Monday, September 28, 2015

Going the distance -- the Florence Biennale

 Wonder Water Series
polyptych, acrylic on coordinated canvasses
6 feet x 9 feet
Barbara Muir © 2015
Hi everyone,

I just signed off the forms to send my work to the Florence Biennale.
It is a strange feeling to go over your work with care (there have been
small changes since this photo), get it ready, and then try to
envision it going so far. But it's happening, and Mike at the
shipper has been so wonderful.

Now it's my turn.  How do I make the transition from uptight
artist, into international traveller, and get myself to the event?
Luckily this year I've travelled quite a bit, so it's not as
discombobulating as it would be if I hadn't been to Paris and
New York City.

I am crazy with excitement.  Cannot wait.  So here's the finished
product of what's going there -- to be presented as a unified
whole on the theme of our oceans.  I wish you could all be
there with me, and if you're going to be in Florence during the
Biennale, October 17 - 25, please let me know and I'll do my
best to get you tickets to the show!

In the meantime, where are you planning to go and show?

Have a charting-your-route day.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Listen to the pros -- behind the scenes in art land

 Untitled (work in progress)
acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
I wish I could confidently show you my finished
painting of the lobster burger I had in Nova
Scotia looking out at the Wallace River.  But
it's taking me a long time to paint.  In fact it's
arduous.  Not painful.  But time consuming in
the extreme. 

In my frequent breaks I soak in the advice of the
pros.  The queen of tinfoil -- which is what is slowing
me down in this small painting -- is Canadian artist,
Mary Pratt.  Actually Mary Pratt is known for
taking the everyday -- jars of jam, bowls of fruit, tinfoil --
and making it glorious. She is the most famous Canadian high
realist.  And in an interview, she said that she
estimated at one point in her career that it would take
her six months to do a painting.
Sketch of a bouquet from the Brickworks market
Watercolour crayon, and black marker on paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
I just got back from New York, and in the magnificent
Sargent exhibition at the Met, I read that for one painting
 he required 83 sittings!   Okay -- why is time such an
issue for us as painters now?

It's this -- it's the blog -- waiting like a dog that
needs a walk, for evidence that the artist is still
in the building.  I am.
Self portrait sketch
black marker on Moleskine paper
8 x 10 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2015
I also read a timely post by Danny Gregory about
getting out of practice called Mortified. He inspired
me to take another crack at sketching.  And keep
working and working, even when life is as jam
packed as mine has been lately.  So here
are some sketches, and a peak at my work so far.

Have a getting-to-work day.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

From Paris to Pugwash

 Missing Fiona
Black marker on Moleskine paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
We've spent the past five days in Pugwash, Nova
Scotia in our little 100 year plus old school house.
You couldn't contrast our living conditions much
more here to Paris where we were in June, if you tried.
But what has our place in Pugwash got?  I don't think
that's something many people would understand.
We have to bring our water from a tap at the beach,
 it has an outhouse for a bathroom, and we have
minimal electricity.

The structure itself is the charming child's drawing
house shape -- which is my favorite.  I am in love
with all the white clapboard houses here, many
originally exceptionally well built by shipbuilders
a century or more ago.

And what we do here is visit friends, eat lunch at
the Chatterbox café and in good weather go to the
beach.  A bath involves the Degas women in the
bath technique.  And I think the smile on my
sweet Steven's face tells you how worth it the long
drive has been to get here, and our lovely five days.

Steven at the beach in Pugwash, Nova Scotia
There hasn't been much reliable computer time,
and hardly anytime for art.  I drew this drawing
of me with just the ear of my cat Fiona coming
up over my face.  It was International Dog Day
yesterday and I missed my dog and my cats.  When
I think of home in Toronto, I think of my family,
friends and our animals, and I know I'll be happy
to be home there too.

Thank you to the Maritimes and our friends here
for a wonderful vacation!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The final final (I think)

 Wonder Water Image #6
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
We are heading out for the coast today, but
I'll keep in touch when I can. This is the final,
final, I'm pretty sure of my painting of the
beautiful Etana.  Beautiful, brainy, and
committed to helping the planet, through
her work with women, and her volunteer

The concerned, thoughtful expression on her face
inspired both her portrait, and the one
that followed of Emily.  People talk
about passing the baton.  These are two
women I would gladly see watching out
for our world.

Have a working-on-your-final-final day.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Art on the move

Wonder Water Image #5
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
I've been working on his portrait for the past
while, destined for a show in Europe.
The young woman is my son's friend,
and a delightful person.  She is kind, funny,
and super smart, and was happy to pose for
me for this portrait -- part of my ocean

We are heading out to the ocean for the next
few days, and I'll try to post during our travels,
but I know the internet can be spotty, especially
in rural areas.

Thank you to Emily for posing for me.  The
ocean series is about both the joy in living
near the ocean, and the worry about what we've
been doing to our planet and these vital
bodies of water.

Have a taking-care-of-the-planet day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Steady in an instant world

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
Reading a book about Bonnard a week ago The Man
and the Woman, by Helen McLean, I
was encouraged by the way Bonnard described
work.  The expectations were so different
100 years ago.  The entire idea of instant results
had not materialized in any aspect of life. 

That reality I think gave artists a degree of
peace that we don't have today if a painting
takes weeks, or months to complete.  It would
never have occurred to artists a century ago to
worry about producing work in a day.

All this is what I've been thinking about as I
continue to work on this painting.  It is almost,
almost done.  But perhaps at least another day in
the making -- and I think I've decided to be fine
with that! 

Have a taking-your-own-sweet-time day.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A day to remember

 Cosmos for the cosmos (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
Saturday was a glorious summer day, and we went to
the market.  My first purchase, an uncharacteristic
purple bouquet from PegAnn, because my artist
friend, Franco Mbilizi is helping me like every
colour -- and purple is first in line for colours I
am learning to like.
Market flowers
Then I bought peaches, and following a method
my mother taught me, have frozen some of these
perfectly delicious fruits for the cold, winter days.
And as I worked cutting up the delicious fruits
to freeze I knew I wanted to remember the day.
To be able to look back in deep winter and visualize
the wonderful garden, some poppies
still dotting the view with gorgeous red, huge
white cosmos, purple cosmos, night blooming
nicotiana -- geraniums and nasturtiums in pots,
Peaches from Beamsville, Ontario
The cats Timbah and Fiona, and Sally the dog
 sat outside admiring the view, with Steven,
while I cut the peaches dripping in
juice, and froze cookie sheet, after cookie sheet.

Ah summer.  And as I say to my students,
"Be Here Now!"

Have a luxuriating in summer 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:
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!