Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A long, and superb day

More summer please
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

My Wednesdays start at 5:30 in the morning and end now
very late at night. I taught all day, the classes were
energized and my students with it. Here's a little
painting I worked on after school. I'm well aware that
there may not be garden flowers much longer. It's
3 degrees Celsius tonight. Chilly indeed.

Have an here's-another-great-new-month day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Back to my art group

Portrait Sketch
acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir

I'm in a bit of a time crunch with school, organizing
upcoming show materials, and painting, so I haven't
seen my Tuesday night art group for a while. Wednesday
starts ferociously early, so I dashed in tonight to see my
friends, put some marks down on my canvas and hopped it,
to drive home, write to you, and get some sleep. Sleep is
becoming my full time preoccupation, but luckily for me
it isn't my occupation.

So here's the little painting I worked on tonight with
my friends around me. They were doing fabulous paintings,
and it was so gratifying to see their work again,
even for a brief visit.

Have an enjoying-every-minute day.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Early birding

Happy Garden Flowers
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

They say the early bird catches the worm, and if that's true
I should be looking at a plate of wrigglers right now,
because I've been up since before six a.m. If you know
me you know that's unusual behaviour, and to be
writing so early is even more peculiar. I just wanted
to thank everyone who came out to see my work this
weekend, and to tell my blog friends who couldn't make
it to write me an email and we can arrange a time to
have a coffee and look at the work some other day.

I'm going to leave the show up as is for a week or so,
because some people who came by yesterday want to
come back and choose when there are fewer people

As I drove to work in the dark this morning there was the
threat of awesomely ugly weather -- thunder storms
and high wind in the emerging dawn, that actually
didn't appear. Seagulls whirled high under the bleak,
charcoal grey sky signalling a huge shift in the weather.
I hurried from the parking lot to class through sheets of rain,
and had sharp talks with the universe about the
state of affairs.

On the way home the clouds and rain washed the
car off, and as I parked near my bank the sun splashed
down and the day became beautiful -- sparkling off
the wet leaves, turning the streets into ribbons of
brilliant light. I drove home in high spirits.

Today's painting is the jolly flower painting the
early bird caught, just under the blanket of clouds,
as the sun broke through down to earth in my studio.
Another great day.

Have a fulfilling-your-dreams-for-the-moment day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

More than 60 paintings

Hi everyone. I did count and will again (math
not being my strong point), and I think I had more
than 60 paintings in the show this weekend. Then
there was one in the central show, and two in
the DVAC show. So all in all, quite a lot of work out
there. Today was great fun. People came and had glasses
of wine and tea sandwiches. The mood was festive and
I felt so happy to be here surrounded by people enjoying
my paintings, our friendships, meeting new people
and celebrating together.

One of the people who visited was my cousin, a lovely
surprise. I did her portrait a couple of years ago
and we were reminiscing. Now Artwalk is over, and
I feel like the whole experience was hugely
successful. We're just cleaning up and will
probably sleep well tonight indeed, knowing that
it's been the wonderful weekend we were hoping for.

The image tonight is a charcoal drawing for a flower
painting on an orange ground. If I'm lucky I'll get to
paint it tomorrow. One of my friends in Nova Scotia
is shocked that I draw my paintings first sometimes,
while a friend here says that drawing is the entire
basis for painting. Is everybody right? You decide!

Have an anticipating-another-happy-week day.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A delightful day

Evening light
watercolour on watercolour paper
14 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

Today was a great day with everything happening exactly
the way it should. The weather was erratic, but our little
house welcomed visitors who came to see my art with
delicious smoked salmon and cream cheese on Steven's
home made bread. I baked some cookies,
and we had great conversations around the kitchen
table with people who dropped by.

After the shop closed up I fell into a deep sleep, slept for
an hour or so and woke up because the cats wanted dinner.
We went to a friend's birthday party in the neighbourhood
tonight, and that was a lovely occasion, with so many faces
we've known for a long time, gathered to sing happy birthday,
toast our friend with champagne, and listen to her gracious

The painting tonight is a watercolour I did several years ago
in a course. I'll be back to my active paintings once Artwalk is

Have an-enjoying-all-of-the-people-you-meet day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I think the point is to have fun

Part of the show in the basement gallery
We've put up paintings on the first floor and
in the basement. The show runs from 12 - 4 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday in my home studio as part of
the Artwalk studio tour.

I had an opening tonight for my little Artwalk studio show.
I haven't counted how many paintings there are, but it might be 50
and it might be more. I'll count tomorrow. I also don't have
all my tags up, and I've sold paintings that don't have tags.

Oh well. The official opening is Saturday at noon, so tonight
was a gathering of friends and new friends, and it was great fun.
I never got the food out on the table, so luckily one guest brought
home made pizza and another brought home made cookies. We
managed to remember to serve wine, and we put up paintings and cards all
night while my guests talked and laughed with one another, admired
the art, and bought some of my work.

So it all turned out just fine. We'll eat the smoked salmon tomorrow
or Sunday, and we'll drink the rest of the wine, and more
paintings will sell, and all in all it will be absolutely wonderful.

Map of the St. Clair Artwalk in Toronto
The orange dots are studios and mine
is studio P up near the top of the map.
Come on out and see my work! If you're
coming out my friend Gill is in studio J
near the middle of the bottom of the map -- a super

Thanks to everyone who came out tonight, and if you're in town
please email me to get the details on how to get to Artwalk. My
studio will be open from noon until 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
A big shout out to Josephine for the pizza, Audrey for the cookies,
Jan for loaning me her painting, Gill and Bruce for helping put
the paintings up, and to wonderful Raylea for helping me stay
sane all day, to Chris who did a great job on the cards, and to
Edward who did a fabulous job framing and above all to Steven
who worked like ten men helping me get ready.

Have an isn't-art-a-wonderful-thing day

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Getting edgy with it

Painting edges drying in the studio.

I have not had time to paint today, unless you call
painting edges painting -- and of course it is, but it
doesn't involve a lot of artistic thought. I do wish
I had R. Garriott here, for the technical wizardry and
perfection so often found on that site. Plus I wish
I were like my friend in California, where painting the
edges is frowned on, because it hides the actual process
of what went on while the artist was creating.

Paintings waiting to go to the next stage
in the kitchen. Steven is putting those
metal hanging devices that look
like crocodile teeth on each painting.
(Don't worry we'll get new flowers tomorrow!)

At any rate, what with teaching and a few other
commitments, I am running a bit behind. And my
helper in this Painting Santa's workshop is having
all night work meetings (not at all an unusual
occurrence) countdown to opening tomorrow
night. I went to Gill Cameron's opening tonight in the
U.of T. faculty club. What a gorgeous venue. The building
is a delight, and her work was beautifully displayed on
individual easels. Once again she has created a show of
such beauty that it's staggering. Her understanding of
landscape, shape, trees, clouds, rock formations and water
is beyond description, and her work is filled with light,
and the passion she feels for Canada's wilderness.
That show is on for the next two weeks, so check it out.

So the images tonight are of the paintings drying in the studio
and lining up to get their hangers on. Hey Santa! Time to
come and help us here. Aside from the slight feeling of
panic I feel that these paintings may never make it to an
actual wall, I do feel a profound feeling of joy and happiness
seeing all the work I've done in the past while. So much
fun. Thanks for keeping me going.

Have an it-all-comes-together-perfectly day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Painting pure beauty

Close up detail
Extra Big Night
acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

The large commission I've been working on is of a man
and woman who shared a great love. I am painting
them as they were when they were young, heading
out for a date. The reference photos for the man,
my client's father are small, blurry and few and far
between, because the man was the photographer in
the pair.

I have some beautiful images of the mother, but none
in the pose I'm painting. So today I'm showing you
a close up of the woman's face. She was an incredibly
lovely woman, with glowing, porcelain skin. The two
of them made a smashing and daring pair. I like the
hesitant look in the woman's eyes. And her daughter
tells me she was a shy young woman.

Meanwhile I am painting the edges of my paintings,
for the Artwalk show, making labels and running
through endless checklists in my mind. It was a long,
but excellent day at school today.

Have an enjoying-your-own-great-love-story day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ready, set, Artwalk

The studio in action
The model sits for 10 minutes at a time.
It will not look like this when you arrive
to inspect it. Everything will be cleaned up and

and what happens in the studio
Before the dance in the red dress
acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir

This has been a busy year -- wildly, overwhelmingly, dramatically
busy. First Howard Wolinksy and the You Tube Interviews, the Skype
New York job for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas,
Nevada , then the Oprah Winfrey Show, City TV News and now
an upcoming segment on HGTV's Pure Design. Wow! So I'm back
teaching, trying to rev my kids at school up to enjoy the great life
I know they can have, and I am painting like a crazed woman.

This weekend is another high in the life of an artist -- The St.
Clair Artwalk. My friend LeSan mentioned that most people
tear their hair out over such an event. I'm not really. I just
have to figure out where and how to hang all of my pieces,
paint the edges, sign and label them. Not that big a deal.
The house is still okay because of all the excitement this summer.
Buying some champagne, making goodies and putting on
something pretty to greet my guests will be a pleasure.

The studio tour is great, because when people come you
have wonderful conversations, sell some work and get to be
in your own space. If there's a lull in the day, you read a book, play with the
animals, talk to your family, paint and carry on having your
life -- so it's all good. The only problem, if you want to call it
that, this year, is that I have a lot of work to put up. Thank
you to everyone in the blog world who has encouraged me
and helped me work on getting my act together. Like the title of
my self portrait in the Artwalk Central Show, getting it together
is a work in progress.

By the way, if you want to do the studio tour, you don't need
to walk, and there is a generous school parking lot across the
street from my house, so you can park there. Hope to see you.

Have an always-ready-to-show-your-work day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Making it right

Extra Big Night (detail)
36 x 48 inches
acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2009

Sometimes it's a long journey to the right look for
a painting. It can be about personal taste, it can be
about accuracy, but I believe that at the root of it
all a painting is right when it expresses what it needs
to reveal. I've been working for a couple of months
now on a portrait commission that for the most
part came together today.

This painting needed to have an extra dimension --
not just vivid colour, or a happy composition. It
had to speak about the deep love between a man
and a woman.

So I feel more than relieved that it succeeds for my

Tonight I'm going to show you a detail from the
painting, the man's face. I've been crazy about
his face since I first set eyes on it. Some faces
definitely convey character and kindness. This
face is like that.

Have a loving-the-faces-around-you-day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

You say tomato

The pick of Picton
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

An intensive working day today, both painting and getting
ready for school. A couple of facts:

Next weekend I'm participating in the St. Clair Artwalk
Studio Tour
. If you're interested in finding out more
so you can attend my open studio, please email me
at the above address. My studio will be open
Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon until 4 p.m.

Me talking about a painting to a
visiting friend at last
year's tour of my studio
during St. Clair Artwalk

I have about 50 paintings for sale at the studio tour,
most of which you've seen on the blog.

Okay. Tonight's painting is a quick study of a
footed china dish of our large, delicious market
tomatoes picked up yesterday. Thanks to the farmer
from Picton who has raised a perfect crop of
beefsteak tomatoes. Today I was taking a break from
my larger work and the sun hit these beauties in such
a perfect way that I had to get catch the moment,
and did this small painting.

Early to bed tonight.

Have an oh-boy-it's-Monday day.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Show stopping

Watercolour study of cats
watercolour on watercolour paper
6 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir 2009

The painting tonight is a little watercolour study. I
I have been working on a large commission and
can't show it to you yet.

Today was my day to sit the Don Valley Art Club Show.
It's a pretty great show, and the thought of spending
two hours watching the paintings in that high ceilinged
gallery was a happy one. But little did I know how
happy. You may know by now that I have a mission
to try and enjoy my life. I am incredibly conscious
on one level of time ticking away (maybe because I
teach time management), but also in part because
very good friends are coping with hard illnesses, and
in the course of the work I do both as an artist and
at school, I hear about a lot of pain, in the search
for joy. So that's the back story of my unrelenting
push towards the positive.

But today was filled with surprises. I had exactly 15
minutes to go to the Brickworks Farmers' Market,
after dropping a painting off at the Central Artwalk
show, to be held this year in a superb gallery at
the newly renovated Wychwood streetcar barns.
Painting successfully delivered, we hopped it to
the market because I had to get to Todmorden Mills
by noon to watch over the show that opened last night, and to be a
"roving sales" person. Yes I had my Converse sneakers
on, and I needed them!

In my allotted 15 minutes at the market I rushed over
to PegAn to buy a new bouquet (more zinnias) and then
to Alyson to get freshly made pizza for lunch. I bought
glorious big, beefsteak tomatoes from a fellow who owns
a farm near Picton, Ontario, then hurried to Steven
waiting in the car. He dropped me off at Todmorden and went
biking (slowly) with the dog running behind him, down the
river path. At the show I met the wonderful watercolour artist,
Maureen Wood and her good friend Kim. Maureen's work
features richly coloured flowers. I had such a great time with
Maureen, her friends and family members, and my other friends at the
Todmorden show that the time flew by. It was fun talking to guests looking
for paintings -- the whole experience was a pleasure.

Have a Saturday-was-great-can't-wait-until-Sunday day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A fine opening

Late late summer anemones
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

Tonight was the opening of the Don Valley Art
Club's fall show. For two weekends in a row a
show of work by a wide variety of artists will
hang in the lovely display gallery at Todmorden Mills.
I believe the show runs between noon and four each
weekend day.

The opening was fun. I was delighted to see
my artist friends, and a few of my good friends
dropped in to see the work, surprising me. This
year's show is especially good, so it's worth a
trip over to Todmorden Mills if you're in town.

I'm working on a little painting of Japanese
anemones tonight. They are a gorgeous flower.
I can't even remember when we planted them in
our garden. But they start out very delicately
and then whump -- suddenly they are a really big
plant. A friend of mine warned me that they are
invasive, and I say let them invade! They are
one of the last totally summer looking
flowers to bloom in Toronto, and right now the
clump in my small garden is about five feet square --
a huge mass of rich green leaves topped by delicate
high stems of brilliant white, camellia like flowers,
with a fragile quality.

When I was at university I was a tremendous fan
of Virginia Woolf, whose writing introduced me to
Vita Sackville-West. Sackville-West stays in my
memory as the brave woman who had an entirely
white flower garden planted at Sissinghurst, her
estate in England. She was quite a character, but
her taste in flowers was one of her better qualities.

The white flowers are particularly well suited to
the lifestyle of night owls like me, because you can
see them when you sit out with friends having a late
summer glass of wine, and appreciate their festive

Have a loving-your-garden-and-tending-it day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crazy painter lady

Mostly Zinnias
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

I don't think I've ever faced more inspection and scrutiny
than I have this year. I know it's making me check my
makeup a little more frequently and brush my hair a bit
more often. But if I think I've got it together, I am big time
kidding myself. Because at least one activity makes me
forget all propriety. Perhaps not all, but most, and to be
fair to my neighbours I don't think I should go out of the
house when I'm painting.

The other day I went down the street to tell my neighbour
I'd like to paint her and her big soft white and caramel
coloured cat. She was just coming home from the office,
all clean and professional -- cool shoes, cool hair, and
a cool bag. And I was emerging into the light after
painting all day. We had a nice chat. She invited me
in to pat the cat, everything was great, until I got home,
glanced in the mirror and saw that I had paint on my face --
a big smear of coral pink on my chin, white on my forehead
and blue in my hair. I expect my hands and clothes to be
a bit spattered -- but maybe expecting people to accept
a part Scots Canadian painted in woad (okay I know
woad was blue. I saw French and Saunders' take off
on Braveheart) is taking the kindness of neighbours
a bit too far.

Yep. That's me. The crazy painter lady.

The painting tonight is another shot at the market zinnias.
The secret to making them happy seems to be to put that
flower food in the vase. They suck that up and revive in a
minute, and voila -- a still happy bouquet.

To all of you who inquired about my health -- I am on
package three of Cold FX. The cold has not had its way
with me. But it really, really wants to, so my fatigue is
legion. I goeth to lie down.

Have a loving-the-garden-flowers day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday just won't quit

Sunny day Québec City
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

This day in the middle of the week is my longest.
So I'm off to bed. Here's a little scene from
Quebec City I'm working on. More tomorrow.

Have a great sleeping day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back to the sea

acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

All week I've been fighting off the cold/flu that has laid
so many people low. I haven't got it -- thank you Cold FX,
but it's trying hard to get at me. So tonight it will be a short
blog. I was thinking today as I walked up the street a bit
with my friend, about what we tell ourselves, and how it
affects our mood, our health, our ability to create.

If we think of our heads as bells, and the message as the
ringing of the bell, what message do you clang over and
over again inside that brain? I caught myself walking home
through the magnificent late day light saying, "I'm tired,
I'm tired, I'm tired, I'm sooooo tired." "Whoa," I said. "How
does that message make you feel? Rotten right? Try saying
It's beautiful out here. I feel great. I feel wonderful. Am I
ever lucky! Wow! This is just an amazing day!" Now
how do I feel? Huh? Better? It's true.

There's no question that the second approach is the one
that will make your day. That said. I'm heading off to
bed because tomorrow is a very early start and a long day
of teaching. And to the person round the corner growing
a mass of lovely pink and white cosmos flowers. Thank you
for helping me stay on track.

Here is my second entry in the show.

Have a saying-the-right-messgae-to-yourself day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The finish line

The Invitation
acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

My art club used to have four shows a year, which was great, but
a few years ago they cut it down to three. I really like to take
part in all three, but the little paintings I've been doing would
disappear on the big walls at Todmorden Mills where we have
our shows. I usually paint very large paintings for the show,
but just did not have the time this year. Instead I finished
my larger painting of the woman coming out of the water, and
this one called The Invitation. I really like this painting. I seem
to have gone crazy with the blue and red theme, but I don't mind.
This year we had to stand in line and the first 125 paintings in the
door were the show. I was third in line -- so I seem to be in.

Now I have to get back to work on my other painting. Tomorrow
is a school day, and it's time to check off the lists.

Have a Wow-I-can-really-do-this-painting-thing day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wandering and flow

Pegann's flowers
8 x 8 inches
acrylic on canvas

This weekend the truth is that I'm under a ferocious time
pressure. But if I let myself think that and get scared, I won't get
my work done. Instead I pretend that I am just having a bit of
a holiday (it's the weekend), and that in between this and that
(laundry, course notes for tomorrow, organizing dinner) I
am doing my work. In this case painting.

This works. Instead of getting worried, I can feel like I am
lucky to have such freedom, and even though I'm setting the
timer, and regulating these breaks -- just like I do in a
portrait session -- I am just doing that for fun. And that's
the truth. I'm doing the whole thing for fun.

Tonight's painting is a flower study I did on the market
flowers I bought yesterday. The flower lady is wonderful.
While she was spending 15 minutes composing a gorgeous
bouquet I wandered around the market and found a woman
who does incredibly relaxing massages in 10 minutes. So
I used the wait for the flowers wisely and left the market
with flowers and fresh veggies feeling ready to paint. Now
that was fun!

A shout out to Eldon Warren for his kind comments about
me on his blog this week. Eldon you're a super painter and
a wonderful friend!

Have a fooling-yourself-into-enjoying-life day.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Last minute portrait

Self-portrait in a sun hat
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

The little self portrait is my last minute entry in
David Lobenberg's Self Love Portrait Paint Out.
I've been thinking about what to paint since he
announced the cut off date -- today, but have
been so busy with other commitments that I
forgot about it, then woke up today thinking
Yeesh! I've got to get that thing happening.

I hauled out the hat I planned to wear, and set
to work. This hat (David insisted on a hat) is
a sunhat with very large fake cloth flowers that
pin on. You can take them off when you're
feeling shy, because believe me when I wear this
hat in the park, people look at me as if I have
completely lost it. Apparently we're all supposed
to be in baseball caps, or Tilley's! I look really
awful in both of those options.

So here's my finished little face. Thanks David
for the challenge and for teaching me to keep
on painting. I hope you let my entry in.

And David -- rock on!

Have a getting-to-know-your-own-face day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

My father with me and my son Christopher
the summer before my father died.
My Dad really loved Christopher.

This is a sad day for most people in North America. For me it's
doubly sad. My father died on September 11, years before the
planes hit the towers. In class we'll talk about how the world has
shifted in North America since that day. Many of the students'
families will have experienced either the loss of a relative, or the
suspicion and racism leveled at certain groups who are often
suspect just because of their religion, or country of origin.

And then we'll move on. Because now 8 years later, it's
certainly time that we do. It seems fitting though, somehow that
I'm working on painting a couple who are in love. It's a large
painting, and in real life the father is dead, and the mother no
longer young. As I work, I am deeply moved by the great love the
couple had, evidenced in every photo of them together. And I think
this is one of the surprising benefits of what I do -- that I can make
them live again, as a young happy couple.

Have a remembering-the-people-who-matter day

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A great painting day

acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(not quite done)
I don't have much to say tonight. My large commission
is going well, and I am feeling excited about my progress

I also started putting my larger painting of the seascape
together. Read Flora's comment from yesterday and you'll
know she's the basis for the study, and she also was
a sweetheart and bought the small painting.

So for now, here's how the larger one is coming along.
It needs some refining, but it's 80% finished.

Have a great-to-be-alive day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Teach the teacher

First stage of a new painting
about the ocean and tide
pools at the beach
we love in Nova Scotia. It looks
like the orange band needs to be straightened.
acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches

The painting above will
soon look like a larger version
of this little one which is 8 x 8 inches

School has started again and it's time for me to
teach this teacher how to balance my art with my
teaching. The answer is quite simple. Do it.
Paint and teach. I think I'm lucky that I don't
teach painting, so my brain and I get to leap
into a completely different way of thinking at school.

Back home, I read for a minute, and I'm back in the
studio. The principle of "while" comes in. While
paint is drying I'm drawing for another painting,
studying a face, figuring out what tomorrow's
painting demands will be. David Lobenberg is
right. A painter's job is never done. Aren't we lucky
that that's true.

Have a lucky-to-be-who-you-are day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Check lists

Pears Progress
Here's what's happened to Sandra's Pears
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(I have a feeling that this painting, which
is evolving, will get more work before I decide
I can't do one more thing with it. But I
am happier than I was. If I use
David Lobenberg's mathematical
approach -- it's 90.1% finished. He
makes me laugh. School all day tomorrow.
I'm going to bed.)

This photo is of my garden six
years ago. The grass needs cutting,
but I can't believe how much the apple tree
has grown since its first summer,
and the shrubs!

If you knew me you'd know I'm the farthest thing from
organized. I get addled easily, and I am unconscionably
easily distracted by a phone call, piece of music, or a sudden
change in light, or a flower. In short I need check

Today is the first day of school, and I have been making
check lists for a couple of days. As I teach kids how to
get organized so they can survive first semester at
college, which usually dovetails nicely with their
19th birthday (the official age when teenagers can
drink alcohol easily), the check list may save their

Mine is about clothes -- what to wear -- all
clean and ready. Me -- the same. Lunch, prepared
and packed. Books -- ditto. Car - gas. dinner the
night before -- what to eat to be calm and energized.
Plus all of the other myriad details that go into arriving
at school on time, ready and raring to go. Did I remember
keys for the car, and my office, and now my USB stick to
put the notes up on the giant monitor because we're not
allowed to print them anymore!!!

Done. All ready. Whew. Now about painting. Same
deal. Check list. Canvasses are ready. Paints are in their
clear egg carton palette. Brushes are clean and dry and ready.
All systems -- fire away.

See? That was easy. I even have an Easy button from
Staples that I'll take to school and they can all hit it and
hear it say "That was Easy!" and feel a little less worried
about the year. Plus we'll all smile at one another. Put
that on the check list.

Have a happily-checking-things-off-the-list day

Monday, September 7, 2009

One cup of coffee

Morning on Cherrywood
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
( I sat on my front porch steps this morning
painting this. I loved how the two
little black cars looked, facing in
opposite directions. At one point
my neighbour across the street
came out with her little boy and
started painting too. This thing
could catch on! Wouldn't it be
funny and wonderful
to see a whole street of
people sitting and painting images
of their neighbours' houses.

I really need my morning coffee. It's a holiday today in
Canada, but I imagine almost everyone is spending the day
scurrying frantically to get ready for tomorrow.

But I wanted to relax, so as I was drinking my coffee, I
reached for the magazines I keep stacked on the shelf
on my bedside table. Disappointment! Last week I spilled
a full cup of coffee one morning and thought I'd cleaned
it up. What I didn't realize is that it glued all of the
magazines I love together.

Luckily a Martha Stewart magazine with beautiful images
wasn't damaged, so despite my folly I could look at the
exceptional rooms in the issue without trying to pry
the pages apart. I am a Martha supporter. Yes. I wrote
her emails more than once when she was in prison. Why?
Because I believe in strong women, and I met a man that
year whose daughter had worked for Martha and said she was
super kind to her staff and fair. Rumours of her cranky
nature it turns out were just that -- rumours.

What she has done for my town and my street is made
people want to make their homes beautiful. She's helped
people to know how to display flowers in the garden and
around the house. Plus she's made decorating a room with
colour, and thinking about making social occasions special,
something everyday people can get a handle on. I think
that's wonderful.

I suspect she was the fall "guy" (girl) for a corrupt
administration trying to look righteous. I felt certain her
detractors just wanted to -- get the woman! But wonderful
Martha, stayed cheerful through what must have been
a horrible ordeal, and grim embarrassment. She came out
shining. Yay Martha! You don't have to agree with me,
or like her, but I do.

Time to paint. I'm working on a number of things,
all of which you'll see soon.

Have a being-yourself-you-don't-have-to-be-Martha day

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Long, long day

Canoeing in peace
watercolour on Arches watercolour paper
12 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(This is actually a painting I did during my watercolour
class time with Americo del Col. Everything
in it is something he taught me. I am putting it
here today to decorate the space.
Please don't say "You should
go back to watercolour," because for the most
part, I'm not going to. But we did have fun at
the time. I like the moody quality of this.
It seems to suit the way other people
feel at this time of year.)
Hi everyone,

I did not sleep a wink last night because today was the day
we took Sam down to Windsor. 860 kilometers round trip!
Sam is studying acting and is back with his friends. We
are trying to recover from the journey, looking at his
well made empty bed and missing him, although we know
he's fine and so are we.

So tonight's blog may be short. I want to paint, and have
projects on the go, and.... Hey!

There was very sad music on CBC tonight as another
wonderful show In the key of Charles bit the dust.
But I don't look on the end of the summer as a sad time.
It feels like the beginning of another super exciting,
probably thrilling year.

As for returning to class, I cannot believe how much I've
changed and learned since last year. I am filled with
optimism, for me, for my family, for my students and
my artist friends. Let's not get all maudlin about the
disappearance of summer. Let's all go out and buy
the fall Vogue, get really good boots if we live up north,
buy the icers Flora found last year at Lee Valley for the
bottom of the boots, and down coats, and be prepared to have a really
great time no matter what the weather.

But if you feel like slipping down the slope of really,
really sad, and then climbing back up again to hope,
rent the movie P.S. I love you with Hilary Swank.

And if you're really sad. I'm sorry. Big hugs, and
I hope tomorrow will be much, much better.

Have a seeing-the-positive-side-of-everything-and-driving
-your-friends-crazy-but-secretly-making-them-happy day.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Marty's house

Marty's yellow house
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

I sat on the porch the other night painting the view
up the street. I've wanted to paint my friend
Marty's house for awhile, and so I began.

This is probably not where I thought it
would end up. Her house is the yellow one
with the massive blue roof. Are the houses
on my street this bright? Not by a long shot.
I've pretty much gone with the shape, and the
colour is all mine.

Forgive me Marty. Marty and Jon have one
of the nicest marriages I've ever had the
pleasure to watch. They love one another
big time, and are sweet friends and kind
neighbours. Their kids are wonderful too.

So that's the story. It's a happy one, maybe
that's what made the house bright yellow.
It's Saturday and I'm going to watch a movie.

Have a happiness-is-golden day.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thanks my dear friends

Condiment Caddy, Grand Falls, New Brunswick
black marker on bond paper
8 x 10 inches
(I've saved this little sketch for a day
when I wasn't entirely sure I'd have a painting.
If the painting I'm working on is done tonight
I'll put it on. I drew this in a truck
stop on the top of a hill as we waited
for our food. On the road this summer I
noticed that upside down ketchup bottles
are popular. I used to write for a marketing
department and this design idea has
the markings of a 'new kid on the
block trying out some great ideas'. Give me
my ketchup in a glass bottle, right side
up please. In fact I really don't like my food in
plastic. But it was great to draw, and we had
fun for the whole trip. So what's a little upside
down ketchup between friends.)

Yesterday was one of those days. It seems like nothing could
go right. But of course that's the wrong attitude. When I
got all of your kind messages today, I popped
the Notes from the Universe by Mike Dooley back into
my CD player in the car, and today was a great day.
Even though St. Clair was torn to shreds in front of my
pharmacy, and I had to climb over the risky makeshift
boards to get onto the rocks and dirt that is substituting
for a sidewalk. I got to see my great pharmacist, Michael,
who once bought a painting from me. We cracked a few
jokes, and on the way back through the construction zone
I ordered a pair of teenagers swearing at one another on the
street to help a terrified older lady walk the plank set out
over freshly poured concrete to get into a store.

Come to think of it the guys were standing on the freshly
poured concrete. Ah well. They turned into instant
gentlemen in aid of a lady. And I was decidedly
happy as I navigated my way back to my car.

If I get my little painting finished I'll post it later.
I'm working on a very large commission and I think I've
conquered more of it today. Mike Dooley and the Notes
from the Universe are definitely helping me. And so are
you. Early September seems a bit like New Years to me.
In the park the leaves on the sycamore, and maple trees
are turning. Sorry LeSan -- it's true. Still it was pure
summer weather today, balmy and warm with clear skies.

Have a knowing-it's-good-to-be-alive day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I stepped on a wasp

Nightfall Cherrywood
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(I often take my photos at night when the work
is completed. I've noticed that if I retake
the shot outside in daylight it's a
whole different image. I hope you still like it. I do.)

Hi everyone,

I was all excited by my yellow jacket experiment. I was
thinking about my mother who trained as a bacteriologist
and maintains a healthy curiosity and respect for
how nature works to this day. Her conversations so
frequently begin with how interesting it is that
a certain animal behaves in a certain way, or how
people don't realize x or y. So today between
getting paint at the paint store, blowing up
reference shots at the copy shop, and painting,
I put out two new bowls of sugar water for the
wasps to see which they preferred. The clear or the
blue? Guess what? They loved the blue. But that
was my second blue glass bowl of sugar water
because the first spilled all over the kitchen and
that made me clean the kitchen floor.

I was still high spirited taking the sugar water
soaked doormat down to the laundry room, and
cleaning it off, and still cheerful when I took it out to lie
on the hot interlock paving behind our house to dry,
but as I stepped over the wasps on the downstairs
outdoor landing in my bare feet, I stepped on a wasp,
and may I say that still hurts.

My curiosity was entirely satisfied then. I
sat on the front porch painting the scene you
see here during the creeping dusk praying no one
in my neighbourhood would see me because I
was trying not to cry! That wasp sting hurt!
And many people walked by at the uncharacteristic
hour. The street was like a party of people
all noticing me painting, and asking questions.
Meanwhile my foot hurt like the dickens, and
as soon as Steven came home, I went inside with
him and I did cry a bit. He cleaned my foot,
dug around with tweezers trying to find the
stinger, put some anti-sting ointment on it,
and we drank a little champagne
we found in the fridge. I do feel much better now.

And I like the painting I did as the late summer
sun was setting.

Have a-happy-to-experiment day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sandra's pears

Sandra's Pears
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(This one will need some refining and
a new photo tomorrow, but it's
late and I'm off to bed.)

On Tuesday morning the former Cherrywood parents
(parents in an alternative school that closed 15 plus
years ago) get together for coffee and tea, plus delicious
treats at one of the parents' home. This has been going on
since the school closed, and the group, mostly women
most of the time, are more tight knit than ever. The
set up is delightfully casual -- you show up if you can. The
door is open, and inside the women who aren't working that
day, or who can fit the time for an hour with friends into
their working schedule, are talking and laughing -- it's so
much fun.

I don't get to go that often, and not at all during school
months, but I really love the feeling of long term
friendship and community in this small ritual.
Yesterday the group met at Sandra's house up the
street, and she gave me these pears from her own tree
to paint. On the counter sat neat, bottled jars of pears,
and on the menu was desert pear pizza! The whole
table was beautiful. Today's painting is of my pears
on one of my favorite plates.

Have a loving-your-local-community day.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Preschool preparations

Cat on a chintz covered chair
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2009

This fall is thick with things to do. I'm working on a couple of
commissions, painting my daily work, planning for a few shows,
and this week thinking about school -- that starts next week.
My youngest goes back to university this weekend, and the
house will empty out again for a little while.

Steven and I are pretty good at filling the spaces both actual
and metaphorical with our own busy lives. I will of course
feel sad, when Sam, who is a complete sweetheart, goes back
to his studies. But next week I will meet about 120 young
people his age and put all of the knowledge about late
teens that I get from being around Sam to use when I'm
helping a new set of students get their feet on the ground.

Tonight's little painting is of our cat Max. Max is not with
us anymore, but his photo leapt off the bulletin board in the
hallway and demanded to be painted. Did you know that
the reason there are so few pure black cats left today is
because so many of them were killed because they were
thought to be witches' cats in medieval times? A tiny bit
of white saved them, hence Max had the tuxedo suit. Silly
superstition. Plus as someone with a Halloween birthday, I
can't see getting all fussed up about witches. What they
really were was wise women -- the precursors of doctors.
If very few people in a community are wise, the wise are
probably viewed with suspicion. The people I know in the
blogging community are wise, creative and intelligent.
All good. We are all happier when subjected
to heaping helpings of wisdom.

Have an enjoying-your-wise-friends day.

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!