Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The women have arrived and seeing the women for coffee

Series: The conversation continues
Left to right: Listening across oceans, Late night in Norway,
The best news right here
Acrylic on canvas
90 x 30 inches (30 x 30 x 3)
Barbara Muir © 2011

This has been a long day -- seeing my dear one off in the early
morning light at about five a.m.  I stood in the shortest line
ever for my passport (two -- one of whom was me), and was
friends with the guard at the desk at the end of our five minute
chat.  Then a quick drive home and off to the neighbourhood
coffee meeting to talk about art and dance and hear snippets
of conversation about environmental disasters and taxes, and
the stuff of life.  The coffee, like the conversation, was excellent
and I felt my blood speed up as I drank it  and listened -- my third cup
-- the most  I should drink.

After an afternoon wrapping up the end of term bits and
pieces and handing out chocolate at school, I enjoyed a great dinner
with Sam, some fun phone calls, and now I'm off to watch Jon Stewart.
Painting will have to wait until tomorrow.

The best news of the day -- my women (above) have arrived in
New York and all is well.  I'll be reunited with them next week
at the opening. I cannot contain my excitement.

Tonight I'm showing you how my paintings will look
together on the wall. They re 90 inches wide end to end, quite
wide. When I talk to Steven on Skype I take hundreds of pictures
with Grab on my Mac.  After we hang up, I can almost watch the
conversation again. It would take a big gallery to convey that feeling
in paint.  These three paintings based on images from conversations
with my friend in Norway are a distillation of that experience.  The
world is both larger and more intimate because of this relatively new reality.

Have a loving-the-ins-and-outs-of-your-day day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

More from the New York series and Easter postponed

 The best news right here
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Here's another of the three paintings that actually fly out
to New York today.  Randir at UPS is the kindest art
packer you ever want to meet, and I was delighted on
Saturday when I took the paintings in and he said they
were beautiful.  We paint in isolation and frequently at
a high intensity.  To have someone confirm that what
we're doing is good is always a sweet pleasure.

As it was the weekend was so packed with work that there
was no time for the joyous Easter folly we usually have
with our children.  In fact it's the first year ever that we
haven't had any Easter celebration on the actual weekend.
Steven and I did share a pack of caramel filled bunnies
on the ride to Windsor, Ontario, to pick up Sam yesterday.
And the weather in Windsor, the southernmost point of
Canada, was balmy and beautiful.  The forsythia and daffodils
were out and the magnolias starting to bloom.  Steven
and I walked down to the waterfront with Zoey, our dog,
while Sam finished his packing.  We were delighted to see
all the fantastic sculptures in the park by the water.

So the silly pictures of the giant baskets and Easter decorations
will come next weekend, and we will have all the fun
we normally have on that holiday.  Yes of course Sam had some
chocolate eggs when we got home -- just not the turkey and
roast potatoes, and hundreds of chocolate eggs, and the hunt with his
brother and Megan, and the silly Easter stuffed toys that talk and dance.
All that has to wait.

Have a holidays-can-happen-any-day day.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The paintings bound for New York City

 Listening across oceans
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

I guess you probably wonder what I've been
up to, and the answer is painting, marking, painting,
marking, painting, painting, painting.  I've asked
Steven several times in the past week if I still
have my ears, because I reason van Gogh might
not have been out of his mind, just a painter with
multiple deadlines.  I do.  I still have my ears and
my sanity.

Here is one of the paintings from the three for New York.
The overall title for all three is The conversation continues.
I watched a cool video the other day about how video telephoning
is changing the way we communicate because it's taking
the place of the written word -- and making face-to-face
the way to get together again.

That is the idea behind this series.  My friend Henriette
volunteered to pose for me numerous times so I could
do a series about the conversation. We originally met in Florence,
but could as easily meet here on the blog, and then
meet any time over a coffee and cookies while we sit on opposite
sides of the world.  In fact we did toast each other with our
coffee cups.  Hers said "Mommy" in Norwegian, and mine
said "Art Matters" in English.  Have a great weekend.
I am going to rest for a minute, then back to work!

Have a loving-the-beginning-of-spring day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

My Toronto Show picks two of my pics and Happy All Holidays

 Shadow Play in Forest Hill
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

Backyard Cherrywood (just spring)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Last night in a day of unprecedented work from all
fronts I learned that two of paintings will be featured
in the My Toronto 2011 show opening here on May 12th
6 - 8 p.m. at Studio Vogue Gallery  If you're in town,
please come out and see what promises to be a cool show. 

Happy every holiday you celebrate this weekend.
It's a packed one for us.  We will have the family
together for dinner on Sunday, a treat I'm looking forward to.

Plus it's Earth Day today.  I wish the earth much better
treatment than it's had this year.  It's also my month-a-versary
of my first date with my dear Steven, so I better wind down
my painting activities and wish him another great month
together over a chamomile tea.  It's late.

Have a super-Saturday-enjoying-life day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The cake house is cooked and a day of goodbyes

 The Cake House
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2011

I am incredibly lucky in my work -- in art and in
teaching.  In painting I have no trouble letting paintings
go for the most part.  My paintings are meant to go
to new owners after they make the leap from my
mind to the canvas.  But sometimes it's hard to say
goodbye to a wonderful class of students -- people
filled with ideas and humour.  I know I'll see some
of them again in the halls, but all of them will move on
amid high fives and bright smiles, and I will miss them.

Here is The Cake House in what I think is its final
version.  I tried to keep it loose -- the original
impression still in the work.  I'll let you know whether
it's going in a new show soon.

Have an enjoying-art-and-people day.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Capturing spring

 Backyard Cherrywood Avenue (just spring)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Hi there,

I've missed you.  I am not quite finished painting like
fury, but I can see the light -- of course that's the
whole point isn't it?  Here's a painting I've been
working on.  I may tweak it a bit further, but
I'm quite happy with where it's going.  It's the
view from my back porch, and it makes me
happy.  That great gaggle of branches will soon be
filled in and I won't even know the neighbours
are there.  I like the view at any time of year, and
this was how it was earlier in the week.
Have a loving-your-neighbourhood day.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A whole lot of shaking going on

My postcards and invitations for the Starlight Symphonies show
at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, in New York City,
arrived today. 

The postcards and invitations to arrived today for
the group show I'm in at the Amsterdam Whitney
gallery in New York City which opens with a red carpet
gala on May 5th.  Wahoo!  The postcards and invites are
beautiful. How wonderful.  In the meantime I am painting
like crazy.  I have two easels set up and bounce
back and forth between the two with cups of
tea in hand.
 Bring on the red
Acrylic on wood panel
5 x 5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

 Here's a small painting of tulips I did the other
day.  I have a special place in my heart for tulips
because my husband is Dutch-Canadian, plus
as a child I lived in Ottawa, Ontario, which
has a spectacular tulip festival the moment the
spring weather warms up.  It's cold today, and I'm
working plein air on one work.  (I'll show you
tomorrow I hope).  The wind is whipping the trees around,
and I'm mighty glad of a stable easel.

Have a superb day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Protect your archives


Reading in the studio with the cat
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

A couple of months ago I downloaded a photo someone
sent me and lost almost total photo record of my work
for the past few years.  Not a happy event.  Computer
experts in my family tell me they can probably help,
but so far none of them have had sufficient time, and
I've been too busy moving forward to spend time and
money looking back.  But it matters, and fair warning.
Buy yourself an extra hard drive for $100 and back
everything up.

The painting tonight is one I love, but unfortunately
I did not take a decent photo of it before it went to
its current home.  The model is so wonderful and patient
and the star of many of my paintings.  She is a lighthearted
young woman who gets into pose and takes
on incredible deep moods.  I love painting her.  Meanwhile
-- except for exams school ended today.  So I am going into a
painting frenzy.  Watch out.

Or should I say watch this space.

Have a taking-care-of-your-images day.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The strange sketch

 Evening nap
Art Group Sketch
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(I'll try a new photo of this in the
morning.  The red isn't right.)

At my art group I am lucky to be able to admire
my fellow artists as they paint so skillfully.  One
of the artists I love to watch is Frank Pasian, who
normally paints three, or four gorgeous, powerful and
quite abstract portraits in a three hour session.
His process is amazing to follow, and I am always
inspired seeing his bold brushwork and clear,
strong images.  The other night at my art group
Frank stopped painting.  Unheard of.  I started teasing
him about the Monty Python skit about painful
childhoods, where each person keeps trying to
outdo the other in misery.  My favorite word
in the skit is "Luxury".  So Frank could not
get inspired, and I said "Inspiration is Luxury."
Of course I was joking.  But I turned out this
strange alternate sketch to the one I posted the
other night, mostly so I could surprise Frank.

It does show how differently the same subject
can be portrayed in one session.

Have an enjoying-fun-with-your-fellow-artists day.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Inspiration is everywhere

 Spring thoughts
(Art group sketch)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

When I walk my dog in the park I see a dog who
is a life lesson in himself.  The dog runs like the
wind, faster than any other dog.  His owner carries
a throw stick with my dog's favorite, coveted
orange ball, and throws that ball like a pro, so far
that his dog races away for minutes at a time, and
hunts for the ball in the long grasses, or bushes. 
I am always so intensely impressed with the dog
-- a large, graceful brown and white spotted short
haired dog, with floppy brown ears.  I'm impressed
with his owner too, who walks the dog quietly,
kindly and respectfully and with pride.

The dog has only three legs.  I've asked why, but
I admit that when the owner was answering me I
was captivated by the sight of that gorgeous, speedy
creature, and missed the answer.  Maybe cancer.
I think about that dog when I think it's too
hard to paint, or I'm too tired, or any of hundreds of
excuses that can pop into my head and take me off
track.  I think the dog does not know he's different than
the day before that leg was removed.  He is just enjoying
life to the absolute maximum.  And I know he's got
the right idea.

Now I'm going to walk my girl, Zoey (the dog) maybe
I'll be lucky and see that other very special dog.

Have a-knowing-how-blessed-you-are day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Paying tribute to Ann Northcote


 Ann Northcote
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2008

My friend David Northcote's mother, and my friend
Suzanne Betcke's mother-in-law, Ann Northcote,
died this morning, after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke
last week.  I painted her portrait a few summers
ago and spent many hours talking to her and getting
to know her.  In the breaks between portrait sittings
we shared tea, cookies, stories about her family,
lots of laughter and an appreciation for each other.

Ann was a citizenship judge and loved and took pride
in her work helping people become new Canadians.  She was
also the first Canadian to become President of the
World Y.W.C.A. and a Member of the Order of Canada.

A down-to-earth woman, and avid gardener, Ann
wanted to be portrayed with her backyard in the
background where her beautiful garden surrounded
the pool that was the center of many large, happy, family
parties.  The only symbol of her considerable stature
in Canadian life that she wanted included in the painting
was the tiny pin on the right side of her blouse in the
picture.  That piece of jewellery was the pin given to
her for being a Member of the Order of Canada. She was
an amazing woman with a great laugh, a generous nature,
and a tender dignity. I will miss her.

Have an honouring-the-people-you-meet-who-care-about-the-world day.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Late night in Norway
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(This is the final version of my painting
formerly called Taking a break from painting . 
It is one of three portraits of Henriette Sonne
that I'll be showing in New York City at the
Amsterdam Whitney Gallery next month).

My husband, Steven, has been away a lot in the past
year.  His work has taken him out of town far
too often. It isn't just that we love one another,
and get lonely when we're apart, it's that we
laugh at the same things.  As soon as we're together,
after the fond hellos, and recapping what's
been happening, we are laughing sitting
at the kitchen table over the spoils of a good

Not only that, my sweet husband has a good
voice and loves to sing.  I sing too (just ask
my students -- I'm sure they wish I wouldn't),
but not the way I sing with Steven
in the car, belting out old favorites, and new
songs, laughing when we're done.  Just the
thought of singing with him makes me

It has been a strange weather day today --
so hot in the park walking the dog at noon
that I had to take off my coat and walk in
just my jeans and sweater!  That is a sure
sign of spring.  Then tonight it snowed
like crazy, about two inches while we were
doing our shopping.  Huge wet flakes.
On the way home in the car we sang
Winter wonderland at top volume.  That's
something I love about my husband --
He is great at playing.

Have a singing-and-laughing-with-someone-you-love 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!