Monday, April 20, 2009

The delighted brain

Magazines and coffee
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches

Here's a little painting I've been
working on today.
It's not quite done.
Once again the colours in the room
have been changed to protect
the integrity of the artist.

It isn't just the "aha!" moment that artists experience,
it's the "aha' life. Alyson Stanley's ArtBiz Blog podcast
today, is about needing a "fire in the belly" to pursue
a career in art.
I completely agree with her, and to add to last night's
theme, I think that this can also be a factor in artists'
lack of sleep.

I remember years ago when I painted only occasionally
that all I had to do to guarantee sleepless nights was
start a painting. All night long I'd see flashes of colour,
feel the paint slipping across a large canvas in wide arcs.
It was heaven -- but a restless one.

People talk a lot about inspiration -- divine and otherwise.
I think our "aha" life, the life of the delighted brain, is
something artists can't live without. When that's true,
we don't need any prodding, or convincing, or even
any positive self talk to get to the canvas -- we just
get there. That doesn't mean that every experience
in painting will be pure pleasure -- it means that we
know the feeling of joy that comes with that work, and
we need to return to it often.

Have an "aha-so-this-is-the-aha-life!" day


Janelle Goodwin said...

I just watched the interviews of you and found out what a fascinating portrait artists you are. Your work shows great intimacy and energy!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Janelle,

Thanks so much. I'm delighted that you like my work.

Take care,


laura said...

Hi Barbara--Another beautiful painting of this lovely model (I love the blue-black hair). Your interiors are wonderful, colorful, interesting--full of an excitement that somehow doesn't overwhelm the figure; she seems thoroughly a part of it, even in her repose. A paradox?
(I look forward to watching the interviews; I'm glad Janelle mentioned them--I hadn't noticed the link in your sidebar.)

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Laura,

Thanks so much. I am really enjoying playing with the interiors -- fooling around with light and shape, and working on abstracting what I "see".
My model is very inspiring -- maybe that's why she seems at home. Everything else spins out from the figure for me.

Take care,


Karen Bruson said...

Barbara, Love the colors and composition.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Karen,

I'm glad you like this one. I am pleased with it too.

Take care,


Melinda said...

Oh, my! I've also listened to a few of Alyson Stanley's ArtBiz podcasts!

Once again, you've written eloquently about our wacky brains. I, too, hesitate before turning off the lights and remember how wonderful it was to stay up until 4 AM to paint--a truly excited mind. But now, I'm too old to do that. I've mostly changed to day work...ah, but I miss those late nights when the world settles down and I have the quiet of night to fly across the canvas and dream awake.

You are such a wonderful colorist!

Laurel Daniel said...

I love the color and fabulous patterns in your portraits. They have a Matisse and Bonnard feeling to them!

julie davis said...

I'd like to be in this setting! The restful moments that are so few and far between....they're usually taken over by painting, come to think of it! Nice composition!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

We were talking about not being able to sleep. This is something many of my friends, artists, and non-artists suffer from. It seems it isn't just worry that disrupts sleep, but excitement and happiness too. Now that I'm painting all the time, painting is more like nourishment, a daily thought process, so it isn't what keeps me awake.

I can't stay up until 4 a.m. either, but I am a night owl whenever work permits such extravagance.


Barbara Muir said...

Thanks Laurel. Matisse and Bonnard.
That's about the best compliment I could ever get.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Julie,

It's true isn't it. Trying to create a painting every day, even if you can't always achieve that goal, doesn't leave a lot of time for rest and tranquility and zero time for boredom. So aren't we lucky!

Take care,


Alyson B. Stanfield said...

Barbara, thank you for mentioning my blog and podcast on your wonderful blog. There's a lot of energy here!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Alyson,

Thanks so much! I really love your blog, and I think it definitely helps us to keep "the fire in the belly".

Thanks for the great work you do!


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!