Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Learning about love

Mom and Dad in love
watercolour and black marker on Arches hot press paper
8 1/2 x 11 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(A drawing in watercolour. I don't have the
father's face right yet. His expression is
not the one of devotion he has in every
picture with his wife. The mother isn't
accurate either, but I'm getting to know her
face after drawing it quite a few times.
Photo reference for the Mom is better
because Dad was always taking the pictures.)

One of the exciting things about portrait painting is finding
out the reason people want a portrait. Love is the most
common and wonderful motivator. Today I'm showing
you a little watercolour painting I did to study the
features of a couple whose children are deeply
moved by their parents' love story and cherish
the images of the two of them together. Looking at the
reference photos I can feel that love coming through.

In fact there is so much emotion in the photos, that
I need to do the drawings, so I don't get swept up in
the feeling and forget to paint.

My brother was telling me today that a long term
Harvard study of men discovered that the most
important factor contributing to a happy life
was love. In that case these two are definitely
enjoying a happy life in my painting.

Truth is most people who commission a portrait
are doing it because they love the person in the
portrait, or love the image of their family it will
create, or even as a gesture of loving themselves.

While I'm painting I like to concentrate on that
loving feeling. It makes my working life a very
happy one.

Have an understanding-the-importance-of-love day.


Laurel Daniel said...

Your work is so compelling because you enter into those emotions and bring them to the page! There is an amazing collaborative nature to the kids sharing the photos and stories and you processing it all. Very cool - no wonder you love your work!!!! XOXO

Catherine Jeffrey said...

I have been reading through your posts (while waiting for undercoat to dry). A few things caught my eye. How your Mother dislikes blogging. Blogging has been on my mind recently regarding why we blog and I'm sure the reasons are as varied as the people who keep them. Your reasons are based on emotion: you just plain love it. How great is that. I haven't quite figured out my reasons. Although sometimes I think that if blogging about creating becomes more important than creating, then we need to wonder. hmmmm
Also. the envy post. I have an artist friend who quotes Gore Vidal but uses his own words. "When a colleague of mine does well, a little part of me dies." I know its kind of sad, but it always made me laugh that he could be so open about his feelings. Maybe being a potter has something to do with it. lol
Your portraits are wonderful and bright and full of emotion:just like you!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Laurel,

It is collaborative -- absolutely has to be. But I think the same thing is true with landscape commissions from what I saw on a recent post. You have to know what it is about the landscape that a client loves, and then translate that into your own artistic language.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Catherine,

In reality, I think I blog because I blog, and I paint because I paint. I think of blogging as both my pleasure and my contribution. Oprah always talks about contribution and I hope I contribute by making other artists feel good about their work, by making my students believe in themselves, and by a daily practice of thinking about and making art.

You are obviously a deep thinker. I don't know that I am. But I'll tell you this, I started blogging to feature my art, and I think I now do art, so I can blog about it. Isn't that funny! It's not completely true, but it's at least partially true, with the result that I sure do more art than I ever used to, and that I'm getting better at it all the time.

I feel pretty sorry for Gore Vidal, and for anyone who is jealous of another's success. If someone steals your man and you still love him that's maybe a good reason to be jealous. But I even question that one. If someone could do it, was he worth it?

I think your work is magnificent.

Super paintings.

Take care,


Karen Bruson said...

Barbara, I can feel the love coming through in this painting. You've caught that.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Karen,

Thanks so much. So we're off to the races. This is going to turn into a big portrait in acrylic, so I really need to learn the faces.

Take care,


Liza Hirst said...

Yes, you can feel the love!
And the woman looks fantstic - I find even the man quite good!

Know exactly what you mean, Barbara.
I am painting a landscape for a couple at the moment who went on a big trip to Patagonia and have given me some photos as reference and all the time while painting I keep asking myself whether they might have seen it the way I'm painting it or differently. I really want them to recognize what they experienced when they look at the finished painting!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Liza,

It's true, when people pose in your studio space, or you meet them and photograph them on Skype it's a whole different experience. When I work from photos I try and make it feel the same way as it does when people sit. I need to get a strong feeling about them before I can begin. Drawing teaches me that.


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!