Thursday, April 3, 2008
Shopping along towards spring
Today was one of those
spring days you imagine
when you think of spring
fever. In English I sent my
restless students out to take
notes describing the landscape.
Back inside they wrote short
essays that captured the day perfectly.
The temperature hovered around zero,
but every student was dreaming about summer.
When I think of summer, this painting comes
to mind. The woman in the picture is the
quintessential summer person -- a gardener
who grows delicious cherry tomatoes,
a person who loves to be outdoors, and
a wonderful hostess.
My brother wants me to talk more
about painting -- to discuss how I do it,
and why I paint the way I do. When I'm painting portraits I respond
to the subject. The painting comes together after I've spent weeks
talking, painting and getting to know the person. This is true even with
old friends. The conversation guides me, even when the sitter has
to be quiet. I make hundreds of decisions in every session,
but that I am barely conscious of what I'm doing until we take
a break. In this case the sitter wanted to be pictured relaxing
in the sun in Greece. She was in fact in her own living
room, in a favourite chair. Everything from the colours I chose to
the style of the work developed unconsciously and consciously
from our delightful conversations.
But back to shopping. I was talking to a friend tonight who can't
wait to go out and get new drapes. For women involved in demanding
work, shopping is the ideal break. We may not even buy anything,
but whether we stroll through a mall, or a market, the variety of
goods, the colours, even the music appeals to us. We feel briefly
released from our responsibilities and then frequently empty
handed, we go back to work renewed.
During this past winter shopping was more of a chore than a pleasure.
The mall parking lots had mountains of snow blocking many
spots. Drivers were edgy and aggressive. The whole process was
fraught. It's late, I have to go. No shopping today.
My advice to those who paint is just this -- do it. I meet so many
painters who say that they no longer have time. Make the time.
Make a place, start small and keep on going. There I hope I made
my brother happy.
Have a magnanimous day tomorrow.
- Barbara Muir
- 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: email@example.com
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!