Sunday, January 23, 2011

Serious painter gear

Clarity (Work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

It's incredibly cold in Toronto -- the frozen Canadian
north, but sunny as all get out.  We took down the
Christmas tree last weekend, a terribly sad event
I always feel.  So here's what we do.  We are fans
of the Fraser Fir, a tree whose needles are soft, and
green long past the end of the holidays.  If there is
enough snow, and it certainly looked like that wouldn't
be the case for a while -- but the universe provided --
we (I say we -- but it's Steven who does the lifting)
put the tree out in the backyard.  This year there was a big
pile of snow right near the door to our back stairs, so
the valiant Steven stuck the tree in that snowbank.  And
then -- here's Steven's trick -- scattered birdseed throughout
it's green branches.  The result -- a whole new life
for the tree as a bird feeder, and Christmas continuing for
us.  We can stand in our kitchen and watch the birds on the
tree.  They love it.  Our gorgeous Fraser fir is decorated with
whole flocks of hungry, cold birds, fluffed up and on view.

The Christmas Tree moves outside

So back to serious painter gear.  What is yours?  I am always
amused by people who have real smocks made for the purpose,
and never wear regular clothes to paint in.  They impress me
because so much of my wardrobe is adorned with unexpected
bits of acrylic paint, in colours that don't match my somber
black sweaters and blue jeans.  But my serious painter gear
for this time of year includes the most beat up and threadbare
of my black and navy blue cashmere sweaters, a white shirt,
my oldest, most faded jeans, socks and my fleece slippers from Korea,
which are not fancy footwear, but infinitely warm and comfortable.
My faithful pedometer clips on to either my slippers or
socks if it's warmer.  Then goes with me on my boots to track
the steps of the day.  Add a pair of glasses for close work, and
sometimes when I'm thinking an apron I bought at an art store
for the purpose, and you've got the outfit.  When clients come
to sit, I brush my hair, put on makeup, earrings and a necklace,
my best worn out jeans, my best raggedy cashmere  sweater,
a  very crisp white shirt, and sneakers over the socks.

Voila.  But the truth is that my studio is in what also functions
as a living room and dining room from time to time.  So I can
come home from school, offload my book bag, and coat and
head in to paint wearing the more dressy work clothes.  Which
explains what my friend Jennifer calls "creeping acrylics", or
bright bits of paint everywhere.  How about you?

Have a putting-on-your-artist's-outfit day.

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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!