Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A quick one

Winter dreams
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I’m showing you a quick drawing I did tonight on my iPad after I read the
news that we would be teaching online again next semester -- so all winter.
I teach a writing and presentation class one night a week at a wonderful
community college. And I'm now teaching my fourth semester online.

I’m not alone -- most teachers in Toronto at the college and university level are teaching
online. But there was a rumour a few weeks ago that we might be going back into
the classroom again in January. Wouldn't that be wonderful? The problem is that
people are so anxious for this virus to be over that some are getting together without
social distancing. That's not most people, but it's enough that the numbers are going up,
and colleges and universities can’t take the risk of adding to that rise in the virus.

So I started to imagine how it’s going to look in the middle of winter when we have to
put our masks on to go into the stores, or into crowded areas, and this is what I came
up with. I had a lot of fun drawing it, and I’m sure I’ll have a lot of fun teaching online.
I am this term. And I hope that all the other teachers who love teaching in the classroom,
and can't right now, have the best possible time in their online classes. 

Check out the fashion magazines for new styles in masks for cold, and warmer 
weather -- the heat adjustable mask. (Did you ever think you would see that?  But
you will.) The possibilities are endless.

Have fun.

Monday, September 28, 2020

A love of still life

Spring Table
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2007
Today I’m showing you a still life I painted in 2007. I love painting still
 life featuring food, china, flowers, candles and all the things that are on the
 table when we get together. They seem particularly evocative now at a time
 when celebrating together is not an easy situation.

Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up and Steven and I are trying to figure out
how we can celebrate with our family. A fashion magazine that came with the
newspaper today says that we should get ourselves good down coats so we can
stay warm while we socially distance with family this winter. One of the coats it
shows costs $6500. I think we’re going to have to improvise.

So what will still life paintings of meals look like in the new normal? Will
everybody be holding thermoses of their own coffee? Will we take the
Thanksgiving turkey in a cooler to a field, get it out, and put it on a
china platter, then sit around social distanced and enjoy our meal. If it’s warm
enough I can think of worse things than sitting outside eating together
with my family. We'd have fun.

Meanwhile I’m just going to enjoy this painting and the thought of making
more of them soon.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Gratitude and nostalgia

Morning glories on the back fence
photo © Barbara Muir

I was sitting on the bench that we have at the back of our yard. This is a place
that feels private even though neighbours in nearby houses can see us if we’re
sitting there. But so many things are changing so quickly because of how we've
adapted to COVID. Our next-door neighbours on the other side of our semi detached
wall, who we've enjoyed living beside for 14 years, have decided to move to the country.

One of the things we appreciated about them was that they didn’t mind the low
chain-link fence between our properties. They knew that every summer we grew
 morning glories all along that fence, and it almost looked like a flowering green

I sat on our favourite bench this morning looking at the morning glories, as yellow
leaves fell all around me against the blue sky, and one leaf landed in my lap. Our
worry is that the new neighbours will put up one of the high wood fences popular
in our neighbourhood at the moment. In our narrow yard that would be sad indeed.
So I drank in the beauty of the morning glories today. Their blue flowers are one
of my favourites -- like a pure, gorgeous symbol of summer.

And when the yellow leaf fell in my lap like a small, golden heart. I decided to think
that whatever happens there will still be morning glories, and all will be well. 

The yellow leaf
Barbara Muir © 2020

Saturday, September 26, 2020

A shining star

Georgia Fullerton speaking
live today for African Women Acting.org
(see link below)
Blue Staedtler marker on
Fabriano notebook paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2020

Today I tuned in to watch my friend Georgia Fullerton‘s live video for
African Women Acting.org.  She was magnificent. She talked about the
power of art and healing. She talked about how important it is to get outside,
and be in nature during this hard time, and gave all kinds of useful advice,

While she spoke I thought, 'I have to draw her now. She looks amazing.'
She has a compelling  presence on camera, and it felt wonderful to try
and get some of that energy down on paper. I grabbed the nearest notebook. 
and the nearest pen which was blue, and gave it a whirl.

The link to the video is here and enjoy it.

Have a loving what your friends do day.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Moving with the times

Acrylic on canvas
14 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

The painting tonight is of Guinevere, a beautiful model who I discovered on the first
 night I went to paint in the Forest Hill Art Club's studio. The Don Valley Art Club
enjoyed a beautiful studio in The Brickworks that was actually designed for them.
But when the environmental group took over The Brickworks, they raised the rent
to the extent that the DVAC could no longer afford to rent the space.

We were very lucky to be taken in by the Forest Hill Art Club, and ever since have
shared their studio space with them. This painting is from the first night that I saw
that space. Looking back I feel no regrets about the move. For one thing the Forest Hill
studio is much closer to my house, and I can get there quickly. That means I can
go and paint for an hour, or an hour and a half, and come home with a painting

I enjoyed the people from the Forest Hill Art Club that very first night. After that
I was never sure who was from which club, because when we’re together
all that matters is the model, and that we're artists working side-by-side. I like the
serious expression on the model's face in this painting, and I love the thick paint. 

We are lucky as creative people if we get to work with other artists, and learn from
them. I learn so much from the people in the Don Valley Art Club, and the Forest
Hill Art Club on the Tuesday drawing night. Now with COVID, they’ve just opened
up again with a limited number of spaces, and protocols. But I can’t go because I teach
online on Tuesday evenings this term. This makes looking at work that I did in that
setting even more of a pleasure.

Have an enjoying your creative friends day.

Thursday, September 24, 2020


Flowers for you
acrylic on canvas
12 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

Today I visited my favourite florists for some flowers to give
to a friend. Our current situation makes celebrating someone’s
birthday difficult, and a good friend is having a birthday in a couple
of days. 

We thought we would sit out in her backyard, social distance from
one another and talk for a while, but when it was time to bring her
the flowers it started raining, and thundering, so that idea was out.  

She stood on her front porch holding the flowers, then put them
away and we talked for a few minutes. Now even getting to talk to
someone in that awkward way -- 10 feet away, my friend on her porch,
and me standing on her walk in my raincoat -- is 100 times better than
what happened when the virus began, when we didn’t get to talk to
anyone we didn't live with, in person at all.

I guess we are learning in all areas of life how to behave with this strange
set up. It seems vividly important to me that we continue to celebrate.
Here’s a bouquet I painted 10 years ago in February when I took in a present
bouquet delivered to my next door neighbour who wasn't home, so the flowers
would be protected from the winter weather.

In the few hours before my neighbour knocked on my door I painted the
arrangement.  Now it’s a source of celebration every time I see this image.

Wishing you a happy day, and your own unique way of celebrating. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


Peach paradise
Acrylic ink on
cradled birch 
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
(finished I think ;-)

This word came flying into my brain today as we walked through the 
last light of an extremely beautiful day, on this second day of fall. 
My computer dictionary defines it as "   (revel in) gain great pleasure from"
Everywhere we turned we saw visual treats.  The trees in their summer
fullness some turning magnificent reds, were amazing.  Flowers looked
especially happy about the warmer weather.  

I worked on a drawing sitting outside in the gorgeous day. And
before I called it a night, I worked on finishing up this peach
painting -- which I love already.  The peaches are ready to quit
posing so they can be eaten before they are way too far past their prime.

Have a revelling in the incredible bounty of the end of summer/start
of fall.  So miraculous!

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!