Monday, June 7, 2010

Plugging in and unplugging

In the park -- ready for summer
Final version
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(The final, final version of the painting --
I took it back to its owners last night
after the show closed for the day.
Steven and I were invited in to see
it where it will live above a very
beautiful mantle. It looked wonderful there.)

A few weeks ago a friend of mine talked about
feeling guilty for doing a crafts project and not
painting. I sometimes wonder if the downside
of blogging is the pressure to produce. For me
it's been a definite plus, but it's not such a good thing
if an artist feels guilty for having fun doing any
other thing.

Then the other day an artist visited
the gallery and we had a great discussion on
the beginning of specializing. We decided
that this phenomenon has intensified over
the years. For instance the woman writes,
and gives talks at the University of Toronto,
but she can't get a teaching position there
because she doesn't have a degree in

You don't need a degree in painting to paint.
You need to paint. Painting teaches us how
to paint. And so do our eyes. I was trying
to remember what I saw when I got out of
the car tonight after coming home from the
gallery. So here goes. I saw the squirrels who live in the
tree in front of our house running across the
roof and leaping into the tree. I saw
the golden light hitting the houses across the
street, the grass getting as long as a field in
front of the house, which says my husband has
been busy, the pansies, getting long legged in
the pots, so incredibly beautiful, which says the
tree on our front lawn is coming back to life after
a very dry winter and shading the flowers,
the maple keys all over the front walk, and I heard
the sound of robins chirping. I saw the dusty red
chair on the front porch, and the little child's chair
I rescued from the garden and the chair Sam
started to paint a few years ago and never finished.
When I opened the door I saw the mail fanned out across the dark
rug in the hall as though it had been blown in by
a high wind, and the dog and the cats running down
the stairs towards me. I let the dog out the back door and
saw leaves coming up in the garden that look a bit like
Japanese anemones. (Yay)(One minute tops of what an artist
sees -- which is why we really don't need drugs
except to go to sleep.)

Remember the excitement of being a little kid? ( Yes you do,
because if you're an artist you still have it.) It's impossible
to teach our intense observation, you can only train it. At the same
time thinking about painting, painting and obsessing
about the painting you're painting all mean that you
need a break from time to time. I spent an afternoon
recently gilding a terra cotta plate with real gold leaf.
The plate had been gilded at one time, but left
outside and the gilding had worn off. It would be
hard to think of anything less important to
accomplish, but I felt great afterwards, and went
back to my painting projects renewed.

Have a noticing-how-much-you-see day.


Melinda said...

Very nice finish on this family portrait! I am still drinking in the intense colors, especially in the background trees. Very good.

So glad you had a grand time with the art show. Hope you met a lot of new friends and potential patrons.


if I ever need a "happy buzz" I just open your blog

eldon said...

Beautiful painting Barbara. As per normal.
I take a lot of breaks and feel only mildly guilty for doing it. I know if I'm painting and am in need of a break my painting suffers. Why not take the break?

Marilyn Flanegan said...

Your paintings have a wonderfully refreshing vibe. And your writing is icing on the cake, a natural blogger and an incredibly observant soul.
Are you scheduled to exhibit your work this September? I'm planning a trip St. Catharines via Toronto and would love to see your work.
Congratulations on your recent show.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

The people were so lovely. Thanks for the background trees reminiscent of ...Chelsea, Quebec.

We are having a grand time still. I so wish you could be here.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks so much. I'm glad I make you happy.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Eldon,

But the world of the artist has changed and one of the ways is the elimination of leisurely production.
In a way that's sad.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Marilyn,

I usually participate in the Artwalk studio tour at the end of September. I haven't heard anything yet this year, but I'll look into it when the show is over.

That display is in my own very tiny, very colourful house.

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!