Monday, November 22, 2010

Thank you Alex Colville

 Sean's Garden
(Work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2010
(This is a little painting of
the garden under our apple tree
this summer.  I'm calling it
Sean's garden because  it was
lush and flourishing because of
Sean Gallagher's incredible work.)

Do you ever worry that you're not blogging enough?
Not producing enough? Not showing enough work
to the blog world.  You know you do.  It's the current
mania for artists to produce paintings as quickly as
cars and toasters are produced in a slick manufacturing
plant.  But some artists don't work that way.

One of Canada's biggest national newspapers
The Globe and Mail is featuring an article on
Alex Colville today. Colville is one of the greats in current
Canadian art who is celebrating his 90th birthday.
His work is both straightforward and deep.
Some of it is cold and frightening, and some chronicles
the warm relationship he has with his wife.  In fact it's
impossible to pigeon hole him as any one thing, and
that's good.

But he turns out three paintings a year.  He spends endless
time in preparation, doing sketches and planning.  Isn't this
a good thing?  I was talking to an artist last week,  caught
in the conflict of doing the work she needs to do for money,
and dreaming of the work she wants to do, that needs time.

Apparently a full-time artist in Canada earns on average
$11,000.00 per year, and I know many full time artists who
would be happy to get that much.  So artists do need other work
just to support their passion, until they are famous like Alex
Colville.  But this article gives us permission to take our time,
to work slowly and thoughtfully in the way he does.

Okay, it's back to the studio -- but could you just relax for a
moment, and realize -- no you're not crazy.  Art takes time.

One caveat.  That is that art can take time, and it can take no
time.  There is no magic formula, and the art produced in hours,
is no better or worse than that produced in months.  So time
is no measure of success.  What I'm saying is that if it does  take
time, and some of my work takes a long, long time -- that's okay.
It takes our artistic heroes time too.

Another Maritime artist who I'm sure works in a slow and careful
manner is Mary Pratt, and I love her high realism too. I'm adding her
in because some of the artists in the south western United States
have requested that I mention more women.  Balance.  All is balance.

Have a taking-it-slow-and-easy day.


Linda Popple said...

I pulled up Mary Pratt and her work is beautiful! Alex Colville will have to wait for another time as my computer will not go to his site. I love your post. It not only introduced new artists, but the idea of taking time makes a lot of sense, especially in this blogging world. I try so hard to do a daily painting (or close to a daily painting) for my blog that I forget that I should take some time and paint something larger and more complex. After all, I am learning in both efforts and that is my goal. So thank you, Barbara, for the reminder. :-)

Gwen Bell said...

Love the abstract elements in this gorgeous landscape! I could stay in the upper and lower left corners for a long time...such a delightful play of colors and shapes.

And thanks for the thought provoking post! Been feeling lousy about only posting 3 paintings this month, but after reading this I am going to concentrate on enjoying the experience.

Love the video! I'm sure it will play in my head (and I'll think of this post) the next time I'm in a rush to finish a painting.

cohen labelle said...

Yes, thank you to Alex Coleville but we should also say, thank you Barbara Muir! This painting has beautiful light and design in it!

And you're absolutely right to remind us to move out of the fast lane from time to time, although I probably need to be told the opposite . But my mommy also, used to warn against instilling in someone a sense of rush, especially her grandchildren.
And last but not least, thank you Zoey for singing happy birthday to me over the phone yesterday even though it wasn't my birthday. I mean really - was that a dog or a person, I'm confused - definitely a marketable skill there!
love, Marcia

Melinda said...

Wow. Wow. Wow. Love this painting with the bold colors and strong shapes and contrast. Food for my eyes.

Yes, I do worry that I'm not in the studio enough, working enough, being great when I'm not sure what that is.

Your story about Alex Colville puts things in proper perspective again.

Thank you!

You made me laugh out loud again with your dutiful mention of a woman artist in your post. Love it. Yes, only we women can build the foundation that always includes women in the art world's conversation. No one else will, if we don't.

Loved both Colville's and Pratt's work.

You're right again that any artist who could make a living from their art would be very happy!

Let's keep reaching for that. Okay, I'll take your advice...

Anonymous said...

good point Barbara about taking time if we need it. I have often felt I dont post on my blog often enough, but then I ask myself "is it more important for me to hurry up and make a blogpost or is it more important to make the art?" The latter wins out consistantly. Yay for Alex Colville. and for Mary Pratt. And for Barbara Muir, because that is one gorgeous little painting of the garden. wow a Maharaian princess in the bloodline, how cool is that?

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Linda,

I hope you can get to Alex Colville now. I checked that out. I think we paint what we need to paint when the time is right. The daily painting demand is really something isn't it.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Gwen,

You are so busy. I don't think blogging should hang over our heads like a punishment. It should be a place to share, a forum.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Marcia,

Of course the time has come for some pets, some animal companions. They are not only a great comfort, but an inspiration. And they love music. The dog sings, the cat plays the piano, and the other cat keens. A lot going on.



Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

I'm glad you laughed with the Mary Pratt reference. I actually met her years ago at the opening of one of her shows. She was the wife of Christopher Pratt, another Canadian icon. I really love her work.

Thanks for your sweet support.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Sally,

Yes -- I would certainly like to know more. But information is sadly thin on the vine. I believe she married into the Dutch line of our family.


Portrait Artist

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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!