Monday, February 28, 2011

Permission for creative mimesis

In the midnight sun (work in progress)
(Stage Three more blocking in colour)
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
There have been so many discussions about mimesis,
or copying of one sort and another lately.  When I thought
about my blog tonight I was going to title the post Permission.
But I started listening to a show called The Scapegoat on CBC
about mimetic desire -- which talks about how our tendency
as people is to want to be like those we admire, but as soon as
we become like other people we will try very hard to appear

 Steven and Zoey in our park

Maybe too much for a Monday night.  I have a minute because
I'm cooking meatloaf.  Steven and I had a sudden overwhelming
desire for it, but we rarely eat beef, so it's a chicken meatloaf.
And actually I got the recipe from two different recipes on the
internet.  But the point is I have time to listen to this show
while the meatloaf cooks, and to think about you.

My original idea was inspired by talking to a friend who had
posted a gorgeous photo of a house in a great winter landscape.
I asked if I could make a painting based on that picture, and I
asked about another photo.  Both photos just transported me.
She gave me her permission easily. And another conversation
centered around a friend doing paintings from snapshots of
my friends' favorite things.  The artist had taken shots in her
house, then developed work based on those images without
asking for permission. 

The painting I'm posting tonight is a small portrait I'm working
on for myself as part of a triptych I will show later this spring.
I started the series when talking to my friend Henriette on Skype,
but wanted to make sure I had her permission to show the
paintings publicly.  She gave it and I've kept on going.  It seems
such a simple thing to ask permission to use our friend's
reference, but I also understand that we get caught up with
inspiration and forget.
A snow heart for you.  It's the end of the month
of love, but don't worry...the love continues.
And spring is not far off. 

The meatloaf is ready, the radio show is over, and it's time
for dinner.  Forgive me abandoning such a juicy topic, but
in this case dinner is more important, not than you of course,
I wish you could join us.  You know what I mean. I think.

Have an asking-for-and-giving-permission day.
P.S.  This would have been my father's birthday.  I miss
him so much. Now there was a man who could create
an image.  My father was a fabulous photographer.
Happy Birthday to you Daddy.  We were thinking about  you.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Super concert and wonderful gallery

 Steven carries my painting into Ayrspace, and 
we are given a warm welcome by Jill Yuzwa, 
the gallery director. 
I told you I'd tell you.  Beautiful downtown Ayr
is where the biggest show of women's art is going to
take place.  It's about an hour and 20 minutes out
of Toronto, not bad for a drive.  The Gallery itself
is beautiful -- a heritage building and former hardware
store -- the building has been sensitively renovated into
a large gallery space.  Wooden floors and a tin ceiling give
the gallery warmth and a classic, tasteful feeling.
Steven checks out the gallery which
is getting ready to host a spectacular
concert.  The painting which is part
of the current show is a huge painting of
The Four Seasons, and as you can see the
space is large.

In other words this will be the perfect place for a party,
and a glorious space for a very large show of women's
art from all over the world.  Last night I visited the gallery
to drop off my painting for the show.  Jill Yuzwa the
gallery owner is a complete sweetheart and she invited
me and Steven to catch a bite next door at the local pizza
restaurant, then come back to hear the marvellous
concert put on by Anne Lindsay.  I'm so glad we stayed.
Before the concert began Jill made an announcement to
the crowd about the International Women Celebrate
show and introduced me and Jeanette Vermeyden -Obbink to the
audience.  That was a nice touch.

 What a treat listening to Anne Lindsay 
practice before the concert.

So that is my report from Ayr.  Of course we went on the
net after our drive home through a snowstorm and
looked up Ayr real estate, but that doesn't mean we're
moving there.  Yet.  Still, we are really looking forward
to meeting you all next weekend.

Have a thinking-about-how-nice-it-would-be-to-live-in-Ayr day.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Heading out to Ayr

Ready for Joy
(final version)
24 x 24 inches
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2011
(I worked on the painting a bit
more I admit since I sent in the
pro shot for the book.  It isn't
safe to leave some artists with
a painting.  They will always see
something else that could change.  I'm
very happy with it now, so that's
what matters.  What did I change?
I added blue to the background, added 
more shadow to the neck, changed
the shirt a bit.  Small changes,
oh a bit more highlight in places.
Every change I made makes me
happier with the work.)

It's only a week until I get to meet some of the great
artists on the blog.  The International Women Celebrate
show opens to the artists next weekend, and to the
 public on March 8th, the 100th anniversary of International
Women's Day.  At a time when the focus on citizen rights
has never been at a higher level, women's freedom, and
freedom of expression has to be at the top of the world's
attention.  But there are still so many places, where we
are not equal, and my work has taught me that some of
those places are right in the homes of women in our city,

That said the women in this show entered for purely
artistic, and social reasons.  They joined up because
friends whose work they liked in the blog world, and
who had become friends out of a mutual respect for each
other's creativity invited them to join.  Plain and simple.
There is no heavy political agenda, just an artistic one.
Women from all over the planet are part of a community
of artists.  Men are in that community too of course, but
this show is in celebration of International Women's Day.
So what's over the top exciting, but extremely hard to
communicate is that women from other parts of the world
including Holland, India and South Africa, convinced
(through blog writing and emails) friends they
had never met to submit work to this show.  I was finally
persuaded to join it by Nicki Ault from Saskatoon, and I'll get
to meet Nicki and other art bloggers I enjoy next Saturday.
And the show's in Ayr.  Where?  Ayr.  I've never been to
Ayr before, but I'm going there tonight with this beauty, so
I'll let all of you know what it's like.

Meanwhile, if you're out there reading this, and you know
someone who might write this terrific artistic happening
up, or get a TV camera out to the artists' opening on March 5th.
You are going to see a  fabulous show, and the biggest show of
women's art in Canada right now.  105,  24 x 24 inch paintings
plus 2 sculptures is a big, big show by any standard.  So I say
congratulations to all of us for getting it together.  The bonus?
Part of the proceeds from the sale of the works will go to helping
women and children in Haiti.  Now that's a worthwhile cause.

Have a planning-to-see-the-wonderful-show-in-Ayr day.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Into the studio

In the midnight sun (work in progress)
(Stage Two blocking in the colour)
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

This week promises to be a highly charged art week.
The school where I teach part time is on reading week,
and I am planning to paint as much as possible.
So I started working on a small version of the third
painting in my triptych of Henriette painting.  The image
for this third one, which I'll probably flip for the larger
30 x 30 inch painting, is so moving.  It's very late at
night in Norway where Henriette lives, and she is
ardently working painting because the house is quiet and the
children are sleeping.  In one corner of the room there
is a highchair, and outside the midnight sun has set and
the sky is brightening again.  I love the intensity of her
expression, the fact that she was willing to talk to me
on Skype and work painting.  That's something we share,
is that we can paint and talk.  A rare quality as I've
discovered in art classes with scratchy symphonies
playing in the background and total silence except
for the endless worn Vivaldi disk.  The truth is
when I'm working in my studio it is quiet most of the
time, almost too  quiet. 
In the midnight sun(work in progress)
(Stage One --The underpainting -- lively colour)
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

In this little study I intend to fool around with colour
as much as I want, and then I'll calm it down a bit.
The colour from the Skype image is both high key and
muted.  I'll show you where this goes from here.
Have a painting-as-much-as-possible day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fond memories

 Loving the kitchen china
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2008

I found a photo of a painting that shows my
kitchen at exactly this time of year.  My
model was wonderful, and I regret that I never
 got an excellent picture of the painting.

It was painted as an expression of total
joy at a time in my life that was anything but
easy.  Family illnesses and hardships filled our
lives with worry, but I was determined to
see the good things.  And of course there are
always reasons to be joyous, even in the
hard times.  The painting sold before I was
even certain it was finished, and taught me
to photograph my work before it heads out the

I have to go to bed tonight because I teach
so early.  So have a great day tomorrow.

Have a loving-your-work day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A California baby

charcoal on Canson lily paper
12 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

The newest member of our wider family came into
the world with great ease less than a month ago.  So
when her birth notice arrived with a gorgeous photo
of the baby -- Rae -- I just had to draw her.  She
is my niece and baby sister to Rose who will
be three in May. I love both of the girls although
I haven't been to California since before Rose was
born, so I only know them in pictures.

Drawing newborns is tough because it's so easy to go
too far.  The baby's face is so perfect that it's
impossible to reproduce it, but I can give you the feeling --
her bright look, her soft face.  How I wish I could be
in California right now, hold her in my arms and give
her big sister a huge hug.  Little Rae, I hear,  is that most
cherished of babies -- a good sleeper, just like her sister Rose.

I have been consumed with marking this week and need
to catch up on blogging, and on checking out your work.
Please be patient with me. I will get there.

Have a loving-your-babies-big-and-small day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A great birthday for Zoey

 The story
Watercolour on Arches watercolour paper
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2001

Today we celebrated the dogs' birthdays -- Zoey's
and her sister Ziggy's by taking Zoey for a walk,
and then letting her have a playdate with Ziggy
at Ziggy's house.  Meanwhile the adults (human)
had a dinner party at our house -- very pleasant.
When we dropped Zoey off at Josephine's we
all had lunch, and I snapped this very bad photo
of a portrait I did years ago in watercolour of
Josephine and her daughter Claudia.  It is
not a good likeness of either, although Claudia
is more accurate.  What I did catch is the watchful
look in Josephine's eyes, and the easy intimacy
between the two, which has always been there.

I'll take a better picture of it tomorrow.  Meanwhile...

Have a celebrating-Family-Day day.

P.S. It's Family Day in Ontario, which means
it was good that Zoey got to be with Ziggy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Winter walks and spring fever

 Zoey waiting in line
Quick sketch
Black marker on bond paper
12 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(You are probably reading this on
Sunday which is Zoey's birthday.
For a few years now our
joke has been that we were taking
Zoey on Letterman to do her
"stupid dog trick" which is
singing happy birthday.
Of course she barks it.  But
on Steven's birthday without prompting
she came upstairs from her bed in
the basement in front of the
TV and barked out Happy Birthday
while the rest of us sang.
So just the mention of her
birthday today got her singing and
got her an extra cookie before the
actual birthday. She is seen here
waiting for the day.  In line. (drawing).
In actual fact she kept moving about every
three seconds making it difficult to
capture even the quickest of 

We took the dog for a short walk today -- a hazardous
pursuit.  I had my icers on, but Steven slipped and
slid over the icy path in regular boots.  Yesterday it
was around 11 degrees Celsius here or 51 Fahrenheit.
That's warm for winter.  The streets were flooding,
the sun actually felt warm on the back porch, and
then Bam!  The temperature took a nose dive, high winds
tore through the city, and just for good measure it
snowed, covering the promising patches of newly
exposed grass.  The result of course was ice everywhere.
Very few people took the risk of walking (those
who did wore icers like me.)  This meant the park was
almost empty except for a few dogs and some crazy
robins trying to rush the season.  Yep.  Spring is coming.
But March in Ontario can be a doozy.  So we
have to be flexible to play it either way.  I do love
February, but March holds the first day of spring.
Can't wait.

Have a-staying-flexible-and-liking-the-day day.
P.S. Happy Birthday to Zoey and to Ziggy her
sister.  Zoey we love you and we thank you for
being the greatest dog ever!!!!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Back to my birthplace

Running in snow with the red ball
Marker and coloured pencil on bond paper
3 x 5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

I was born in Windsor, Ontario, something that would have
been easy to forget if both of my children hadn't decided
to go to university there.  I left when I was four to move
to the giant metropolis of Ottawa, and moved from that
cultural hub to Toronto -- where despite travels, and short
stays elsewhere I've made my primary home as an adult.
View of Detroit through the front  doors of our hotel.

It occurred to me yesterday visiting my son in Windsor,
that he and his brother will have spent the same number
of years as I did there by the time Sam finishes school
next year -- four years.

Sam is studying acting and we visited to watch him in the
play No Exit by Sartre.  I know I'm a biased parent,
but he was good, excellent even, and so were his classmates.
View of the GM building in Detroit from our hotel bedroom window.  
The white on the river is ice.

In fact the whole trip was a treat -- the long drives, the break
from routine and work (although both Steven and I worked
before the play), and our hotel room facing out onto the
river with Detroit not even a hop, skip and jump away.
Then it was sheer delight to watch Sam acting his part
so well.

When I was a child Detroit was Windsor's downtown.  It
was no big deal to cross the border, and my mother routinely
took us over to the big stores there to buy our clothes.
My father worked at Ford. The relationship between
the two cities was easy and natural.  Things have changed
massively, but Windsor and Detroit are focal points for trade
back and forth between the two countries, as witnessed by
the constant line of trucks going both ways on the Ambassador bridge.

We also visited the Art Gallery of Windsor yesterday, which
is a gorgeous architectural structure with magnificent soaring
spaces, and lookouts in the shape of  a ship's prow built entirely
of high windows.  And an extra bonus is the fabulous restaurant.
But what also excited me was an understanding of why I have
always  felt such an affinity with Americans.  I was born at the
southernmost tip of Canada.  We were spiritually neither here, nor
there.  The river at some points is a few blocks wide.  We were driving
along Riverside drive yesterday, and a lovely church
on one side of the water was echoed in the same warm russet
brick on the other side.  Without instruction either side could be
either side. And that's an important thing to know.  Perhaps that's
why I feel that we are all one.  That doesn't mean I don't see
what's wrong with both of our countries, or that I don't feel
Canadian.  It means that I am conscious, and no doubt this began
at birth, that the world is much smaller than we think.

So that was my Thursday.  I taught so early this morning that I
still feel exhausted.  The drawing tonight is a small sketch I
found of Zoey running through snow.  We are in the center
of a blackout in our part of the city.  But somehow our little
street has been exempt from the trouble.  High winds have
knocked out power lines after a day so warm, balmy and
drenched in light all day, that my cats were getting spring
fever and complaining heartily about their indoor cat status.
 Now it's cold and the wind is whipping down
branches, taking debris off building sites, and cutting out power.
Time for bed.

Have a getting-your-power-back day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Late night sketch

 The actor is busy
black marker on bond paper
11 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

We drove to Windsor, Ontario last night
(5 hours) and back tonight (5 hours).  It was
an amazing trip and I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.
But I have to get up in five hours.  So here's
the fastest sketch ever of my son Sam tonight
from Skype, done when I called to tell him we were home.  
He could not talk, so I grabbed the photos in seconds and 
dashed this off for you.

Have a life-is-surprising-and-it-all-works-out day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bring summer in

Tired Me
Self portrait
Black marker and pencil on bond paper
12 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

In the north here, despite the fact that the light is getting
stronger and longer, we are still mired in winter.  My
laptop shows a picture of the morning glories in our
garden last summer -- that brilliant blue, and the verdant
jungle of leaves cheer me up every time.
But we need more than that to keep the belief in summer
alive in our hearts.  We do, after all, have a long wait --
all the way to April, and often all the way to May.
Roses are a happy part of the kitchen clutter
(The bunch on the left cost $1.99 -- so
almost everybody can have some.)

My answer is really simple.  Bring it in.  Go to your
nearest flower store, or grocery store and buy some
flowers.  It doesn't have to be expensive.  At our florist
a pot of tulips is $4.99.  That pot will go from small
buds to massive blooms in about a week, and for that
whole week there is a joyous feeling in the house.
Not only that, when you brush against the plant to open
a cupboard door, or to make a coffee, you will smell
the smell of spring.  What a heady concoction to those
of us subjected to wind, snow, ice and freezing
temperatures for at least four months, and sometimes six.

This strategy works.  I've tested it for the past few winters,
and found that if I come into a house filled with flowers
my mood lifts instantly.

Have a going-out-to-get-some-flowers day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The spirit of celebration

 The best conversation
Skype sketch
Black marker on bond paper
81/2 x 11 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(No time to paint today.  I like the intense
concentration in this portrait sketch.  When
conversations are that good -- they are like
a celebration.)

Last week I found out via Helen Fisher on TED TV that
animals fall in love.  And last year listening to talks on crows
I discovered that crows have vast family gatherings -- or parties.
We know that crows have a sense of humour.  What
I'm leading up to is that wanting to celebrate -- to gather together,
eat wonderful food, drink champagne, or our favorite
beverage, dance -- is part of our inner nature.  So why do we
make celebration difficult, or suspect sometimes?

I have always liked being at excellent parties, learning new
things, listening to people's stories.  I am really lucky
that the courses I teach encourage people to share
their stories, because I love knowing more about
how people live.  We are all so different.

As artists and painters we need to connect with
the joie de vivre and delightful happy events
outside our studios.  We need to dance, sing, and
have a blast.  So if your social calendar isn't popping
with activity, and the heart of February is getting you
down -- plan an event -- even a dinner for two, and
start the celebrations. 

Happy month of love -- February.

Have a getting-ready-to-celebrate day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The great day arriveth

 Primulas in a Victorian dish (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Ach aye (Scots for yes!)  It is Valentine's Day.  We seem to
have been celebrating forever.  But what a day.  I stuck
Valentine's all over the office I share when I'm at my
part time teaching job, handed out more candy.  And
discussions all day seemed to circle around love, and
the lack of it.  I say there's something great about a
cause for celebration that allows us all to focus on
being more loving.  But the single people I met today
see the whole day quite differently.

I have candles and flowers and a good meal whether
I'm alone or with my sweetheart and family, so
in some ways it was a normal day.  But I gave Steven
a book of poetry and he gave me sweet cards.  We got
Thai food in and watched Jon Stewart.  Just that much
relaxing made it a special day -- both of us refrained
from running off and doing an evening of work after
an already long day.  So I admit I know we are lucky
to have one another.  Very.  And I had calls from both of
my sweet sons, and talked to my Happy
Day for loving.  It has been.

My painting tonight is unfinished.  It's the primulas
I bought for Steven for Valentine's Day and plunked
in a Victorian white china serving dish.  I haven't got it
exactly, but I like the mood and I'll finish it up tomorrow.
Primulas are a cheery harbinger of spring for sure.  Good news.
Despite the almost gale force winds today, and the
ice sheets that will cover the roads tomorrow.  Spring is
coming.  It was still light at 6 o'clock this evening.  But let's
not rush our lives.  Let's take the lesson of Valentine's Day on
a Monday, and enjoy the day.

Have a savouring-the-joys-of-the-day day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Farewells are hard and tea with the greats

 Memories of California
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(Here's another example of
the Carol Marine challenge from the
other day.  I love lemons, and
they remind me of the way
Steven and I felt when we arrived
at our hotel the first time we
visited California and there was
a lemon tree, covered with lemons in
February.  I'm working on 
loving green, which is why the
green insisted on being in the painting.)

Our son went back to school today.  It was delightfully
 warm here, and I wore the lovely red coat
Sam gave me for Christmas down to the station.
But I felt a terrible let down after I said goodbye to
him.  So Steven and I hurried to the flower store,
and bought tulips and primulas to avoid the high price
roses until Valentine's Day is over.

Then I worked on my paintings, and at the end of
the day, still feeling restless and a bit blue,  we
went to the Art Gallery of Ontario.  There we
treated ourselves to a full ceremonial tea.  You
know the tiered plates, the sandwiches, the little
cakes, the glorious hot tea in pots.  Yummy and
our mood lifted.  We took a spin through the
gallery and came upon an amazing David Blackwood
show -- stunning work, and headed home to
call it a very good day.  Have a very Happy
Valentine's Day!!!!

Have a comforting-yourself-with-tea day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Spreading the love

My Valentine cards  in a row.  They're hard
to photograph because they're shiny,
I'll show you the other side tomorrow.
Meanwhile here's to happy hearts!

When I drove to school this morning just as the
day dawned reports from Egypt on CBC said
that Mubarak was not stepping down.  I
listened to the sad comments and critiques of
Mubarak's speech and went in to teach my
part time courses.  When I left the school
just after noon, Mubarak had resigned.  How
quickly things change.  I felt elation with the
protesters in Egypt, and hoped for an easy, happy,
and democratic result.

But I had other news.  My Valentine's cards were
ready last night at the printers.  I picked them
up and felt so happy.  What wonderful designers
they are.  This morning I started my mission of
the Valentine Invasion, and I think handed out
50 of my own printed cards and candies to go
with them.

People say quite readily that they hate Valentine's
Day, and you know that something sad happened in
the past regarding the day.  Or that love is not coming
to them right now, or in the worst case that it never
has.  But you know what? One loving gesture can begin
to change that.  I believe in love, and I believe in
loving.  I don't mean for romance.  I mean for what
the world needs more of.

If everyone thought of love in the wider sense, in the
sense of caring for other people in thought, gesture,
word, and action, everyone would love Valentine's Day
and February, Valentine's month as much as I do.
My son is home from school.  It's late at night and
he's closed in his room writing love letters to friends
and family, and probably to us.  The fruit does not
fall far from the tree.  That's good isn't it?

Have a spreading-the-love day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Small kindnesses add up

The Four Nectarines
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(So many artists talked about
the 10 minute challenge that
I got curious and gave it a try.
I read about this on Róisín O'Farrell's
website, and
discovered it was Carol Marine's
idea.  I am a big fan of both artists.
These are nectarines.  I divided the
canvas the way that was suggested and
spent 10 minutes on each painting.
I found out that nectarines are
not the easiest fruit to paint, that
10 minutes is not a long time,
that highlights count when it comes
to fruit, that I wish I could try oils,
that this is a great exercise for
warm up and understanding painting.
I also noticed that I got a bit looser
as time went on.  All good.  Thanks
for the inspiration.)

I am a person who notices the good things in life.
I feel it's one of my jobs on the planet.  Tuesday
when I was scurrying around doing what felt like
a thousand jobs, I parked my car in front of the printer's
storefront.  The snowbank there is about 3 feet high and
iced over.  I am terrified of ice because I broke my
ankle a couple of years ago.  But on the other side
of the snowbank stood an elegant older gentleman,
who took my mittened hand and helped me over the bank.

When I drove home in the pitch black night, I was trying to
turn around on our very narrow street.  Snowbanks
narrow the drivable part of my block by about six feet and
those snowbanks are rock solid with ice. To my horror I got stuck
turning into a driveway and was completely blocking the street.
Headlights of other cars started to form a line.  Oh no!
But once again kind people helped me -- leaping out of their
vehicles. A young man got in the driver seat and tried to rock me
out of the icy trap, driving the car for me.  As I stood transfixed
looking in the driver's door, he said, "I'm afraid you are well and
truly stuck lady." Meanwhile even more cars formed a line
up the street waiting for the way to clear.  I went to get my
Steven and by the time we returned about six people were
there to help us.  They pushed, the car rocked, the wheels spun,
and then Yay! Steven successfully drove the car out and
parked it. I thanked everyone who had helped.  And I was
so moved by their readiness to jump in and help in the freezing cold.

All week long there have been people holding doors
for me at the school where I teach part time. In one
class a girl constantly brings me coffee. Students offer
to carry my very heavy bags when they see me
labouring through the halls.  I feel so blessed with
kindnesses in my life, that are really too many to mention

But thank you to all of you.  Your thoughtful acts and
kind comments make me feel glad to be alive.

Have a happy-to-know-so-many-kind-people day. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Working on a summer thing

 Three in Green
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

This little painting is one I started a couple of summers
ago.  Steven and I were walking on the boardwalk in
Quebec City on a beautiful summer day.  If you
haven't been there in summer Quebec City on the
boardwalk is the place to be. The backdrop of the
city itself is architecturally magnificent, and the view
over the St. Lawrence River is stunning.  There are
always crowds of people, walking and talking, eating
ice cream, and just having fun.  Plus entertainers juggle,
sing, do tricks with bikes, dance and crowds gather to
watch.  During our walks I'd notice the couple -- the
girl with the red purse and green top, and her boyfriend
with the green shorts.  They stood out.  I was taking crowd
scene pictures for reference and didn't see until I got
home and looked at my photos that the couple was in
my shots -- and this other woman in a similar green.

That was the start of three in green.  I looked at it about
a month ago and decided to rework it when I had a minute.
So I started working on it tonight.  I don't know if I still
have the reference photo, but if I can find it, the painting
may go through a number of stages before I'm happy.
  It's a small painting, but I want it to be stronger.  I've
already started brightening the background colours,
defining the lead characters more clearly.  So we'll see.

Three in green brings back memories of summer and Quebec
City, one of the most beautiful cities in the country.

Have a taking-care-of-the-things-that-need-work day.

P.S.  I never used to like green, and rarely used it in
paintings.  Then I started showing with a woman who
loves green.  I noticed that my children love sweatshirts
in Kelly green.  I realized that I've always loved St.
Patrick's Day, and decided that it was high time to give
poor old green a chance.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Living from the heart

 Flowered flying heart
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
I have so much painting to do -- so today I
painted a little heart painting to use on my
Valentine card.  I'm having a postcard made,
and if you're in town, or around on Valentine's
Day you might get one.  The painting is what
I wish for everyone on Valentine's Day, and
all month, all year for that matter -- blue skies,
lots of love and flowers.  It sums up the goofy,
wonderful feeling possible on Valentine's Day.
I'll show you the postcard once the master
designers at my printer are finished with it.

While I was painting this -- I listened to Helen Fisher
give a great talk about love on TED TV and
discovered that the parts of the brain
activated for love, are common to not just
humans, but to all animals.  Not only that,
people in long, and happy love relationships
show the very same brain activity as those
who have just fallen in love -- in other words
they are crazy.  Okay I admit it.

Have a-letting-the-love-in day

Monday, February 7, 2011

Loving my dog tired dog


Let sleeping dogs lie
 charcoal on bond paper
14 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

I bought my dog Zoey a fuzzy mat to put in front of
the heat vent in the kitchen.  It is chilly here -- 27 below
zero Celsius with the wind chill, and warm spots are
in high demand with my dog and two cats.  The cats
have little beds over the heaters.  They weigh 7 and
9 pounds respectively, and our 60 pound dog had taken
to lying on their beds. But we didn't want a great big
dog bed in the kitchen, so the mat is small, and not quite
right for Zoey.

Ah well.  I needed a live model, and she was it for this
sketch.  I am dog tired myself after a day of teaching,
but what amazing things my students are doing.  They
are without a doubt an inspiration.  So for today let's
concentrate on loving our pets... they can 100% show
us how to relax.

Have a loving-the-relaxing-moments day.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sleepy Sunday

Sunday has become one of my favorite days of the
week.  One of seven favorite days -- Ha!  Gotcha.
No...I don't think of the days of the week as good,
better, best.  But Sunday for the most part is a day to
rest, relax and enjoy life together, and to get ready
for the week.  I've got to admit that I love it.
Ready for joy
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(My entry in the Ayrspace show,
and also in the International Women
Celebrate book)

This beautiful invitation to the Ayrspace International
Women Celebrate show (above) arrived and it is the
perfect treat. Jeanette Vermeyden-Obbink designed it, and she's
done a lovely job.  I hope you'll put the Ayr on your
schedule for March, and head over to the show.

Yesterday in the flower store I met Drew Scott
from The Property Brothers show, then watched
his show on the W network last night.  Drew is
a charming and engaging fellow, and he was
buying a huge bouquet of exotic flowers for
Marilyn Denis, which he was giving to her on
the program. Annie, one of our friends at
Yang Flowers on Avenue Road did a wonderful
job arranging them.  Drew is going to be on the Marilyn
Denis show on CTV Monday morning  at 10 a.m.,
and you can watch it online. 

Have a loving-your-downtime day

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The opening

 Me with my paintings at the opening.
(Because the paintings are about talking on
Skype, Joyce Fournier, the gallery director,
thought it would be cool to mount them vertically
so it feels like scrolling on a computer looking at them.
To see the titles look at last night's blog.)

Tonight was the opening of the International Guild of
Figurative Art show at Studio Vogue in Toronto.
It was a wonderful opening and the first show in the
gallery's new larger space -- which looks fantastic, and
is just above Davenport at 216 Avenue Road. I loved
the opening.  It was great that my friends Jennifer Hinrichs
and Katie Brown are in the same show with me.  Jennifer
and I have been in many shows together, and the three of
us were in a show together several years ago.
Jennifer Hinrichs with one of her beautiful paintings
Dinner at Linda's house
Acrylic on board
24 x 24 inches
Jennifer Hinrichs © 2011

 It was a great pleasure to see how people reacted to
the work so positively, and the warmth and good cheer
in the gallery was a nice contrast to the cold, snowy
night outside.

A big shout out to all of my friends, and art appreciators
who came out tonight.  It was fantastic to see you there.

We went out to a delicious Indian supper afterwards,
with friends ,which put a fabulous finish on a very happy day. 
 The opening --  people enjoying a super show.

What I love -- art openings, good friends, beautiful art,
funny conversations, and now I am going to love reading
my excellent book and going to sleep.  It's all good.  Life
that is.  Thank you for supporting me through the process
of creating my work, and for encouraging me.  You make
a big difference in my life.  You make me happy, and
I love that.

Have a loving-being-happy day.

Friday, February 4, 2011

What I love

This is how my work will appear tomorrow at
I am a member in good standing, which is an honour.
From top to bottom they are:
Morning in Korea
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Check this out
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Acrylic on canvas,
24 x  24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

I've decided to write a blog about love every
day for the month of February.  Does that sound like
too much?  Come on I think we need it.  So I
intend to ramble on about love, and you'll have
to indulge me, or not.

Take this morning for instance when I had to
get up before dawn and head out for school.
I loved the sunrise.  It was absolutely astounding.
I was heading north, and of course the sun rises in
the east, but at every stoplight I was craning my
neck to see that gorgeous light -- pink fanning up
in stripes across grey clouds, then pure pink flooded
the treetops, and trees all along the road.  Then the
light became a brilliant golden colour.  I loved it.
Just the memory makes me so glad I got up early.
Then my students were so much fun, and I had
a great time with them.

What else do I love?  I love the idea that I will
be showing with some friends, and artists I've
yet to meet tomorrow night (check the info above.)
I love the power of the Internet and the fact that
100 women will be showing their wonderful work
to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International
Women's Day in the beautiful Ayrspace gallery in Ayr,
Ontario, Canada.

Jill Yuzwa and Kim Rempel pulled this together
with the help of all of the participating women,
all fantastic artists and positive bloggers who love
their art and their lives.  I mean what is not to love
about that?  To my male blogger friends I just want
to say, artistic women are happy women, so their
involvement in such a project will help everyone in
their lives -- that means you.  Plus a portion of the
proceeds from the show is going towards two charities
in Haiti.  All good right?

If you're in Toronto please come out to the opening of the
International Guild of Figurative Art at 216 Avenue Road,
this weekend on Saturday February 5th between 5 and 7.
I have three pieces in that show, and there are ten artists
from around the world displaying their work.  It will be

Gotta go now and look for my party dress.

Have a deciding-to-love-February day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A snow day!

Sam dreams of a snow day
(Skype drawing)
black marker on bond paper
14 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

I woke up this morning to the sound of my former
boss's wife telling me that the school was closed and
my part time classes canceled for the day.  Go back
to sleep she said.  I obliged.  As much as I don't like
coping with snow, I think there are few things more
pleasant than sleeping under a warm duvet in a cool
room while snow falls softly muffling the noises of
the city.  Plus so many people stayed off the roads today
that it was much quieter than it might have been.

I reveled in something I haven't had any of for months it
seems - time.  What a total pleasure.

Have an enjoying-the-unexpected-gift-of-time day.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The month of love

Thinking of Valentine's Day
(quick sketch of a Valentine Heart)
Acrylic on bond paper
Barbara Muir © 2011
(I spent part of the afternoon drawing
a very careful Valentine and painting
it with watercolour.  At the end of
a couple of hours I had a weak red,
not super Valentine.  So I dashed this
off in acrylic on the bond paper
I use for drawing and my palette,
and I like it a lot better.  I'll be
doing more on the theme, because
I have to get my cards together for the big day.)

I have to admit it -- I love Valentine's Day.  There are so many
reasons for my affection for the day of the heart.  The first is
that I've been blessed with a loving husband, loving family and
friends.  I believe that for a loving person, love is readily
available, and that has been my experience.  Plus I love the
colour red, I love a day that sanctions soppy expressions of
love, and the simplicity and beauty of the heart shape -- that
says it all.  February without Valentine's Day wouldn't have a
chance.  Outside storms are brewing.  Dire warnings fill
the radio and TV airwaves.  Take cover, snow squalls, high winds,
blizzards.  Oh my.

But the stores are filled with silly, cheerful, goofy, gorgeous cards,
gifts, decorations, cupids, everything for the hopeless romantic
and simply loving person to buy to express that depth of warmth
which makes life worthwhile.  I love that contrast.  Outside freezing
cold air, and in the stores big, red, furry heart pillows.

Luckily for me -- somewhere in the darkest reaches of the aptly
named cold room in the basement, is a box filled with decorations
for the hearty. That would be me and by extension my family.  You
don't have to be in love with a special someone to give, or even get
love. Love is everywhere.

Have a planning-to-have-a-loving-month 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:
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!