Monday, May 31, 2010

Getting organized -- again

Spring Flowers
watercolour on watercolour paper
20 x 25 inches
Barbara Muir © 1994
(Here's another piece from my
sister's collection of my
paintings. I switched from
watercolour to acrylics because
I couldn't get the intensity I
wanted with watercolour.)

Most painters, like good soccer players, and hockey stars
start painting at about one or two years old. In fact we all do --
every human being has the urge to push paint around,
draw something, model something in clay, or plasticine
as soon as they get the chance -- starting as babies.
But something happens to a lot of us along
the way to stop us from keeping on with it.

In writing -- another art form -- I know from asking my
students that the event cutting off creativity frequently
involved a teacher. As a teacher I realize that perhaps
the remark that stopped the creative process might have
been meant very innocently. But children just getting
their artistic legs under them, and many adults too,
give up at the first sign of resistance, or lack of acceptance
or praise for what they're up to, or (ouch) criticism.
It is very, very hard to teach without ever criticizing.
I'd like to learn how.

So I began painting, or more likely drawing at about three,
and painting at four when I entered kindergarten. Painting
and singing were the two things I liked about kindergarten.
I missed my mom, and the sound of her singing, and
clattering about in the kitchen making cookies and bread
and supper. I missed playing with my dolls and making up
scenarios, and what's stuck with me my whole
life is, I missed doing nothing. That's right nothing.

Only now that I'm an adult, and take a camera or sketch
pad with me when I'm doing nothing, I realize that I never
was doing nothing. I was either looking, reading, or thinking.
All perfectly acceptable habits for an artistic child, or adult
for that matter.

Get to the point you're saying. The point is that before a
big show, it's time to get organized. And how do you do that?
I've found that an invaluable tool is the giant list clamped onto
a big piece of foamcore. It's light, and colourful, and I can prop
it up on the kitchen counter during the day, and put it away
at dinner time. Then all day I can cross off tasks, until finally
I am at the opening, and the bulk of the work is done.

As for the painting, which is by now both passion and habit.
I have been doing some, and it looks like I might have about
50 pieces to put in the show coming up on Friday. That's good
news. But after all I started painting when I was four, so
by rights I should have some work put aside today.

Have an I've-been-doing-this-my-whole-life day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two busies

Oranges in a glass bowl
8 x 8 inches
acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2010
(not quite finished. Some decisions still
need to happen. But close.)

Parents of young children know there's a time when
kids start dressing themselves and you have to explain
what works. "Two busies don't work!" you explain, just
like your mother did for you when you wanted to wear
your green plaid pants with your orange and sherbet
striped sweater.

Now of course this is all the rage. And sometimes it's
really effective in painting. But other paintings need
some simplifying. This painting of the oranges in the
antique glass bowl on the vintage tablecloth did not
work. After staring at it for a few days I got out my
paintbrush and decided to begin to tone down -- no
change the tablecloth. I could hear my mother's
voice in my head as I did.

So what do the editors feature in the Globe Fashion magazine?
Guys mixing Glen check (never one of my favorite
suiting materials) with checkered shirts and a
different check patterned tie! Aye my grandmother
is no doubt twisting around in heaven and poking
her best friend telling her to take a look see.

But guess what -- those guys with all those patterns
look great! So much for rules. In this little painting
the rule helped. It's not quite finished, but it's

Have an enjoying-a-doubly-busy-time day.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I used to be a watercolour painter

Simone in sunlight
watercolour on watercolour paper
14 x 18 inches
Barbara Muir © 2001
(Sorry about the reflections. The painting is under

This little painting of my cat Simone as a kitten,
was one of the last paintings I did as a watercolorist.
I was starting to do risky things, use texture in the
background, that sort of thing. I like what I was up to.

My sister is one of my most important collectors.
I was visiting her today at both her office and
having dinner at her home, and noticed that she
has bought so much of my art over the years. The
older work is under glass, so hard to photograph.

But I'm getting ready for a show right now, so some
of these older paintings may appear here over the
next few days. I particularly like this one, both because
I like the painting, and because I dearly loved the
cat who died after botched exploratory surgery.
I was so heartbroken because she was wonderful,
and loyal, and stayed with me day and night in 2001
when I had a high fever and couldn't eat for three
months. So I'm glad this record of her very happy
kitten life is here.

Have a realizing-that-people-like-what-you-do day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Out into the woods

Lyn and Kohl the dog in the
community garden High Park

black marker on bond paper
6 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

Today I painted outside, had appointments
and visited our largest Toronto park, High Park
with my friend Lyn.

Lyn is involved in organizing a community
garden. We had planned to walk our dogs together
so I covered my clean back seat with a sheet,
and drove Zoey over to Lyn's a long way at rush hour.
Even though I teased Zoey about travelling like a
bride (when I got married my mother put a white
sheet over the car seat and floor so my dress would
stay clean), Zoey whined along the entire route.

I arrived hot, from putting the windows down
to try and distract her, and tired, and not ready
for the planned walk. But Lyn patiently waited and
then we were off. I was not great company --
complaining about the heat, not wanting to be in
the sun -- let's face it I was tired and grumpy.

Zoey on the dog path in High Park

And then we were in another world -- the park.
the dog walk (mostly in the shade) as Lyn promised
is long and wild, but fenced on the hill side, so
your dog can't run off, get lost, or into traffic.
My mood (I don't usually even get in a mood,
but Momma it was hot) lifted and I felt so happy.
We walked over streams and along the most beautiful
paths to the community garden Lyn helps run.
I feel like I could learn so much from my friend,
if I wasn't so busy. She is an excellent gardener
and filled a bag with fresh lettuce, chives, garlic
chives, herbs I don't even remember the names of.

We had most of the fresh greens she gave me in
the veggies, fish and salad Steven made for dinner.
I drew this little drawing of Lyn and her dog Kohl
to honour the walk. Thanks Lyn for a delightful

Have an escaping-into-nature-in-the-city day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My favorite kind of day

In the park -- ready for summer
Final version
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(I'll take a more accurate colour photo
next week.)

As you know I've been working for a while on a family
portrait. Today my client came to pick the painting
up, and loved it. That is always such a good feeling --
one I can't even describe. I was really proud of this
painting. It felt I'd achieved what I'd like to do with
a portrait -- create a feeling and mood, plus capture
my impression of the sitters' personalities.

I do not have a really accurate photo of the final product.
The colour that you've seen in earlier photos is much more
like the true colour of the painting. When I took the painting
outside to photograph it, the tint in every photo was completely
washed in blue. This has never happened before.

The incredibly happy ending to the story? It was a surprise
anniversary present for the children's father, and he's
written me a thank you note that I'll treasure always. He
feels that the painting represents all that he and his wife
have created as a family. I was close to tears reading the note.
My job as a portrait painter is frequently inspiring in every
way, but this has been an outstanding day.

Have a thanking-the-people-who-add-meaning-to-your-life day.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Art show opening next Friday

Here's the invitation Gill designed that
we've been emailing and
handing out in the printed version.

Next Friday my friend Gill (pronounced Jill) Cameron
and I are having an art show opening party at the
Wychwood Barns Gallery. We are really looking
forward to it. Gill and I have shown our work
together before and our styles definitely
compliment each other. Gill is a watercolour
painter known for her joyous landscapes,
who has been accepted into the
Canadian Watercolour Society (a very big
deal) and will be in the Society's juried show
at Roberts Gallery in Toronto in July. So exciting.
And you know my story.

So here's the invite. It's a hot day in Toronto,
and a busy time in the this artist's life.
Thanks for all your support all the way
through a fantastic year.

Have a getting-ready-for-a-great-show day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The air conditioners arriveth

Oranges in a glass bowl on a summer tablecloth
8 x 8 inches
acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2010
(still some work to do here -- I'm
thinking about hits of colour on the
black. We'll see tomorrow).

When I was in New York people were delighted to
have beautiful weather, and so were we. We met
New Yorkers who joked that New York has only
two kinds of weather -- freezing cold, and horribly
hot. Sometimes it feels the same way here,
although it isn't entirely true. And I know it isn't
true in New York either.

The rooftop garden
the Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York City.
The incredible bamboo structure, Big Bambú, set the
scene for some great conversations in
early May.

Today was one of the warm ones, 84 degrees Fahrenheit
and sticky, going up to 86 tomorrow. These old houses
get pretty hot in that weather without some AC. We
don't have central air, so instead the men (Steven and Sam)
put in an air conditioner on the first floor (in the studio
-- yay), and one upstairs. With a series of fans we keep
the place reasonably cool.

So here's my painting for the day -- a bowl of oranges.
It's not quite complete but getting there.

My dog Zoey enjoying the sunshine.

Have a cooling-down-the-city day.

P.S. Last summer was so cold and rainy that
I only slept without a cashmere sweater or
fleece over my nightie one night all summer.
So you can imagine that Torontonians are
pretty delighted with the heat.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Late night painting after fireworks

In the park -- ready for summer
Stages 7 and 8
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

It's far to late to write anything now. We drove all
the way across the city to watch the Ashbridge's Bay
spectacular fireworks display from an accessible
beach. It was worth it, but I came home and worked
on this until this minute.

It is very close to finished. I am very pleased and
will probably be finished in all but the odd insistent
detail tomorrow.

Have an aren't-long-weekends-great? day

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Great day today

From the plane window waiting for take off
black marker on lined bond paper
91/2 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
It's the weekend, and my husband and I are
both working. I've been painting and he's fielding
calls about a project he's working on. So it was
especially great that it was a beautiful day.

In between working we bought the groceries,
made the supper and tonight were treated to
a movie with friends. A lot of fun. It's
Victoria Day now, and no doubt all day today
we'll here firecrackers going off in honour of the
Queen's birthday. This is pure hell for my dog,
Zoey who is afraid of loud noises, and is terrified
of thunder and firecrackers.

Tonight's drawing is another one I did on the
plane leaving the airport in Toronto. On both
the journey to and from New York there seemed
to be long wait times, when we were waiting to
get in the air, and waiting to get off the plane at
the other end. That gave me some time to dash off
a sketch. Always the good thing about being an

Have a loving-your-neighbourhood-firecrackers day.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New York Diaries Part Two

Don't worry I won't overwhelm you with every
minute of my four days in New York, although
I'd really enjoy that discussion.

Tonight I've been working on a big project, and
watching a movie with Steven. Now it's late,
so here's how it all began -- the trip to New York
that is. This is an excerpt from my journal. I'm
back to journaling most days as a way to
organize myself. It's a very helpful method to
clear your thoughts.

Wednesday May 5, 010

We are on the flight to New York -- flying away
from a thunderstorm. Steven has a Kobo (I
had no idea he owned such a thing). I bought
a book. Life is good. (editorial note: The book
was The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya
Gowda, and it was both excellent and riveting
about the plight of women giving birth to
daughters in some parts of India).

We're in the blue sky all is well. The server
gives us some salty things that taste a bit like
corn chips. I have a coffee because I'm beat.
I haven't been sleeping well for days, no weeks.

Commuting to New York City
black marker on bond paper
7 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

It's a beautiful day up here. The sophisticated
lady across from me (no Converse slip on
sneakers for her) is drinking a gin and tonic.
I am watching 30 Rock with the sound off.
I am careful not to let her see that I'm drawing her.

It's sunny up here with a bank of white clouds off
in the distance. The plane drives like a jeep.
Really it feels a bit like being in a windy, big car.

We're already landing! Wow. Well that's it
Huh! It's 80 degrees Fahrenheit in New York.
Yikes hot.

That's all from that trip for today. It's getting
hot here too.

Have a dreaming-of-going-places day.
P.S. I might have mentioned it before but
our women pilot and co-pilot steered that
plane right up through the middle of a circle
of thunder storms into the one small patch
of blue sky and then got us the heck out of
there. I felt supremely happy to have them
at the helm.

Friday, May 21, 2010

New York diaries

Just over two weeks ago I was at the opening
of the show I'm in until the end of the month
in New York. It was fantastic. You know I'm a
pretty low key person -- not in my personality
necessarily, but in my dress. I almost live in a
white shirt, black, or navy sweater, blue jeans
and boots or sneakers.

H.E. Ambassador Dr. Alton Louis Amsterdam III
International-Ambassador-at-Large (right) and
Ruthie Tucker, Executive Director-Curator,
Amsterdam Whitney Gallery (right) greet Baroness
Julia Shenchenko: Ukraine-Russia

So looking at the pictures of other gala openings
on the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery website made me
worried that I wouldn't be dressy enough, and I
did not have a mask. You see the gallery's gala openings
have a Mardi Gras air, and all the gallery staff,
artists and guests dress to the nines in formal attire,
and fancy dress masks.

Gallery assistant, Jenny with me and Steven
(Steven is carrying an envelope with
books I had printed of my work --
like a more formal portfolio -- what a
good man.)

Now that I've attended one of these superb parties
I see that the idea of hosting a special event evening
is a brilliant one.

The gala opening at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery had it
all -- great drama and a feeling of occasion with people
in formal dress, lots of wonderful food, cheeses and grapes,
and delicious cookies on silver trays. The art was super,
and the guests were very happy drinking the excellent
champagne. As soon as I met gallery curator and executive
Director Ruthie Tucker, all of my worries vanished.
The party felt like a joyous celebration.

Here's how the gallery owners described the night:
Amsterdam Whitney Gallery's exciting Gala and Glitzy
Champagne Reception took place on Thursday, May 6th.
The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery is located in the gold
coast Art District of Chelsea, NYC, which is the international
art buying center of the world. Amsterdam Whitney Gallery
was glittering and glowing with fun and excitement from this
ultra-fabulous Masquerade Champagne Party! In addition,
the artists of Amsterdam Whitney Gallery were thrilled that
the prominent NYC TV Producer and Show Biz Personality,
Ms. Kristal Hart attended the glamorous party and filmed it
for an upcoming Prime-Time 8:00 pm , "Kristal Hart Show,"
which will appear on Manhattan Cable TV and will showcase
Amsterdam Whitney Gallery's artists."

Reading that makes me feel so delighted all over again. It was
fun indeed. I talked to artists and art buyers from all over the
world, and was interviewed by Kristal Hart. All in all it was a
tremendously exciting evening.

Towards the end of the evening
I was interviewed about my paintings
by Kristal Hart.

I was so sorry my blog was down that night, and also that I was
having so much fun that I didn't take any pictures. The whole
evening was a complete treat. Thank you Amsterdam Whitney.

Tonight we raised a glass of champagne to the gallery, to
New York City, and to our neighbours SandraPacitti,
and Davide Tonizzo who joined us to sit out on the
(rather chilly) back porch for the first time this
spring. Davide had three of the products he
designed featured in The Wall Street journal recently.
Not too surprisingly we had a lot of fun, and of course
agree that our street -- Cherrywood Avenue, and its
inhabitants -- rocks.

Have a having-a-great-celebration day.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lilacs, tea, and painting

Heather's lilacs in a Victorian jug

I spent a great hour or two with a friend this
afternoon who recently helped me get my hotel
and flights for the New York trip. She made me a cup of
tea and we talked and laughed about so many
things. At the end of the visit we went out into
her garden and she picked me an armful of lilac
from the thriving tree in her yard.

I walked home overwhelmed by the delicious
perfume of the lilac, and now I'm painting,
so I'll show you my progress when I'm done.

In the park -- ready for summer
Stages 5 and 6
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir 2010
(beginning work on the faces, more on
the clothes, hair and background.
Faces will take more refining and
the girls' hands need work. I
worked mostly on the little boy
today, and he is coming along so
I'm happy -- I just need to make
him grin completely over the top
because that's him.)

As an artist I really enjoy being with my friends.
I was with another great friend yesterday, who
owns three of my portraits, and it was so
inspiring to spend some time with her too.

See -- that's where you come in. You are my
friends. It's almost as if being with people
I adore, seeing my friends' artwork, and
reading their comments on line, gets into
the paint, and makes each day a pleasure.
Forget almost. It's true.

Have a powered-by-friendship day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Make your own rules

In the park -- ready for summer
Stages 3 and 4
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir 2010

I think if I study for the rest of my life I will
never finish learning about art. The possible
lessons are infinite. But lessons are different
from rules. Rules are a rigid idea we get in our
heads about what "must" happen for a painting
to work, be good, be recognized. I think I am
learning every time I open my eyes. We all
are. A friend asked me today how to draw eyes,
and I thought, 'there's no easy answer.' I
don't have a formula for that. I stare and stare,
and try to figure out what's going on. But I
can tell my friend some things I've learned.
Then I tell him the important thing. I think
I'll always be learning more about how to create
everything I paint.

Many advisers say stick to one thing, get really
good at one thing. But what about our heroes?
Sargent was a magnificent portrait painter, and
his watercolours of seascapes, and landscapes are
fantastic. I'm pretty sure that anyone owning
a Sargent landscape watercolour now is very
happy indeed, and not complaining that the
piece is not a portrait - which is what Sargent was
known for. I'd take a portrait or landscape by
van Gogh, Cezanne, a still life or portrait by
Lynn Donoghue.

The point? Fool around. Love what you do.
Believe in your own path, and enjoy it.
I swear that's all that matters.

Have a painting-the-way-you-want-to day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A busy day

In the blue work shirt
acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

It's been a long day -- which started with a workman from
a construction crew knocking at the door early in the
morning asking me to move my car. I ran out in the
unattractive track shorts, and fleece I was sleeping in,
and moved my vehicle. Meanwhile the street turned into
a small sea of turmoil, machines thumping and grinding,
high whining of concrete saws, giant dump trucks
going up and down the short block, men in bright orange
vests and hard hats. I tried to go back to sleep, but ended
up getting up to paint.

I made good progress on the portrait(s) I showed you
yesterday, then escaped the noise to join friends
for coffee and run my errands. The crew is replacing
the natural gas lines in our area -- necessary and
important work. I used to work for a natural gas
company, and know that pipe corrosion is
not a good thing.

My street jammed with cars and
construction vehicles.

Tonight I went to my art group, and whipped off a
fast sketch of our wonderful model. The man
was good, brainy, great looking and funny. What
more could you ask for. And of course it was so nice
to see my artist friends again. They are wonderful.

Have a working-despite-distractions day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

On a new assignment

In the park -- ready for summer
Stages 1 and 2
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(I've done a light sketch -- you saw my
more detailed sketch -- then began blocking
in the large shapes in the underpainting

Step one is the underpainting. Actually with this one
which has to move apace, step one was the drawing, and
step two the underpainting, which is mostly finished.
I showed you my little ink drawing of them the other day,
but on Sunday I moved them onto the big canvas, and began
to think about what colours would work underneath to
make the colours above sing.

Today I kept working on it, and revising my thoughts. Right
now it looks like it will be dark indeed, but actually the
children are in a park on a lovely spring day, so its current
look will transform considerably.

I didn't learn about underpainting at art school. Maybe I didn't
stay long enough. I was eager to hear some meaningful
words, and in truth at the time followed my then heartthrob
from art school to university. He made it clear to me in my
first week there that he wanted nothing to do with me, so
I settled down to art and English literature, and that was

I learned about underpainting teaching English at the college
where I teach. Blurring the edges between English and art
I used to take my winter students to the Art Gallery of Ontario,
and make them write a research paper on one of the Canadian
artists featured at the gallery. While hosting field trips
for this purpose I would talk to my students about art and
what the painters were doing and why. Over several
semesters looking at the same paintings, I started to really
see the power of underpainting, especially in the work of
the Group of Seven. Then watching one of the women in my
art club get rich skin tones with a rust ground, I started
experimenting with rust, orange, red, and other colours.
Et voila as we say in Canada. Here I am, underpainting like
a mad dog, and happy to do so.

Have a that's-where-I-learned-that day.

P.S. Thank you Lawren Harris (Group of Seven -- fond of
a reddish purple underpainting). The painting of the PhD.
young woman went home today, and I was delighted that
her mother was happy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Coming into New York

In the kitchen researching for the doctorate
Stage 6
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(I may add a small glint in
her eyes, but may not...otherwise
this is it. Now she can get her
doctorate, and then that's another
painting -- don't you think?)

Before visiting New York City this time I had only been
to the city once before. The driver then was a manic
depressive relative on a manic day, so we saw a great
deal in the 15 hours or so that we were in the city.
Needless to say we were both incredibly excited to be
back after such a long time.

Here are my first impressions:

Coming in for a landing at
LaGuardia, the skyline is
in the background, and already
we're very excited.

Taxiing around the runway on landing we
were greeted with this sign.

Driving across the bridge on the airport shuttle
we felt like we were in every movie and TV
show we'd ever watched. And the experience
continued. Everywhere we looked we felt
like we were seeing a set, a work of art --
each image was significant and packed with
memory and thought. New York actually lives
in all of our psyches in the modern world
whether we know it or not.

More to come in the next few days. Meanwhile back to the easel.

Have a doing-what-you-do-best day.

Two people I miss

Yaisha and Katiana
Charcoal on bond paper
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir 2010

Two of my favorite people in New York City -- and there
were many -- are these two young women Yaisha (pronounced
Jaisha) and Katiana who work as receptionists at
the El Qujiote restaurant on West 23rd Street. I will eventually
do a painting of them, but for today I've done a charcoal
drawing. They made our visits to the restaurant a complete
treat. And more than that in the few minutes of seating us
at our table they made us feel like we were friends. This is
a knack that many people in New York have. They know
how to reach out and make people feel welcome. That's
just part of the reason (a big part) why we love New York.
Another was the stuffed filet of sole at the El Qujiote, one of
the best fish dishes I've ever tasted. Oh yeah, and that's saying
something from a woman who eats fish in the Maritimes for
three weeks every summer.

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

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Blog is back at the right address

In the kitchen researching for the doctorate
Stage 5
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(Just a few refinements to make
and this girl can go home to her mother.)

What a week it's been filled with wonderful occasions
and the constant annoyance of my blog being down.
Well today my wonderful printer/computer whiz Chris,
finally solved the problem and here I am again.

So I treated Chris to champagne and flowers because
he'd worked at this for a number of afternoons with
me whining and computer illiterate in a corner, while
he tried to conduct the rest of his business at the same
time Thank you so much Chris, and Ellen. You guys
are fantastic, and I am so entirely grateful.

Now that it's back I can give you quite the photo story of
our lovely trip to New York City. Imagine how sad
I was not to be able to tell you all about it while I
was there. But I did keep a bit of a diary, and promise to
give you excerpts and the few drawings I did while I
was there starting -- tomorrow!

Have a believe-it-will-all-work-out-just-fine day.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dental surgery day -- no time for painting

Happy Together
black marker on bond paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
My younger son had six wisdom teeth taken out today.

Not only that but we were sitting in the waiting room
ready to take him home after one tooth was removed
when the nurse told us it would be six! Six! Steven
nearly had a heart attack. That's a lot of wisdom teeth --
but then Sam is extra smart. So we took a deep breath,
and now we're home administering to our recovering
young fellow. The dentist is amazingly skilled (I
used to be a dental assistant as a teenager and I know),
and the whole operation was done neatly and cleanly
within an hour.

But I am administering drinks, pain killers, mushy
food, and attending to the wee 6'4" lad. So the
most art I got around to today is this small sketch
I did waiting in the dentist's office. The children
in the picture are a family I'll be painting in the next
couple of weeks. They are lovely children, and a
happy, close knit bunch. I am looking forward to
capturing their energy in paint.

Have a taking-care-of-your-family day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Blog saga continues

In the kitchen researching for the doctorate
Stage 4
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(experimenting with colour changes --
see April 30, starting on cabinet,
and drawing in china. Colour
may change again tomorrow as
I refine the face and hands.)

For the past few days since we flew in from New York
City I've been preoccupied with trying to get my blog
back up and running at the right address. People
on my blog list can get to the blog, but no one else
can, and that's somewhat frustrating.

Someone today suggested trying the Geek Squad, and that might
be a good idea. But meanwhile my kind team of
family and friends keeps trying to figure out how to
connect one blog to the right address.

My answer to all of it, when it becomes overwhelming
is to escape into the studio, and get to work on some
of the commissions and other work I need to finish
by the end of the month. It's a busy time, and the
techno whizzes I know will solve this while I paint.

Here's the next stage on one of the portraits I'm working
on right now. Most of the colours changed today, and will
again tomorrow.

Have a what-matters-is-the-art day.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thinking about New York

Coffee at 8th Avenue and 23rd Street, NYC
charcoal on bond paper
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

On the last morning in New York we had the breakfast thing
figured out. That was the only meal we had to plan -- every
other meal was beyond great. I'm an oatmeal fan, but I also
need coffee, and in recent years this means Starbucks. There
is no shortage of Starbucks cafés in NYC. But we realized we've
been spoiled by hotels with room service on our once yearly
trips to Nova Scotia.

People who deliver breakfast in hotels bring it in on a steam
table covered with a linen cloth, and on hot china plates,
under silver domes. The breakfast guy or woman in uniform lifts
the covers on your steaming hot plates, shows you where the milk
is, pours the coffee, and asks if there's anything else you need.
So after a few years of loving this treatment for about four
mornings a year I don't like cranky servers.

After a few less-than-cheerful starts we figured out a
workable routine -- get the coffee first at Starbucks, then
go to another spot for oatmeal and Steven's eggs over easy.

The Starbucks we preferred in our neighbourhood -- very
sunny -- singing, great music on the stereo -- happy clients --
The Starbucks at 8th and 23rd St. The couple I drew tonight
looked extremely happy, and self satisfied with their tidy
Mother's Day clothes. I asked if I could photograph them
for a painting, and they said yes. I hope to turn this drawing
into a painting at a later date. I'd like to do a New York series.
We'll see how it goes.

After coffee we headed off to a great bistro serving oatmeal
and super eggs over easy -- but the coffee was milky and not
quite warm enough. We drank it anyway because everything
else was great, including the elegant lady, a Sloane, next
to us who told us some wonderful stories about her life.
The pre-breakfast giant Starbucks worked: we were awake and
happy, so cold coffee wasn't the end of the world .

Have a loving-your-breakfast day

P.S. Breakfast at home? Starbucks coffee - two, made at
home, oatmeal and skim milk, and for Steven eggs,
toast, coffee. All good. Throw in the paper, CBC on
the radio, a couple of cats, a dog, maybe a few pages
of the novel, and a tall kid, and it's a great morning.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Vasily Kandinsky you floor me

Picture with an archer (detail)
by Vasily Kandinsky

While we were in New York we visited the MOMA
(Museum of Modern Art) twice. As an artist with
an exhibit in New York City, I got a special artist's
membership for a bit more than the price of a one
time admission, so the second time I went in free.

What can I say? There was so much to see that was
wonderful in the MOMA. You could spend a happy
afternoon in the design store across the street.

But one of the things that I liked was the painting
Picture with an archer by Vasily Kandinsky. I took
several close up pictures of the painting, trying to
capture its intensity and texture. (Photos were permitted.)
It completely entranced me. The colour was so rich,
I know no photograph can convey what I saw. But
check it out next time you're at the MOMA.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Outside and Way Outside

Finding the poster with my
painting outside the Amsterdam
Whitney Gallery in NYC. The poster
above my hand shows my painting
in the upper right hand corner.

Over the next few days, make that weeks
I'll post pictures of our New York art experience
when possible. My blog is still a bit difficult to
access, but it feels great to be able to write here
at all.

Here's a picture from when we first arrived and
walked over to see the Amsterdam Whitney
Gallery. The Gallery is on the fourth floor of a
building filled with galleries on a street filled
with galleries in Chelsea, NYC. The curator,
Ruthie Tucker wants the gallery to feel like
a home, so there are comfortable and pretty
chairs, small tables here and there to hold
cards, and information, and the gallery is made
up of three large rooms.

The Liberty display at Times Square

We walked everywhere possible in New York,
given our very short stay. And took the
subway, and in the last couple of days cabs,
just to get places quickly so we could see more.
One night we walked over to Times Square.

Have a getting-the-technical-stuff-in-order day.

I seem to be back!

The Baroness Julia (that's all I know -- more
info later) and me at the opening at
the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in Chelsea
New York!
Hey everyone,

Here's to blogging. I am back from New York, and if this
works expect more after Mother's Day supper.

Missed you,


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The odd thing about travel

Toronto through the car window. Love you Toronto.

So as excited as I am about leaving town today, and if
I find a way to post, I'll add to this little note, there's
some things about travel that intrigue me. When
we're heading out to Nova Scotia in the summer,
it takes us a whole day to pack -- so that we never
actually get out of town before the evening.

Usually we're heading to Ottawa to see my mother
first, and she optimistically has dinner on the table
at a reasonable hour. But by the time we arrive,
hours later, she's eaten and reheats our delicious meal
in the microwave.

I am so pumped about going to New York. It is
without a doubt one of the most exciting things
to happen in a long list of exciting events.
But as I leave, Toronto looks more beautiful than
ever -- and I'm a fan full time. It looks so green,
flowery, friendly. And leaving makes me realize
how much I love my friends here, and the people
I deal with in my art group, and at school. Such
great people in every aspect of my life. I feel
a tug towards them. I'm like a mother leaving
a young child, though in fact my children are
grown and heartily independent.

So here's to you the beautiful Toronto, and
here's to you the fantastic New York, and to
everyone from all the other places I know
I'll visit one day.

Have a seeing-your-home-with-new-eyes day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Heading for the big apple

Driving through the streets of Toronto
today. The weather was crazy -- sun showers --
a heavy downpour beautifully lit.

By the time you read this I may already be in New York
City. I will be posting as often as possible while I'm there
to keep you in the loop.

I'm afraid the art I've been up to today is the art of office
managing the art business part -- and shopping for clothes,
something I rarely do.

This happy couple is going to New York City
Steven and me at the party the other night --
trying out some fancy duds.

I thought for your entertainment I'd post some pictures
from our last trip to act as a contrast to our current
destination. So here they are.

A Tuscan farmhouse rose in December -- wow!

The rose in context -- set in the rolling farm landscape
in Tuscany, Italy

Fearless artist takes a stroll in Siena, Italy

Have a getting-to-see-other-points-of-view day.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A happy finish

Golden Sunlight Cherrywood
acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

This little painting -- Golden Sunlight Cherrywood
sold yesterday at the Don Valley Art Club spring show.
I know I showed it to you while I was working on
it, and I finished it up on time to submit to the
show a week ago on Monday.

I liked the fact that it looks so cheerful when it
was painted mid-winter. Light always makes me
joyous, and the end of day light that day was
spectacular. The man who bought it was struck by
the happy mood, and I told him I work on being
happy full time. So that is a wonderful thing to know.
The painting has gone to a collector who understands
what I was trying to do.

It's a busy day here. So I'll talk to you tomorrow.
Enjoy the spring.

Have a looking-on-the-bright-side day.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Sitting" the show

Mother and Child
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

The Don Valley Art Club Spring Show at Todd
Morden Mills is on next weekend too, and if
you're interested in owning fine art, it's the place
to go. More than 150 painters and graphic artists
have work on display in the magnificent gallery
created in the Old Mill building.

Today I was sitting the show, but instead used the
giant space to circle endlessly and try to get my
steps. In the process I sold eight paintings for the
club, and was overjoyed at that. So it was a very
good day.

I haven't shown you the final version of my
Mother and Child, but I took a photo of it today.

Have a getting-out-to-the-shows day.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Artist's night off

Getting ready to go out on the town
The artist escapes her studio

I love Saturday night, and frequently lately have
worked straight through the weekend as though
it is just the same as the rest of the week.

But not tonight! We were invited to a little
dinner party at a friend's house -- also an
artist, and had a wonderful time. It has been
a super day -- grey and rainy the way April
should be, but warm and flower filled the way
May should be.

The evening was filled with the scent of flowering trees

Now it's late and I hope you've had a brilliant
Saturday doing what you love to do. I know
I have, great company, great food, superb
witty and funny conversation. Fantastic.

One of the guests built this sculpture on
the table and wanted it featured
on my blog. So here it is.

Have a loving-the-beginning-of-May 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!