Friday, December 30, 2011

The whole thought -- simple but valid

video
This is it -- so have fun whenever it's possible.

There's a tendency in art to worry so much about
whether what we're doing is worthy, or will
it stand the test of time.  Ultimately does it
stand the test of enjoyment?  Did you have
fun creating it?  Does it make you happy looking
at it?  The test of time happens after this party
is over.  Meanwhile enjoy the dancing.  It's a 
short ride on this little planet.  That's my cat
Timbah.  He works hard at having fun.  A good
plan.

Well this is where we were going

video

Possible!

Ah the delicious agony of the one word video fest

video
 It's
Imagine if you had to have every conversation word
by word.  Wouldn't we slow down a bit.  Maybe that's
the point as we end the year.  Slow down and think.
Here's the next word.

I promise this one's nearly finished


video 

Whenever

Aha -- you knew this was coming!

video
Fun

Closer, and closer -- stay with me

video
Have

Getting to closer to completion

video
So

Another new word

video 

it

Next word

video
is

Next word in the new thought.

The next set - another little thought in one word video


video

This
First video in another thought stream.

The whole thought

What's my point?  You can't follow someone else
in art.  Of course you can -- but only you are you
in the whole world -- and however you paint, draw,
sculpt is right for you.  I have a feeling there will
be more advice along these lines coming from
yours truly.   Hope you're having fun.

video
Take your own direction.
Have a taking-your-own-direction day.

The Last word in this thought

Coming up -- the whole thought in one giant video.
Wait for it.  (No I have not suddenly gone crazy.  I
have just had an idea.  That's what we're all about
right?)

video 
Direction

And another

How this works, scroll back through time, and start
with the first word video.  Patience is a virtue I hear.
Glad you're here.

video
Own

Another word

Be patient.  It all adds up to something.  Just
like each day in the year, adds up to a year.

video
 Your

Much love to you.

End of year one word video fest

video 
  First one word  video -- Take
Hi everyone.  To finish off the year I am trying something
new.  Yes! Another idea that hit me in the middle of
the night.  Was I sleeping.  Probably.  If so sleepwalk with
me.  This is the end-of-the-year one word video fest.

Here's how it works.  It's a conglomeration of a bunch
of thoughts I've had during the year watching you, and
watching myself through the blog -- and life.  So I'll
post one word videos adding up to a thought, then the
whole thought.

Expect a lot of them.  And don't worry, in a few days this
whole fest will be over and we'll start a new year.  That will
be fun eh?

(Canadian for that will be fun -- won't it!)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On the road home

 Farmland near Kingston
Watercolour and black marker on watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
The trip from Toronto to my mother's house in
Ottawa is so carved in my soul that I feel like
I know every house, every tree along the way.
Of course I don't.  And one of the great things
about traveling, even a familiar route, is that
everything changes all the time, and there are
wonderful surprises along the way.  This is
a scene on the road from Kingston to Ottawa.
The entire trip takes about five hours with stops
for coffee, and food.  But it always feels so good
to be moving towards the familiar.

Have a going-home-to-see-Mom day.

The fun of it

 
Joking with friends
Skype drawing
10 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Sometimes Sam Skypes me when he's
at a friend's house and even at a party.
Then I get to see a very different guy --
his social side. I may meet people at
the party, and enjoy this so much.
I can't imagine calling my mother from
a party when I was that age -- let alone
letting her see me on video.  But we live
in different times.  All good.

Have a life-is-good day.

Complex feelings

Talking to home
Black marker on drawing paper
10 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Human life has its ups and downs.  An
understatement if ever there was one.  Sometimes
when I see Steven on Skype when he's
traveling for work -- he is so upset at the
end of the day.  Work with all its rewards
can be challenging and frustrating.

This must have been one of those days.
At home you hug in the kitchen, sit down
to dinner with flowers and candles.  Apart
none of that calming reassurance is available.

Have a loving-seeing-each-other day.
P.S.  As I write this I hear Steven washing
dishes in the kitchen -- a lovely sound.

Shhh!

 Silenzio!
Skype drawing
Black marker on drawing paper
10 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Okay, so I know I'm going on about Steven.
Sorry.  The good thing about being separated
so much is missing one another.  The bad
thing?  Same.  We laugh so much together.
I don't have a quiet laugh.  Perhaps I was
being told to laugh, but softly.

Have a laughing-with-your-mate day.

Goodbye School house

 
 At the door
Black marker on Charvin paper
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
One of the highlights of our year is
going to our school house in Nova
Scotia.  Saying goodbye is a ritual.
We take our pictures in front of the
school house front door.  This is a fast
sketch from this year's photo. In this
shot there are tears in our eyes.  The
holiday is always wonderful, and
always too short.  We miss our friends,
the ocean, the food, the beauty.

And we love Toronto too.  So there
you go.

Have a being-where-you-are day.

The plan someday

 
A pause
Black marker on bond paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Henriette Sonne, the fabulous Danish artist who
lives in Norway with her brilliant filmmaker
husband, and two little children, was showing
her series Buy Two get One Half Price
at the Louvre in early December.  We met in
Florence when we were both showing at
the Florence Biennale in 2009.  Since then
I have painted and drawn Henriette via Skype
quite a few times.

In our conversation last spring about Skype
I told her that I photograph my conversations
with Steven while we're talking.  Afterwards
I go through the photos and it feels like having
the conversation again.  Henriette said that when
we have a show together sometime I must
place these photos all around the gallery wall.
I could probably also fill a gallery with my
drawings of Steven from those photos.

Here is another one.

Have a covering-the-walls-with-art day.

Oh my darling

 
 Steven takes a break
Black marker on bond paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

When I first started drawing from Skype
and screen capture photos from Skype images
I could not have imagined how vital Skype
would become to me.  Yes my Skype images
changed my art career, but in the past year
and a half, Skype has been one of the main
ways I get to see my sweet Steven.  His work
has meant he's had to be out of town a lot,
and Skype lets us see one another.  Every mood,
every daily joy, the animals on my end, and
all the sorrow of missing one another (which
we do to a painful extent sometimes) comes
through the computer when we're apart.

Here's a drawing of Steven taken from one
of the many photos I take of him while we talk.

Have a thanking-technology-for-being-there day.

An artist's companions

 Zoey and Steven in the park
I found an old journal entry from last year
when I was worrying myself sick about a
painting.  I wrote a note to self saying go
for a short walk.  These are my walking companions
Zoey the dog, in the red coat, and Steven
busily hunting for appropriate sticks to throw
for her.  We live minutes from a gorgeous park.
They take me there.  In a short walk with them
I forget everything else.  This is how they looked
today.

Have a walking-for-the-joy-of-it day.

The Studio dresses up

 
 Holiday studio decor
My studio is just like yours -- filled with paint,
paintings, reference material.  I try to corral my smaller work,
and many art books into bookshelves and baskets,
but productive artists (and I guess I am one) create.
But can my studio change her stripes, dress up,
transform and go to the party?  She can.  Here she
is as she looked shortly after the Christmas present
opening, showing off her newly decorated hearth.

Have a loving-the-space-where-you-create day.

What was left behind

 
 Too much work
black marker and coloured pencil on bond paper
5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Alyson Stanfield asks today what we would
leave behind or shred from the past year.  Here's
an image that makes me laugh, even though I
will no doubt see a similar sight again.  It's
my bed where I retreat to mark papers, and there
they are piled all around me.  I can leave that
image behind, or share it with you here -- because
it is funny, and in high contrast to my bed now --
a novel, a cup of chamomile tea -- pure pleasure.

Have an appreciating-what-you-do-day.

I understand the tree bit

 Oh Christmas Tree
Photo © Barbara Muir, 2011
Today we went walking in our local park.  I wore
my icers and held onto Steven for dear life in
the slippery spots.  But this is one small sample
of what we saw.  When I see a tree like this one
in the park, I get why we haul them in at
Christmas.  Aside from the delicious smell,
the look is spectacular.

Have a loving-the-trees-you know day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Favorite carrots of all time

Carrots on a blue and white platter
Black marker, watercolour and watercolour crayons
on watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
I  do love carrots, but not the tired, metallic
tasting carrots you get at the store in the middle
of winter.  This year at the market I found a
farming family who took great pride in
having strange carrots.  They sold carrots
shaped like round orange balls, carrots in
red, yellow and sometimes a dark purple,
and all of their carrots were delicious.
We ate them in stir-fries, soup and salad
and were entirely delighted.

This little watercolour features bunches
of their beauties on a lovely antique blue
and white platter.  Fit setting for these
carrot jewels.


Have an eating-your-carrots day.

A year of wonderful market flowers

Home from the market
Watercolour and watercolour crayon on
drawing paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
The flower lady at the Brickworks farmer's
market creates wonderful bouquets from
flowers she grows in her own  sizeable
garden.  Thinking back on 2011 I wanted
to include a quick sketch of one of them.
I did this with watercolours and watercolour
crayons on drawing paper.  The paper
wasn't really designed for water, but I
am still happy with the painting's exuberance.
That's how I feel any Saturday that I carry
home one of Pegann's bouquets.

Have an enjoying-the-flowers-in-your-life day.

At the computer

Concentrating on the script
Black marker on Charvin paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

I asked Sam to pose for me, and he
is incredibly obliging.  The light in the
room was poor, so I did a quick sketch
of him here working on his computer.

I am happy with this one.  It captures
Sam's kindness -- sometimes I make
him look fierce, and that's purely an
act.  But then he is studying to be an
actor, so that ability will stand him in
good stead.

Have a loving-kindness-in-others day.

Time together


 
 Sam reading
Black marker on Charvin paper
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
It's so rare for Sam to have time at home when
he's at school so far away.  He is very busy
this holiday learning his lines for the parts
he'll play next term.  First he is the father in
Emma, and he's been reading Jane Austen's
novel.  One day he read aloud to me and it
was wonderful.

Have a spending-time-with-your-kids day.

Clutter

 The phone is here somewhere
Black marker on notebook paper
7 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(Can you find the phone, and the glasses?)
One of the few demons in my life is clutter.
Combine a lack of time with many interests
and the result can be clutter.  I was thinking
about it the other day, because it's a scramble
when the wonderful women who clean for
us come to make everything supremely
tidy.  Most of the problems result from art -
creating paintings in a home studio, and reading.
We read so many books and magazines.
This drawing is of my bedside table, with the
drawer open.

Today the cleaners cleaned the entire house,
not just the two floors they normally handle.
(We have three and they do the main floor and
the upstairs one time, and the main floor and
basement the next.) It was a special pre-New Years
clean sweep.We are looking very tiddly here --
even the bedside table.  Just don't inspect our
cupboards and drawers -- aieee.  Too funny.

Have a getting-things-tidy day.

The Christmas house

 Decorated for Christmas
Black marker on Charvin paper
9 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
I did this very fast sketch of the house
we visited for a dinner party last night
while Steven cleared the snow off the
car's windows.  By Toronto standards it's
a big house, but we were in Hamilton,
where real estate is much more reasonable.
This is a side view of the very lovely
house.

Have an enjoying-your-visiting day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

More faces please

Watching
Black marker on Charvin drawing paper
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
This gorgeous girl is much more beautiful
than what I could possibly capture in
a quick sketch.  There is a  defiance in
her face I like.  At this point in the
evening I think I was probably
delivering a boring  speech on the
value of higher education as I drew.
Of course I believe what I was
saying, but I'd much rather be
funny than be a pedantic bore. Ah well.

Have a drawing-the-beauty-you-see day.

Thinking about it all

To a thoughtful New Year
Black marker on Charvin paper
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
This young man, David, seemed deep in
thought as people talked around him.  Drawing live
in the soft light of a dinner party is a challenge,
but also such a pleasure.  I was so glad
I brought my sketchbook along.

Have an enjoying-your-thoughts day.

Future talk

 A world of plans
Black marker on Charvin drawing paper
8 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

There is something so endearing about
young people like the wonderful guests
tonight -- so engaging, so passionately
involved in life, so funny and so with
it.  This beautiful girl showed us a slide
show of her trip to Korea and India that
blew me away.  She is studying among
other things, Hindi at university.  Awesome.
Her friend is a musician.  What a talented
bunch.

Have a loving-the-company-you-keep day.

Sam quick study

 Against the grain
Black marker on Charvin paper
8 x 8  inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
As Sam was at the party I asked him
to stay still for a minute.  That's about
all I had because he was in the middle
of a great conversation, and has inherited
our family trait of moving a lot while we talk.
Thanks to Sam for the minute or two he
stayed still.

Have a thanking-the-models-in-your-life day.

Alignment

 
 Sitting in a fat chair
Black marker on Charvin drawing paper
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

From across the room it struck me that
this thin man was in a fat chair.  In actual
fact the chair was probably thinner, and
he may have been more substantial, but
my eyes were seeing what I drew.  I
suppose in the final analysis hauling out
your sketchbook at a party, is a bit like
talking on your cell phone.  I hope that
my fellow party goers didn't think I was
being rude.

The jury is out on that one.

Have a working-on-the-work-you-love day.

Confident line

  
Conversation with a confident line
Black marker on Charvin drawing paper
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
I was at a party tonight and wanted to sit
in a corner and ask people to come and let
me draw them.  As soon as dinner began
I knew my idea wouldn't fly, so instead
 while people talked after dinner
 I grabbed a beautiful sketchbook from
France my friend Jennifer gave me, and began
sketching as fast as I could.  Everyone was
having such great and engaging conversations.

Sheila Vaughan suggested drawing with a
confident line.  I loved that advice
and throughout the party my niece kept saying,
"use a confident line."  I hope I did.  I did
have a wonderful time.

Here is sample one.


Have a using-a-confident-line day.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Marathoning for art

 Stop a farmhouse!
(work in progress)

watercolour on watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Does it seem to you that I'm going overboard with
the multiples.  Not to me.  Actually the delights
of family, plus a really busy holiday schedule
are getting in the way of my real plans.  Perhaps
those were ambitious.  On second thought they
were.  But I wanted to draw small sketches all
day, and have an art marathon with myself right
up to New Year's Eve.  I should probably never
sleep, because that's when my truly crazy ideas
surface, and I wake up certain that whatever
I imagined is a really, really good plan.

Today I got back on the track of delights of
the year.  Our recent trip to Ottawa was both
great and difficult.  But I took so many
reference photos going through the countryside
on the way there, that I could go on forever
just painting scenes.  One of my favorite
things in Canada is the white farmhouse.  I'd
actually like to build one right in the middle
of Toronto if I had the space and funds.  That
is my ideal house.  Mine would have gingerbread
trim circa 1880, and a wide veranda.  Plus it
would be in my neighbourhood, so I could
still see all of my friends here.

This house as it turns out is an extension on
a much larger stone house.  I still loved it as
I snapped it from the window of our moving car.

Have a following-those-arty-dreams day.
P.S.  I have a couple of details to finish
on this one.  The title is based on what I
say to Steven when we drive by one of
these white clapboard beauties.

Cursive with your coffee

 
 Cursive B mug of coffee
Black marker on bond paper
4 x 4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
A sad fact of modern education in Canada
is that children are no longer being
taught cursive handwriting.  I argue this
one back and forth with some of my
elementary grade teacher friends, but
cursive matters -- because sooner or later
we have to write notes,  sign our names,
write in a journal, and without cursive
handwriting we're reduced to printing.
So I bought myself and Steven some
cursive lettered mugs.  Steven brought
me my wake up coffee this morning in
this one.  The lettering is more lovely
than I've captured here.  I do need
two coffees to be fully awake.

Have a relishing-handwriting-and-coffee day.

I come back to the face

 
 Morning Face
Black marker on bond paper
5 x 7 inches
BarbaraMuir © 2011
Whatever else I draw or paint, I always
return to the face.  My son Christopher
teases me because he finds me too
friendly -- but I do really love people.
And I am endlessly fascinated by
faces.  This morning I grabbed a beautiful
sketchbook I bought in Florence, Italy,
and did a quick sketch of a happy
face.

For me a smiling face is a wonder --
 a person's whole being seems to
light up with a smile.

Have a spreading-happiness-with-your-smile-day.

Shopping is not hard

 
The hype around shopping this holiday season
was over the top -- dire warnings about long
line ups, mocking last minute shoppers -- you'd think
you needed a PhD. in marketing to hit the
malls.  Compared to painting, drawing,
or teaching the truth is shopping is sooo
easy.  Plus if you're not a  millionaire,
it's soon over.  See, think, buy.

This little fast sketch is of one of the
bags I stashed Steven's presents in. He
was very happy when he opened it.

Have an shopping-is-so-not-hard day
P.S.  That doesn't mean I would like
to spend more time shopping.  Enough
is enough -- but all in all a pleasure --
great sales people, security staff who
directed us to shorter lines, and boom
all done. 

The Christmas Tree

 
 Sam's tree
Black marker on Ikea paper
4 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Getting ready for Christmas has changed over
the years.  This year we've felt so lucky to
have Sam at home with us.  He is a great
guy -- loves baking, and while we were
out shopping he decorated the tree.

Christmas dinner was a fabulous finish to
a great day.  When the guests were gone, and
the kitchen cleaned up, Steven and I sat by
the tree admiring Sam's work. 

Have a thank-goodness-for-family day.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Christmas studio -- lights, camera, action

My father's light
Black marker on Ikea drawing paper
4 x 4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

This old light was one of the few things I
inherited from my father after his death.
It is no longer the higher tech light.  It
has a red wooden handle, but I love it.
In fact I bought another older light from
a lady this summer that clamps onto
my art table.  But that's gone away until
Christmas is over -- it's too fragile for
the holiday fray.

Have a loving-inherited-equipment day

A passion for roses

 Oceana roses in a Victorian jug
 Black marker on Ikea drawing paper
4 x 4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

In our house roses are part of the celebration.
We definitely stock our house for
Christmas.  There are wonderful inexpensive
flower stores in Toronto and ourmy favorite is
Yang's on Avenue Road, where the staff in
the family run business are friends.  They
know that my favorite roses are Oceana for the
gorgeous smell of a rose garden.

At Christmas I put a big antique jug of
roses on the coffee table in the studio.  Mmmm.

Have a filling-your-house-with-flowers day.

Breakfast for Christmas

Our Christmas Breakfast table today

Best wishes to everyone whatever holiday
you celebrate, and my warmest wishes for
peace in your world.  After the flutter of
present opening, and the running around
before Christmas -- there is a delicious
lull before dinner, dressing up and welcoming
guests.  It is indeed all good.

In this photo Steven lights the candles on the
breakfast table.  On offer, French toast, with
blueberries, strawberries and our own frozen
peaches, champagne and orange juice, and
coffee cake.  Fresh coffee in the coffee pot
kept us going. Years ago we decided that
everyone should eat before we opened
presents.  It doesn't seem to calm us down
but it does make the day start in a wonderful
way.

Have a loving-your-traditions day.

Merry Christmas and Multiples

The Christmas Hearth and garland 
(after the stockings.)
 Black marker on Ikea drawing paper
4 x 4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Merry Christmas everyone.  We are having a lovely
one.  Our son Christopher and his fiancée Megan
were here for Christmas morning, opening stockings
and presents after a beautiful breakfast which Steven
has started making as a Christmas tradition.  The house
filled with carols, and the animals were permitted to
come in the studio -- which is for the next few days
back  to being our living room and dining room.

What a happy day.  Right now the turkey is cooking
and I've been starting on an idea that's been in my
brain each time I try to sleep at night -- how to do
many, many small, very fast drawings.  I will be
doing short blogs (yes more than one) every day
until the New Year.  Here's the first one.  Merry
Christmas, Happy Holidays -- thank you for being
a gift to me all year.

Have a-wonderful-day-with-great-food

Monday, December 19, 2011

End of year wrap up -- a Great Year

 
 Matisse at the MoMA
Watercolour on watercolour paper
with black marker
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

All of the news outlets, TV and radio stations
are doing end of year summaries now.  It
will be a count down until the New Year, and then
Poof!  All over and we start again.  I think we're
brilliant at summarizing and moving on because
of this 12 month calendar invention.  Good for
us.  I was scrolling back through the year
in photos, and thought -- it's been miraculous in
many ways.  So I thought I might paint some of
the highlights until 2012 crests over the horizon.
My son is making cookies in the kitchen, the delicious
smell is filling the house.

We do have Christmas to create, so here's
tonight's offering.  I'm thinking that if I really
get inspired by the theme I may do more than
one post per day.  The studio is our Christmas
Central -- the tree goes in there, so it's unlikely
I'll paint on canvas until the new year.

Today's highlight, is from our trip to New York
last May when I was showing there in the Amsterdam
Whitney Gallery in Chelsea.  Steven and I were
in a hotel five minutes from the MoMA, and visited
it several times.  This is a painting of people taking in
 one of my favorite paintings, Dance (1) by Matisse.
What a thrill it was to be in New York City, and to
be able to cross the street and walk a block and be
at one of the best galleries in the world.

Have a remembering-your-great-times day

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"What big eyes you have"

 
 Through my mother's eyes
Watercolour on watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
I can still hear my mother's voice acting out all
the voices in Little Red Riding Hood.
"But grandmother what big eyes you have"
"All the better to see you with my dear," said the wolf
my mother would growl in a low, gruff voice,
then switch easily to Red Riding Hood's high,
little girl tone.  I picked up the love of literature
from my mother, who enjoyed reading
bedtime stories to us, and put her heart and
soul into it.

My mother is going blind, and after a hard
work schedule like the one most teachers
face at the end of a term when I feel at all like
complaining, I remember her.  My mother's
courage and strength are a marvel to me.
And the gift of sight, plus a passion for
art, seem even more of a blessing, after
spending a weekend with my mother who
sees that gift diminishing.

My father was the artist in my parents' marriage,
but my mother taught me to see, and to love
what I'm seeing.  This fall when I talked to
her about discussions I was having with my
students about the power of the imagination
she quoted most of Wordsworth's
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud to me and
ended with this final verse:

"For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils." 


Tonight I'm showing you a quick sketch
I did of the two of us.  It isn't
an accurate portrait, but has the feeling
I was trying to capture.  I may do a more
finished painting of this subject later.
Meanwhile I am more than grateful for
my mother, and for the eyesight she's
trained me to have.


Have a loving-what-you-see day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fan of the Poinsettia and run off my feet

 Poinsettia with red tinfoil and plastic wrap
Watercolour and black marker on watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
I want to post something just so you won't think
I've forgotten you.  Not so.  But the pre-Christmas
run around, end of term, plus social occasions
have made it hard to get time to blog.

Tonight in a mall run, I ran into an art store, and
picked up some watercolour paper and a new pen.
The complexity of even the smallest Poinsettia
plant, and its punch wows me.  So I quickly drew
a small sample that the cat has not destroyed (so
far) and did this watercolour.  Merry whatever
holiday you celebrate.  I hope that you are discovering
peace on earth.  Steven says in 25 days it will all be
over -- it will be New Year's Eve and then 2012.  Boy
can we pack those 25 days no matter who we are. 
Wherever you are -- I wish you time to paint and draw.

Have an enjoying-the-rushing-about day.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The need for joy in darkness

Evening conversation
Watercolour and black marker 
on watercolour paper
10.5 x 13.8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

When I look out my upstairs back windows at
night I see such a cheerful sight.  Two of the
neighbours on the next street over have strung
colourful lights in their backyards.  Just a looped
strand of brilliant blue and deep magenta in one,
and in another multi-coloured lights nestled in a small
tree.  When I first saw them their beauty and simplicity
took my breath away -- and something else warmed my
heart - the kindness of offering this beautiful sight to their
backyard neighbours.
Making plans
Watercolour and black marker 
on watercolour paper
10.5 x 13.8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Today is December 1.  The sun began to set at 3:30 in
the afternoon.  We are heading towards the darkest days.
And I think how brilliant we are as creatures to create
a lot of song, dance, and colour right now when the
world is at its darkest here in the Northern hemisphere.
The whole notion makes me proud of us.  I don't mean
the crowds in the stores, and the gifts.  But the ceremony,
the parties, the singing, and lights everywhere.  Brilliant. 
Zoey the dog featured in my last post, is practicing
Jingle Bells. When people sing, especially Happy Birthday,
she joins in (with the reward of a cookie in mind). 

Today I'm showing you a couple of watercolour Skype
sketches I did of a recent talk with Sam.  One of the
great things about this time of year, is that my family
will be together again soon.  And they are a gloriously
kind and funny bunch.  Happy December.

Have a singing-because-you're-happy day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The pleasure of your company

When I don't blog I miss you -- but you must know
that.  I haven't been feeling top notch for the past
few days, and there's a lot of catching up to do at
this point in the semester.  So I've been taking it
easy aside from marking and a bit of teaching.
Nap time 
watercolour on watercolour paper
and black marker
16 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(I'll take new photos of these
tomorrow in daylight.)

Basket nap
watercolour on watercolour paper
and black marker
16 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
It's a very rainy day today.  Quite beautiful on the ride
to school. All the colours deepened and brightened by
the grey, mauve background of the sky.  I am a major
fan of rain, but at this time of year it does add to the day's
darkness -- so my animal family take the sensible strategy
of sleeping long and hard.  I thought I'd do some very quick
colour sketches of them while they slept.  But Timbah the
black cat became too intrigued by all this action on the
kitchen table, and prodded me to get on with it, and paint
him so he could have his dinner. By the way animals are great
for the short pose because they change positions every few minutes.
Holding the pose
watercolour on watercolour paper
and black marker
16 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
As soon as my supper's done, I think I'll take Zoey and Fiona's
advice and have a nap myself.  Meanwhile the rain comes down in
sheets.  A lovely sound.

Have an-enjoying-all-kinds-of-weather day.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy American Thanksgiving -- A super closing party and meeting Hannah's Dad

 
  Outside Studio Vogue Gallery
with Eben Creaser,
Hannah's Dad trying to
get a decent shot with the
painting in the gallery window.
Too dark and too cold.

On the road in Fredericton
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

A shout out to my American friends.  Happy Thanksgiving!
In Canada we have ours in October and the only things we
shop for on that weekend are turkeys, pumpkins for the
pie, cranberry jelly, potatoes and the rest of the groceries
for the meal -- so we don't have Black Friday.

The story of my painting of Hannah, the girl on the motorscooter
has been a bit magical from the moment I decided
to ask a girl in the parking lot of the Superstore in
Fredericton if I could photograph her for a painting.
Steven and I were listening to a book in the car,
called The People of the Book as we drove home from
Nova Scotia.  The central character was Hannah, and when
I asked the girl her name she was Hannah. Well tonight
there was a fellow at the opening I didn't know.  I thought
perhaps he was one of Gill Cameron's friends, but then he
introduced himself as Eben, Hannah's Dad.  How exciting.
He'd been working in Toronto this week, and was driving by
Studio Vogue Gallery on Avenue Road when he saw Hannah's
portrait in the window. It was freezing cold outside, and very
dark, but we tried our best to get a shot of us in front of the
painting, and this is the best we could do.

We were so delighted to meet Hannah's father.  He was a
lovely person, and so is his daughter.  To me the whole
story around the painting underscores how amazing
and great people can be.  And it is also astounding that
five minutes photographing someone lead to her
portrait in the window of the gallery, and to her father
coming to see the painting in the show all the way from
Fredericton.  Wow is all I can say.  I feel grateful to the
universe and to everyone who came out tonight to our
really super closing party.  Thank you to my incredible
friends and collectors.  You rock!  And thank you
Eben for coming to meet us.  Please say Hi to Hannah.
 People having fun at the opening tonight.

Have a life-is-amazing day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Big News -- New baby across the street and come out to Faces and Places Closing Party

 
We were quietly returning from supper at Ikea
and picking up a few things at the grocery store
when the fuss began. There's nothing like a fire
engine with sirens blaring stopping at your neighbour's
house to get your heart beating faster.  Follow that by
two Ambulances and it seemed clear that Cathy
across the street was having her baby.  I stood in
my winter coat watching all the lights flashing fervently
hoping that all was well, and quite a few
neighbours came out -- some in nightgowns with
ski jackets over top.

A few minutes later the firemen emerged cheerily from Cathy and
Pat's front door raised their arms up in a jubilant gesture
and said -- Baby Number Two -- a Boy.  Pretty exciting stuff.
In fact I'd say the most exciting news in the hood for all of us
who have known Cathy could have her baby any day.
Here's to Pat and Cathy and their new baby boy.  Here's to
Mathias who is the older brother now at two.  Pat is a great Dad,
Cathy a sweet Mom  -- all is well.

Faces and Places Closing Party is today -- November
24 from 6 - 8 p.m. at Studio Vogue Gallery, 216 Avenue
Road, Toronto.  Come on out and have a glass of wine.
Gill Cameron and I would love to see you there, and
would love for you to see a really great show.

Have a-Thursday's-a-great-day-for-an-art-show day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quick drawing -- giving in to instinct


 Ready to draw
black marker on Moleskine paper
9 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Practicing drawing
black marker on Moleskine paper
9 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
I haven't painted much in the last two weeks.
For me that's a long time away from my passion.
  But I painted so solidly, and intensely
for the two months before the show opened, that
I thought I could use a break to pull back and
decide what was next.  Still it's almost impossible
for me to stop drawing. I draw when I'm sitting in
a car, every single time I'm waiting, even in between
chapters when I'm reading a book.

So here are a couple of small sketches from
today.  I know I held my tiny Moleskine at
an odd angle, but I like the results.  Painting
will resume again tomorrow.  I'm sure I learned
a lot in the break.


Have a-drawing-for-pleasure day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Selling for my friends

 Me with my paintings Peaches for Lunch,
and More flowers from Ken's garden
both are Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(I'm afraid I was so busy
selling, that I didn't get a chance
to photograph more work from
the show.  But it's a great one,
so head on over if you're in Toronto.)

I love the Don Valley Art Club.  I think I've been a member
since 2002.  So almost 10 years.  Today was the opening of
the Large and Small Picture show at Todmorden Mills.
I was on roving sales, which really means walking around
talking to guests at the show -- held in two huge, and
very beautiful rooms -- the former home of the mill.
In my two hours on sales today I sold 11 paintings for
my fellow artists, and had a wonderful time doing so.

I beat my former record of 8 on roving sales by 3 paintings
and felt super by the end of my shift.  My friend, Josephine
came to see the show and took this shot of me with my
paintings. My paintings didn't sell yet, so if you hurry
down there Sunday you might still be able to grab one.
Don't be discouraged by signs that say the road is
closed.  You can still turn onto Pottery Road off the
Bayview extension and get to Todmorden Mills and the
show. And the parking is free.  The prices are incredibly
reasonable, and collectors recognize this.

A shout out to Josephine for taking my picture.  Steven
and I took in the movie Tower Heist tonight, and laughed our
heads off.  All in all a fabulous day.

Have a selling-your-friends-work day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Second opening coming up and a busman's holiday

Watching you paint
30 x 30 inches
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2011

Our second opening of Faces and Places is happening on
November 24th -- two weeks from yesterday between
6 and 8 p.m. at Studio Vogue Gallery, 216 Avenue Road,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada  416 659-9809.

 It is close to Christmas, and near the start of the holiday season,
so it's fitting that part of the purpose of our closing
party is to raise money to give a  high school education
to two little girls, currently living at Peace Matunda in Africa.
Peace Matunda is an orphanage school in Tanzania where
Gill Cameron volunteered for three months last winter.
Gill is raffling off tickets to win one of her glorious watercolours,
and I am giving a portion of the proceeds from the sale
of two paintings to the girls' high school education fund.

But the main reason for the second opening is to give anyone
who didn't get a chance to come out to the first wonderful
party, an opportunity to see the show and talk to the artists.
Please come out if you couldn't make it earlier, or come
again if you like -- we'll be thrilled to see you.

A Busman's Holiday
Thursday was my first full day off in two months. I couldn't
wait to get out of my studio to see the great show of
Marc Chagall's work on at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Double Portrait with Wine Glass
Marc Chagall
On view at The Art Gallery of Ontario
Avant-garde exhibition on loan
from the collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris
 
After visiting the show with a friend, I hurried home,
made supper, then Steven and I went to see Valda
Zoben's show at Propeller Gallery.  Valda is a wonderful artist
and gets inspired by her travels around the world.
Her paintings in this show have a deeply spiritual feel based on her
travels last winter through Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Check it out at Propeller if you get a chance in the next
two weeks.
Valda Zobens discussing 
her work with visitors to
Propeller Gallery
Her painting is on the left.

My head spinning with images from Chagall, Kandinsky (my
favorite in the Russian painters show), The Group of Seven,
(which we can't leave the gallery without seeing), and Valda
Zobens I slept like a happy baby.  Clearly art is my working life.

Have a can't-get-enough-of-art 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: barbara.muir@sympatico.ca
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!