Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kindness is good for you

Working on the big painting,
laying in an undercoat of cadmium red
on the chair.
(Too much red? -- Just wait!)

I was getting help today with my office work, and
got fairly lost in cleaning my kitchen (part of it)
as though the Queen might visit. I kept thinking
of R. Garriott's pie chart on studio time,
and chuckling to myself, but while I cleaned I listened
to some great programs on CBC, our national radio
station. An interview with Dacher Keltner raised the
idea that kindness is one of the most powerful
human attributes.
Turns out people like, support, help each other
quite naturally. And that kind people
live longer, and even get better jobs. Listening to
this I kindly cleaned more effectively to make my
family happy. I cleaned windows, I washed and
dried the kitchen curtains.

Sooo. Later making dinner (it was my night) I
listened to a program on Percy Bysshe Shelley.
I studied Shelley along with the other romantic
poets like Wordsworth and Keats at university,
but didn't know that Shelley died at 29 -- lost
at sea. For a man so young to have written some
of the most vital poetry in the English language,
impressed me greatly. Shelley, who looks
very handsome in his portraits was in love with
the idea of "ideal beauty". Not in today's sense
but in the sense of creation and imagination, and
apparently found that marriage did not lend itself
to a continuing feeling of living in ideal circumstances.
He was fascinated with eastern religions and the
idea of the creative spirit or imagination in all
of us. So oddly enough there was a link between
Keltner and Shelley, because both believed in
humanity's innate goodness.

Before the Dance with the cat
36 x 48 inches
acrylic on canvas
(not finished )
A bit too flashy, but here's what
happened to the red. I used
it to give the yellow overlayer punch.
I also worked on blocking in the dress
colour, and putting more colour on the arms,
face and chest.

I've been working on one of my big paintings tonight,
so I can show you some stages to amuse you.
It's still at the complete blocking in stage -- trying
out large areas of colour. Refinement -- if I decide
to do so, comes later.

Here's the first verse of Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem
To a Skylark
Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Have a loving-the-kindness-in-others day.


laura said...

I love this painting Barbara; the subjects is so lovely and elegant; and the colors and shapes remind me of Rogier Van Der Weyden--the Descent from the Cross and the Crucifiction Diptych! (

Barbara Muir said...

Thanks Laura,

I think it will be good when it's finished. I'll look up the painting you've mentioned.

Love your work!

Take care,


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!