Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New, new, new

Flower sketch
watercolour, acrylic and black marker on
Arches watercolour paper
Barbara Muir © 2009

In North America we are obsessed with new, which is why
13 year old girls get modelling jobs in glossy fashion
magazines. They are new -- barely hatched. What I
loved about Europe when we visited England, Sweden and
Germany a couple of years ago was this deep sense
of history -- a very hard feeling to acquire in a country
that is only officially 142 years old (Canada).

I think art has always moved forward ineluctably,
because artists have to live with themselves and
work by themselves. Corragio (courage) is a
requisite job definition. New matters. The
dilemma is balancing the need for new, with
the need for meaning. Some new art like the
thirteen year old with the glossy face, is
immature. The adolescent model will
grow up, maybe use her wonderful money to
study medicine, etymology or even art. In the
case of superficial "fashionable" art, a worse
fate may be waiting. That of the dumpster. But
that gets us into a whole other question.

Do you paint with the hope of an artistic legacy, or to
satisfy your desire to make something today?
I love what Edward B. Gordon, the prolific and
wonderful blog painter said. He paints to
improve his craft, not to be a great artist.
His craft grabs the viewer immediately. His
paintings resonate, delight and satisfy. They
are both new, and steeped in practice over
time -- he's long past the 900 days of new paintings
in a row point, and still painting something glorious
every day. So I say -- new maybe -- but
craft -- Yes!

Have an enjoying-learning-your-craft day.


Gwen Bell said...

Love all 3 of these latest Still Life paintings, particularly "Mixing It Up"...the intricate inkwork mixed in with the solid color is masterfully beautiful and has your unique style all over it.

You asked a very provocative question in your post today. I would have think long and hard about true motivation, but off hand I'll say I do it for sheer joy of the experience and, hopefully, technical growth. Honestly, selling more would be really great too!

I started following Edward Gordon's work very shortly after I joined the blogs. He is a fantastic example of the perfect blend of "new" and "craft"! 900+? Incredible! Now that's inspiring!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Gwen,

Thanks very much. You are so right. Edward is mega inspiring. In his video he seems so calm, not all "driven". But maybe he's calm because he turns out something beautiful every day.


eldon warren said...

Every time I start a new painting there is this little hope inside me that says this might be the best painting I've ever done. Thant's what I strive for, to paint another painting and do it better than last time. Sales? Great validation I guess.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Eldon,

I don't know what I think when I start a painting. I get in a zone if I'm lucky where conscious thought doesn't enter into the process. Sales certainly matter, because we need the money -- not for validation. I feel valid. So I'm glad you hope for the best painting ever, but then everything you do, is...the best painting.

Take care,


Liza Hirst said...

These watercolour drawings are superb! I think they are my favourites of your work, Barbara!
They combine your selfconfident drawing with your sense of vibrant colours - perfect!
Concerning your question I must admit that at the moment one of my
first thought´s when I start a painting is "I hope it sells!!"
But apart from that desperation, I do really enjoy painting, love the process of analysing why I perceive something as I do, studying the values and trying to recreate a three dimensional impression of something by means of paint. Love the feeling of sensation when it works! But actually coming to think of it, there are quite a few other reasons why I paint but that would be going into details too much here.

Edward B. Gordon said...

thank you dear Barbara for mentioning me again on you blog. Just on a quick note. Even after more than 900 small paintings I start with the same feeling of insecurity and state of wonder.... and that is good. My greatest fear would be some kind of routine.... bit a splash of this, something of this and there we are. ... the most rewarding thing about this daily painting for me is, that it teaches you modesty and humbleness. On the surface I may be a snob, that likes expensive wine, champagne, who would like to drive with a Rolls Royce along the streets.... but when I stand in front if my 15 x 15 daily challenge all that is completely forgotten, unimportant. And most of all I really like those paintings that are completely gone wrong, like the Bergpfirsich the other day, those paintings teach me more then those that get the highest prices and the best hits etc. putting it all together, this daily painting is the best thing that ever happened to me as a painter.
A big thank you to Duane Keiser !

all the very best to you dear Barbara, and thank you for all your comments, and your wonderful work !

best Edward

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Liza,

I know what you mean. I think the same thing. Why? Because I have to earn a living. Of course I enjoy painting, and I'm addicted to doing it, which is why I paint. I'm glad you like the watercolours, but I'm sorry they're your favorites, because they aren't as satisfying for me at all as painting in acrylics. I just love the feeling of the paint, the strength of the colour, plus the possibility for depth and scale -- not really there in watercolour for me. Plus I absolutely love the fact that I don't have to frame them.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Edward,

Your daily paintings are the paintings that send me over the edge into art mania. I know there is no formula, and you're right, that would be terrible. My painting on this post is a disaster. I went too far with one part of it, and it ended up mucky and all wrong. It doesn't matter. I agree I learned a lot from even that mistake. I understand the surface snob thing. I don't know enough about wine to be a snob about it, but I'd love the Rolls Royce in some fantasy life. But to be a painter is a luxury far beyond what any money can buy. It is a constant passion, and not many people are lucky enough to feel that. Thanks for your kind compliments, your wonderful, inspiring work, and your witty blog.

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: barbara.muir@sympatico.ca
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!