her.  She was a neighbourhood girl who
helped me with all kinds of things in my home and
studio.  Brilliant and beautiful, Julia is now married
and has children.

I loved being around her.  She was quietly capable, and
clearly just trying to keep her genius on the quiet.  
We shared a love of cats, flowers and words.  

Now it is time for me to take off to bed.

Have an enjoying your busyness day.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Happy Birthday to Daniel Anaka -- an inspiring curator and great artist

From the market 
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015

I was going to go without blogging tonight when I
realized that it's Daniel Anaka's birthday today, and I
wanted to wish him well. A few years ago Daniel was
a curator for amazing shows at the Super Wonder
Gallery, before the gallery moved and changed
directions.  I think I participated in six shows with him
at least, producing different types of work for every

His exhibitions were amazing, plus he put his considerable
creative energy into making sure every artist got a fair
break. I loved that, and loved the music, vitality,
excitement that was a feature of every opening that
Daniel managed.  So thank you Daniel.  I'm just
putting some flowers on tonight, but I love this
painting -- I think it has an edge in the flower field
because of meeting you, and because of the amazing
artists I met when I showed with you.  I know I was
also urged to open up my colour spectrum by the
wonderful artist Franco Mbilizi especially on this
particular painting. So I hope you have a great birthday
Daniel (I will be working), and that you start curating
exhibitions again.  The artists miss you.

Have a wishing your friends a great day, day.

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: barbara.muir@sympatico.ca
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!