Monday, March 14, 2011

The pull of the past

Sean's Garden
(work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
 ( I think I'll take a new shot of
this tomorrow.  It is much brighter in
real life. I added some highlights,
and shadows to Sean's garden today.  
Speaking of Sean, I hope he's 
coming back
to Toronto this summer.  He was
a wonderful gardener.)

I am constantly thinking about past painters and
going through art galleries staring.  Because I
live in the present day I am more deeply drawn
to the recent past -- in Canada specifically
The Group of Seven.

I used to teach an English writing class, that
let me take my students to the Art Gallery of Ontario
to the Canadian section.  I'd ask them to pick
out one painting, and then do an essay linking
to an essay we were reading about art, comparing
what the author said to how they felt about the
painter they were studying.

The evening we met at the gallery was so much
fun.  Most of my students had never visited a
gallery -- period, and the excitement of coming
downtown, the beauty of the gallery, the thrill of
picking a painting definitely got to them.
They had to write down which painting they had
chosen on a list.  Two people could not pick the
same painting (in theory), so there were often
strong pleas to be allowed to paint the same work
because it was so beautiful.  Please. please please.
Laura Muntz was a favorite with her Interesting Story
and the painting of the burning of Quebec City got
such a reaction that I once had to stop a girl from touching it.
 Interesting Story
Laura Muntz Lyall 1898
Oil on canvas
81.3 x 100.3 centimeters
Permanent Collection The Art Gallery of Ontario
Gift of the Government of the Province of Ontario
(born Radford, England 1860
Died Toronto, Ontario 1930)

But what a pleasure it was to see these young
people getting so excited about art.  We need more
of that.  We need people to bring young people into
galleries to see what's possible, what's been done,
to make the connection to the past.

 The Fire in the Saint-Jean Quarter, Seen Looking Westward
Joseph Légaré 1848
Oil on canvas 
151.1 x 220.3 cm
(born Quebec City 1795, died Quebec City 1855)
The Art Gallery of Ontario permanent collection
Purchase with the assistance of Wintario

Meanwhile, I am always thrilled when I go, stand too
close to the paintings and study what the artists were
doing.  I do wish more women artists were featured
in all of our major galleries.  But that's a topic for
another day.

Have a valuing-the-major-galleries-in-your-area day


Melinda said...

Yes, Barbara, when a painter from 1848 can still elicit a powerful response from the viewer, they have something that all of us want to read and emulate.

Thanks for mentioning the women artists! You know that I smile at that...

Karen Bruson said...

Nice, strong painting coming along. Love those darks you have going.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

It's true and I think he was depicting a fire from a previous century -- even more amazing. The painting is huge, and at the edges you can see the people who have lost their homes with the pieces of furniture and the belongings they could take out in a hurry. It's a powerful and moving piece.

More on the women to come, and then fair break -- there are quite a few men on the net who influence me, including your Arty Fice.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Karen,

Thanks so much. This is a little sketch I did rather than throw out a scrap of watercolour paper. It probably isn't going any further, but if it is I'll post it back here.


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!