Friday, March 5, 2021

A day about cars -- and the search for beauty

Self Serve
watercolour on watercolour paper

9 x 12 inches

Barbara Muir © 2011 

(I love this series.  I love the light, and
exuberance, and observation of
what's happening at a gas station. 
Observation is key.)

Beauty of course is everywhere.  In this painting the sunlight on cars
is gorgeous.  But in search of the exuberant artist feeling and more
reference images, I went to the lake tonight at sunset.  Magnificent.

I'm showing this painting today because it feels so luxurious now --
the thought of being on the road.  I did a series of paintings on this
theme.  Soon we'll all drive cars that will make this image seem
so outdated.  My imagination can run wild with solutions -- none
of which are probably possible, and none of which exist. But they
will someday. 

Today I had to take my car to the garage I use, to get it checked over
so I can return it when my lease is up. This involved driving to the
garage, taking a taxi home, working on a little book of my art at
home for an hour or so, and then taking a taxi back to the garage
to pick up the car.  The taxi drivers were sweet -- masked and
behind plastic protective screens.  And I was masked.

At supper tonight I was thinking that those are the first two 
conversations with strangers I've had in a long time. I do miss 
that ability. 

Have a loving the life you have day.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Happiness in the Month of exuberance

Irises in bloom
Barbara Muir © 2021
My artist friend Daniel Bordi
talked about the importance
of details on Instagram.
Artists deal with details all
the time.  I did today.
Sooner or later they add up
to art! 
It is a gorgeous sunny and windy March day. I am waiting for a dear
friend to come to go on a walk with me socially distanced, wearing masks
of course. My focus today is on happiness.

Later —  The walk did the trick. Such a beautiful day the sky a deep
gorgeous blue, sun hitting the remaining snow, and a cheerful conversation.
Perfect. If I can concentrate on what makes me happy, I hope that I can help
 other people to be happy.

I’m not sure what I’m going to show you today. We’ll see what gets done.
Later -- a lot got done.  I worked on preparing a booklet for print.  

Whatever happens in your life, I wish you a very happy day. Your work and
your exuberance make me feel great joy. And that’s a pretty impressive
accomplishment in these strange times. 

Have a finding happiness day! 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The compelling need for faces

Yes I'll be there
Marker on watercolour paper
9 x 11 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

For the past few years I've been focusing on landscape painting.
That makes sense because I love the scenes I see whenever
I walk, or go for a drive.  Yesterday the lake was sending waves
crashing against the shore, with that gorgeous high spray.

And I have really wanted to draw and paint faces lately.  If I capture
a face properly, the person is there vividly before me.  My portrait of
my niece who is gone, is in my studio.  My sons are the first people I see
when I walk in the door -- because their portrait is there.  

We are living in a time when we rarely see a person's whole
face unless they live inside our house.  So the face has become
more important than ever.  Tonight I'm showing you a sketch I 
did today.  I am also working on a portrait painting.  And landscapes
still make we want to capture them, so I've got one on the go.

Have a talking to the people you love day.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Happy Birthday to David Cohen and a portrait of Stephen Lewis

Stephen Lewis
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir ©
completed 2021
(The newspaper photo
this was loosely based on
has been on so many bulletin
boards that it is riddled with
holes from thumb tacks.
Yet it's still powerful.)

I always remember that it's David Cohen's birthday, which is surprising 
because I barely remember most people's birthdays except for family. So
I called him first thing this morning, and sang Happy Birthday to him.  Then
when Steven got off work we called together with our dog Sally, who
loves David, and loves "singing" Happy Birthday.

David is a brilliant writer, a passionate activist for every cause that
matters, and a 
wonderful, kind and loving person. He's my dear friend
Marcia LaBelle's husband, and the two of them have a very happy marriage.

My friend Marcia and her husband, David Cohen,
the show On The Bright Side at the
Wychwood Barns ten years ago.
(I'm so looking forward to the
time when we can do public
exhibitions again.)

I came upon this portrait of Stephen Lewis, and added a few more details
today.  We attended an excellent Massey Lecture by Stephen Lewis at
the University of Toronto about 15 years ago, and were deeply moved
by his work on trying to get governments to pay for treatments for people with
AIDS.  I know that our friend David Cohen has worked for every cause trying
 to improve the lives of people in his community and across Canada. Like Stephen
Lewis, David is a great Canadian, and I'm sure he admires Stephen Lewis's work.
But to be certain I asked him tonight, and he said that if we ever saw Stephen
Lewis in our walks around Toronto to tell him that David Cohen in Hamilton
thinks he's wonderful.

It was a beautiful day for David's birthday. He said that he had a great time with
his family, who are living together during the pandemic.  And I am very happy to
have finished this small portrait of one of my heroes. 

Have a finishing the work day.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Missing my Dad on his birthday in the Month of Love


My Dad (from his own self portrait photograph)
Charcoal on Canson Mixed Media paper
13 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017

This is my father's birthday -- and I miss him so much.  He died when
our oldest son was a toddler.  This portrait is my Dad in what he would
consider almost casual clothes. He was a very dressed up person.  He'd
probably be shocked at my clothes, mostly worn for painting -- covered
with paint, ripped at the elbow, worn out.

I love everything my father taught me.  I most definitely walk in his
footsteps.  He was a very strict father for small children -- but as
we grew up, he enjoyed us more and more.  I'm going to explain
how I feel about him by quoting what I wrote some years ago.

"It's appropriate on this last day of the Month
of Love to think about the meaning of love on
a deep level.  And here's what I know.  Not only
is my father visible in my face, and in my way
of talking, my love of humour, and the fact that
I have been both a journalist, and an artist, like him. 
But the main connection I have with my Dad is in my

The powerful message he would like me to convey
if he were alive on this the final day of the Month
of Love, is that love lasts.  It never goes away.  And
my Dad's love for me, and mine for him is a
wonderful thing, and always will be for me.
Isn't that comforting to know?  I think so."

Have a loving the people in your world day.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Love of the country in The Month of Love

Stop a farmhouse!
watercolour on watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

I love this painting -- a watercolour that expresses the joy I feel driving through
the country anywhere I’ve been in Canada. There is a vibrancy in the light and
shadow in this piece that I like. And there’s an obvious love of the look of
farm houses.

I’ve been feeling compelled to see both the light at the end of the day, and the lake.
It gives me hope in this hard time. Each time we go for a drive Steven asks me whether
we should go west or east? I always say west because a 15 minute drive along the lake
takes us to a beautiful park, where we can see the geese, ducks, and swans that we love.

We did that today.  Getting out into nature reminds me of how much I love 
this time of year.  February is almost over -- but the love will continue.  I hope
you can get out into nature this weekend, and I look forward to a time when
we can take a drive through the countryside outside of Toronto. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Drawing for a future painting

Before the wedding (work in progress)
Marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5
Barbara Muir © 2021

On a trip to Ottawa to see relatives before COVID, Steven and I met a group of
women in the lobby of the hotel we were staying in. They were waiting for
a ride to a wedding.

The bride was beautiful, and her two bridesmaids were very excited.
A relative (maybe an older sister) was clearly concerned about the time.
And for a portrait artist, these beautiful women in gorgeous off the
shoulder satin dresses, holding gorgeous bouquets of flowers was
a magical subject.  

I asked if I could photograph them, and they agreed.  I have the 
reference photos I printed when I got back to Toronto, but I need
to find my original photos for better reference on the details when I
do a painting. 

It's wonderful to think about life when travel was easy, and we
could meet people anywhere and have a conversation.

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!