Thursday, April 20, 2017

A strong inner voice -- and the ecstasy of beauty


Untitled (Work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
I went for a short walk tonight in the freezing cold rain.
Spring is trying its best, but blossoms were blowing off
trees.  Someone else would find it grim.  Yet in the
few minutes I was out I saw raindrops on branches,
and jewels of light shimmering on pine trees like
decorations.  The visual hits kept coming.

As I walked I thought about the people we can encounter as
artists who try to make us feel like we don't know
what we're doing.  Or try to define us as a certain "type of
artist." It's a strange job.  My advice is cultivate lovely
people to support you -- I am lucky to have those people
and thank you so much. Plus work on getting a strong
inner voice.  Not always easy in the face of our own and
others' thinking, but vitally important.  Artists need to
talk themselves into it, into carrying on, into feeling
happy.  That voice matters.  The one that says -- 'yes
it's coming along.'

This painting is almost done.  There are a few things I'll
work on.  But it's doing what I hoped it would do --
express my love and wonder for the east coast landscape
I revel in each summer.

Have an enjoying-who-you-are day.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday -- and it was good



Nightfall Cherrywood
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 

I'm afraid I didn't paint today, but devoted the day to
my husband who had a remarkably rare day off.  We
are devastated by the news of more war, of and an
increase in world violence, and worry about what we can do.

Meanwhile, it was a gorgeous day here and we
took a walk past lawns vibrant with bluebells,
a pond with ducks, forsythia bushes and tall
glorious trees.

Here is a little painting I did in plein air on my front
porch looking across the street eight years ago.
It does capture the love I have for my city and my
neighbourhood.  The trees are not out like this yet,
but they will be soon.  So wonderful.

Have a beautiful weekend.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring transformation!


Pansy design -- Pansy paintings, Left and right (flipped)Positively pansies
Acrylic on birch panel, 5 x 7 inches, Barbara Muir © 2014
Center --We're Here, Acrylic on birch panel, 5 x 7 inches, Barbara Muir © 2014

It is funny to be writing about spring tonight when
it is sooooo cold.  We've had days this week when
a friend actually spotted someone lying on a Toronto
beach in a bathing suit sunbathing -- but that is not
today.  Winter doesn't want to let go.  It is the coldest
day we've had in weeks. Winter coat weather.

Still spring is winning.  Sorry winter -- a small walk
in the neighbourhood treats us to carpets of gorgeous
bluebells under trees, surrounded by bright yellow,
mauve and purple crocuses, and even tiny vibrant
purple irises. Forsythia bushes are bursting out in yellow.
That gorgeous tender spring green is quietly budding
in every tree!  Wahoo!

And Torontonians' confidence that spring is here to
stay is clear in joyous pots of pansies that flank front
steps -- so pretty and suddenly rich with colour
that our hearts melt in appreciation.

This was my last once a week evening class --
and I thought I'd celebrate with a pansy
painting design.

Have a three cheers for spring day.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thank Goodness for Harold the Bunny

Harold and the Blue Eggs
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir ©
A few Easters ago thinking about the Easter Bunny,
who has played a huge role in my children's memories
of Easter -- I remembered my sweet bunny Harold
the rabbit, and painted this painting to celebrate her.
I am glad I can show her portrait each Easter when
it seems life is really hopping.

Harold was a bunny I owned in my last two years
of university.  She was very pretty, with hot ears,
and gave me a little extra clout of cool when I took
her to parties with me, very dressed up as I used to
be.  She didn't mind parties, but as her owner I had
to clean up the odd mess she'd make under couches,
very discreetly.

She got along with my cat, and lived a happy life.
That is she did until I moved in with a boyfriend
in a place north of Toronto, and she got out
and excited the landlord's loud barking dog.
She was not hurt I don't think, but she died of
a heart attack, because I didn't know you should
have brandy on hand as a tranquillizer if you
have a rabbit for a pet.

That may well be why that particular romance
with that young man didn't last.  My husband
grew up on a farm, and knows a lot about nurturing
animals.

Have an enjoying your animals day.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Fast sketch of the Worp

Trees at the Worp -- fast sketch
Pastel, oil pastel, coloured pencil on
Maison Haute Couleurs Charvin Paper
7 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
I was super moved my some photo reference I found
today of the Worp nature reserve near my friend Miranda
in the Netherlands so I did a fast sketch.

I used pastel (and I think they were mine at art school --
so are very old and dry), oil pastel and coloured pencil.
I was breaking probably every rule and rediscovering why I
like paint.

But I had a lot of fun, and heightened my incredible
admiration for pastel artists like my friend Marcia
Labelle.

Have a trying what you don't normally use day.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Light -- the whole story

Speeding landscape
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir ©
Light was the whole story today -- because this city
was blessed with one of the most fantastic spring
days.  Perfect temperature -- warm with a cool
edge -- perfect bluer than blue sky, and sunlight
bouncing off every face, every surface, every
couple's clasped hands, every one of the millions
of cars clogging the streets with their passengers'
newfound energy and need for an excursion.

It was like a party.  And we went to the market,
bought some groceries, got our glasses tightened
by wonderful Joe at Optik Zone, so I could keep
reading my Peter Mayle books.  And we sat on
the back porch in the brilliant light with the
cats and the dog, and felt revived.  We made it
through the winter!  It was a really easy winter --
not very cold, and hardly any snow -- but grey
as all get out, overcast, gloomy -- and hey it did
snow yesterday adding to today's miracle.

I did not paint today -- so I give you this one from
a few years ago -- which is about the light seen out
of the window of a car driving through a rural landscape.
Seemed right.

Have an enjoying-the-light day.

Friday, April 7, 2017

A love of bright colour

Fall in Bear River
Acrylic on canvas
10 x 10 inches
© Barbara Muir 
I painted this piece to honour  Flora Doehler
who moved from Toronto a number of years ago to 
the little town of Bear River in Nova Scotia,
where she has been a very happy citizen along
with her wonderful husband Larry Knox.  

Flora Doehler is one of my favourite painters and a friend.
She paints in vibrant colours that leap off the canvas, and
captivate her collectors.  And I am in constant awe of 
her work.  

So my painting Fall in Bear River was painted a few years
back to celebrate both Flora and Larry's brave move from
urban Toronto, to semi rural Nova Scotia, and to show
the beauty of that area, which we've visited many times.

Have a loving-nature's-beauty 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: 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!