Friday, June 5, 2009

The thinking part

Step Two Today
Mother and Daughter
I'm starting with Step Two
because I don't want Step One to
show up in the blogs that show
images. This is still extremely rough,
but not as rough as it was.
Step Two, Three, Four (you
know how it goes) was beginning
to refine the face and hands, plus
the shape of the figure, and
covering the red underpainting with
a gold paint.

How Step Two Looks in Certain Lights

The Gold is very bright in certain light,
so I may dull it down -- I'm not sure.
I intend to put real gold leaf on in
places to suggest pattern.

If you have the luxury of working on one painting at a time,
you work on that painting until it's done. Small works
can almost be finished in one sitting if all goes well, but
larger paintings, and more complicated subjects can take
a month or more. The great thing about a longer project
is the thinking time.

Step One -- blocking for blocking
Don't worry -- the pictures above are how
it looks now -- I saw you -- you panicked.
Have faith! It's going to be beautiful. Promise.

Mother and Daughter in process
(I decided to move the edges around a bit,
and tried different colours on the couch.
I painted a red ground over the green I
was contemplating for the mother's
long coat)

I'm saying this because I'm teaching myself about my own
rhythm. Isn't it strange that we live with ourselves for
years, yet need to constantly learn how to manage ourselves?

Well with more than one project on the go at the moment,
I need to make sure to consciously build in the spaces
to think. In portrait painting, when the sitter is there
we take regular breaks to give the sitter time to recover,
stretch, have tea, but working from photos between
sittings, I'm teaching myself all over again, to go away,
read for 10 minutes, trust my instincts, and not get
caught up in the whir of activity so much that I don't
reflect. Because whether it's one painting, or 20,
we need to pause, check our own minds, go deep, breathe
and then lighten up and have fun the way Bob Burridge
suggests we do. Bob says that perfection is boring, and
we need to give ourselves permission to have fun, and
to paint something no one has ever seen before. I love
those messages.

Have a painting-like-only-you-can day.


Susan Carlin said...

This composition is so GOOD. I love the way you lead the eye around the painting... that connecting arm from mother to daughter... and the bracketting of the pillows. Coolness.

Anonymous said...

Can I say it again for the millionth time....I LOVE your choice of colour, I LOVE that all the negative spaces in your paintings are just as interesting as the positive ones.
Barbara Muir, you are truly an inspiration to me!!

Liza Hirst said...

Wow, this has improved sooo much! The mother already looks really good - I am pleasantly surprised by the gold paint you used - would never have thought that I might like that one day but here I do very much! It will be a fantastic picture for very pleased customers, I am sure!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Susan,

Thanks so much.

Your are coolness.


Barbara Muir said...


Sorry rushing. That should be you
are coolness.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Flora,

The inspiration goes both ways. I was trying not to have any negative spaces (kidding). You are sweet!

You know I love your paintings.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Liza,

I've used gold paint before as an
underpainting for gold leaf. But I was using the wrong gold paint it
turns out, because this one is very gold. The paint store people are
great and they helped me.

Can we imagine a Diebenkorn with gold? I think we can. You've helped me so much.


Eldon Warren said...

Truely as you've said before you've got to step back. I need to make a habit of doing that more. Thanks for reminding me how important it is.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Eldon,

I really appreciate your kind comments. I'm stepping back now.

Take care,


Gwen Bell said...

Thanks for sharing your process with us, Barbara. It is coming along really well. Really strong composition!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Gwen,

Thanks so much. It's quite stark and simple now. I like that, but I think it needs more detail for flash. I'll figure this out.

You are great.

Take care,


Portrait Artist

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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!