Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dipping into the files

I had to mark papers tonight, which is its own kind
of pleasure, but I didn't have time to go to art class.
Plus I admit I spent three hours at the hospital
today waiting in the Fracture Clinic, and I am
exhausted. So I'm showing you an older work.
This is a class painting I did on smooth Arches
watercolour paper with acrylics. I always liked
it, and couldn't understand why it didn't
sell in shows, even when the price was almost
a give away.

Woman in argyle sweater
acrylic on watercolour paper
18" x 20"

But now I think I get it. She looks worried or
cranky. And no one needs cranky on their walls.
I know painters paint angry paintings, but that push
has to come from their souls. Mine is not an angry
soul. I do get upset about things, but in
essence I work hard at being cheerful, and
see that as an essential talent. I'll talk to you
tomorrow, meanwhile enjoy whatever art you make.

Have a letting-the-happy-through day.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Running on happy inspiration

Yesterday was quite the day -- bright and sunny, and our house
looked like the gallery/studio it was supposed to be. Never mind
the missing baseboards in the basement, or that pre-construction,
re-renovation look. My family and friends cleaned the place up
so well that the only indication of excessive creative verve was the
close to 40 paintings on the walls (I think at last count it was 37).

The reference photo for this image was taken
at one of our parties. The woman is our friend
and she's holding a neighbour's baby.
I like the expression on both of their
faces, but there's lots of work to do,
so you'll see it again.

After a little nap I thought of all of you out there who paint
every day, and I pulled my paints out of their oddly tidy
hiding place so I could begin a new painting. I wanted to
show you the first stage before I worked on marking papers
last night. But the camera wouldn't cooperate. Tonight
I've been delivering purchased work, so no more painting, but I
took a look at this effort and decided that it's a pretty good

I started on a red ground, which gives the painting it's
punch. The rest will happen as I think about it more.

Have a seeing-what-happens day.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Artwalk was stupendous!

One of the concepts that matters when you're teaching
writing is avoiding superlatives. I never liked
that rule. This was a very good day -- in fact it was just perfect.
At the end of the day, once our doors were closed
on Artwalk 2008, I sat down to paint for the blog.
I have been working on drawings for a little painting
of a woman and a baby based on a photo taken at
a party we had a few years ago.

Unfortunately the camera needs charging so I
can't photograph it for you tonight, and tomorrow
is a long day at school, so I have to go to bed.

Zoey and her "cousin" Suki

One of my blog friends wrote a blog on dog facts
the other day. Because I have a dog, and yes I've
painted her, I know a lot of dog trivia, but am always
interested in learning more.

Well tonight's picture is of my dog and her "cousin"
my sister's dog Suki. This was taken a few years
ago before Suki moved to California, but I love
the photo. My dog is the one on the left, she's
half Border Collie/Lab and half Dalmatian. My
sister's dog is pure Border Collie.

More art tomorrow.

Have a knowing-how-much-you-matter-day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A great first day at Artwalk

What a wonderful first day we had. My thanks go out to the
people who walked and came out by TTC ( bus, streetcar and
subway)to see my work. I really appreciated your presence,
and the great conversations we had. Paintings are selling, and the
whole atmosphere is jovial and festive despite the rain.

Here's a jolly watercolour I painted a few
years ago.

The house looks great and we served some wine, coffee,
cookies, and salmon and cream cheese on Steven's home
made bread. Yum. I am somewhat tired now just from
the set up, but as soon as I get a nap I'll be raring to go.

Have a loving-the-life-you-live day.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Funding the arts? Not a bad idea

It's incredible that in a time of such global anxiety
about the economy some members of the arts community in
Canada actually made funding the arts an election
issue this week. That's because the average full time artist in
Canada earns somewhere around $11,000 per year,
Enough said. But my point is that I'm really proud
of Canada for even raising the topic, and even more
so for making it a news item for a couple of days.

It doesn't matter whether people think the arts should
be supported (in my view artists have as much right
to government hand outs as banks do), it matters
that it was actually a topic worthy of note in an
election. The Conservatives just cut arts funding by
45 million, and the Liberals plan to increase arts
funding if they win the election. But all of the
parties were discussing the significance of the
arts in this very arty week. (Arty for all of us
artists!!!) I was interested to find out that the arts
and culture sector, added 46 billion dollars to
Canada's GDP in 2007.

Just something to mull over as you paint. Canada's
artists, and apparently there are a huge number of us,
have put art front and center in the debate while both
Wall Street and Bay Street are crumbling.

It's front and center in our house all right. I think I've
got 50 paintings to label in the morning for the show --
and that doesn't count the room upstairs almost full of paintings
I don't want to show this time.

I guess it's vain, but it made me feel really happy to see
all of my work up. I have you to thank for the increase in
my productivity. Without your input, encouragement and
belief in me, your wonderful paintings and everything I'm learning
from your work, my life as an artist would be
very different.

As it was my friends in Toronto really helped me make
the show happen. My friend Gill designed the cards I'll sell
tomorrow, and my friend Josephine bundled them into
packs of four. They are really pretty, so thank you so
much you wonderful women.

Josephine came over tonight and helped us spring into
action. She tied bundles of cards, washed dishes, helped
decide what should hang where, and was just marvelous.
Luigi kept Steven busy watching the American Presidential
Candidates' debate, while he wired all of my new work.

A woman and her cats (detail)
More in a couple of days

I promised you a peak at the finished commission. But
I didn't get the hand finished in all the busyness today.
In the middle of running around I went up to school to
teach (one and a half hours away). So I hope I finish this
painting in the morning before the folks arrive. But here
is the finished face, and I have minor adjustments on the cat.

Time to sleep so I can enjoy the day tomorrow. And I know
I will.

Have a believing-in-artists day!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Getting the invitations together

I wonder what you find is the best way to send invitations? Some
people really do prefer email. If you're in town this weekend
I'm repeating my invitation from earlier in the week.

Here's what it says:

I'm in the St. Clair Artwalk this
weekend. Come and see my new
paintings and have a glass of wine,
or cup of coffee and some goodies.
Barbara Muir Studio Tour
Sat. Sept 27 and Sunday Sept. 28
1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
56 Cherrywood Ave.
(Northwest of Bathurst and St. Clair)

So there you have it.

I promised to put some new work on the blog, and I will,
but cleaning up a house lived in by two busy adults,
an adolescent, two cats and a dog is an art in itself.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Have a ready-for-anything-wonderful day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Getting ready to rock and roll

Hi everyone,

Tonight I've been working on refining one of my paintings. I showed
it to you a while ago and it needed some sparkle. After a long, but
great day at school, I settled in to change it.

Today's starting point

The second image shows what happened, and then...I was photographing
it and thought -- wait a minute, and changed it again. The
discipline of producing a daily blog has definitely affected both
my productivity and my outlook. Seeing my images through the
camera teaches me to scrutinize what I'm doing and
adjust it. I am not a fan of the critique, but doing the blog is
like a self-installed critique. I want you to like what
I'm doing, and I hope you do. But I really want to be happy with
what I do. One for all and all for one -- hup! I sound like
a cheerleader, which by the way is how I sound most of the time.
It's definitely a role I play with gusto.

Almost there, and then the eye on the
left of the painting caught my eye

And here is what may be the final version. This little painting is
only 10" x 10" -- so enough. I am happy. I think.

Beautiful woman
10" x 10"
acrylic on canvas

Tomorrow in addition to marking papers, I am working on spiffing the place
up enough to have visitors take a look around the studio. No big deal
because I'm a very tidy painter. Just ask my family. They live with
paint creeping onto the surfaces in every room in the house, paint on
the walls, floors and furniture in the studio, tape on the floor and
chairs and couch in the studio to mark commission poses, and even tape on the
studio pillows! I would love to be a tidy painter, but I'd need an
assistant who went around behind me keeping everything squeaky
clean. Before Artwalk I tidy up the rooms, and make the place look
as though order is every bit as important as creativity. I learned
that from Flora Doehler. In fact Flora taught me the whole idea of
showing my studio space, and how to make it look good. She
could be a house Martha,making any place look appealing.
I wish she was here now.

Have a deliciously organized day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

No No No -- you can't see it -- yet!

There's a good reason why I don't show clients how a
painting develops until I get final approval, and
the painting has gone safely to its new home. I'm
not a smooth transition person. As I paint I'm
getting to know the client better, and my eyes
and hands seem to be doing their own thing. So
I know you can advise people about how to paint
until you are blue (or green, or red) in the face,
but everyone paints differently.

An early version of the portrait
A woman and her cats
24" x 36"
acrylic on canvas

That's my advice. Do it your way.
Here are a couple of the sittings leading up
to the final result, which I'll show you on Friday
maybe, just before my weekend studio tour opens.

If you're in Toronto this weekend, please drop by my St. Clair ARtwalk studio tour, Saturday the 27th and Sunday September 28 at 56 Cherrywood Ave, (near Bathurst and St. Clair) between 1 and 5 p.m. for a glass of wine or a cup of coffee or herbal tea, to see my work, talk and have a cookie, or other treats.

My friend Jennifer says she doesn't do demos.
Like me, she changes her mind as she paints,
refines, removes, moves around, shrinks,
expands -- changes the painting. That's
why I paint in acrylic. All of that is possible,
even desirable -- more paint, more texture,
more depth.

Moving right along,
a later session of
the portrait
A woman and her cats
Notice how much the face has changed

More to come.

Have an enjoying-what-develops day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My sweet Steven

Here's a big portrait that I'd like to do more work on, but I
doubt my subject would agree. It captures
my husband perfectly, except for one thing. At the time
I painted this, he did not want to pose, and made that clear
the whole time he was posing. In fact the painting
captures that reluctance fairly well, but doesn't show what
a great guy he is.

I like the style of the painting a lot. It has the loose quality
I'm always trying for in my personal work -- or paintings
that aren't commissioned, and expected to be more
detailed, more Sargent-like. I cannot be Sargent. I have
no illusions, but the 40 sittings Sargent required
produced those glorious works. The painting on the wall
is an abstract of our little schoolhouse in a meadow in
Nova Scotia.

The photo curves the painting somewhat -- those lines
are really straight. I'll remedy that soon.

At the dance in the yellow chair
36" x 48"
acrylic on canvas

It bothers me that Steven's expression in the painting
is pained -- I prefer my husband's jollier face.

Such is the painter's life sometimes - coercing family to
pose to get big paintings on the wall for a show.

I have no doubt that I'll paint my darling again. This time
he'll be beaming.

Have a loving-your-mate day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Starting with the background

Before I started working on canvas at my Tuesday night classes,
I used to drive to class wondering what colour of ground to
use. I must have tried every colour in my palette, and ultimately
concluded that for me, in most cases, a warm ground was better
than a cold one -- so I favour rust, orange, peach, yellow and red
as backgrounds, over blue, purple, or green.

Painting sketch
acrylic on watercolour paper
20" x 26"

The painting sketch I'm showing you tonight is done on watercolour
paper in acrylic, and at the time I was trying out a purple ground.
I prefer our portrait night when the model is dressed, to the
figure study night when the model is naked, not because I'm a prude,
but because I like to paint clothing. I like how clothes make a
statement about the model -- and that's just me. I can appreciate
all kinds of work, but I guess I like painting people in their clothing,
because I'm interested in their personalities. Clothing may not make
the man, or woman, but it definitely expresses who they are. As a
portrait painter, I know that clients are very particular about both
what they wear, and the accessories that go with their dresses or
suits. Women clients often bring favorite meaningful jewelry, and
men who think they never think about clothes insist on wearing
special shirts, and ties. Mark Twain said, "clothes make the man.
Naked people have little or no influence on society." I think
that idea could easily be challenged.

That said I like the figure drawing in this image, and I especially like
the colours I was working with.

Have a painting-everything-in-sight day.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Another amazing Saturday

Bikers pedal furiously to keep the great sounds coming

Once again today we went to the Brick Works market. We picked
up delicious organic vegetables and fruits, flowers, and even
a T-shirt in support of the city group working on "greening"
Toronto. The coolest thing about the experience today though,
was that there was an amazing band playing, whose amps
and electric guitars where powered by a bunch of people
biking like crazy right in front of the band. They were hooked
up to batteries and a generator, and they were helping the band
pump up the crown. People were dancing with their children, and
it was incredibly upbeat.

The band powered by bicycles

The day couldn't have been more perfect, hot and sunny with
a brilliant blue autumn sky, and that seductive feeling
that summer might never end. But it will, and although
the market is sheltered from above, I'm trying to envision how
they keep it open until December. It will be mighty frosty down
there then.

Mike Dooley says that if you want to change
your point of view -- look the other way.
This was the view of the park behind the band.
Steven saw a crane land on this pond.

Here's the other cat in the portrait commission.

Have a powering yourself up to be happy day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The slow reveal

When I paint portraits I don't let the client see the work
until I feel it's ready to be seen. I'm sure this is
frustrating for the sitter, but it's much better for me.
Today Mike Dooley's daily email said, "Very, very, very happy,
Barbara, is the same as very, very happy."

This made me laugh and I thought about it all day, because
I was very, very, very happy. My client came to see the
commission for the first time. This job was delayed first
because of her broken ankle, and then mine!!!! Luckily
both of us have had a great sense of humour about it.

Portrait commission detail

Well...it's a painting of the woman with her two
cats. One of the cats needs work, because we need to
move the woman's hand over the cat's body.The cat in
tonight's image is done except for a touch up on
his leg, and cleaning up the background, and I love how he
looks. She did too I'm not a photographic portrait painter,
and have no interest in reproducing a photo, but still need
to create a clear likeness.

I've been so blessed to have only positive reactions to
most of my portraits, but I'm always nervous when
I reveal the painting. When the client came in she
couldn't stop saying "wow!!!" and a big smile spread across
her face. She especially loved the cats. Here's one. When
the other one is finished I'll show you that one, and bit
by bit we'll piece together the portrait.

The opening at Todmorden Mills went very well tonight,
and people loved my self-portrait. It had been hung on
a good wall in excellent light. There were so many
top notch paintings in the show that it was a treat to see.

Time to take a break from painting and watch some T.V.

Have a patting the purring cat day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thank goodness for artist friends

My friend Eldon in Colorado liked a series of steps I put
in my September 2 blog showing how a painting developed
in class. I didn't expect to go any further with the image,
but Tuesday night at art class Petro told me he had a photo
of the model, Gaye, and he'd send it to me if I gave him
my email.

Last night it arrived, and today I worked on the painting,
thinking of Eldon as I did. Petro's reference wasn't ideal,
for me -- he wasn't working on the same view, but it was clear
enough to help me complete my painting, and I am so grateful
for his kind help. I'm sure I'll see more to work on tomorrow.
But here's today's update.

I'm working on another painting now, so I have to make
it quick again tonight. Tomorrow afternoon I teach, and
there's an opening tomorrow night. In Toronto it's always
like this in the autumn. It's our most intense art season.
Thanks Eldon for inspiring me to keep going, something I
rarely do with my class efforts.

In the blue dress
acrylic on canvas
14" x 20"

Tonight I sat on the back porch enjoying the light as the day
slipped from golden light shining through the big maples,
into the deep, jeweled blue of evening. I couldn't help
feeling fortunate just to be alive. And I thought I am lucky that
I love my home, my friends, my children, and my city.

As I write this Timbah the cat climbs up on my lap
purring, as if to say -- 'don't forget me -- I'm one of the
reasons you're happy.' It's true.

Have a what-a-wonderful-life day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An early portrait

Forgive me the title on my last entry. It should
read "wild" not "wid" -- corrected now (whew!).
I barely had time to write my blog last night, and
obviously didn't proof it.

I got home from art class at 10:30 p.m., and scurried to get
ready for school. In between commercials on Jon Stewart
I ran (cla, clump, cla clump) (I can't really run yet) up two
flights of stairs to photograph my painting, write the blog,
and publish it.

And today I had the nerve to talk about precision with my
students, while my huge typo sat out in cyberspace.
That's ironic, and funny.

watercolour self-portrait
at nineteen
11" x 14"

I'm showing you a self portrait I did when I was at
art school and 19 years old. I like it because it shows promise,
and also something I see so often in the young people I
teach. I was a very pretty girl then, but didn't know it --
so I painted myself in an eerie, elongated, red eyed, raw way.

When students tell me they're ugly, I tell them that
the tragic part of that assumption is that when they are
(much) older they will start to feel great, and know that
they're good looking, no matter how they look.
Even if the rest of the world doesn't see it, they'll
probably feel just wonderful. And they'll look back
at photos from their college days and wonder what it
was they thought was so terrible back when.

Have a loving-the-kid-in-you day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Market Flowers gone wild

I started off planning to do a little portrait today of a mother
and child. Then I saw the flowers on the kitchen table from
our Saturday jaunt to the Brick Works market and decided
to paint that. Here's the result.

The Market Lady's Bouquet
12" x 12"
acrylic on canvas

I went to class tonight, and was excited by everyone else's
work. My own painting was too somber for me. Maybe
I'll show it to you another day.

Tomorrow's a big teaching day, so I'm out of race track for

Have an endless late summer day.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Today's specials

A pretty hectic day today -- I left for school at 8:30, got home at
about six, popped a pizza in the oven and painted steadily
until 7:30 finishing the last details on two paintings I was
submitting to my art club's show.

The Poem
acrylic on canvas
24" x 48"

I've revised this painting a number of times, and have decided
I'm finally happy with it. I've reworked the face and added
the jewelry. I change the background earlier in the summer --
I may add a necklace, but I feel good about it.

You've seen the other painting I submitted developing up
until today's version. The colours are much closer to the
actual colour in this image. Whether it looks like me
or not is anyone's guess, but a good friend of mine started
laughing when she saw it, and Steven liked it a lot. I just
wanted it to express how happy I feel when I'm painting,
and I may still add a swirling line of colour behind me
at some point.

Work in Progress
36" x 36 "
acrylic on canvas
a self portrait

For the past year I've started with an orange ground, and
before that with a rust ground, so it is new to have two
paintings in a show predominantly featuring peach --
but they looked just fine in the company of my
fellow artists' work.

If you're in Toronto come out to the opening of the
show at Todmorden Mills this Friday night, from 6
- 9 p.m. Meet the artists and see a vital art community
in action.

Have a finally sleeping well evening.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Signed, sealed but not delivered

I don't have much to say today. Loud winds outside are
accompanied by heavy rain. I am finishing up two pieces
for submission into a show at Todmorden Mills tomorrow.

One of the pieces for tomorrow's
Still working on it
36" x 36"
acrylic on canvas
(actually a peach coloured background -- not orange)

I hope you had a creative weekend. I'll talk more tomorrow.

Here's to a miraculously fun Monday.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Enjoying fall's bounty

On Saturday morning it's hard to hurry period. I
just want to read the Globe, drink my coffee and
unwind from the hectic week with the cats. But
since we found the Brick Works Farmers' Market
last weekend, I've been dreaming about going back.

This week we bought tomatoes, basil, onions, grape
jelly, a hand picked, hand designed bouquet of
beautiful flowers, and a huge burrito filled with
a delicious mixture, which we split for lunch.

One of the gardens at the
Brick Works.
The children's willow tunnel is at
the right hand side of the picture
and is set between two rows of
10 ft. high sunflowers

I took this little picture of the garden with its
willow entrance for Flora, my friend in Nova
Scotia, who used to paint here, and wouldn't
believe the transformation. This is an old Brick
Works, that used to make the great red brick
that is everywhere in older Toronto homes.

I've been painting today, but my work isn't
ready for display yet. It's still at a rudimentary
stage. I'm sure you'll understand. It
must be ready by tomorrow night, so I'll show
you then.

Have a "what could be better?" day tomorrow.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blocked briefly

Hi everyone,

I have no idea why my September 10 post listing my
"Brilliante Weblog Award" choices was blocked from
comment, but please feel free to comment on later
blogs. I will be writing more later today and
posting an image. But for now I just wanted
to get the message out.

Steven and Timbah relaxing,
that's Sam's dying palm tree in the pot
heading for the compost
(Note to self -- we've got to clean that window.)

I teach this afternoon, so have to drive to King
City, north of Toronto, and the traffic Friday
afternoon is pretty thick. Even so, as an artist
I am always happy on the drive, listening to my
music and looking at everything. They say
we artists actually have different brains, and I think it's
true. If I'm not sick, and my family is well, and
I've eaten, I am almost always happy -- because
there's always something to look at. So here's
to keeping the eyes working. Even when traffic
is completely stuck there are flights of birds
swooping up and down as if to music, there's
the light reflected off the car windows, and the
shiny sides of clean cars, and for a portrait
painter there are the people stuck with me,
moving in the opposite direction. So much to see!!!

So if you want to comment on the great blogs I've
chosen, you can do it on this blog (I hope), I
can't understand what's happening with the
other one, but I don't have time to investigate

Here's to open communication on the internet.
Long may it continue.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A wonderful mother model

18" x 24"
acrylic on bond paper

I had fantastic visits with two extraordinary
women today, so didn't get painting until tonight.
But I've been working steadily for four hours and it's
bed time.

Here's a rapid sketch I did of an elegant British
lady who posed for us one night at our class.
She was an artist's mother, visiting from
England, and a great model. She sat in this very
proper and straight posture, dressed in lush colours.
I like the agitation in my painting. I think I was
just excited by her gutsiness.

I'm glad that this was such a good day, because
it is the anniversary of my father's death --
long ago now, and of September 11, so
it was appropriate to spend time with kind
friends, and to appreciate all that is
special about our lives.

Have a thoughtfully happy day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The wonderful world of art blogs

Steven and Fiona,
I think I'll have to turn this into a painting

I'm sure I've written about this before, and will
again, but I find the whole world of art blogs,
and the people I've met this summer through
their work -- so exciting.

To honour Theresa Rankin, and her kind choice
of me as one of the artists in a list of very good
people whose work she admires, I must
put the list of my choices for the "Brilliante Weblog Award"
in here tonight.

1. Flora Doehler, because without her inspiration
I would not have had an art blog in the first place
Flora is my friend in art, and in the world. We
met through her painting, and have been firm
friends ever since. We've shown together numerous
times, and she writes a fantastic blog about her
big move to the small Nova Scotia town of
Bear River, and her happy life there.

2. Theresa Rankin, who gave me this incredible
award, and has been a source of support and
inspiration since I first saw her blog, and she
saw mine. I am indebted to her, and delighted
by both her work and her thoughts, and
frequently have to laugh as I drive to school
north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that I have
an artist friend in Carthage, Missouri.

3. The same holds true for Eldon Warren,
who is a superb landscape painter in oil.
Eldon, like Theresa is a good writer. You
feel like you would love to meet him over
a coffee, and listen to him tell stories
about painting in the Colorado mountains,
and his blog does that.

4. Aaron Lifferth is the painter who introduced
me to many of the other blogs I visit. He doesn't
know that, but when someone comments on
his blog, I frequently look that person up,
thinking that if that person likes Aaron's work too,
I will probably enjoy seeing her/his paintings. I can't
remember how I found Aaron, but I think
it was through Karen Jurick's blog.
Every time I look at Aaron's work I am
speechless with admiration. I don't know
how he paints like that, but I'd love to
learn. Besides I love what he says on his blog tonight,
and I agree. "Tired, tired, tired."

5. Karen Jurick is an astounding painter.
She paints people, scenes, cityscapes,
animals....just about everything.
She has a series of paintings of people
looking at paintings in galleries that is
just brilliant. She is self taught,
and has a divinely inspired talent. Plus she
does wonderful painting videos on You tube.

6. Belinda del Pesco is one of the most
experimental daily painters I've seen on the net.
She does most types of painting and gives
wonderful clear demonstrations of how she
proceeds. She produces woodcuts, lino
prints drawings, and monoprints, watercolours
and the list goes on. Her work is vibrant,
moving and beautiful. Most of the paintings
on her blog are small works, and it boggles my
mind that she can pack so much into a small

7. Laurel Daniel is a magnificent landscape
painter in oils. Her work is fresh and exciting,
and her design is unique. I love her use of colour,
and I could spend a week just trying to learn
what it is she does with trees. Then I'd have to
move on to water, hills, grass, sky. I'd probably
have to move to Texas.

8. I know I'm only supposed to mention 7
artists, but I have to break the rules and add on
two more. Susan Carlin is an absolutely
supreme portrait artist. Not only that she is
fast. She can produce a lovely portrait in
a very short time frame. Susan hosts a
wonderful live online video show on Sundays at
1 p.m., and it is well worth checking out.
Watching it feels like the next best thing to
dropping into her studio and watching her


9. Liza Hirst, is a painter who brings a
warm southern France sensibility to life in
her paintings. She is incredibly prolific and
paints landscapes, portraits, townscapes,
interiors, animals, and more. As well as
being enormously talented she is one of
the most phenomenally organized
artists I've met through the internet.

That's it for today.

I will probably give out more awards some time when it's
allowed. It feels like a kind of "pay it forward" award,
and I love the entire idea of honouring the people
who inspire my creative life.
Here are the rules for the "Brilliante Weblog Award".
I'm delighted to give this award on to you. As an artist
I am inspired by everything you create.
Thanks for being exceptional artists and bloggers.

Rules of Acceptance:

1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.
6. Participation is entirely voluntary (of course!).
7. Have fun...honoring the bloggers who inspire you regularly.

Thank you for adding an entire new and meaningful
dimension to my life as an artist.

I won't have time to fulfill the entire assignment tonight.
I taught all day today, and my ankle is hurting tonight.
But I've begun. Thanks to everyone in my life for
making it a joy.

Some of the links don't seem to be working tonight,
so I'll fix that in the morning.

To those bloggers I visit who aren't artists, thank you
too. I love what you do, but unless I'm mistaken this
award is for art blogs. Correct me if I'm wrong Theresa.

I haven't had a chance to paint today, but tomorrow
I'll paint for most of the day, so more pictures to come.

Have a joyfully creative day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Starting big from small sources

Hi there,

I spent a lot of the day today in my car checking chores off the
interminable list. I wanted to paint at class tonight, but I'm
committed to a big 30" x 30" painting for submission to
a show on Monday. So that pretty much means I have to
paint me -- someone I know well enough to try and go at
a breakneck speed, given that I teach all day tomorrow,
and Friday afternoon.

I apologize for the photos tonight.
This is actually a white canvas
30" x 30"
with beginning of the underpainting
of yellow, pink, orange and a touch of red
to create peach

Steven took some pictures of me, he printed them out
4" x 6 " and I waded in. The photos of the painting's
development have worked out badly because I guess
there was less light than I thought,
and I may not have had the flash on. But this is a kind
of underpainting beginning. The small photo was too
tiny for face reference, and I need better reference
for the hands, because I'm holding brushes.

At our art club, we have to submit the names of
our work almost a month in advance of a show. A month
ago I was having big trouble with large work because
of my broken ankle, so I gave in a name of a yet
to be realized work. The name was "Work in Progress",
and I thought I am one of my works in progress for
sure, so there it is.

I want to try and keep a freshness in it, even though
it will be mostly done from photo reference. But
I will use a mirror too. Right now it doesn't
look like me, but it has the lively happy air I'm
going to try for.

How far I got tonight.

The background is a light peach pink colour.
Something's gone a bit odd with the light
or the camera -- or I hear you -- me.-

I do love painting, and I work on being a happy
person even when times are tough, so the
painting should say that. Big day at school
tomorrow. I'm tired now.

Have a getting-it-all-done day.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Well hey I won an award!

Things are heating up on the school/painting front, with
lots of art deadlines coming up. I'm painting big time,
but nothing is ready for your inspection, so I'm going
through the sketches and paintings I've done in recent
years just to keep the images flowing.

Figure study
acrylic on watercolour paper
18" x 24"

And today I've been incredibly happy driving up to
class (1 1/2 hours) thinking about all of the wonderful
artists I'm meeting through the blog network. It
just makes me feel like the luckiest artist on earth.
So when I came home after a long day of teaching
and working hard at helping the kids be enthusiastic,
cheering them on, and delving into the world of
writing and school success, sporting my air cast and
crutches, I was absolutely thrilled to see that Theresa Rankin,
who I was meaning to talk about tonight as a superb
landscape and still life painter -- has awarded me the
"Brilliante Weblog"award.

The award -- Hurray!

There are a bunch of rules and I'll write more about
the award, the rules, and who I'll nominate tomorrow,
but for now this is exciting news. One of the other
landscape artists whose work I think is fabulous is
and who has been very supportive is Eldon Warren.
I think I initially met both of these artists through
their comments on Aaaron Lifferth's blog.
Aaron's daily paintings showcase, glass containers,
and fruits, among other things. He makes
composition look like it's easy, and his paintings
are always fresh and done with a flourish I envy.

One of the beautiful Cleomes in our garden

I'm short on time for doing the work required for
winning that award Theresa, but I promise to
do so as soon as possible.

Have a loving the world you work in day!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Contented as the cats

The red scarf
art class drawing
18" x 24"
acrylic on watercolour paper

As I write this my two cats sleep at opposite ends of my bed,
the smell of chicken stew wafts up the stairs from the
kitchen to add to the overwhelming aroma of freshly
baked bread. We got a new breadmaker a few weeks
ago, but Steven isn't satisfied with the bread it bakes,
so he's making whole wheat bread from scratch and
baking it the traditional way in the oven. I heartily
support his choice, because the house smells super
for days.

Morning Glories climbing the banister
after the rain

It's been another wonderful day - rainy this morning
so we felt no obligation to be energetic. Steven
walked the dog then we chatted with our son in Korea.

I wanted to tell you about something happening
every Sunday that may interest you if you're
a portrait painter. Susan Carlin does a live video
cast. The pace is leisurely, you could
paint along, or wander in and out as I did watching
the piece progress and picking up tips.

In fact she helped me solve a problem I'm having
with a commission with her method of breaking
the image down into smaller parts.

If you know the name of these white flowers,
please write and tell me.
They're a beautiful end of summer flower.

I've got to go to school tomorrow, so this is it for

Have an everything-looks-new day.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

To market, to market and Angela's Dahlias

I was planning to show you a photograph of my
former neighbour Angela's Dahlia today. For
more than 20 years the family living on the other
side of the wall in our semi-detached had an amazing
garden, thanks primarily to the passion and work of
their mother, Angela. Despite her afflictions,
a brain aneurysm, and diabetes, Angela was one of the best
gardeners I've ever met. It's strange that I was planning to show
you this exceptional flower today, and today her
husband, Vince, who moved away a few years ago,
visited our neighbourhood to see old friends and
reminisce about his wife. It's the one year and six months
anniversary of her death.

Angela's Dahlia,
September was the flower's time to shine

Steven and I spent a delightful late morning taking in the
Saturday morning farmer's market at the Brickworks,
then visited the St. Lawrence Market, and came home
loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, bread,
pie, strudel (but not just ordinary strudel, strudel
fresh baked this morning that was more like
delicious bread with fresh berries singing in the

The Brick Works market made me think of my
friend Flora in Nova Scotia. She would love it,
because they've made so many glorious gardens
surround the covered market area, with bent willow archways,
and little willow covered crawl spaces for children.
There's a grassed in circle dug down into the ground.
On a dry day you could sit down in it and lean back looking at the
clouds as bees from the ten foot high Cosmos, rambling
tomato vines, and giant Sunflower plants busied themselves
making honey. The beekeeper lady dressed in an
official white costume and netting head gear, said
the honey in the hives on site will be ready in two weeks.

We got home and had espresso with Vince on
our neighbours' porch. Yolanda served the coffee
and Angelo told us how to grow beautiful

Heading back across the street we saw
our neighbour Ely, who let us hold his bouncing,
blue-eyed baby, Lila. Chris, who lives on the other side
of the house, proudly showed off his huge, slick new
car, while the dogs and his baby chatted on our front lawn.
Louise and Joe saw us talking and came over to tell us
about a new art gallery planned for the neighbourhood.
We didn't get inside for lunch until four o'clock, and
just sat down when my sister knocked on the door.

It's true it's lonely without the kids, but if it is
true, we haven't had a chance to find out yet.

I'll drink a toast to Angela and her wonderful
gardening skills tonight. The inspiring thing
about the markets in town, is seeing abundant
evidence that her talent is spreading.

Have a growing-magnificent-flowers day.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The painted love lives on

Tonight I'm putting in one of my favorite paintings.
The sad thing is that it documents a happy time
in a loving marriage that ended. My friend can't
understand why I keep the painting. But I love it.
Not because it is of them, but because of the
emotion in it, the joy in the brush strokes. It has
to be about 7 years old, because I have been painting
exclusively in acrylics for at least 6 years.

The Dance
(forgive the light reflecting off the glass)

The problem with art, is that it lasts long after children
have grown up, relationships have ended, parents
have died. But when we look at art from past
generations, isn't that part of what's vital about it

Have a forgiving-the-past-and-living-happily day.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

More class excitement

I went to the chiropractor today, and she told me it will be
a year before my foot and ankle are normal. The good news
was she approves of me moving it as much as I can. The
bad news is that following my own hunches to move
as much as possible can hurt. But she says that's fine.

To that end, after preparing my notes for class tomorrow,
I worked most of the afternoon on the formal portrait I want
to finish by next week. I gave myself plenty of breaks,
because I seem to need to go outside, and think, then come
back to it, and see with a clearer eye. Plus it's been hot out
for the first time all summer, and I want to enjoy my
garden while I can.

Art class sketch
acrylic on bond paper
18" x 24"

I can't show you the other piece yet, but I found a
painting/drawing I like from one of my art classes
a few years ago. I think I've mentioned before that
these aren't really classes, because no one teaches,
but I think of them that way, because they happen at
the same time every Tuesday, and the same people
always come out to paint.

In class I used to paint in acrylic on bond paper, until I decided
to allow myself to work on canvas all the time. The acrylic
on paper worked, but it isn't as easy to use as canvas, or
as convenient. If I want to hang the canvas up and look at it,
all I have to do is wire it and stick it on a hook.

Still some of the exuberant work I did on the Bond
paper makes me smile now, and this is one of those

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Plenty to work on

Detail kitchen study
acrylic on canvas

Here's a detail of a painting that needs some attention.
I like the colours, the theme, and the exuberance.

I just need to refine the piece. The painting is quite
a bit bigger than this, and I need to make sure all
of it hangs together (no pun intended).

I started teaching again today, which was extremely
fun, but quite taxing on my sore foot. I'm tired now
and heading off to bed.

Have an everything-works-out-perfectly day.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back at art class -- oh boy

Starting out, drawing on a rust ground, too big

Tonight we had a beautiful model at art class --
her name was Gaye. I walked into class for the
first time since I broke my ankle, saw her and
smiled. She is so spirited and lovely to

New drawing and lights added

Adding lights to the dress

Working in the background colours

More drawing to refine the pose

As far as I got.

I photographed the stages for you. I painted
off and on for a couple of hours and this
is how far I got. I'm not unhappy with the
painting. School starts tomorrow, so I have
to be quick here tonight.

Have a happy and creative day.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Luxurious Labour Day

This was the kind of day that makes you ache for its
return all year. The temperature was perfect for
sitting on the back porch watching cardinal couples
and blue jays swooping into and out of my neighbour's
grape vines. I sat on the back porch with my cat Timbah
on my knee just drinking in the view. The warmth was

Nasturtiums take flight
7" x 9"
acrylic on canvas
For dinner we ate the fresh corn and tomatoes we bought
at a farm stand yesterday, and marveled at how
absolutely perfect that combination was.

Nasturtiums take flight
7" x 9"
acrylic on canvas

I finished up this little painting. The nasturtiums won't
be able to withstand frost, so we're enjoying them as
much as possible while it's warm. Here's a parting shot from
Port Stanley -- a rosy salute to summer.

Sunset Port Stanley
Goodbye August

Have a peaceful and happy day back at work or school.

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!