Saturday, May 23, 2009

Don't be scared

Pansies in a cream jug
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

I've been thinking today about why artists don't paint.
Myself included. I've been painting in every available
interval today -- just painting and painting. I may be
fuzzy in a million other directions, but I felt that
delicious clarity about painting. I've been
working on my commission and a couple of other
smaller works.

Today I got out into the garden for a while. I thought
my friend, Laurel Daniel in Texas would take
that sea of blue Forget-me-nots and translate them
into an amazing painting. But I have to rip them out
before anything else can be planted. On the front
steps we have pansies, which were nearly dead from
frost when I bought them a couple of weeks ago. Now
with water and a bit of tender loving care, they are
gorgeous, especially the two purple blue pots, of
giant deep yellow pansies on the red chair beside the

I brought some of the purple, white and mauve flowers
in for bouquets for our bedside tables
and began a small painting. It could be that that's
what warm weather gives us -- that clarity. Sitting on the back
porch eating dinner tonight we saw a sight we've
never seen in the city -- a humming bird attending
to every floret on my neighbour's pale mauve lilac
bush. Steven and Sam and I watched it for about
10 minutes. Maybe that's where the clarity comes from.

So my message to you is don't be afraid. Get out your
paints and start something. It doesn't have to perfect,
or great or even good -- it just has to be what you do.
If you want to, ignore your worries, your bad thoughts,
the people who don't understand you. Forget about
needing a special place, or the right time. Now is
the right time, and there will be another right time
in another hour, and little by little the work will
happen. And if you're still scared to begin, write
me, and I'll send you some courage. I know you
always encourage me.

Have an I-am-creating-and-loving-it day.


Liza Hirst said...

Such wise words, Barbara! And an absolutely gorgeous painting!! I love it.
For years I was waiting for the right time, the right place, the right subject until at last I realized that was rubbish - excuses for being afraid of failing, if not only for laziness.
And nowadays I really regret not having concentrated on painting much earlier, having wasted so much time on other things - who knows where I could be with it now. Having started painting on a regular daily basis was the best action I have taken in years!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Liza,

I really know what you mean. When I was painting in watercolours I used to buy one sheet at a time! I couldn't allow myself more paper until I'd finished that sheet. Now because of the kind of work you do, I buy lots of canvasses at once, and enjoy the freedom that gives me. We can't go backwards, just like my dog Zoey, forward, forward, forward. I look at it this way. Aren't we lucky to be able to paint all the time now. Lots of people never get to that point.


David Lobenberg said...

Sometimes it is easy to start one's day with trepidation and fear of failure. The feeling must be stepped on and crushed like a bug! Not that I'm a psycho bug crusher you understand, but sometimes it proves necessary. Thanks for the award! It will help me crush the next negative mind bug.

Gwen Bell said...

This painting is so bright and cheery & reflective of the encouraging words in your post. Thank you, Barbara! We all need that reminder to stay positive and take advantage of our blessings. And the blessing of being able to paint full time is a great one!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi David,

I guess it's like cockroaches in the cereal. You can't just stand there and be magnanimous. Thank God I haven't had that problem. But fear is a bit like that. An ugly problem requiring quick action. And there's the answer. Action!

I admire your work so much, it's hard to imagine you ever experiencing a negative mind bug. I see you sitting in the stands with everyone holding posters of your amazing work. You are just too good. And you're so welcome.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Gwen,

The blessing of using the great talent you have is a pretty good one too. You've got it, and I hope that helps you feel better after your surgery.

Take care,


Gary Keimig said...

Nice blog, Barbara. Love your portraits. Great color in them.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Gary,

Thanks so much. I'm so glad you like my work. I do love colour.

Take care,


Laurel Daniel said...

Don't be afraid... Such good words! I would very much LOVE to paint your sea of blue. It would be especially fun to do it together!!! XOXO

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Laurel,
I didn't see this comment until now,
sorry. It has been a bit crazy here lately. Yes! That would be fun. Come and see me when you're nearby.
The Forget-me-nots are a May flower,
and are a weed, really. But so pretty. I'd like to see what you'd create.


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!