Monday, May 30, 2011

The Graphic Novel

 Chris the printer
Black marker on moleskin paper
5 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(This is a very, very fast sketch of Chris -- who noticed
on Friday that I was not looking well, although I thought
I was in fine health -- then Saturday -- whammo -- sick as
a dog.  From this I've concluded that Chris (not fairly
represented here) is psychic, or sickic.  Anyway he can
see an illness coming -- second career for Chris?  If you
read this don't get angry Chris)

My problem with the graphic novel (if I have one) is that I
like words too much.  My friend Marcia suggested that I
write one while I was stuck in bed sick anyway.
 I can appreciate the beauty of graphic
novels, and recognize them as a literary art/art form, but
I want all words, and lots of them in my novels.  I make
an exception for the novels of Alexander McCall Smith,
all of which I have almost finished reading (I think there
are two I haven't finished -- one I'm reading
now, and one more.)  Some of his novels have illustrations for each
chapter, and they are a delight of course.

Pansies make me happy 
Black marker on moleskin paper
5 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Apologies to Marcia.  Plus my life is fairly mundane as a
an artist adviser guru once pointed out to me.  So when Kim
Rempel asked us to submit paintings of the mundane in our
lives, I was hard pressed to choose, because what might be considered
mundane by others, I might think is sublime.  And I did think
that was true of all of the paintings of the mundane that she posted on her
site. I have made it down to the kitchen table today.  And I'm heading
back to my comfortable bed (still not better), but the kitchen table is
jam packed with small china cream pitchers -- some antique, crammed
with generous offerings of purple, yellow, and variegated plum and
white pansies.  I feel like I'm in Nirvana looking at them.
Night time in New York (unfinished sketch)
Black marker on moleskin paper
5 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(Plus if I were going to do a Graphic novel, I might
set it in New York.  Too obvious?  Apologies.)

Back upstairs the sight of my sweet cat Fiona, curled up like
a feline sentry on my aunt's beautiful, fine, white, cotton, crocheted
blanket folded for a decoration at the end of my bed, gives
me a sublime feeling.  Okay it could be the antibiotics, but I
know they're what's making me feel wretched too. Anyway I
do know this.  After a frightening bout of illness starts to recede
the world looks pretty magical.  Thank you for your kind
thoughts and for being major contributors to the magic in my

Have curing-what-ails-you day

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sick transit paintia

 Sick self-portrait
Marker, coloured pencil, 
and watercolour crayon on notebook paper
6 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
It should read sic transit gloria -- Latin for "so passes
the glory of the world," but in this case it means sickness
stops painting.  I woke up with the room twirling violently
yesterday, and was very sick.  Steven called Medvisit
and a sweet Dutch doctor came, tested me thoroughly and
concluded that I had an inner ear infection which causes
Vertigo.  May I just say that Vertigo is bad.  Not something
you ever want. Twirling rooms, horrible nausea, and I had
not had anything to drink, or any obvious cause.  The doctor
put me on antibiotics.  The room stopped whirling.  But I
am still feeling punky -- so here's today's offering, a quick
self portrait before I go back to sleep.

Be well.

Have an I'm-not-getting-sick day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More friends' art

Acrylic on canvas
5 x 5 inches
©Flora Doehler

Acrylic on canvas
4 x 5 inches
© Valda Zobens

Autumn #1
Oil on board
6 x 8 inches
© Douglas Hughes 
I just finished writing this and realized that it
doesn't still doesn't cover the art I own by
friends.  So this list will have to continue another
day.  But here goes for now: I own a painting
by my friend  Flora Doehler, who has been an
inspiration in both my painting and blogging life,
and have sneakily given my husband paintings by
my friend, Valda Zobens who does spectacular
abstract work, and Doug Hughes an excellent landscape
painter.  (My image here doesn't do justice to Doug's work,
because it is matted and framed and the mat shadow shows.)
Of course that means I get to see these gifts every day. 
We own lots of folk art by our good friend, Nova Scotia artist
Ian Fancey, and I love a small painting I bought from Toronto
artist Carolyn Megill, another magically creative Toronto artist
and friend.  I have a super portrait of me done by famous
Texas portrait painter, Susan Carlin.  Each piece I own by other
artists (and yes there are a few more) brings back
the story of when I first saw the piece, makes me
happy on a daily basis, and adds to my understanding
of what making art is all about. So Thanks to everyone for that.

A Fish
Acrylic on carved wood
 17 x10
© Ian Fancey

Acrylic on canvas
5 x 5 inches
© Carolyn Megill

 Barbara Muir
Oil on board
9 x12
© Susan Carlin

By the way I've been planning for months to show
you this amazing work from a friend in California.
I don't own it -- it's huge, and when we spoke she
wasn't sure it was finished.  But isn't it lovely just
as it was when we spoke.  Pam Brown doesn't have
a blog, or website so I can't link to her.  And Pam
Brown is a superb artist I met when I took a course in California
with Skip Lawrence and Toph Schink.  That
was a pivotal time for me because I'd just crossed over from
watercolour to acrylics.  Now of course I know I
can work in any medium I feel like using.  But
acrylics changed my artist's life for the better,
and so did meeting Pam -- a deeply intellectual,
constantly probing, always experimenting and
sweet natured artist. In fact I think that in some
ways that course, and becoming friends with Pam
set me on my current course of artistic passion.

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
Very large (I don't know the measurements
© Pam Brown

Have a friends-in-art-are-friends-indeed day

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Painting, gardening and cleaning

 To please the bees (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(I'm working on a large work and for relief I sat on my back
porch to paint our glorious apple tree.  Inside as I worked
I was listening to this, and this on TED TV.  Outside I was
rejoicing that the apple tree was in full bloom and also
filled with honey bees.) 
Three weeks ago it snowed here.  Maybe it's four,
but my point is that not even a month ago a day
like today and yesterday would have been any Torontonian's
dream come true.  All of the major Home Decor magazines
are telling us we should have outdoor rooms.  I think
I have such a thing -- it's called a back porch.  Just a
bit of a concrete deck with a roof over it.  We clean
it up, stick some chairs and pillows out, candles,
maybe a container with some of the flowers from the
garden -- presto.  But the truth is an outdoor room,
a flourishing garden -- these add to the tasks we have
to manage.

I say try this.  (This is especially helpful if you work at
home.) Start painting, keep going.  Good -- now get
to a place that feels really awkward.  Stop.  There is
no one watching you to make sure you keep going.  So
go outside.  Sit in your outdoor room.  Then see the
garden.  You'll think, 'maybe I could just weed for a couple of
minutes' (It's true. You can.)  Weed until you want to
quit (five -- maybe ten minutes at the most), then get
restless and go inside.  Inside put on a load of wash,
sweep the floor.  (Only five more minutes have passed).
Get restless, and guess what? You're back at the painting.

To change it up.  Unload the dishwasher in your next break.
Go outside with a cup of tea, weed, load the dishwasher
and back to the painting.  No one  tells you that this is
how Georgia O'Keefe painted those bones, or how Michelangelo
painted the Sistine chapel.  But rumour has it that their
respective places were spotless, the dishes done, the beds
made when they were at the height of their creativity. 

Is my place spotless?  No not at all.  But it's a lot tidier than
it would be if I weren't painting.

Have a balancing-it-all-with-pleasure day.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My friends' art

River Fire
Acrylic on watercolour paper
5 x 5 inches
Nicki Ault © 2010

Right off the top here I want you to know that I love
my friends' art.  So if I don't mention you in this
piece, it just means I mentioned you somewhere else,
or you're on my blog list, or I will mention you.
Okay?  I've been excited for a few weeks now by
a beautiful Nicki Ault painting that hangs in my
studio.  Right now my studio is looking a bit bare
because 31 of my paintings are out at galleries!
Wow.  I have to pinch myself about that.  Yes it's true.
So the painting by Nicki is almost alone in there.  I
hope it doesn't feel lonely.  It makes me happy
every time I look at it. Nicki is in a class all by herself
when it comes to painting water -- it is one of her
passions and a specialty. I own paintings by quite a
few other painters too and I'll feature them another day.
Each one means so much to me.

Thanks for being a great painter Nicki and thanks
to all of you -- please keep painting.  You dazzle me.

Have a loving-and-being-inspired-by-friends'-art day.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What it's all about

The painting in the corner of this cheery kitchen 
scene is mine.  Sadly I've lost the original
photo image of the work, so I'll have to go
back and ask my hosts for permission to 
photograph it again. But see a small image
I retrieved below to get the sense of it.

Morning at the artist's table
36 x 12 inches
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2008
We have had rain for more than a week, and
I have been working hard painting.  Today
a friend invited me out for a walk with the dogs,
and I was so inspired by the landscape on our
walk.  In fact it was a cityscape of houses,
green grass, flower gardens and happy people
basking in the first warm sunny day in a week.

Sam and I were invited to dinner (dogs included)
and we visited with friends who are also collectors
of my work.  What a pleasure to see my paintings
in place -- doing what they should do, being part
of a room, a house, a family -- cheering up
a corner, or adding to the good feeling already
present.  And at the root of this peculiar profession
we are in, that is certainly what it's all about.

Have a going-back-to-the-pleasure-of-painting day

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gallery at the Porch Door -- so much fun

 Home grown beauty (work in progress)
Acrylic on wood panel
5 x 5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(This year my husband Steven planted
tulips and daffodils in abundance in
our small front porch garden.  The
other day I cut a few to paint -- but the
difference between tulips from the
garden and the ones grown in greenhouses,
is that one bloom could fill my entire painting.  So

Here's a little painting I started working on a couple
of days ago.  It's not quite finished because there
are one or two other things going on.  Isn't that
the way it should be?  Today I went on a day
trip with my friend Josephine to visit Sally Chupick
at her new gallery -- the Gallery at the Porch Door.
Check it out on her blog. (By the way while
I was writing here, Sally had already installed my work!)
The Gallery at the Porch Door

Watching Sally choose my work was fun.
She laid it all out on the floor, and kept adding
pieces as the arrangement formed in her
It's quite exciting when blog friends meet.  I
think we're especially lucky because we get to
know one another in the first place because we
like each other's work.  But then we talk to one
another through our comments, sometimes for
years at a time before we meet, and we are
purely positive.  So before we ever see one another
we have a unique, and quite wonderful relationship.
At the International Women Celebrate show I met
three blog friends I'd never seen in person, and we had a
great connection.  Then today I got to meet Sally,
and it was just so over the top delightful.
She is every bit as fantastic as she seems on her blog.
Her gallery is charming and elegant, her house
beautiful, and her work is so magnificent -- photos
do not do it justice.  Still I'll try.
Painting by Sally Chupick on the gallery wall.
A quick snap at an example of one of 
Sally's lush seaside townscapes.
It was quite a long journey, and we even managed
to get lost, so Josephine and I were tired when
we arrived. I was so in the moment that I forgot
to get a photo of me with Josephine and Sally,
or of Sally and me, or of Sally with her husband
Dave, who did all the fabulous construction and
design work to make her gallery happen. Still I will
get more photos of all of us the next time. 

Sally really liked my work, and will showcase quite
a bit of it in her gallery.  Hurray!  Three cheers
for Sally.  Three cheers for Josephine.  (Thank
you Josephine for getting us home safely through
that unrelenting rain).

Have a-showing-in-a-new-venue day.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thanks so much -- plus more from the moleskin

Hi.  I haven't had time to post the many pictures I'd like
to put on here from recent openings, and I'm
working on some projects that need to be done this
week, so I decided to talk to you for a minute instead.
Note: There seems to a loud sound at the end.  I think
that's the my husband sneezing.  He has allergies. The good
news?  That means spring is really here.

I'll also show you some more images from the Moleskin
notebook for good measure.
 The departure lounge
Black marker on bond paper
5 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Thanks so much for being my friends, my supporters,
my collectors.  I wish we could have a great big party
tonight to celebrate.  So I'll raise a glass to you, and
we can have a virtual toast to one another.

 Pansies from our flower pots
Black marker on bond paper
5 x 9 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2011

Pansies in a cream jug in May
Black marker on bond paper
5 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Have a thanking-the-people-who-bring-you-joy day.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Great opening -- Blogger problems seem to be solved

Friends Bruce Harbinson and Gill Cameron
with my painting Backyard Cherrywood just spring

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

Last night was the opening of the My Toronto 2011 show at
Studio Vogue Gallery.  I rushed home to tell you all about it,
and Blogger was shut down so I couldn't.  The artists
who use Facebook switched over pretty quickly, and
I put some images up there right away.

 Guests enjoying the show and a glass of wine

My Toronto 2011 is a wonderful show of a wide variety
of different artists' interpretation of the city.  I was so happy
to see the people who came out to the opening, and
to meet some of the really terrific artists in the show.  Thanks
to gallery director, Joyce Fournier and her husband Paul,
to everyone involved, and to all the wonderful guests.
I had a great time with you.

I'll show you some more images of the artists in the show
and their work tomorrow.  I am painting like crazy at
the moment -- but can't show you just yet.

Have a getting-out-to-some-great-shows day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Opening at Studio Vogue

 Out of the darkness (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Tomorrow ( Thursday) the My Toronto 2011 show opens
at Studio Vogue between 6 and 8 p.m.  The gallery director,
Joyce Fournier puts on a cheery, welcoming opening
event, so if you're in Toronto today please come out.
I have two pieces in the show.

Currently in the studio I'm working on some big
pieces, but it's daffodil time in Toronto, and our tiny
front garden is a mass of brilliant yellow, now with
a strip of brilliant blue grape hyacinths and red tulips
coming in to accent the yellow.

I'm transfixed by the daffodils and have started some
studies.  Everyone in town has spring fever, and we're
all hanging out like happy zombies in the park.
Have a celebrating-spring day.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Newly pink finished, The B cookie and Mother's Day in Central Park

My little painting of pink tulips is done and has more
drama than the last time you saw it.
Newly Pink
Acrylic on wood panel
5 x 5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

I'm home now and feel a bit strange, as if my feet and
mind are one place, and my spirit and heart are elsewhere.
I loved New York.  I spent Mother's Day at the MoMA,
in Central Park, at a café in Soho, and topped a day of
incredible walks off with a dinner at a superb Italian
restaurant, and a quick hike over to Times Square and
Me with Steven in Central Park,
New York City on Sunday
But I missed my sons and the kind of fun filled dinner we
would have had together if I'd been home.  So I was delighted
to come home and find that Sam had made me a delicious
oatmeal, chocolate chip cookie in the shape of a B (for
Barbara) and to be able to give him a hug.
The B Cookie Sam made me for Mother's Day
piping hot out of the oven when I got in
the door from my flight on Monday. Yum.
Have loving-your-family day

Monday, May 9, 2011

The MoMA, Monet, and Me


 Three views of Claude Monet's Water Lilies 1814 - 1826
at the MoMA, New York City
Monet and I have a relationship even though we've
never met.  But we've met in paint -- the most
momentous time for me took place in Stuttgart
Germany at a major show of his work.  I visited Germany
tagging along with Steven on a business trip that took
us to England, Germany and Sweden over a two week
journey.  While Steven worked, I visited museums
and had experiences.  My encounter with Monet's
paintings was so profound that I couldn't even describe
it to Steven without crying.  I felt that Monet was in
the room in the museum as I studied his paintings of
poplars. Of course he wasn't really there, but his
painting spoke of his hand and where he had dragged
either a brush, or a cloth of a new colour along the
horizon. For a painter the language of paint is
almost as direct a language as speech.
At the bottom edge of the triptych the canvas shows in places.
 I was interested in what happens at the join 
of the canvasses.  From afar the paintings read as one
large painting, not as three separate works.

Yesterday I had the same experience -- the
feeling of knowing the painter had been there at
the MoMA where Monet's Water Lilies is on
display.  It's a triptych, more than 40 feet wide.
How absolutely magnificent. I studied how Monet
joined the edges of the three pieces, and noticed that
he covered the upper edges of the work, but that the
canvas was bare in places at the bottom edges.  I felt
both moved and instructed.  Once again the presence
of the great Monet was with me.  These works are
remarkable, even if you know nothing about the
painter, but add to the equation the fact that Monet
worked on them until his death at 86 and you realize
how impressive it is that he was working on such a
huge scale.

My friend Flora Doehler's work reminds me a bit
of Monet, even though her work is completely
different.  What is similar is her use of texture, and
building colour in layers.  Plus she reveres nature
the way that Monet did.

Have a seeing-the-creativity-of-the-past-in-the-future day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

More from the Moleskin

Working in the lobby
black marker on bond paper
5 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 201

Eating lobster in New York
black marker on bond paper
5 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Today we're exhausted -- we walked all day
yesterday -- from breakfast until the late afternoon,
and from after dinner until after midnight.  New York
is such an exciting city that there is something happening
everywhere.  Yesterday we walked through Central
Park and were dazzled on all sides by the beauty
of the graceful Elm trees, flowering bushes and beds
of tulips.

Today we've been to the gallery and then hung out
reading,  then grabbed dinner from the famous street
vendor near our hotel. .All in all it seemed exactly
the right way to spend the day after months of hurrying.
Now we're heading out to see the night life at Time's Square.
After dinner coffee
Black marker on bond paper
5 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Forgive the quality of the images, the light is not
good in the hotel.  It has been a gorgeous day in New York.
Wish you were here.
Flowers at the Children's Zoo, Central Park, New York City
I love the saying on the sign. It made me think of my boys.
Happy Mother's Day everyone.

Have a loving-your-mother day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A delightful opening in the city of art

Last night was the opening of the group show I'm in at
the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery.  What a wonderful
time I had talking to the artists, fascinating guests and
the Director Ruthie Tucker and her husband Ambassador
Dr. Alton Louis Amsterdam III.
The conversation continues
Left to right: Listening across oceans; Late night
in Norway; and The best news right here
This is my series based on Skype images taken of
conversations with my friend the artist Henriette Sonne
in Norway. 

I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I would have
liked to because I was having such a great time and met
so many engaging people that the time sped by, and I
was lucky I got a shot of my work and a picture of me
with the Director Ruthie Tucker.
 Me at the gala opening with
the fabulous Ruthie Tucker

The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery openings are super.  
Champagne is served, there are fantastic treats, and at the end of
the evening we all sang Happy Birthday and had
birthday cake in honour of a close friend of the owner's family.

Have a getting-out-to-a-gala-opening day

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Some sketches for you

 View out the window in Toronto
Black marker on bond paper
5 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(Forgive the quality of my
photos today.  The best
light is in the washroom, but even
there it is not that bright.)
We headed out for New York today.  I have a lingering
on-the-edge cold, so took the decongestants the
pharmacist prescribed, almost worked.  There
is a lot of waiting when you're flying.  Despite my
cold we were happy, and luxuriated in the time to sit,
to wait, to enjoy a coffee together.

I bought a Moleskin notebook and sketched until
my pen succumbed to the pressure on the plane,
and started leaving black blobs of liquid ink on the page.
I was inspired by all of you as I drew, but in particular
two people, David Xu, from the Don Valley Art
Club, who showed me his sketchbook when I
went to Studio Vogue for the Jeremy Lipking
video evening.  David's sketchbook deserves a
show all on its own.  His drawings are beautiful.
He paints in a formal high realism style, which
is greatly admired, but his many sketches done
travelling the subway in Toronto show a completely
different side of his art.
 Runway tractors Pearson Airport Toronto
Black marker on bond paper
5 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Then I was thinking of Edward B. Gordon who says
he doesn't think about what, or who he's painting,
just shapes.
Ready for take off
Black marker on bond paper
5 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Unloading the plane
Black marker on bond paper
5 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
 I had a lot of fun until my pen resisted.  I took a different
pen to dinner, so there may be more sketches tomorrow.
So far we have had a super time.  Stuffed filet of sole for
dinner at a wonderful Spanish restaurant in Chelsea,
then we walked from Chelsea back to our hotel which
is near the park.  It's cool here, and the rain stopped
tonight, so it was magnificent at Time's Square
-- filled with people, all the stores open at midnight.
Such vibrant energy, we do love New York.

Have an enjoying-wherever-you-are day

Monday, May 2, 2011

This art is going places

Tonight the ladies at the Don Valley Art Club nearly fell
off their chairs when I showed up with my paintings
at 6:30 p.m. -- early for me.  I feel like there's almost a
new show to remember every day -- not true but there
is a lot going on. And today I was distracted by the
problem of among other things dresses.  The eternal
dilemma of what to wear.

I entered these two paintings in the DVAC spring show.
I have a special affection for them because
they are about the wonders of video telephoning (Skype
in my case) and the love that you can see face to face
through this technological magic when you are separated
Check this out
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

by great distances. I've shown them to you before. I have been on a
Skype kick lately -- keen to paint the very different expressions
you see when you're talking to someone through their computer
screen. It makes sense that I've been enjoying this kind if
portrait image when you think about the shut-in quality of our Canadian 
winters and the great distances that can separate us from friends and family
-- especially when the weather forbids travel. 

It's always a treat to see my friends at the Don Valley Art Club -- in real
time face to face -- no computers involved.  I wish
I'd had more time to check out the show.  There were wonderful paintings
coming in but I had to fly.

Have a getting-your-work-in-to-spring-shows day.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Paintings off to Studio Vogue plus pink tulips

Two of my paintings capturing my love of the city I
live in were juried into the My Toronto show at
Studio Vogue, and Friday I dropped them off with
Joyce Fournier, the gallery curator/owner.  I'm showing
you the final version of the most recent one Backyard
Cherrywood Just Spring below.  We enjoyed
a great chat.  Earlier in the week Joyce hosted a
screening of a Jeremy Lipking video, and portrait
painters like me came out to watch a very in-depth
look at his techniques.  The great news is that Joyce
plans to hold more of the evenings and I've
already put in a request to see a Bob Burridge video
if she can get permission to show a longer one.
Backyard Cherrywood just spring
(final version)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

I've been fighting off a touch of the flu for the past week,
and so far I'm winning, but I recommend my
herbalist's brew of three slices of a real lemon,
two (or more) teaspoons of maple syrup (he insists
that it should be organic) and cayenne pepper.
Don't overdo it on the cayenne -- although this is
the ingredient that really makes you feel better.

Newly pink (work in progress)
Acrylic on wood panel
5 x 5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(I see some changes I'll make to this one
Here is a little painting of the brilliant pink
tulips that have graced my kitchen this week.
They're almost finished now, but this is how they
looked when they were new last weekend,
nestled tight into their generous leaves.

Have an enjoying-the-promise-of-May day.
P.S. If you're Canadian, please vote May 2.

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!