Monday, February 27, 2012

Is it?

Tree by the water
Watercolour on Canson watercolour paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
(In grey scale the tree looks haunting, so
I must do it again in colour so that you can
get a different feeling.)
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  (The
origin of the phrase is hotly debated). So I
thought I'd try to write a thousand words on the
subject.  I was watching a wonderful video of
Louie Schwartzberg put on by TED TV, and he said
we take in most of our information visually.  But aren't
written words visual?

Years ago when I was at university, one of my
professor's wives with a deep interest in the printed
word resurrected a century and a half old hand operated press.
You had to really think a word was worth printing to
go through the process of setting type, choosing each
letter and setting it in place, then inking the segment you
were printing, lining up the paper and cranking the
handle to make the page print.  Each letter was carved in wood
and topped with linoleum or metal.  Making a print of a poem
took intensive patience, labour and messy clean up --
but everyone would easily agree that there was no comparison
between those printed pages, and print produced by an electronic
 printer.  Part of it was the bite into the paper page that each letter
 made, so that it each letter impressed itself on the page.

Too many words make a dog dog tired
Right now the dog is snoring on the floor.  She's had
one walk today and wants another.  If she wasn't sleeping she'd
be yelling at me -- "all right, all right -- a picture is worth a
thousand words.  A thousand words is way too many mom
for today's audience.  What they want is more pictures and
 fewer words.  They're going to have to get Alex the auto
voice person on the computer to read your many words for them.
 The whole idea makes me want to sleep again."

As you know making pictures from Skype video telephoning
has been a major focus in my work in the past few years.
Is it better to phone, or to see the person you're talking to.
My friends and family have found that it depends on
the day.  It's very intimate to phone and not see the
caller, but heart warming to be able to see someone you
miss laugh, and gesture.  One day this whole question may
be moot.  When it comes to talking to my family I know
the visual call is the one I prefer.

 If you visit a word person's home, there is every chance
that words will feature as decorations on the walls, furniture,
maybe even their fashion, more than pure visual images -- or pictures.

Marcia's take
But a thousand words for one picture?  I phoned my friend
Marcia, a fabulous artist, and she said "absolutely.  A picture
 is worth a thousand words.  I love pictures."  She definitely
 loves picture books, a fact I noticed when we visited her and
husband David in Hamilton on Family Day. We looked at one
glorious picture book after another discussing art all the while.
When I told her I was going to talk about this topic, she said to end
it half way to one thousand words.  The picture tonight
is a grey scale of a gorgeous tree we saw in a park on the edge
of Lake Ontario on our way to Hamilton for dinner with Marcia
and David.  In the late day sun it was a stunner, and I'm hoping that
 my paintings of the tree (that's right I might do more than one) give
 you an idea of how magnificent it was.
Me with my son Sam on the shore of Lake Ontario on Family Day.
Behind us is the glorious tree.
But I have to quit now -- and I'm not quite at 1,000 words. In fact
I'm only half way.  So I'll continue tomorrow with more pictures
from that lovely journey -- which ended with a super dinner with
my wonderful artist friend.  I hope you're having a happy day, and
that one of these old maxims is teasing your brain.
By the way I got the link to Louie Schwartzberg  from Carol Wiebe,
a wonderful artist whose work you can see here.

And what about you?  What captivates me on your blog?  Your pictures
and your words.  I love the paintings, the photos, the videos and what
you have to say.  Thanks for all of it.

Have a-loving-pictures-and-words day.


Kim Rempel said...

What an awesome picture! Photos can be such treasures. The power of images! I still remember staring at the black outlines of my colouring books when I was little - under 6! I can even specifically remember some of the pages. And picture books, well now you're talking my language. I have so many of these beautiful illustrations tucked in my mind.
And thats a beautiful, moody, powerful tree. <3

cohen labelle said...

Thank you so much for the link Barbara, you are far too kind!!!
Love your eloquent words and the painting of the tree, beautifully expressive!
love, Marcia

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Kim,

Thanks so much. Some sayings just turn over in your mind and make you want to test them. I do indeed love picture books and wish my house could hold more of them. But when you cleaned your studio you inspired me. I am trying to quit hoarding (you know those great plastic containers that all food comes in which could come in handy for...?) Yep.

XO Barbara

Barbara Muir said...


not at all -- you are the most generous of friends. Thanks again for the wonderful evening with your sweet family. You all inspired me. Loved the chats.

Love Barbara

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!