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.


Elizabeth Seaver said...

Oh, good advice.. fool around. And love what you do, which you obviously do!

Lovely portrait in progress.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear!! I once created a 'play station' of 6 small canvases that i wanted to approach with a 'what the heck, lets give this a try' attitude, and it has launched me into fun i couldn't have imagined if I stuck with the same old same old that i had been doing before.
The only reason to do it, is the learning i have found.
That triple portrait looks like its coming along beautifully.

eldon said...

I totally agree. You should see some of the stuff I don't show anyone. One thing aids another.

Being a landscape painter (mostly) I find the back ground area of this painting interesting. It'll be fun to watch the progress.

Gwen Bell said...

This is coming along beautifully, Barbara. It is always so interesting to see your process!

Great post and very good advice! So glad you paint a variety of subjects because your still lives and landscapes are every bit as beautiful as your portraits. Keep it up!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Elizabeth,

I love painting, it's true. Especially when it's fun. Thanks so much.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Sally,

I love the Chester paintings. I've been there and it so different, so much wealthier than the part of Nova Scotia we go to, that in a way it's like an escape to a whole other world. Great work.

Thanks for the encouragement.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Eldon,

There's not much I won't show anyone, because you see most of it right here. But playing matters you are right.

I like the background too. It will of course get less dramatic, but it's fun at this stage.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Gwen,

The same is true for you. I couldn't believe it when I read that you are self-taught. Your work is so vivid and fantastic. I hope you win your contest.

Thanks for the sweet encouragement.


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!