Sunday, February 21, 2010

Let the work teach you

Lina's back door
black marker and graphite on bond paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(I did this little sketch very quickly in my
brother and sister-in-law's kitchen. What
intrigued me was the chord from the
blinds hanging over a coat by the door.
I was attempting to capture the strong darks and
lights created by the trees and outbuildings set
against the snow.Then there was a
lovely grouping of flowers and big plants
in planters set against the window. It
is absolutely beautiful there.)

One of the reasons I was glad to get my paintings home
the other day, aside from the fact that I might show
them again quite soon, is that they are good in my
opinion. I know that sounds high handed of me,
but what I mean is I need them to help me answer
some questions that may arise in the next few weeks.

I brought home an experimental canvas the other
day. I didn't buy it from my usual supplier, and
it is slightly different in texture, gessoed, ready
to go. But I have a couple of things I must do before
I spend anymore time just fooling around.

The question came flashing into my brain -- "But
what colour of ground should I use for my next big
work?" I've been using orange, or rust forever. Recently
I've used black, then I did a dark purple (not as
nice as black.) But for this a mother and child
(I think) I might use a peachy pink ground. I
decided that when I saw a self-portrait staring
down at me the other day and realized. Yes.
Good colour for Blondes (the boy) and maybe
even Mommy (not blonde). I have also tried one ground
colour in one part of the painting and another in
another. This works too.

Self-portrait: The Happy Artist
acrylic on canvas
36 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(Note the peach background and how it
works with a blonde subject (moi in this case).)

Aside from all this I am marking today, and may
not get to paint. Forgive me. I need to catch
up, and I'd love to get ahead with my schoolwork.

Back to the discussion. Painting the street paintings
I line up some of the other street paintings. They
are like a cheering section. I select several small
paintings from different seasons and they talk
to me. (Yes I'm a bit crazy -- maybe you should try
it!) They say "see! see! see! Try this. Look at me!"
In that way they are like small children and cats.
But I do look, just the way I look at all of your work,
and I say "Aha! You are right my tiny friends." So for
my much larger work the three portraits of young
women that I showed in the Biennale may be my
guides, and when I was painting them, other
paintings gathered on the floor near my easel
and taught me things about light and colour.

Have a learning-from-your-paintings day.


Karen Bruson said...

They totally speak to you. I am never anxious to sell off paintings that may help me resolve other works. I hear ya (and them).

cathyswatercolors said...

I like this notion,of learning from your work. Of course I always love the colors in your paintings. I am an amature but love to paint. My goal is to loosen up loosen up and have wild bold colors.

Melinda said...

Sometimes they shout. Sometimes they whisper. Sometimes they coyly motion you to paint with attitude, but I can see from here that you listen well and they speak good things.

Best wishes with the marking!

Tammy Hext said...

This happens to me too. Sometimes my pieces that really turned out successfully help me figure out a problem when one is not quite working right.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Karen,

I am glad you know what I mean. I don't think the old work ever holds you back. You either see something and say, ah yes, I remember, or you think -- well why not try it this way,
and change directions.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Shicat,

I was sorry to read about your friend.
Everyone who paints is an amateur until someone buys a painting. Then those days are gone.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

I think what that portrait taught me was how to paint a better portrait the next time. So I like my first entry in David Lobenberg's global self love paint out better than this one. Then the next one wasn't good, and I painted over it. That's a whole other discussion isn't it.

Thank you for your kindness.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Tammy,

I'm glad you know what I'm talking about. Sometimes we work from flow, and sometimes from analysis.

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:
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!