Thursday, September 29, 2011

A big show at Studio Vogue Gallery in Toronto

The invitation
Hi everyone.  If you are in Toronto on November
5th, I'm delighted to let you know that Gill Cameron,
the wonderful watercolour artist, and I are having
a show together at Studio Vogue Gallery.  The show
is called Faces and Places. I will be showing a
variety of work focusing on both figurative work,
land/city scapes, and still life.

Gill's work will feature her love of the Canadian
landscape as well as exciting new work that
developed out of her time working in an African
school and orphanage in Tanzania.

I would love to see you at our opening, so please
mark it on your calendar.  Gill and I always have
wonderful opening parties, and Joyce Fournier,
the gallery Director runs a very beautiful,
harmonious and welcoming gallery.
So the whole experience will be a pleasure for
all of us.

I can't wait to see you there.

Have-a-marking-this-show-on-your-calendar day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Flowers go big and the coffee dilemma

Flowers at the cottage(work in progress)
Current version
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Flowers at the cottage(work in progress)
With the coffee cups (now removed)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Here's the painting I'm working on right now for an
upcoming November show with my friend Gill Cameron.
 It's a larger version of yesterday's painting.  I am close to
finishing it, with a few details here and there to
decided on. 

Since the outset I have tried putting cups
on the table twice.  First it was espresso cups, but
they looked silly.  So small with the giant bouquet.
Then today I tried coffee cups, but I just could not
get them to do what I was hoping for.  In the end
I removed them, and we'll see what tomorrow will
decide.  I may just go for a simple shadow, and leave
it.  There will be more to come.

The bouquet was from my friend Ken's garden in Pugwash,
Nova Scotia.  Ken is one of the best gardeners I've ever
met.  He has created three varieties of petunia which are
in every hanging planter I've seen.  I even have a planter
with one of his flowers in it, here in Toronto, where it
is extremely popular.  He's also a super nice guy. And he
wanders around his garden talking while he picks the blooms
for me.  The whole experience is awesome.

Have an enjoying the flowers in your life day.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Painting more flowers, and acting in a movie!

 More flowers from Ken's garden
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(Once again I'll get a better shot
of this tomorrow in daylight.)
Today I worked on a small painting, that I'm doing on
a larger scale for an upcoming show.  I may add a few
touches to it tomorrow, but I'm pretty happy with it.

Our big news today is that Steven and I played a Mom
and Dad in my son Christopher's movie "Bye".
The movie will be a short film, and we play the
parents of the girl in the love story.  Our afternoon
was a small version of the big time.  We sat in a
modified bus (a bit like the trailers the stars have)
and waited to be called. Then we went into hair
and make up, and watched a few scenes until it
was our turn.
Christopher on the set of his new movie today.
You can see the microphone coming in over his head.

Megan getting adjustments to hair and make-up.  We didn't
actually count the crew, but there were probably between
15 and 20 people involved including the actors.  

It was a lot of fun, and I can't wait to see the final
product.  Our family is pretty arty, what with Sam
studying acting at the University of Windsor, Christopher
a graduate of that program, a full time photographer,
now starting to direct films, my nephew John
Rannells in Pasadena, who just had the first showing
of his new movie, Ruby Booby in Los Angeles, and a
niece who is a jewelry designer, maternity clothing designer,
and has just launched an awesome and artistic
play kit for kids called KidKits.  It seems like
everywhere we turn something exciting is going on.

If my father were alive I'd tell him what he'd started
with his fabulous photographs, and love of art.  We
are hooked to the third generation, and beyond. 

Have a supporting-your-family-in-their-creative-acts day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Doggie is done, and family fun

Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
My painting of the dog is done, and ready to be
shipped out.  I will actually miss the painting, like
I would a real pet.  The dog has become so real to
me, and...but he belongs with his owners and the
model for the painting -- a gorgeous dog.

Last weekend we went to the university of Windsor to see
my son, Sam in the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing.
Sam's role was the evil brother Don John, and he was magnificent
at it, even though in real life he is one of the sweetest people I know.
For sure.  (Everyone tells me this skill is called "acting".  Good
because that's what he's studying at university.) His costume was
spectacular, black pants, and leather boots, a long flowing black coat
lined in dark red, and a silk satin brocade shirt that gleamed
in the light in red and black.  At 6'4" he was an impressive
figure on the stage, and we were excited to see what
we knew already.  The boy has the chops. 

Happy together
Left to right: Sam, me, Megan, Christopher and Steven, who is
taking the shot. 
It was an especially wonderful trip because the whole
family was together, Christopher, our oldest, and
Megan his fiancée came with us, which made the
weekend even more fun for Sam.

Have an enjoying-your-children's-success day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

After the fall-- At the art show goes to the art show

 At the art show
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
I come from strong stock and if you knew
my mother you'd know that that's true.
This is a good thing, but sometimes the confidence
that comes from being pretty hearty leads
to errors in judgement.  Last night we were tired
from a very busy and frustrating day,
so we went to bed early.  But I got up in the
middle of the night and ran downstairs because I'd
forgotten to take medication I'm supposed to
take twice a day.

Unfortunately I sped downstairs, straight out
of a sound sleep and missed the last four stairs.
Why?  Because I was running in the dark.
Luckily perhaps I was holding onto the bannister,
and my arm went through at an odd angle.
Life lesson?  I am not a cat and I need to turn
on lights to navigate stairs at night.  I am
quite bruised, but fortunate to be fine.

Today I taught all day, then drove home and headed
straight for the Don Valley Art Club Fall show
opening at Todmorden Mills.  I was on sales and
walked around marvelling at the work and enjoying
myself, but I was very tired, and sore.  Steven snapped
pictures of me and the two paintings I entered, but
those with me in them look like I should be packed
in ice and shipped off in an air ambulance, so I'll
just show you the completed version of At the art
show, which shows a member of the DVAC with
her daughter.

Have a turning-on-the-light-to-descend-the-stairs day

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My funny art group gives us presents

 In a new light
(art group sketch)
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
I've told you the sad saga of how our art group
lost its home, and the happy story of how we've
found a new one.  On Tuesday night I try to
make the time to paint at the new location, and
have found it thoroughly enjoyable. True I miss
the old place, in a picturesque setting with
excellent facilities.  But the new place has new
members and our group has not lost its sense
of humour.  It seems to me that it's more fun
than ever going to the portrait and figure evenings,
because everyone has fun.  I can't stay long because
my current work commitments mean that all of my
time is tight.

Woops I meant to mention that we all got fantastic
portfolio cases the other night.  It was some kind
of wonderful result of the move.  What a lovely

A shout out to my friend George Shane, who I miss
terribly.  George is not up to attending at the moment,
and it was one of the distinct pleasures of Tuesday
night to watch his skillful and joyful paintings

Here's the painting sketch I did last night.

Have an enjoying-your-wonderful-friends day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Summer Fling

 Summer's glory (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Here in the north we've been told it's the last
full week of summer, and there's an air of desperate
merriment as a result.  When we sit out to eat our
meals in the evening we hear week night
revelers having meals outside, letting kids stay
up too late.  I love those summer sounds, the sounds
of adult laughter,  children at first giddy and giggly,
and then the younger ones crying and being
carried off to bed.  Summer is delightfully social
in the city, even when you are sitting alone reading
a good book.  Through the dark wall of trees you
hear the evidence of other lives playing outside.

Even weeding the garden these days feels like a
profound, almost spiritual exercise, as each
venture into the green and flowering garden reminds
you of how much you'd love to see even the green of
a wicked weed during the long months, of cold, grey
and snow.  That colour is like a glorious song.

So we went to the farmer's market on Saturday and
bought peaches.  Lots of them.  Some were the colour
in this painting and some not.  I've begun to freeze them,
and felt I must paint their delicious bounty before they
are gone for 12 more months.  I'm not quite finished this
painting, but close.

Have a loving-the-last-days-of-summer-day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A sad and beautiful day

 Portrait of my father (revisited)
black marker on bond paper
7 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
My father died on September 11, years before
the Twin Towers fell. So the day was filled with
sober memories for me before that horror.
Every year I talk to my mother about our father,
how dignified and caring he was as he died, how
valiant.  He died of lung cancer, following years
of emphysema, he no doubt picked up as a seaman
in the navy, exposed to excessive radiation
through early radar, or from the few years he smoked
serious cigarettes.

On 9/11, 2001 I was driving to school on a beautiful
day thinking about my father, and planning to call
my mother when I got home.  I was listening to
my own music -- it was the first day of a new term,
and I felt happy and optimistic about the work
ahead.  I switched on the car radio to get the time,
and the first plane hit.  After that like most people
I know I remember days of TV and crying.  Calling
friends who had people in New York, checking.
Hearing stories of people lost in my own small
circle, and all of this under quiet skies, because
the planes were down.

10 years on, the results of this tragedy still ricochet
around the world.  Any of us alive at the time will
never forget. And most of us will never fully process
it.  For all of those who lost their lives, for all of
those who lost loved ones, for everyone feeling grief
because of war and destruction and loss of loved
ones across the planet, I send out love, peace, and

We watched a documentary last night on the Pugwash
Peace conferences begun Pugwash, Nova Scotia
near where we have our summer place.  That conference
is attended by scientists and politicians around the
world, trying to put an end to nuclear weapons, and
to war.  They've accomplished a lot, and I wish them
the best in their continued work.

Have a dreaming-of-peace-in-our-lifetime day.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Poem by the Don hangs out

Poem by the Don (diptych)
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

 I think it was in June when my friend Maureen
Morrison asked me to be in a show while I
was away in Pugwash, Nova Scotia.  She very
kindly took my Poem by the Don painting to
place in the show.  Aside from the large space
vacated by the painting on my studio wall,
I hardly thought about the work.  It seemed there
was so much going on this summer.

Because I was out of town for the opening, I
saw it last Sunday for the first time and it was
an excellent show.  The exhibition, Views Along the 
Don featured paintings inspired by the landscape
near the Don River.  The river runs right
by Todmorden Mills, which houses the beautiful gallery
that hosts our club's shows.

I was blown away by Maureen Morrison's work --
three pieces on a spring theme.   I loved her palette
of warm yellows and rich blue skies.  So here they are:
20 x 30 inches
Oil on canvas
Maureen Morrison © 2011

Spring over the Brewery Hall
20 x 30 inches
Oil on canvas
Maureen Morrison © 2011
Spring at the Papermill Gallery
20 x 30 inches
Oil on canvas
Maureen Morrison © 2011

Have an honouring-your-fellow-artists day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sunday smash ups and funny friends

 At the restaurant 
Black marker on Moleskine
6 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Last weekend -- especially Sunday
seemed to be about collisions and pain.
My older son was biking and got hit by
car going slowly in an intersection. He
saved himself by jumping on the car's bumper
and is fine thank goodness; my younger son was
having arguments with friends: one of my friends
broke a bone in her foot going up the stairs in her
house... if I believed in horoscopes (I don't), I'd
think the planets were colliding. But in reality
it was too many people in the back-to-school
supplies lines, unbalancing the city.

We decided to go out for dinner to our favorite
Thai restaurant.  I did what I always do -- try to
draw as much as possible in the short waits
between ordering and eating.  As I was drawing,
very roughly and quickly, some friends came
up to the table.  They were sitting in another
part of the restaurant watching me drawing.
They tried to get my attention by waving and smiling
and calling to me.  The people at neighbouring tables
thought they were crazy, but they didn't care.
The restaurant is large and lit by elegant chandeliers
dimmed for intimacy.  And my friends were not in
my sight lines for the part I was focusing on, I totally
missed them carrying on.
 Texting at dinner
Black marker on Moleskine paper
6 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(The dragon's tail smeared when I 
wasn't paying attention.)
Still I laughed about that on the way home -- it was
the levity the day needed.  Usually people in public
places do not want random artists to draw them --not
those two.   And the dinner was delicious.

Have an art-can-be-surprising day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Crazy city and Happy art

Pat saves the day
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(the model Pat came to us last night
on very short notice.  Someone was
suggesting I model, and I was
explaining why that wouldn't be
a good idea -- and Pat walked in.
Thanks Pat.  You did save the day.)
Today was the first day of school in Toronto.
Suddenly there were about three million more
people in my neighbourhood than I can ever remember
being here.  Maybe that's because I can't remember
time before the summer.  A good thing.  So trying
to do any single thing was arduous.  All adventures
in cars were an experience. And to top it off my
engine light came on on the way to school to teach
again, and I created so many horrific scenarios, that
I probably should work in film.

At last, a great class over, errands run, animals fed, I
hurried to my art group at the new location, and enjoyed
a wonderful model, and a super time with friends who
are excellent and inspiring artists.  Did I mention funny?
That's almost the most important thing.  I painted
this picture of Pat, and I'm delighted with it.

Have a liking-what-you're-doing day.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Carol Marine lost her home and everything in it

 Carol Marine
Carol Marine, the wonderful American
artist lost the home she shared with her husband,
David, and little boy in a massive fire in Bastrop, Texas.

They managed to escape with their computers, a
few small paintings, and are now in a campground
trying to figure out where to go next.  They will get
insurance, but they've lost everything. The main thing
is that her family is all fine.To make a
donation and read more please go to this blog
site and lets help our fellow artist out in a terrible time. 

It's easy to make a donation on PayPal, and I'm sure
any amount will help, and your support will mean
a lot to the family.  I have never met Carol Marine,
but admire her work greatly, and I feel horrible for
her losing the paintings in her home and studio in
the fire.

Have a helping-a-neighbour-across-the-world day.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Just peachy

 Peaches for lunch
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

It's the first of September and Toronto's heading into a long
weekend tomorrow.  It's impossible not to look back on
the summer -- almost gone -- with deep nostalgia.  Meanwhile
our backyard grape tomatoes keep yielding up quite a daily
harvest from their tiny garden patch by the back steps.
The plants climb up a fence and have grown so thick that
I have to be careful reaching in to harvest them, not to
damage the thick stems.

Steven says that I'm a seasonal kind of girl, meaning I paint
what's in front of me, and for the most part that's true.
This week he bought two 7 litre wooden baskets of
peaches, and they are a captivating fruit.  The taste is
one of my favorites -- just the best, and the fruit looks
like it should be eaten.  So last night I sat down and began this
little painting.

Fall will come, and our world will get colder, but for this weekend
at least, the neighbourhood boys are whooping it up in the park,
acting silly and doing impossible skateboard tricks.  Sam will come
home from his early start at school, and life will be just peachy, as
it is today.

Thank you Marcia and family for a lovely visit tonight.  That was
a great treat.

Have a getting-ready-for-fall 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!