Thursday, December 13, 2018

The 2005, 2006 and 2007 things I learned this year

A collage of some of my portraits
© Barbara Muir
I put this together, because listening
to myself -- I would like to get back
to painting portraits from time to 
time.  Landscape has become my love,
but people are so compelling,
and fascinating. 

The 2005th thing I learned: Listen
Continuing the challenge from Howard Wolinsky to come up with
2018 things I learned in 2018, I work in part in a talking industry,
maybe entirely in talking industries.  As artists, we have to pull
ourselves out of our studios, get on decent clothes and stand in
front of something we painted all alone listening to music or our
own thoughts, and talk about the work.  As a teacher I tell stories
to try to keep my students engaged.  But what everyone in the world
wants is to be heard.  So we talkers have to be quiet and listen.  There's
a peace in that too.  As a break from trying to compose
something special, we can go out and listen to nature, take the
head phones off, shut off the phone and listen.  Which is why
I love the ocean.  It insists.  You have to listen, and it is the rhythm
of the planet, in and out like our breathing that calms us down.

The 2006th thing I learned (again):  Trust myself
This one's easy.  If something seems wonderful, and all of my
instincts tells me it's true -- I go with it.  But speaking of
listening, if everything both inside and outside of me says,
"No!  This is a bad idea, this seems really crazy."  I
am probably right.  At least I am about 80% possibly
right about this for me.

The 2007th thing I learned (again):  Read
I just listened to a CBC program on how populist politics gain
control, and erode democracies -- and the speaker suggested that the
main way, especially with younger populations, is that people don't
read.  Add not reading to not traveling, and you have a formula
for ignorance. Reading changes that dynamic, and as a voracious reader, I am
working on pulling myself away from just reading novels, and reading
about what is happening in the world.  I know many people
who would rather not know what politicians are doing, about
climate change, about racism, about global hunger problems.
But we can't change things -- about ourselves, and about the
world unless we know.  So that will continue.  Reading has
been a major force for learning for me in 2018.

Thank you to Howard, and thank you to everyone I know
both in my town, the art world, and here, for being my teachers.

Have a learning something new day!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2002, 3, and 4 things I learned this year!

Untitled: Today's art group sketch
I do now know the model's name,
but luckily she loves turquoise and
mauve, and liked her portrait.
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

Continuing my plan to answer Howard Wolinsky's challenge
to come up with 2018 things I learned in 2018...

The 2002nd thing I learned (again)!

Hang out with people who make you feel wonderful.  I am
so lucky to know people here in my own city, Toronto,
and because of taking part in International shows, all over the
world, who are so kind, funny and exceptional in so many ways.
You know you make me so happy.  Thank you.

The 2003rd thing I learned (again)!

Be here now.  Don't drag around the harsh comments, bad behaviour,
of the occasional bad tempered person you encounter.  I am trying to
live in the present moment as much as possible.  When I do, I see that
there is so much to be happy about.  And if I have met someone grumpy
 in my travels, focusing on the present let's them go! :-)

The 2004th thing I learned this year!

Recognize the amazing generosity of everyone you know! 
I know this all seems pretty simple, but I have been blessed
with so much generosity from people in my home town, friends,
family, co-workers, the blog circle, on Facebook, Twitter,
in my community, from stores, market people, collectors,
gallery owners.  The list of boundless generosity in my
experience is endless. I can never thank you enough, but
please know that I appreciate your generosity so very much.

That's it for today.  Only 14 to go.

Have a loving what you've learned day!

Friday, December 7, 2018

First of 18 more for 2018 -- Be the light!

Light from the kitchen table
iPad sketch
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
#1 of 18
Be the light.  Lately the news has frequently been harsh:
the fires in California, hurricanes on the east coast, climate
change so out of control, riots in Paris, and mass shootings.
I think a normal reaction is to feel despair. But that despair
is not generative -- it doesn't lead to change. And change
has to happen for the sake of the planet, and quickly.

As I write this I'm thinking of the work of my artist
friend in Nova Scotia, Flora Doehler.  Not only has
Flora chosen to live a rural and sustainable lifestyle.
Her paintings jump out at us, and give us a shake.  Flora
 grows her own garden with her husband Larry Knox, and
 also sits in the garden and paints -- celebrating the ecstasy
and beauty of the natural world.

I think that is one of the powerful reasons for making art --
to lift and inspire people, and to give them a reason to love
the planet, and value their lives on it.

Have a shining your light day!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

More than 400,000 hits! Wow! And another thousand things I learned in 2018.

And this painting is one of my favourites
because it's of a pond I see almost every weekend,
yet this year it jumped out at me.
Higher Love
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
Wow I have passed 400,000 hits.  Who could imagine that?
Thank you to everyone who visits my blog.
To continue from the other day -- Dhyāna āpō, or pay attention
in Gujarati, connects massively to the second one thousand
things I learned in 2018.  (This is in response to Howard
Wolinsky's suggestion that I write about 2018 things I
learned in 2018).

For my second thousand I'd say paying attention was my
big lesson. As an artist that means being on -- seeing the world,
and taking it in.  My focus is the magnificence of nature at
the moment, and certainly more than 1,000 times this year I was
dazzled and in thrall to nature's beauty.  At this time of
year the flowers have all died, which is why the brilliant
seasonal decorations that brighten every doorway and porch,
and light up so many trees mean so much.  No matter what holiday
we celebrate, the point is bringing back the light to a
gloomy world.  And we need to do that metaphorically too --
by caring.

Caring for one another and the planet is paying attention.
In addition to caring about what I see and want to paint and
draw, I want to be as kind and caring in every situation as
possible. Not always easy.  But even if it takes 1,000 tries
I want to do it.  And this year because I broke my wrist,
had my arm in a cast and a sling, couldn't carry anything,
and was in some pain from February -- to September,
I am grateful to everyone who helped me carry my books
into my class, including my students led by Pooja Chauhan,
and my dear husband who drove me to school when I
couldn't drive for 4 months, and helped me in every way,
and to the kind curators who helped me with my art.

So that is my second thousand things I learned, every time
I turned around.  I learned to see the amazing sights surrounding me,
and to notice the thousands of kind things my students,
friends, family and art community do for me every day.

Have a seeing the kindness around you day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The first 1,000 things I learned this year

Untitled (work in progress)
acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
Journalist/photographer Howard Wolinsky and I go back
10 years, to the time Howard did the first video interview
with me about drawing on Skype.  In fact that interview
aired exactly 10 years ago today.

The first 1,000 things I learned this year -- summarized:
Well yesterday on Facebook when I posted a painting
I'd done from a gorgeous Howard Wolinsky photo in
2016, that was part of a post 10 things I learned in 2016,
Howard challenged me to write about 2018 things I learned
in 2018. For me 2018 was a year jam packed with learning.
So I thought I'd summarize the first 1,000 things just to try
and please Howard because he's been so good to me (I mean
he got me on Oprah because of the link above).  I learned at
least 1,000 times over that the more I think I know, the less
it turns out that I actually do know. In short I have a lot to

Even though I didn't travel that much, I probably learned more
about more places, people, ideas and facts this year than ever
before.  And that's exciting!  The truth is that we are
absolutely bombarded with information on the Internet,
in books, and on TV News.  Plus one night a week, I have
the good fortune to teach people from all over the world,
who do every kind of job. So I learned how to say "Pay attention!"
 in Gujarati, which my students who speak Gujarati find more
than a little surprising. It sounds like this: Dhyāna āpō.  

A passion for learning is a gift that repays us at least
1,000 times over. Here is the painting I'm working on now.
I hope it is close to finished.

Have a paying attention day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The demand for loose

Grey Love 
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
In my art sometimes I'm loose, and sometimes uptight.
I like some of the work that develops from both states,
so I can't yell out that loose is better -- but I sure enjoy
watching loose painters like Susan Rothenberg, and
Bob Burridge paint.

In the past week I've watched videos of a few super
loose and dynamic painters painting, which is
probably why I could get this portrait painted last
night at my art group in such a short time.  I felt
happy to have a good size canvas prepared.  I loved
having a group of creative people around me --
and away I went.

Seeing the model at first, who was shy, (and I didn't get his
name, I'm sorry), I would not have expected this painting.  But
it flew out of me, and the model was brilliantly inspiring
in his steady, non assuming pose.

So there you have it.  Thank you to loose painters everywhere.
I will join you from time to time. And thank you to my
art group.

Have a painting the town day.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Conquering Fear and Flashback Friday

Look at this
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

A friend and I were talking today about fear of the unknown, 
and how it hinders an artist's life.  Then I was looking for a photo
of my art for a Facebook cover, and found this image of my son
and his then girlfriend, now wife, Megan.  It was a Skype painting.
Enter fear.

I was afraid of starting a blog, and my friend and fabulous
artist Flora Doehler persuaded me to do it.  Christopher
was going to teach in Korea for a year, and helped me
get started before he left.  Once he and Megan were in Korea, Skype
was the best way to talk, and not feel so far away.  During
conversations with Christopher I'd draw him on sticky notes
or whatever was on my desk.  Then I did a little sketch painting
of my friend Flora via Skype, and published it on my blog.

When Chris and Megan were heading for Korea I was so
anxious about those two being so far away -- a 14 hour plane
trip.  When I started using Skype I was afraid I'd mess it up.
But I got a job via New York company drawing people via Skype at the
Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and did not
know that my Skype images were being broadcast on a huge
screen at the show. That connection led to journalist Howard
Wolinsky from Chicago calling and asking to see my Skype
paintings. Howard interviewed me on a YouTube video for the Skype
blog, I was terrified.  He asked me if I could get some new paintings
together in a week, so I did.  (Deadlines always help).

Oprah Winfrey's people saw Howard's YouTube video, and asked me to
be on a show called Where In The Skype Are You?


I have never been so frightened in my life. But I did it -- and do
 you see where I'm going with this?  Essentially if you follow the
 dots -- Christopher and Megan going to Korea got me on Oprah.
And that show got me media attention, invitations to exhibit in art
shows internationally.

So yes fear is bad, and yes there are things to fear -- but some of
the things we fear -- especially when it comes to art -- will bring
us miracles.

Oh yes.  This is important!  After a year in Korea Christopher
came back to Toronto to work as a photographer, and then a director of
videos. Megan is working on her PhD in Early Childhood Development.
They are married now, and have a beautiful, brilliant daughter --

Have a letting your fear go 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!