Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A fantastic assignment -- looking back

Black marker on watercolour paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir ©

Excerpt from a blog in January, 2009

"On November 22nd, 2008,  talking to my friend Flora on Skype
I decided to draw her. I had a sketchbook and pens on my desk,
and whipped off a little marker drawing while 
we talked, which I

A Chicago journalist, Howard Wolinsky, saw that drawing and 
contacted me. On December 5th he did a video interview with me
Skype and you can find that on YouTube.

The Public Relations company for Skype, Kaplow in New
York, saw that interview, and decided 
to hire me for an event
they were doing at the 
Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas,
So on January 9, from 11 p.m. Toronto time, to 1:30
a.m. on January 10, I drew five portraits of people attending a Skype
party. This whole project would have been impossible without the
wonders of 
Skypeand wouldn't have happened at all if it weren't for
the blog, and Howard."

The project was so much fun, and the people incredibly helpful.
The setting for the portraits in Las Vegas was lit like a cocktail
party, and the client very kindly adjusted the light because
I couldn't see my subjects well enough to draw them. 

Sara was the woman who organized the whole project, and I'm
very grateful to her, for an exciting project, that ultimately
led to me being on the Oprah Winfrey show, and on several
other TV shows. A delightfully happy memory for a Tuesday night
when I'm teaching.  

Have fun remembering wonderful events in your creative life.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Another sketch in progress

Midnight flowers (sketch in progress)
Acrylic ink, watercolour crayon, acrylic marker
on Canson watercolour paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I was so sad about the approaching end of the yellow tulips in my kitchen that
I decided to sketch them in a different medium. The first painting is going very
well, and I can finish it with the photos I took for reference. But I thought I
would like to try something looser.

So here it is. Flashes of insight into what to do next come to me when I walk
away and do something else. That’s part of what painting is all about, and I am
having fun thinking about it. The flowers finally stopped being okay today,
and have to go into the compost. But I have given them all of my attention,
and enjoyed thinking about spring flowers as the snow fell outside yesterday.

Wishing you a creative, happy, healthy life.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

A trying things out day

Morning Sketch (work in progress)
black marker on Canson drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I’m so impressed by people like Eleanor Lowden who get up in the morning and paint.
They have 20 things done by the time I’m drinking my coffee. So I thought, 'why not
start the day with a sketch?' I did. But I was using the wrong pen. Then I did something
I rarely do, and traced my own drawing. I thought I’d try it again with a finer pen.

But we go into lockdown at midnight tonight, so we had to go out and pick up a few things
before all the stores in Toronto are closed (like art supplies). Apparently the liquor store
is exempt because it's an "essential service". I find that funny. Back home for a few minutes,
I started a painting of tulips with acrylic ink. A lot of fun -- but nothing finished, so I’ll just
show you my first sketch, and wish you a very creative week.

It’s taken a long time to get my creative self going again. Now I can feel ideas coming into my
head, and that’s a delightful feeling. I'll keep that happening, and leave Covid alone. Sooner
or later we will be getting together and rejoicing. Oh man it will be fun!  A very snowy day today --
absolutely gorgeous. I hope you had a great day too. 

Take care.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Your holiday plans without friends and family?

Valentine's Day Blue
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010


I told you yesterday that Toronto (Canada) has gone into lockdown. Today
we went to 2 malls. It was only the third time we’d been to a mall in the past
nine months. Outside the mall north of Toronto where they are not going into
lockdown people were in line ups of 200 to 400 people at each store on
the sidewalk waiting. We circled the mall once, and left.  The scene was 
depressing and pointless.

At the second mall things were much different. In Toronto where the lockdown
is actually going to take place, the mall, which will be closed as of Monday morning,
was busy. Everyone was wearing masks and social distancing. But you could move
from store to store and there were small line ups at each store. All of the protocols
were in place, temperature checks, limited numbers in stores.  We stood in a short
line up, saw almost no one in the store, picked up our things in five minutes and 
left, delighted to be back in the car, and gone. Hand sanitizer, masks off. In these
Covid times we live in, and it is really cold tonight, we needed warm socks.

But the site of the mall all dressed up for the holiday season, (certainly the prettiest it
ever looks all year), and knowing that it will shut down in one day until four days before
Christmas, made me sad. Sad for the business owners who cannot afford this shut down,
and sad for all the people who get their holiday feelings by walking through this
beautifully decorated space. 

So my question is what are your plans for how you are going to enjoy the holidays at the
end of December, if you can’t have your friends and family over for dinner, and can’t have
parties, and if you meet people you have to meet them outside in the freezing cold? I’d like
to know what you can do to keep your spirits going, and what you will do to celebrate?

We sat outside for a few minutes on our back porch today. We call our Siamese cat
Fiona by whistling. So I was whistling the tune, and a neighbour one street over
started whistling after we finished, so we'd whistle back.  We were starting and ending
the tune for each other, and this went on for at least 10 minutes and maybe more.
Steven and I would whistle, and then the person whistling on the other street
would pick up where we left off. It was too bad that we couldn’t see the person,
but it was very happy scene. It was like "yes we can celebrate something!".So how
will you celebrate? That’s my question.

Have a happy weekend.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Picture this — a night off

Seagulls at Colonel Samuel Smith Park in October
Photo: Barbara Muir © 2020
(We were as hungry as seagulls tonight.
We planned to eat in front of the TV, but
ate on the back porch in our winter coats.)
Here was the original plan : Tonight is going to devoted to eating pizza, eating
chocolate coated, vanilla and caramel drumsticks, and watching the TV series
we're watching until we can’t watch anymore.

The fellow at the store where I bought the pizza was upset when I said we were
having this treat because we were countering depression. He said, "Oh no this is
celebration food," as he put it in the oven. "I know," I said, "but we’re going into
lockdown again, and if we didn’t eat celebratory food we might be depressed about

As it is it will be an evening of pure pleasure, and I wish you the same. 

Postscript: I don't eat flour or sugar most of the time.  The double hit tasted 
amazing, but I won't be doing that again any time soon.  As for the TV, we
watched it all night, with a small break for a walk -- and that was wonderful.

Have a figuring out how to be happy anyway day.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

When everything clicks in life

Winter tea at the art gallery
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

One of the things I find fascinating about human beings is when I meet someone
for the first time, and there’s an instant connection. I’m not religious, and
although friends tell me I’m spiritual, I think I am more practical, and more
interested in facts. But I am still stunned, and amazed by the mysteries
of social connection.

This is something that my artist friends and I have been talking about this week.
It's the part of our artistic life we miss so much.  That feeling when you talk
to another artist and there's instant understanding, humour, and new ideas!
There's the artist community -- the people you see regularly at portrait and
figure sessions in your artist groups -- not happening.  And there's that miraculous
 connection that happens when you're painting a portrait and you meet the subjects
 in person. Even if you go back to painting them using photographs, the in person
experience between you stays inside your brain and imagination, and makes the
work flow. Almost magically. 

Today after working late into the night last night, I was so happy to get a surprise
phone call from the wonderful artist Sharon McClurg, and then to have a great
conversation with the artist Flora Doehler in Nova Scotia. All of us who care
about creating artwork are experiencing this pandemic in a totally different way.  

I think what’s good about it is that we have to stay cheerful, and dig into our own
creativity in whatever way we can, to keep going. Because one day, that great big
show that we always wanted to be in is going to be out there, with live music, and
dancing, and champagne, and we are going to travel, and meet a whole bunch of
new wonderful artists and reunite with our amazing instant connection artist friends
who we've met along the way. I can’t wait for that day.

But I will.

Meanwhile please wear your mask, social distance, and enjoy every possible
connection you can have, in whatever way is safe and healthy. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Over 600,000 hits

 A few days ago I was excited to see that I’d already reached my year end goal which was to have 600,000 hits by the end of the year on my blog. I reached that goal about mid month, a month and a half easily before the end of  The year.y

I’m constantly told by those in the know that blogs are irrelevant. But I think 100,000 hits in just over nine months tells a different story. And maybe that’s the point. Maybe what some people like is a bit of a story about what’s going on. I can’t say that I always write the most exciting bits of news. But it seems that some people enjoy what I do say.

Thank you so much my goal with my blog Is to reach 1 million hits. The last couple of years have a blast away in the numbers compared to the many years before. I think that is partly due to my posts on Instagram.If you feel like doing me a favor, please just come on and and look at the blog every now and then. Every time you do you don’t have to say a thing, but just knowing that someone is looking at this daily project of mine makes me beyond happy. And that is an incredible gift in a timeI of so much negativity and anxiety. 

Please stay safe healthy and creative.

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!