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!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fabulous Friday

 Spring Walk
Black and white photograph 
8 x 10 inches
© W.W. Muir (my father)
It's been a busy day, but not much time
devoted to art.  In honour of the anniversary
of my father's birthday, which is tomorrow
I thought I'd post one of his photographs.
This is from a print he pulled himself in the
small basement dark room he had for a couple
of years in Ottawa.  After he moved his family
to Toronto, he spent more time on painting
than photography.

I've always loved his black and white work.
This shot reminds me a bit of Mary Cassatt
and her paintings of women picking fruit.
I miss my father, and I know his photographs
inspired my son Christopher to follow in his
footsteps to be a photographer and cinematographer.

Have an honouring-your-parents day.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Moving Fulfillment

 Untitled (work in process)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
I've been working on my painting of a dinner
served on the train.  I think it was on the way
back to Toronto from Montreal but I'll have to
check.  I'm still trying to establish all of the
elements, which takes some time when the subject
is complicated.  This is.

I can't imagine the waiter on the train setting up
the meal on the tray and thinking -- "I just know
an artist is on the train today and will want to
paint this!"

Aren't these small moments the ones we treasure.
Of course I remember my wedding, and the birth
of my sons as huge, special days.  But the beauty of
life is also lived in the every day, and in
noticing and appreciating the strawberry included with
the cake, the olives with the cheese -- the little

I'm enjoying working on this one.

Have a loving-the-small-moments day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Leave it!

Daffodil Selfie
Black marker on Moleskine paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015

I couldn't decide whether or not to colour this little
drawing of daffodils on my bathroom shelf reflected
in the mirror.  And decided to leave it.  Perhaps
tomorrow I'll know.  Yes or no.

I guess training an artist (myself) is a little like
training a dog.  We need to learn to let things sit,
to go to bed (lie down), and leave it!  The next
day it will either matter to change it, or we'll be
on to bigger and better things.

So for now.  I'm going to leave it, and see
what tomorrow will bring. (Good girl!)

Have a learning-to-leave-it-day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The best kind of visitor

Staying warm (art group sketch)
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
Before I was fully awake this morning a friend
dropped in and told me that she loved the work
I'm doing -- my food paintings, and the cloud
painting from a couple of days ago.

I didn't know her degree was in art history, but
she told me that to add heft to her kind comments.
Wow. She made me feel great.  I started painting
the moment she left, didn't even grab the next coffee.

The Message?  If you have artist friends, encourage
them.  Tell them what appeals to you.  What a
delight to have someone come into the studio and
tell me she loves my use of colour.  She set
me off to a day of discovery, and left me with a
deep feeling of enjoyment and satisfaction.
Good one.

 I will definitely remember the zap of excited
energy she gave me the next time I visit an
artist's studio.  Yep.  We can all use positive

I painted this quick sketch with my art group
tonight in about 45 minutes.  The model was
lovely, and my friends in the break, a treat.

Have a-taking-the-time-to-be-a-kind-visitor day.

Monday, February 23, 2015

It gets in your blood

 Untitled (work in process)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
My train trip a week ago was pure pleasure.
Now when I hear a freight train in the far
distance at night it takes me back to the long,
delightful trip to Montreal and back.  The
motion of the train -- the sound of the horn,
all seem romantic to me.

Naturally I took a painting of one of my
four meals I had in two trips (yes four meals!).
And today I began work on a picture of one
rather delicious dinner.

This is just the beginning -- working on
drawing, underpainting, thinking about
what else to include.

Have a feeling-the-romance-of-the-train day.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The happy artist on Sunday

 Untitled (work in process)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015 
(I try to get the whole painting
to the same place at the same time,
then move on to the next stage.  Not
quite finished this stage, but very happy
so far).
So it's cold -- so cold we had to thaw out
our laundry room pipes.  So cold we tell
"how cold is it?" jokes.  But meanwhile
I planted a large beautiful bowl with mini
daffodils today, and it looks like a small

Plus I worked on this painting, which
reminded me the whole time I worked on
it of that delicious meal -- of the waiter
who was so gracious and polite, of the
porringer for the oatmeal, of the sweet
anticipation of morning. 

And I thought about still life, and how
sensual it is for me.  How these small
images of the moments of our lives
shimmer in memory when we work
on recording not just how it looked, but
the feeling of delight we had being there.

I think that is part of the pleasure of a
static image in a world of constantly
moving images.  We can stop for a minute.
Maybe grab a coffee, eat a blackberry,
have some toast and marmalade, smile
at one another with sheer overwhelming
pleasure in the magnificence of life.

Have a slowing-down-to-see day.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Reality check

 Untitled (work in process)
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
I discovered this little blog I wrote in my
blog drafts and thought why not?  It's
Saturday and if I am working, hundreds
of thousands -- millions of other artists
around the world are too.  So here's
what I wrote the last time this thought
entered my head:

We are blessed to have a community of
kind, caring artists, and art lovers to bolster
us when we feel stymied, and inspire us
when we aren't sure what to do next.

Artists are not crazy, or fey.  We don't
live in a permanent fairy tale of
pretty colour and fantasy.  Even
if what we draw and paint is fairy
tale and fantasy -- getting it onto a
canvas, or paper, or board -- is
a job.

 What artists are is brave.  We continue
to work no matter what.  We do love
the creation of art, we do care passionately
about it.  But we are grounded in
the reality of day to day work to
produce it.

Luckily the blog world is supportive, even though
occasionally artists receive mean comments,
and recently a dear friend of mine has been criticized
for doing the very job artists are meant to do --
creating a body of work. 

But this infrequent unkindness is countered by
the incomparable encouragement and community that is
 so helpful in the art blog world and
cheerful stories like one I heard today of
an artist friend who sold everything she displayed
at her opening last night!

Here is the start of a little tulip painting.
 Meanwhile more tulips thrive in the studio
waiting to be painted.  Despite the heavy snowfall
today spring is definitely on its way.

Have a being-kind-to-the-artists-you-know day.