Friday, November 12, 2010

Trying to catch it

First class lounge Ottawa train station
Black marker on notebook paper
9 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir 2010
I sometimes wish that I had more of an artistic imagination.
I don't know whether it's my training, or inclination, but
my whole art gig has been spent trying to capture what
I see.  Of course just ask anyone who knows me, and
that person will underscore the fact that I do not see
what "normal" people see.  But what I paint, with minor
modifications is what's in front of me.

Last weekend when we went to see my mother, we
traveled by train.  What a hoot the train is.  We decided
to treat ourselves to first class, which is modestly more
than coach, and boy do they treat you right.  From the
moment you sit down there are snacks, then drinks,
then the heated face cloths to get ready for -- the
fancy little appetizers, then more wine and the main
course meal.  You might be sad and worried when you
sit down, but you are one happy puppy when you
deboard, or whatever they call getting off the train. On the
return trip I got out my notebook and did a quick, quick
sketch of the people in the waiting room before we
were called to get on board.  Don't you love the sound
of a train -- and it's so much better when you're on it.

It was a serious traveling weekend, which is why
we took the train.  We celebrated my mother's birthday
in Ottawa, five hours away, and after a brief stop back home
drove the same distance from Toronto to Windsor to see my
son Sam for his birthday. Then it was back home to Toronto
for Steven's.  All of those, "I'm a travelling man" songs were
scurrying through my brain.  Except of course I'm a traveling woman.

A shout out to my sister-in-law (BFSIL forever) who's
on my family's birthday train because it was her birthday
yesterday on Canada's Remembrance Day.

Have a recording-the-world-you-see day


eldon said...

We've been threatening a ride on the train from here to Sante Fe. Some day maybe. :) And 1st class sounds like the way to go.

I do two things to imagine what I can't see for reals. One is I just start drawing things along the line of what I think I want. Like a werewolf or dragon or whatever. At first the drawings are just crap but the process refines as it goes and pretty soon I have something on paper. The other is to close my eyes and let the pictures flow through my minds eye until something gels. Sometimes it takes a while, sometimes it happens quickly.

Anonymous said...

I hear ya on the artistic imagination thing Barbara. I am deliberately working on trying to stretch mine these days. exercises in my sketchbook help work ideas out and the questions:
What am i trying to say? How am I going to say it?

cohen labelle said...

Barbara - just from an astrological point of view you would make a fascinating case study with so many of your family's birthdays following so closely, one after the other, including Steven's! Happy Birthday Steven and Sam. But it all fits in so beautifully with your wonderful anecdotal style and impromptu drawings which I love. And yes! let's hear a mega hip hip hurray for the train - I love the train too!
love, Marcia

Melinda said...

What an exciting time. I love trains and your description sounds fantastic. Wish I could have been there with you guys.

All those birthdays! Wow. Are you partied out now?

Love this sketch. I feel the energy and sense of place in this beauty.

How do you keep up with so much activity?! You are a force of nature, yes?!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Eldon,

You are lucky, when I work from my internal thoughts without any reference the work looks too babyish. I guess I'm a hardcore recorder. Of course I distort, change, rearrange, soften, and completely transform the reality I'm working from. And I do add in imaginary things. For instance I've never seen a real cardinal sit on a girl's shoulder. But I would like to.

You are a sweetheart.

Take care,


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Sally,

I have certainly had commissions that force me to invent the painting. I painted a couple last year 3' x 4' from blurred images that were 3 inches square. That was a challenge,
and it worked out well. But I have to admit I'm a take it from reality and change it kind of artist.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Marcia,

Thank goodness you love the train. I love the sound. It is so romantic somehow. Of course the wine that they serve liberally adds to the romantic feeling.

Love Barbara

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

I'm afraid Steven's is the last one for a few weeks, and he doesn't get quite the energy of the first one. We had a couple of cakes turning into sculptures in the fridge. The weekend of travel was hectic, but also fun. Now paying for the presents, that's a bit touchy. Still everyone is happy, and that's what counts.

This force of nature sure does get tired. Don't worry I can slime out in front of the TV with the best of them.


Portrait Artist

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I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
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