Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween is the greatest

 Love on the High Line
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

It's been a stressful day.  So much going on, and many things
that could go wrong, doing so in a kind of domino effect.
Lack of sleep from excitement could be part of it.  I love
Halloween.  I think it's brilliant of us, especially in northern
climates (for goodness sake there was snow in the Maritimes
this past weekend) to designate a day for silly.  Some people
get their trousers in a twist (get upset) about the message,
but the message here is incredibly simple -- let's have fun.

So we have orange pumpkin luminarias lining the walk to the house,
and a big pumpkin carved with a cheerful smiling face.  Our next
door neighbour jumped out cackling at me in her perfect witch's
costume, complete with green face and hair and surprised me. Then I
laughed so hard.  Her porch is super decorated, skeletons and lots of cobwebs,
carved pumpkins all down the steps.

I was walking along earlier today dashing from one errand
to the next, my neck tense when I saw a woman
walking along with a young boy in a giraffe costume.
The boy was so blissfully happy, and his mother beamed at
him in delight.  Suddenly I caught the mood,  started smiling
and couldn't stop.  It's been a lovely day ever since.

The painting I'm showing you today is called Love on the High Line NYC.
You can come out and see it in the wonderful show Gill Cameron and
I are having at Studio Vogue Gallery 216 Avenue Road.  The opening is
this Saturday between 5 and 7 p.m. 

I don't have any Halloween pictures to show you, but I'll put some
in tomorrow.

Have a loving-the-idea-of-a-day-for-silly day.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Coming down the home stretch on the High Line

 Love on the High Line (detail)
(work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Painters working on large projects are not
necessarily good companions.  Obsession is
certainly part of what powers the bigger stuff.
You go to sleep and wake up consumed with what
is next?  Wonderful and terrible things happen in
the world, and they are secondary.  The main
thing is the work.

I like to think of myself as a kind friend, a caring
person, but I admit -- I can inhabit another world
at times, and that's the world of painting.  I am
lucky, but those around me might want to wave
their hands in front of my face to check that
I am present.  Thank goodness for walks with
the dog and Steven in the brilliant autumn, for
excellent novels to pull my brain away.  For
friends and their calls, visits, stories, interest.

Here's what I've been working on -- still needing
changes here and there -- but clear enough that
you can see what's happening.  It is 4 feet by
three feet.  I have loved every minute of painting
it and began thinking about it the moment
I saw this photo of my friends sitting on
the High Line in New York City.  It has the
conviviality, and little cosmic high you feel
visiting New York, as though just by being there
you're part of something bigger -- and you are --
you're in one of the most vibrant cities in the
world, and feel a bit like you've just had the
best champagne.  You are happy, giddy, goofy
and plum pleased with yourself for getting there.
All of that is in my painting, loosely interpreted
from the Facebook shot I was given permission
to work with.

Have a loving-what-you're-working-on day.

Monday, October 17, 2011

More work on the garden man

 
 Pugwash's Garden Man (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
Today started off so gloriously. A golden light hit the 
backyard trees, just turning, part yellow, part green,
but filled with promise and beauty in that light.  Good
I thought.  Later I'll take the dog for a little walk.  But
then a whipping cold wind lifted our heavy planter of
gorgeous Lavender Sky off its hook and threw it down
the stairs from the back porch.  The sky turned a sullen
grey and the day shifted.  Thank goodness I was painting
this sunny scene.  I've made some changes to this one -- a
portrait of Ken Lander, of Sunrise Greenhouses in Pugwash,
Nova Scotia.  Here he is holding the bouquet I bought from
him, that turned into the flower painting Flowers at the cottage.
I wasn't happy with the mauve flowers -- they didn't do
justice to Ken's incredible talent, so I decided on this
solution.  I will be adding in the ocean in the far distance,
and refining the painting a bit more, but wanted to show you
my progress.

Have a running-out-to-enjoy-the-sun day.

Friday, October 14, 2011

End of the week/ side of the painting

 On the High Line (detail right side of painting)
(Work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

When I don't blog for a few days, or longer,
most of the time I'm either working on a large painting,
or thinking a painting through.  Right now my slowdown
blogging is linked to working on a large scene of the High
Line in New York City (It's three feet by four feet).
The High Line is a park and gardens
built on an abandoned railway line, and it is ultra cool.
The view of the city is great, and it's a lovely green
space.  The scene I'm painting is in a section that is
like a wading pool, with water underfoot.  Last summer
in the high heat New York endured this mid-city retreat
 must have been a life saver.

I'm having a great time painting this one.  What I like
best about it at the moment is the people disappearing off the
edge of the painting.  I haven't at all finished this section, but
I love the baby's foot.

More to come...

Have a busy-working-and-thinking-of-you-day

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A summery Thanksgiving

Flowers at the cottage
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving and
we had a great one.  We spent the time with our family
and extended family, eating so much turkey, stuffing,
roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, salad and pumpkin pie,
that it was hard to get back to normal today.  In short we
had a really wonderful Thanksgiving.
Steven makes the best pumpkin pies ever

I've said it before -- the great thing about our Thanksgiving
is that it isn't religious.  Everyone can take part -- because
it's about the harvest.  So we went to the market and bought
flowers and fruit, and the end-of-season tomatoes.  It was
so lovely.  And so warm that many people celebrated in their
shorts -- a first in my memory.
Flowers from the market and the garden

My painting today is the flower painting, modified again.
I think it's in its final version, but I'm not sure.  With a show
coming up in three weeks, anything is possible.
The Japanese Anemones in our garden 
in the afternoon light.
The days are definitely shorter. 
Have a being-thankful-for-the-harvest-and-family-and-friends day.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The flower guy and a salute to Steve Jobs

 Pugwash's Garden Man (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

I'm writing this on my iMac, and have been working
on Macs since I got my first computer.  For my purposes
they have always been more intuitive in the way
they operate, and more beautiful looking in every way.
I watched Steve Jobs' address to the graduating class at
Stanford in 2005 again today, and was struck by the
way he explained how the beauty of the Macs had come
about.  But the main part of his message that matters
for all of us, was that he had always done what he loved
to do.  And he said that when you do what you love to
do it just gets better and better.  That certainly applies to
painting.  I have loved painting since I held my first
brush at about four, but I love it more and more all the
time.  Steve Jobs died yesterday, and my son phoned me
today on his iPhone to tell me how sad he was about this
news.

The painting I'm showing you today is a portrait I'm working
on of Ken Lander, the owner of Sunrise Greenhouses in
Pugwash, Nova Scotia.  Two of the varieties of petunias
Ken  developed in the greenhouses behind his house on
the Sunrise Trail (Highway 6) in Nova Scotia, are now sold
all over  North America through a company called Proven Winners.
One of them, the Supertunia Bordeaux is shown on the left side
in this painting.  At first Ken's business mostly attracted American
tourists, and people visiting Nova Scotia who wanted
flowers. His are especially gorgeous, and he is incredibly
knowledgeable about plants.  Now his lush, dramatic hanging
baskets decorate the businesses and centers around the town of
Pugwash.  But even though his flowers have appeared in
all the major Home magazines, including Martha Stewart
Living, Ken is still a guy intent on making sure you love
the flowers he's selling to you, and living in the moment.

He is a super guy, and someone Steven and I look forward to
seeing every year when we go to Nova Scotia.

Have an-enjoying-your-life-today day.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The summer of the peach

 
 Summer's glory (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(The colour isn't quite right.  
I'll take another photo
tomorrow to give you a 
better idea of how it looks.)

Yesterday was a perfect Saturday except for one small
fact -- it was c-c-c-c-c-c-c-Cold!  This weekend but the brrr in
Octo-brrr.  But dressed in a warm sweater, jeans and jacket,
I headed out with Steven to get some market goodies.
The lady at the fruit stand had some of the amazing,
organic peaches we've been eating since we got back
from Nova Scotia in August.  There she was in a ski
jacket, her deeply tanned face turning blue from the cold.
She said this is the last day for peaches -- not because she
couldn't sell more delicious, peaches, but because Canadians
don't want  peaches anymore in October.

Really?  Well I do.  I am not a crafty person, and I don't
have a big freezer, but the sad state of our cherry tree this
year (no cherries for some reason) made the peaches,
which were the best in my memory in a long time, even
more special.  Lets face it the peach is a juicy, sexy fruit.
Beautiful to look at, gorgeous to eat -- make that almost
dangerous to eat because the juice will stain your clothes if
you're not careful.   So I have been freezing them, because
when these last two baskets disappear in the next few days,
I will feel like a really good friend has left town.
Freezing the last of the peaches
for that fresh peach taste in the winter.
The beautiful roses are the flowers
Steven and I buy one another
almost every weekend from
Avenue Road.  They are wonderful
people and our friends.

If you live where peaches are plentiful, enjoy them for us.
As for me -- I know that Steven will be baking a delicious
peach pie in February, when there is snow on the ground
everywhere, and I will wish I could invite you over for
a slice.

Have an enjoying-the-bounty-of-the-universe 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!