Sunday, November 29, 2009

Washing the uniform

Late night teacher self-portrait
marker on bond paper
Barbara Muir © 2009
(Sorry about the me, me, me
images. I'm my most available
model, and the rest of my work
is top secret!!!) (Soon
to be revealed!!!)

In her later years I was lucky enough to see
Katherine Hepburn ( who died in 2003)
when I was working on a job in downtown
Toronto. She was accompanied by a chauffeur,
but I saw her up close, and I was a fan. I think
of her often because it was purported that she
wore a uniform -- white turtleneck sweater,
jeans for at home casual, camel hair
pants for good, and a navy blue or black blazer,
or coat. Her hair was usually up in a lose bun, and
she looked fantastic.

In recent years I've started wearing a uniform too.
I'm not, and never will be elegant like Hepburn,
I'm too short, and my weight fluctuates like the
weather. But I've found that I look fairly good
in a white shirt, black or navy V-neck sweater,
jeans, or black pants, and occasionally a black,
or navy dress, sometimes even over pants,
and a black or navy blazer. With jewellry,
very simple at the neck, hoop earrings,
and some kind of plain shoe or boot I am
good to go, and don't have to waste my
valuable creative time on dressing.

A young girl I know sat reviewing my options
the other night, and I could tell that she
thought I should be more adventurous now
and then. Hmmmm. We'll see. It is time
to wash my multiple white shirts, and
jeans and the rest, because soon atravelling I will
go. Start singing here, and I'll tell you more
another day.

I am in the thick of marking. Down dressing?
Black track pants, a yellow shirt and a black
cotton V-neck sweater. Yay Katherine.

A frightening early and demanding day
tomorrow. Your fashion for the artist
adviser signing off.

Have a love-that-uniform day.
P.S. Hepburn never had messy hair. Apparently
she was somewhat obsessive about her very
beautiful hair. Note that is not the case here.


Edgar said...

Black pants, black shirt: the graphic designer's uniform. We like to say that's because patterns and colors reflect on the monitor and throw off the color balancing. But that's just b.s... we like black, and angst looks good on us too.

Melinda said...

You'll always look fantastic, Barbara! No matter what. You've got a great face and the uniform is just because you have better, more exciting things to do. Can you imagine how your art would suffer if you were too busy with clothing choices?

What a treat it must have been to see Ms. Hepburn. Whoa.

I'm really happy for you! May all go smoothly, like walking in a comfortable pair of beautiful boots.

You're so good at drawing yourself!! Singing now...

Liza Hirst said...

As far as I'm concerned you can post as many drawings of yourself as you can! I definitely wouldn't get bored of them, not of your drawings and not you. Both are beautiful!
Yes, wow, I would have liked to see Kathrine Hepburn in real, too! She's on my favourite actors list for sure - love her style and humour.
Maybe your travelling will spark a little adventure in regard to your dress habits!? It can be so much fun, but you're right - it does take up valuable time thinking about it.

Zina Chmielowski said...

Hi Barbara,
Katherine Hepburn are one of my favourite actors, too. Very smart independent woman...
Black top is my favourite. No matter how much I tried to move towards different colour I always come back to black...

LeSan said...

You and Katherine Hepburn a natural pairing. I too am-was a big fan. She understood quality and style. She walked through the world with a sophisticated grace that I could only dream of.
Considering that the combination you have for a uniform is quite classic I don't see any need to mess with it. All you need to do is toss a great scarf or pair of sassy shoes with it and your golden. It's all about the art of confident statements of quality. Much as the art you practice with your sketches. Each line carries its own weight and earns its place on the page. And like your drawings it is about the person not the fluff. Whatever makes you shine is what you should wear. Consider yourself fortunate to have finally figured it out.

cohen labelle said...

I like your dissertation on black. I’ve heard it said that black is the Machiavelli of all colours.

Barbara, you’re a beautiful lady, a great ‘looker’, as they say. I’ve known that for a poon’s age. And this is another remarkable drawing.

Btw, I also got to see Hepburn close up. It happened unexpectedly. I was coming out of a building in NY or London, side entrance and there she was - on the sidewalk within touching distance. I was so startled, my eyes popped out, I was transfixed. Still in disbelief, it took a few seconds for it to register on me fully who I was looking at. She was escorted by two older, gorgeously dressed men. One of them saw me staring at her and said to her, perhaps protectively, ‘ Katherine we don’t need to go around to the front entrance, we can go in this way. One of them opened the door for her and she darted half way up the stairs, paused and looked back. She had on low heels and was wearing a kind of cape like coat that swirled when she turned. I was struck by her high cheek bones and chiseled profile. In her typical fashion her hair was swept up off her face and held simply in a bun. I marveled at her complexion. I don’t think she was wearing make-up. Her freckles were visible and her skin seemed translucent. I was tempted to follow her but somehow knew better not to.
Your anecdote brings back that unforgettable memory.

xoxoxoxo Marcia

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Edgar,

You make me laugh. I do like the look of all black. No colour of clothing is good for teaching. Chalk wrecks everything, and of course painting is just impossible. But hey!
I like your rationale for the black.

Angst does not look so good on us.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

I'm singing too, like an electric wire in a hurricane. Zinging is probably more like it. Got to go paint, and I'll listen to a book and calm myself down.

Ms. Hepburn was pretty cool. Very high end uniform there. Not like mine. All Joe all the time. (Joe is an inexpensive clothing store here.)


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Liza,

I'm not saying I never wear anything else, I'm saying it's easy. I found out that students respond well to a combo of crisp and casual. So that's what I do.

I would like some clothing adventures,
maybe after we walk for a couple of weeks I'll feel like new clothes eh?
It makes me happy that you like my drawings.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Zina,

Black is so versatile, and I love it too. You looked great the other night, but were you wearing black?

I really loved Katherine Hepburn. She was so brave.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi LeSan,

I will probably embarrass myself in a future life when I wear a lot of rich red silk, and turquoise wool. (Actually I can't wear wool, which reminds me I better get my cashmere sweaters out of the washing machine.)

Actually I have a lurid turquoise bag that I just love, and some very bright ballet flats.

Thanks for your always kind encouragement.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Lucky you Ms. Labelle,

Katherine Hepburn had almost as good a voice as yours -- one of my all time favorite women's voices.

The first time I met you it was that grown up voice that made me want to know you. There I was cackling around in baby voice land (still am sometimes) and you had this deep, trained, full woman's voice. The men went completely mad.


eldon warren said...

Late Night Teacher is one of the best and I know absolutely how tired Late Night Teacher is/was. You are really really good at capturing mood even when you draw yourself. Another added to my long list of favorites.

Gwen Bell said...

Love these self portraits...keep 'em coming!Your drawing just gets better and better all the time. You have such an efficient way with lines.

About the uniform, I think it's a marvelous way to greet the world. It frees you from the insanity of "What do I wear? How do I look?" Didn't we have enough of that in our teens and twenties? And what a great role model in Ms Katherine! Maybe there's something in the name Hepburn because Audrey H had great style too. As I recall, she usually wore something black with her hair in a bun.

I too have a uniform, but it could use some work. Jeans, white shirt, whatever jacket, Beatle Boots, med. gold hoop earrings. When I need to dress up I call my big sister, who is still very much in a fashion frenzy, and say "Hello...Fairy Godmother? This is Cinderella. Got Clothes?"

Portrait Artist

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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