Monday, December 31, 2012

A Happy Family and Happy, Happy New Year!

 In the park
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Babara Muir © 2012
Happy New Year everyone.  Here's to an amazing
2013.  I know it will be.  On Christmas eve I
delivered this family portrait to a very appreciative
client.  The painting was a surprise Christmas
present for her husband, and it was a long time in
the making. 

The two girls in the painting, my client's daughters,
are dazzling and delightful.  They are multi-talented,
and seem to go to a school that encourages genius
and self-confidence.  Plus they are completely
unaware that they are unusual or special.  Part
of the pleasure of painting this portrait (and it
was so much fun), was thinking about what a great
mother my client is, and how fun and funny her
children are.
The family got a photo
with the portrait and
the Christmas tree in the background.
I hope you have a fantastic New Year's Eve, and
here's to a joyous, creative, love-filled, peaceful
and adventure filled year in 2013.  Thank you
for making 2012 one of the most rewarding of
my artistic life.  To all my friends in blogland,
Happy, Happy New Year!

Have a loving-your-family day.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking forward thoughtfully

 Summer on St. Germain
part of a three painting 
commissioned series -- Our first home
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
This painting is part of a three part series
commissioned to show a family's first
house with the changing of the seasons.  It
has been a joy to work on.

2012 has been a great year.  Looking back I am
delighted with all of the wonderful happenings,
and the friends I have shared time with both in
in person, and on the Internet.  When I think
of all of this in a reflective mood, I know
that our current web connectedness is a
kind of miracle.  And I am grateful.  True
as a friend of mine in Norway says, if you
can see me on Skype, you are like a neighbour
even far away.  And with that you share in
both the joys and sorrows of your neighbours.

One of my friends on Facebook has a grandson
who has come home from Afghanistan with
both legs blown off at the knees.  His
struggle to regain his young, vibrant life has
been vigorously documented by his grandfather.
I am against all war, and yet how can I not
sympathize and care profoundly about the
future life of this young fellow, and all people
dealing with either side of a war.

The same is true of my feelings about all
people in hardship.  So at the end of the year
I am definitely counting my blessings, and
am profoundly grateful to live in this vibrant
city, and in this country.

Thank you for your kind encouragement and
solid inspiration in 2012.  I raise a toast to a
marvellous and creative new year in 2013 for all of
us, and to a more peaceful and kind world.

Have an-enjoying-this day day. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Boxing Day -- and what have I been doing?

 Fall on St. Germain 
-- part of the Our First Home series
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I hope that all of you have had a wonderful holiday, and
Best Wishes to everyone for a joyous and peaceful New Year.
I count myself especially blessed to have kind, generous
and talented friends out here in blogland around the world.
I raise my glass of hot chocolate to you today.  Thank you
for your inspiration in the past year.  You have sent me
exploring more and more ambitious ideas and projects.

You may have wondered where I've been -- why no artwork
showing up?  True -- my family -- though not religious at all
-- does celebrate Christmas, and even though this year we
had a strict financial limit on our spending, we still did shop.
But in my family all of the tree decorating, shopping for
food for the dinner, decorating the house and most pre-Christmas
details were seen to by Steven and Sam, and Christopher and
Megan.  Why?  I was painting -- and painting, and painting.

 Today I'm showing you one of the house paintings I have
been working on that is part of a Christmas present.  This
is the house in fall with the glorious blaze of the Maple in
front of the house trumpeting the wonder of fall in Ontario,
and especially Toronto.  We have a surprising number of
trees here for a big city.

So this little painting is part of the answer to what have I
been doing.  Watch for more to come in the next few days.

Happy holidays, and Happy painting.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday cards -- art from the iPad

 This year's holiday cards based on my iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
For me this has been a very David Hockney influenced
year.  Two wonderful interviews with Hockney on CBC
Radio done when the artist was having his iPad art show
 here in Toronto at the Royal Ontario Museum inspired me.
You can read about them on my blog if you click here.
One influenced me to draw on my iPad -- something
I hadn't done until I listened to Hockney.   Then his
discussion about filling a wall, the challenges of scale
really made me want to go big.  Looking at his work
on his website and seeing how he breaks really large work
down influenced my latest show -- and the biggest 
painting I've done -- so far.  Indirectly Hockney
taught me so much in 2012.

I decided to make my Christmas card from one of
my iPad drawings of the lane at the top of our street.
When we walk our dog, we cut through this lane to
avoid the traffic on the main street.  One beautiful
day I drew the lane from a photo and loved how the
iPad allowed me to pack so much colour into the image.
Drawing with my finger was interesting, and forced
me to be loose and playful.  I was pleased with the
results and even more pleased when Ellen at St.
Clair Printing and Graphics did such a great job
turning the image into colourful cards.

Have a making-your-art-into-cards day.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Crazy and fun

 In deep discussion
black marker on Moleskine paper
6 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

What an insane week.  They happen.  Too much to do, too
much to think about and complete.  I am eternally grateful
to my friends, both artists, collectors, and family who pull
 me through these busy spates with boundless
enthusiasm, kindness, fascinating discussions, their own
 beautiful work,novels to read and even --- dinner.  Warm
 food on a plate at the end of the day can seem like a divine
experience when the day has been especially long, and demanding.
Texting Fred
Black marker on Moleskine paper
6 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Thank you to all.  I think the benediction of dinner, or
salad, or breakfast in the case of my big painting, is worth
all the fuss in restaurants, all the foodies having infinite
discussions about the absolute best of the best of something
like a Veggie burger, and every special and ordinary meal
prepared around the world.  Last night we celebrated
a friend's birthday, at a very low key, Vietnamese restaurant.
The food was inexpensive, and delicious, and a wonderful way
to end the week.  Tonight Steven made a wonderful dinner of
salmon, roasted baby potatoes, steamed green beans, salad
and pumpkin tarts for dessert.  Yum.
Favorite seating
Black marker on Moleskine paper
6 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Have an eating-good-food-and-chilling-out day.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Great openings at Studio Vogue and the DVAC and Yikes! Less than a month to Christmas!!!

Me with the big one --
 Breakfast in the hotel
Petit-déjeuner à l'hôtel
Acrylic on canvas
4 canvasses
36 x 48 inches
6 feet x 8 feet total
Barbara Muir © 2012

Super openings today -- one at the Don Valley
Art Club this afternoon where I displayed two small watercolours,
and one at Studio Vogue Gallery this evening where I
 showed both watercolours and my big still life Breakfast
in the hotel based on a wonderful breakfast I had at the
Quebec City Hilton this past summer. Joyce Fournier and
 her husband Paul did a beautiful job hanging the show.
 I met artists Heather LaRue and Alexandra Pennycook
who showed wonderful work.

 Steven snapped the picture of me with the big one
before the Studio Vogue show opened.
It got pretty crowded after that and was a lot of fun.
Thanks to everyone who came out.  You made my evening.
 Breakfast in the hotel
Petit-déjeuner à l'hôtel
An ode on four canvasses
Acrylic on canvas
6 feet x 4 feet
Barbara Muir © 2012

 Is it just me, or is this year speeding by at lightning
speed.  (I actually heard someone say the other day on
either Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert that the speed
of light was too slow for wall street traders).  What
would my great grandparents think of this world?
Freak out.  That's what.

Well it is less than a month to Christmas, and whether you
celebrate it or not, it's a marker in the year in North
America, and a holiday (Yay!)  But the other heads
up is that the year is almost over -- 2012.
Time to realize what a great year it was, and what
we'd like to change for next year.

Deep thoughts on a Saturday.  I hope your
day is filled with laughter and fun tomorrow.
Mine was today.

Have a laughing-it-up day.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The big one is done -- come and see it

 Breakfast in the hotel 
 (an ode on 4 canvasses)
In total 6 feet x 8 feet -- this photo the top half 8 feet x 3 feet
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2012

Come on out to the Studio Vogue Gallery to see the big
one in the group show aptly called Exuberance.  It's
a great show and I'll be there to meet you if you come
between 5 and 7 on Saturday.  I'll put the invite in here,
but first here are some photos I took today of the upper
and lower part of the painting.
Here's the lower half. 
 Breakfast in the hotel 
 (an ode on 4 canvasses)
In total 6 feet x 8 feet -- this photo the lower half 8 feet x 3 feet
(I could not get the whole thing on my camera properly.)
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2012

I could not photograph them as well as I would have liked
because I couldn't get far enough away in my kitchen.
But you get the idea. Quite the challenge.

Someone asked today -- why not just use a big canvas?
My Reasons:
  I can carry the 36 x 48" components that make up this
big painting.
I can transport the pieces in a small car using less gas that
takes up hardly any parking space.
I work in a small studio in my own home.
Infinite (my favorite)

Think of it!  This painting is 8 feet x 6 feet fully
assembled.  But what's to say it couldn't go higher
and wider using the very same plan.  That's what
Hockney, my inspiration for these paintings, has done
Check out his Grand Canyon on 60 canvasses.

Come out to the show -- here's the invitation:

Have a making-some-big-art day.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday's Child works hard for a living

Untitled painting upper right quarter 
(right side up) 
Work in progress
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012  
Here we are with the upper right hand corner
of the big painting.  I thought of Saturday's child,
because of the coffee pot -- which in a hotel breakfast
in the room is one of the stars of the show -- it gets a
workout.  Coffee is the dreamy part of
the hotel breakfast (well let's face it the whole meal
is the stuff romantic dreams are made of).  But
if you could go to sleep at night, knowing that someone
would bring you perfect coffee in the morning, you
would sleep well.  (I did last night because Steven's
ritual is to bring me coffee in bed on both Saturday
and Sunday morning.  Lucky me!)

This painting has it all -- the coffee pot, ready to help
make the morning perfect -- the bed in the corner,
beckoning -- everything is there but the telephone,
to call the front desk and ask for a later departure,
and the novel you'd be sure to read after breakfast
is completed.

Yes I am having fun with this.

Have a eating-breakfast-in-a sunny-room day.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Painting large -- upside down, right side up

 Untitled painting lower left quarter
(shown upside down on the easel)
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends.  I
am grateful for your work and the constant inspiration
I get from reading your blogs. 

Today I've been painting all day -- working for 45 minutes,
taking a short break and working again. One of the projects
I'm working on is a large -- 8 foot - 6 foot still life of a
delicious hotel breakfast.

I thought I'd show you the progress on the bottom left
corner -- it's coming along.  There is still quite a bit to do.
One of my friends does a lot of painting with the image
upside down.  This is one quarter of a really big painting.
But the quarter itself is Big -- 3 feet by 4 feet.  I find I'm turning
the painting upside down, vertical, horizontal.  Plus to join it
with its neighbours I am down on the floor, making sure they
line up.
 Untitled painting lower left quarter
(right side up)
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

I will give you more updates in the next couple of days.
Meanwhile, make sure you eat breakfast -- and I hope you
are eating it with someone you love.

Have an every-day-is-wonderful day

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy American Thanksgiving -- and if busy is good, I'm in heaven!

 Lunch at the desk
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Dear friends,

Happy American Thanksgiving.  Our little Canadian
Thanksgiving is long over, but the memory of the
turkey and happy days off together remains.  So
you deserve a little break and some special dinners
with one another.

Lately I've been so busy I can hardly get a breath.
Every time I feel like making even the tiniest
complaint about this, I consider the alternative.
I am not a city person for nothing.  I love the
hustle and bustle of this place -- constant action and
 excitement.  But I also look forward to life
being just a little bit simpler over the holidays.
 Is that possible?

I am posting a little iPad drawing today in honour
of the major inspiration for the very big painting I'm
working on -- David Hockney.  It's a still life
based on a working lunch.  You can see a file
folder, a typed page, keys, a bottle of milk, a half
eaten apple and a plastic sandwich bag.

Now it's back to painting on the big ones.  I'll post
more on that later in the week.  Meanwhile
have some turkey and pumpkin pie for me
America -- I can fill up on the thought of your
celebrations.  This fall has offered a wedding,
Thanksgiving, plus six family birthdays --
thought is really all I should be eating until Christmas.

Have a loving-the-feast-of-thoughts day.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Exciting visitors -- Blog friends in the studio

 Liza Hirst and me (Barbara Muir) posing in the studio.

We were so lucky last week to have exciting
visitors from London, England.  My friend Liza Hirst,
who I  met via our blogs was in Toronto and came for a visit.
We have been friends on the blog since 2008.
My first mention of Liza and her superb
paintings was in September of that year.  Over the
years our friendship has grown, and I've been
so happy to watch her paintings capture the mood and
essence of places and people wherever she's living.

She and her husband, Hubert, who we also met, have
been having an adventure.  First they sold their house
in France and traveled, going from Florence, to
Barcelona, and now opening up a store in London,
England Tusch and Egon.  All this time they've rented a
house in France as a family retreat, and a space to house
the many wonderful things (and paintings) they owned in
their spacious country house in France before they sold it.

When Liza arrived, we couldn't stop smiling and hugging
one another.  It was so lovely to finally meet a friend I'd
 known, and liked so much, but never seen.  Steven and
I felt thrilled to meet Liza, Hubert and their son Cosmo.

People who don't blog often wonder if the friendships
you form on the blog are real.  In my experience each
blog friend I've met is wonderful, and the
blog experience has definitely deepened our connection.
And Liza would agree, she regularly paints in London with
a woman she met through the blog.

Three cheers for blogging, and a toast to you my blog

Have a meeting with good friends day.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The final quarter and going fast and slow

Untitled work (work in progress)
upper left quarter
Drawing and beginning of the underpainting 
with some colour
Acrylic and willow charcoal on gessoed canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
My idea with this four-part image is to try and
progress at the same rate with all four paintings
to make sure that it is one consistent whole.  But
the black and white drawing and bit of an under painting
is worrying one of my blog readers who likes my
work for colour.

To her I say don't worry.  I have begun the colour,
but I am trying to ease into it slowly.  In most
of my paintings I use one colour for my
underpainting, but in these four I am trying an area by area
underpainting in places. The entire scheme is really
warm hits against a mostly white table cloth with a blue
center, and blue napkins.  So I am holding myself back
 a little from full colour right away.

To give you an idea of the possibilities, although this painting
will be much more intense (and obviously bigger) here's a
 little painting I did in August that looks something like
the left hand side of the big painting done from the same series of
reference photos.

I hope you had a lovely weekend.  It was cold today
but beautiful -- a blanket of low blue/grey clouds covering
the city, and at the end of the day a flash of brilliant, golden
sun and a spectacular sunset.

Have an easing-into-colour day.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Seeing Big, Seeing small

Untitled work (work in progress)
lower half
Drawing and beginning of the underpainting 
(This section in black)
Acrylic and willow charcoal on gessoed canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Hi everyone,

Here's a picture of the bottom half of the big, big
still life.  I will put a better picture on tomorrow,
because the right hand side is a bit bleached out
in this one.

Putting them together to photograph them on the
kitchen counter, I got so excited.  I have to admit
working on this painting makes me feel like a
kid on Christmas morning every time I look at it.
Just the sheer scale makes me want to sing and
dance.  Just ask my family.  Dancing way too much.
And still painting.

The life of an artist is inspired by the visual, and
emotional in all shapes and sizes.  Just finished
reading a very tough, but totally rewarding novel
 The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere. Parts
of it were excrutiatingly sad. The story us about
a boy living with an abusive man, who is noticed
by a very kind woman.

Artists are also moved by small things like the
sight of these pigeons eating.  Steven and I sat
in the car stunned by our vet bill, and this scene
lifted my mood.

Please give generously to the Red Cross Relief
fund for people trying to recover from the
devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

Have a good Sunday.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The third Quarter, sick cats and dog, and Halloween

Untitled work (work in progress)
lower left quarter 
Drawing and beginning of the underpainting 
(This section in black)
Acrylic and willow charcoal on gessoed canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Quite the week! My heart goes out to the people on the east coast
of Canada and the U.S. so badly hit by hurricane Sandy.
Here is the third quarter of my big painting.  It's
the bottom left hand side of the four part image.  I bought a
lovely grey colour that I've begun to use just to envision
 where shadows will fall, but the whole painting is strictly at
 the underpainting, and drawing stage.  It's really exciting
when I put the pieces together and see the scale of what
 I'm dealing with.  So much fun.

Not fun has been our animal family -- my dog Zoey and cat
Timbah starting the vet visit trauma last weekend.
 The dog is old, and also has a bladder infection.  We are
 so spoiled with our wonderful Health Care system
in Canada, where we rarely have to pay for doctor visits
and with decent insurance, even for prescriptions.  Not
so in the vet's office.

We love our vet, but with six family human birthdays
 in a row, we did not love the bill.  Then our sweet Fiona,
the Siamese got sick and quit eating last weekend.  She
visited the vet's Monday and Tuesday, was hydrated, force
fed, you name it. A six pound cat can't go without food.
We were so worried. And then miraculously it was the take-out
chicken that struck her fancy, and started her back on the road
 to health and eating. The dog and Timbah seem to be
recovering too.  Everyone else can now relax and enjoy
their birthdays.
The scene in the kitchen where I photographed the painting
-- a Halloween pumpkin, and
Fiona the cat now apparently
recovered observing everything.

Halloween was fun on our street with all the little neighbourhood
kids coming by as Ninjas and princesses.  The older kids sometimes
slink up onto the porch dressed in what look like normal clothes,
but maybe carrying a pillow case.  Their costumes are intellectual.
They describe what they are dressed as and you have to imagine
that to be true. I enjoy giving them candy just for their nerve
and bravado.

Have a painting-big-and-having-healthy-animals day.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

More from the early stages

 Untitled work (work in progress)
Drawing and beginning of the underpainting 
(This section in black)
Acrylic and willow charcoal on gessoed canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
This painting will be of a delicious breakfast we had in
Quebec City.  I think the people who deliver the
breakfasts are brave, and the staff do such a lovely
job of arranging things on the little cart tables they
serve on, that you want to invite them to stay,
talk about art and have a coffee.  In French?  Okay,
bien sur.  But of course they have work to do, and
I did too.  I had to take the photograph of this delicious
meal for this massive painting, and then eat the breakfast.
It was certainly a happy occasion. Imagine out the
window was the entire beautiful city of old Québec.

This is the top right quadrant of my big painting.  I am
starting to put on the underpainting very roughly.
It's a busy day today, so I don't have much more to
say except watch this spot.  I do hope you'll come out
to see this work, and a number of other paintings
on the theme at the opening at Studio Vogue at 216
Avenue Road in Toronto on December 1.  The opening
 runs from 5 - 7  so we can  go out for dinner, or party
afterwards too.  Can't wait to see you there.  This big still
life will be finished and there to greet you.
 Untitled work (work in progress)
Drawing and beginning of the underpainting 
(On these sections in black)
Acrylic and willow charcoal on gessoed canvas
72 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Steven holds the upper and lower right portions of
the painting so you can get a concept of scale.
Together the pieces are 6 feet high, not quite the height of the
kitchen cabinet they are resting against.
It's birthday season here, so the balloons will have
work to do until nearly the end of November.

Have a planning-for-future-artworks-day.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Start and keep going

 Starting the big one -- lower right hand quadrant.
Photo by Steven van Schaik
Image on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2012

I remember David Hockney talking on CBC about scale and
the issues involved with painting something large scale.
Now he was talking about really, really big work.  But he
is 6 feet tall, and I am 5 foot 4.  Big difference.  So having
big ideas is a theoretical and practical problem of
execution.  Yesterday I began drawing the images on the canvas
for my big work based on my reference photos.  The local printer
I go to creates large reference images for me.  So helpful.
Steven took a shot of me drawing this one.  I've got to say
I am super excited.  My friend Suzanne and I read a wonderful
novel, probably eight years ago.  If anyone knows the author
and title please let me know.  It was about a writer who decided
to become a school teacher instead, and was not good at it.
After a few months she started having dreams about an
excellent school teacher who told her how to dress, act
and treat the children.  That worked.  Her motto was
"Start and keep going."  I think of this all the time when
it feels like something is too big, or too difficult to do.

Have a starting-and-keeping-going day.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Studio Vogue December Show -- Save the date

Hi everyone,

I will be exhibiting some new work on the topic of
food on December first in a show at Studio Vogue
Gallery 216 Avenue Road, in Toronto that promises
 to be delicious.

Please save the date Saturday December 1, and
come out between 5 and 7 p.m. to see some wonderful
art.  I can't wait to see you there.  It will be
a great way to begin the holiday season and one
of the most festive months of the year.

Have a putting-this-date-on-your-calendar day

Thursday, October 25, 2012

International Artist Day in my world

 The Morning dance of pepper and salt
Watercolour and marker on Arches
watercolour paper
6 x 10
Barbara Muir © 2012
Hi wonderful artists around the world who
I am crazy about, and Alyson Stanfield who asked how
we are celebrating International Artist Day,  I am glad
I spent the day focusing on art, and talking to artists
both in Toronto, and in the U.S.  Art and travel to
other countries for shows is hugely on my mind, and
I'm planning a major piece that I showed you my
canvasses for last night.

Other than that the business of art goes on.  I am
working on several commissions and planning for more.
There is so much going on that my head is spinning.
But I come here, to meet with my fellow blogger
friends, and blog fans to settle down and realize
that I am the luckiest of all people to know you,
and to be able to dream and plan about our super
lives as an international artists. 

So get back to me,  and to Alyson Stanfield and tell
me (and Alyson) what you did today to celebrate,
and what you're planning.

Have a loving-the-whole-world-of-art day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Going big, and getting serious about food

Four canvasses getting ready to become one
really big painting.  My son Sam, who is 6 ft. 3 
agreed to lie down next to the canvasses in
the tiny space left in that part of my small studio
to give you an idea of just how big this new work will be.
Fun eh?

Tonight's image is the very, very first stage of going big.
I mean really big.  Over the next few weeks I will be
painting a painting on these four 36 x 48 inch canvasses,
that will fit together to make one 6 foot x 8 foot image
of a table top laden with food.  That is taking food really

The inspiration for this massive, huge, gigantic, piece
of art, is a request from my gallery owner in Toronto for
paintings about food for my December 1 show at
Studio Vogue.  Yes it's a group show -- and I will be showing
this massive work, plus several smaller, but just as serious
explorations of my love of one of life's truly amazing
pleasures -- food baby.  Yes food.  Gotta have it, so do
you.  But seriously.  I love the possibilities for abstraction
coupled with detail in this subject, so watch this space
as I go ahead with it.

As Mike Dooley says "are you thinking big -- I mean
really big?"  "Good because that's exactly how much of
it you're going to get."  Well I am Mike thanks to you,
and have been dreaming of, thinking of, planning this
work for a few months.

 Squirrel making quick work of our pumpkins

The idea
The squirrels' revenge.  And this was just
the beginning of the squirrels' art project.
Nature keeps you humble.

On a lighter note.  We bought five small pumpkins
a week and a half ago to decorate our front porch.
But our local squirrels were still angry that they didn't
get any of my husband Steven's pumpkin pie on
Thanksgiving Day, and they destroyed our pumpkins.
They made our porch look like a garbage dump, or a wild
squirrel pumpkin party.

Have a thinking-big day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

So Much Fun!

Talking on Skype to the students at Meriwether Lewis 
Elementary school in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
photo by Andrew Sherogan
Today I was a Skype guest at a Virginia Public school.
Through the miracle of Skype (and it certainly has
been a miracle in my life) I traveled to Virginia
and met a brilliant and lively group of students.
They are studying art with Andrew Sherogan, a
great artist himself.  And his passion for teaching
showed in the intelligent questions the kids asked me,
and their extreme enthusiasm for the subject.  Andrew
wondered before the interview if they'd have any
questions, or whether they might need to be prompted.
 But every hand was up and waving every time the students
had a chance to ask me something new. So I want to thank
 Andrew's class for being awesome interviewers.
Can you draw my T-shirt?
(One of the questions from a boy at the end of the talk 
so I did. ) 
Black marker on Drawing paper
8 1/4 x 11 3/4
Barbara Muir © 2012
Here's a little drawing of a couple of the students who
talked to me just before we said goodbye.

What an exciting and inspiring event for me.

Props to Andrew and the super kids in his class.

Have a loving-talking-about-art day.

Monday, October 22, 2012

More Skype and a wonderful art teacher

 The teacher
Skype portrait
Watercolour and marker
on Arches Watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Today's painting is a small portrait of a really special
teacher.  And I'm not just saying that because he
found my work and likes it, and because I'm
talking to his class in Charlottesville, Virginia
tomorrow.  He is great because he wants children
to feel the way that he does when he's painting, or
making art, and he doesn't want them to have their
creativity squashed by rules, or by everyone doing
the same thing at the same time.  So he's set up
art centers all around the art room in the school he
teaches in, so students can explore art in their own

Awesome.  Tomorrow I am having a Skype
conference with the grade four class to talk
about creating portraits from Skype.  So I
did a little sketch of their teacher, and may do
another before the talk -- because I haven't
nailed it yet, but I still like the feeling.

In other news I finished a commission today
that I've been working on for a while.  So.
whew.  More on that at another time.

Have a-being-excited-about-the-work-you-do day.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thank the universe for Sunday

Cosmos for the cosmos
Watercolour and marker
on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
(These are the last Cosmos left over and still
blooming from my Thanksgiving flowers)

Today was one of those glorious Sundays that make
you believe in all things wonderful.  The sky was
that perfect deep blue with white puffy clouds
floating by as decoration.  And the autumn trees
seemed to soak up the sunlight and hold it like
living candles.  It was pure delight, so we decided
to head to Kleinburg and the McMichael gallery
one of the largest collection of Group of Seven
paintings in Canada.

When we got there most of the Group of Seven
galleries were closed, but there was a wonderful
show of gallery volunteers' work, and two super
portrait shows, Double Take: Portraits of Intriguing
Canadians and Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton:
a Diamond Jubilee Celebration. Both exhibits were
fabulous and I was completely happy.

Standing in front of gorgeous portraits in oil
of Wolfe and Montcalm -- the generals who
decided the fate of Canada at the battle
on September13, 1759 (would we be predominantly
 French or English?) (By the way the English won, but
 both generals died from wounds they suffered during the battle).
I felt excited about the power of painted portraits.
James Wolfe
oil on canvas
Artist: Highmore, Joseph, Attributed to (1692-1780,)
Library and Archives Canada 

Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm
Artist unknown,
 plus detail of the face
oil on canvas
Library anad Archives Canada
There they were these two famous men, staring
out at me.  And I preferred Montcalm.  He looked
more interesting and less stuffy.  I quipped
to the man beside me -- "there they are the fate
of Canada in their hands", and we laughed.  I
said, "we could all have been French, and
had much better food, and probably cared more
about literature."  He replied, "I'm from Alaska,
I could have been Russian," and then we both
laughed.  I said "like whats-her-name." And
he said, "Sarah -- don't remind me."  And I said
how did you know who I meant?"  He said,
"everyone knows."  I said that that wasn't true,
but clearly we both watch Jon Stewart.  And that
was true so we laughed again. So much fun in
front of these famous dead generals.

If you're not Canadian the historic battle decided our
cultural future. The English won, and that's why the only
province in Canada that is French for the most part is
Quebec.  But for Canadians there is much more to
it than that -- far too much to go into here.

Steven on the grounds at the McMichael
Canadian Collection
Beautiful birches outside
like those in the Tom Thomson 
painting inside the gallery.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Today -- showing up to the paint

Dancing Nasturtiums
Watercolour and marker 
on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

My friend Melinda Esparza recently blogged about
a book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield,
which I have yet to read that talks about
showing up and doing the work.  That doesn't mean
that painting is a slog and we don't want to do it.
It means that in the midst of all the things that can
pull us away from the paint, an artist feels better
when she/he honours the need to paint, and shows
up to do it.

At what could have been bedtime today, after
painting all day on a commission, I wanted to paint
for the blog.  I want to show up here, and be present.
So I looked at what may be the very last Nasturtiums
in this lovely milk pitcher and started the drawing for
this watercolour.  Immediately I was glad I did.  The
flowers sang to me -- saying now, now, now.  Today,
not tomorrow.  The large burgundy blooms would wilt
in the morning.  I knew this.  So I got to work.

I am happy with the result and bonus -- have added to my
series.  And now it is time to sleep.  Let's honour that
need too.

Have a painting-more-and-sleeping-more day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Send me your happy babies

 Baby's birthday
Acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Hi everyone,

Or your sad babies, or your mothers, fathers, sisters,
brothers.  Just finished this commission of a baby, and
the client was very happy.  I painted the baby's older sister
a few years ago, and although their faces are quite different
I wanted the paintings to connect, so I painted similar
leaves going in the opposite direction on the current painting.

I loved the baby's expression -- that straight up joy that
babies express so perfectly. She is a beauty. I am always
touched when clients come back to me because they
loved an earlier painting.

Tonight my dear friend and wonderful artist, Sally Chupick,
 (who I met through blogland) and runs the Gallery at
the Porch Door, dropped in and we had some
wine together.  Sally is always so sunny and warm.  It's a
delight to spend time with her.  We had both had long days
and didn't feel up to a photo, so forgive me for not
getting one.

Have a sending-me-your-babies day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More proud moments and an inspirational drive

 Got it
Watercolour and marker on
Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
It's been quite the fall for my family. This past weekend
 Steven and I drove to Windsor, Ontario to see Sam graduate
with a Bachelor of Fine Art from The University of Windsor.
Sam was so happy striding across the stage.  Afterwards we
celebrated with dinner and champagne.  Sam was thrilled.

On the drive home Steven and I stopped at various points
along the way so I could take pictures for future reference.
My artist friends traveled along the route with me in my
mind. Marcia LaBelle would have done a fine portrait of
Sam in his graduate's robes. David Lobenberg would have
nailed that confident look on Sam's face as we toasted him.
Sheila Vaughan has already painted one of Sam's parents,
and would have done a moving job of getting the mood
on both of our faces.  Susan Carlin could easily be
commissioned to paint the distinguished faculty in their

I could see how Flora Doehler and Nicki Ault would
 handle the autumn colours. All along the road we saw
 purple wild asters set against deep rusty reds, brilliant
 yellows of wild grasses and fields in fawn
 the colour of my Siamese cat Fiona's fur.
Farmhouse on Lake Erie

I could see how Laurel Daniel would elevate the scenery with
warmth and beauty, how Karen Bruson would paint the red brick
 farmhouse where we stopped one time. I could imagine
Edward B. Gordon's treatment of the dramatic low storm clouds,
and moody light. Róisín O'Farrell  would have made the interiors
in any of the lovely old houses we passed gleam with delicious colour.
 I imagined the lush, abstract drama Melinda Esparza would create
 with those colours.  Linny D.Vine would make whole towns appear
to be joyously part of Linnyland. I could see Sally Chupick's lovely
images of water scenes, and what Belinda del Pesco would
do with a quiet table setting at our morning breakfast. Liza Hirst
would get the light and gestures of the people at the take out place
where we stopped for lunch magnificently. Marilyn Flanegan
 could paint me lasting and gorgeous images of the horses we
passed on quiet side roads.

Closer to home Julie Davis could make the stands of trees
against farmer's fields sing on canvas.  Tammy Hext's impasto
would make the Niagara Escarpment at Milton monumental.
Kim Rempel could easily create fantastic paintings of brilliant huge
 trees in a farmer's field, and Catherine Jeffrey would capture
 the rainy, dark Toronto streets with aplomb. And there are too
many other artists I'd love to mention but I could see their work
too flashing through my sleepy brain as Steven drove on. One of
those artists is Pam Holnback, who would also love the ridge at

My painting today is a fast portrait sketch of Sam holding his degree.

Have an enjoying-your-painter-friends day.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving and the newlyweds return

 On their wedding day Christopher and Megan
Photo by Geehae Jeong

Happy Thanksgiving again to everyone in Canada
celebrating, and now sleeping after at least one
fantastic dinner I hope.  Tonight we had dinner
with Megan and Christopher home from their
wonderful honeymoon in Bali.  Steven, Sam, Megan,
Christopher and I sat down to a feast of turkey,
stuffing, roast potatoes, salad and pumpkin pie.
The newlyweds had been swimming (diving) with
sea turtles, and saw beautiful schools of fish
set against the coral reefs, (which are reviving
apparently -- very happy news).
 The Skype series I did based on Megan
 and Christopher last year
Three paintings
Acrylic on canvas
 Each 24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
You know that I have painted my family many
times.  They have frequently been willing subjects.
And I love the photograph above of them on their
wedding day. 
Megan and Christopher
 I also love my photo of them the day after, happily starting a new life.

Have an appreciating-life's-wonderful-moments day 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The long and lovely weekend

 Still want to party
Watercolour and marker
on Arches watercolour paper
5 7/8 x 9.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Tonight we went for dinner at my sister's.
She and her husband make a big round table
bigger, by placing a huge wooden circle
over the smaller circle of the table, and then
no one is sitting on a corner.  Brilliant. We
were eight delighted participants -- seven grownups
and a lovely five-year old girl.  After the adults
enjoyed a little champagne to toast the evening,
the sumptuous meal began.

And here's the thing.  We do it all tomorrow
again at home -- complete with turkey, potatoes,
and pumpkin pie.

As for art, tonight's flowers look a bit baroque.
Baby it's cold outside.  I traded my trench for
a light winter wool coat, and a scarf. So we are
closing in on this series.  Still my love of the
resilient Nasturtiums, and Cosmos hasn't faded
 a whit.  Once again Happy, Happy Thanksgiving
to everyone in my land, and to everyone in yours.

Have a plenty-for-everyone-so-let's-
share-the-planet day

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

 This photo from last Thanksgiving
was the inspiration for this
Cottage Flowers
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
 The painting sold in May, and it is just one of the
reasons that I'm grateful for a wonderful year.

In Canada this is the long weekend.  Three
days off, lots of turkey, potatoes, pumpkin
pie, and time to hang out with family
and friends and enjoy everyone.

To my friends outside Canada, historically
our Canadian celebration has been about
many things, but in the last century was declared
 a holiday on the second weekend in October
 to celebrate the harvest.

It happens just as the fall in this part of
the country is at its most beautiful.  I'm
sure aside from gratitude for the harvest
it's a distraction from what's to come (winter),
and a holiday separate from both religion and
gift giving, although both can be involved.
But everyone can celebrate the harvest and
be grateful for all that's good in their lives.
I am grateful that you are in mine.

Have a sharing-what-you-have-with-others 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!