Monday, June 25, 2012

The Happiest Anniversary

Untitled (Work in Progress)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Yesterday was my anniversary.  Did the universe conspire
to grace us with a perfect day?  I think so.  It probably
started two days ago when our flower store gave us
a bunch of peonies for our anniversary.  Amazing. But I
woke up to my usual Sunday treat coffee in bed.  Read my book.
Talked to my Mom, thanked my sister for becoming
a therapist and helping me learn the value of sanity in
relationships -- which lead to this happy day, this happy
marriage and even my work painting and teaching.
Then told Steven I had to head out for a minute.
I was drawn like a magnet to Type books in the village
(Forest Hill Village) and a wonderful woman there sold
me two great books on Italy, with pictures of Florence,
and recipes from Tuscany.  Delicious and perfect books.
We talked about living in Italy (my dream) and she had
lived in Florence for two years. 

Back home I called Steven who was somewhere
mysterious, and noisy. When my husband of lo these
many years came home -- presents.  Our ritual?  Close your
eyes and open your hands and you'll receive a big surprise.
His present from me -- two books on Italy-- pleased him no end,
and mine from Steven was a lovely, huge book on Lucian Freud
that he bought at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Plus a small
bottle of Veuve Cliquot.  There you have it -- perfection. 
We sat in the kitchen reading our books, and dreaming of
living in Italy.  I envisioned painting after painting, he
read descriptions of places we've visited in Florence
and Siena.

Add a scrumptious dinner at our favorite restaurant,
a walk with the dog, lots of romantic reminiscing and you've
got another sweet anniversary.  Thank you to everyone who
has taught me and encouraged me to be loving and happy.
It's a good gig. I want to continue.

Have a celebrating-the-love-in-your-life day.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Anniversary weekend, and super friends

Steven with me inside the Love sculpture by Robert Indiana at
6th Avenue in New York City in May
A lovely day today in Toronto, I have been thinking about
Melinda Esparza making her way to the edge of the
Grand Canyon and wishing her this clear, blue sky and
the gorgeous puffy clouds she paints so well.  Isn't it
wonderful how we artists have created a network of
delight and support?  This hits me again and again.
Yesterday I was worried about a long list of trivia,
and a large yellow envelope arrived in the mail from
an artists, my "New Best Friend in New York" Rashmi,
who always signs her letters that way and gives me a
laugh.  She does not use the internet, or have a computer,
and what a treat it is getting a letter.

She told me that she had tried Mike Dooley's whoop
exercise and seen her first rainbow in NYC in 3 years,
a double rainbow.  I immediately did the whoop
exercise myself.  Are you ready?

Stand up (if you can), put your arms in the air, whoop
like you just had the best news in your whole life,
cover your face because you're so excited you can't
hold your joy in, whoop again with your hands over
your head, put your hands on your chest, shake your
head because you're so astounded with joy, and say
out loud, "You won't believe what's happened."  I
learned this from Mike Dooley at and it
is so amazing what happens if you try this little
exercise once every so often.  Huge things happen,
wonderful things happen -- that's why I'm sharing it
with you.  My life has absolutely taken off into a
level of joy I couldn't have imagined since I learned
to do this.  No.  I'm not crazy, I'm the sanest person you
know.  And no my life isn't perfect.  People in my
family and intimate circle have serious health issues,
I do experience deep sorrow and loss, and even so...
So give it a try.

Love to you -- it is the weekend of my wedding anniversary
 and believe me I feel like whooping when I think of
the wonderful life I've been having with Steven.

Have a whooping-it-up-and-having-huge-fun day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Day After Father's Day

 Play Time
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Hi everyone.  If  you're a father I hope you had a heartwarming day.
If you were with your father Happy Father's Day to him. We took
Steven out for breakfast at the Avenue Road Diner at the corner of
Avenue Road and Davenport. Most weekends he brings me coffee
in bed while I read the paper and my novel on both Saturday and Sunday
so he more than deserved the treat.  Steven and I first visited the diner
 after our first date, when I helped him move into the
 apartment he lived in for about three months before he moved
 in with me forever.  So the owner knows us, the food is delicious,
there almost before you order, and served in a cheerful atmosphere.
 Yesterday of course people were treating their Dads to one of the best
 breakfasts in town.

I'm sure Steven enjoyed the day.  We gave him gifts -- one of the
 sweetest a small town scape painting by a friend.
We had party sandwiches from the bagel place in Forest Hill
Village for lunch, and sat under a shady tree on a side street,
where we "picnic" all winter (in the car) talking and laughing

 Flying in with a winning present

In the evening we picked my older son up at the airport.  He
was flying in from L.A. where he'd been working on photographing
Sidney Crosby, the hockey player from Nova Scotia who scored the
game winning goal for Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics in
Vancouver.  Crosby is a hockey hero for Steven, and even though
neither of my son's play, they understand their Dad's passion.
The boys gave Steven a signed puck from Sidney for
Father's Day, and you should have seen his face light up. We had a
great dinner at The Golden Thai, rushing through the traffic to
make it just before the kitchen closed.  And I know at the end
of the day, Steven was absolutely certain that we all love him to
the max.

The thoughtful gift -- a painting of the children

Today's painting is a commission I loved working on from the
beginning.  The children's mother asked me to do it as a
Father's Day present for her husband.  The children -- a
three year old boy and his baby sister were lovely, and were
adorable in the pose I chose from the many photos I took
of them.  Their mother is a wonderful woman who I painted
before when the boy was a baby -- so there was a sweet feeling of
continuity too.

The best news of all -- their father liked it.  So here's
to all you fathers out there, and the women and children
who love you.  And thanks to my kids for making their
Dad so proud.
Mother and child
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
Have a life-is-great day,

Friday, June 15, 2012

One of those perfect weeks

August Colours
(final version)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
(Available at the Gallery at the Porch Door)

This has been a really wonderful week.  I finished a commission,
worked on other paintings, went to Kim's super show
last night, talked to some dear artist friends on the phone
and capped the week today visiting a friend who
can no longer paint.  

All of the love we share one way and another teaches
us about life.  My brother uses a phrase with my mother
when things get difficult because she is losing her
eyesight, and has a chronic cough.  He says, "It's
okay Mommy somehow we're just going to muddle
through."  And when I think of it, as I
walk or drive through this city, no matter
how shiny our cars, or luxurious our homes and 
offices, we are all just muddling through.  

Today when I left my friend who no longer has so many
of the options we take for granted -- being able to
walk, being able to paint, even being able to talk
without difficulty -- I felt so lucky to know him and
to witness his bravery, and his still resilient
sense of humour.  And I felt blessed beyond compare in
my own life.  In some ways that's the only way to
feel -- incredibly blessed in this city, in this country
knowing you are out there, and that like me you
are doing your best at muddling through.
I hope you also feel blessed to have the life you

Have a taking-a-good-look-around-you day. 
P.S. Yes you did see this painting before.  What's changed?
My photo is not quite as clear as I'd like, but the painting's
out at the gallery.  I added highlights to the flowers and
beefed up the highlights on the little jug.  In real life it's
a big improvement from small changes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kim Rempel's Glorious Abstracts

 Kim Rempel with two of her super new abstracts 
at Gallery M in Cambridge
 at the opening tonight.
You're not supposed to jump up and down in an art gallery,
a rule I had to remind myself to follow tonight.  Why?
I've been following Kim Rempel's progress with her new
series of abstract paintings with both great curiosity and
pleasure.  Her photos on her blog are wonderful.  But in
person her paintings are pure dynamite.  I could have
happily spent hours staring at them, and most definitely
wanted to whoop with joy at their beauty.

 In these paintings Kim used her materials in an exciting
way.  Paint was thin, and then thick and in places she had
drawn with charcoal right over the paint leaving a deliberate
line, and sometimes a fainter more tentative line for the
viewer.  All of the abstracts are a cohesive unit -- looking
like bright pieces of colour, jewelry, or space creatures,
forming, shifting moving under the direction of their
expert creator.

Luckily Steven was there and the other guests at Kim's
opening in a group show at Gallery M in Cambridge,
Ontario, Canada tonight.  So I tried to control my
enthusiasm.  But if you happen to be in Cambridge
check out her work, and read more about it on her
blog: Eat, Drink, Paint.

Kim and I met through blogging, and showed together
at the International Women Celebrate show at Ayrspace
in Ayr, Ontario in 2011. She did not know I was
coming to the show and was happily surprised (I think)
when I arrived.  Happy smiles all round.
Two bloggers at the opening.

Have a seeing-the-great-things-your-friends-are-doing day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

For the love of an apple tree

 Sean's garden #2
(final version)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I was out in the backyard today -- it's a perfect Toronto
blue sky day -- no smog, and everyone looks so
happy.  But the apple tree in this picture likes it a
bit too much.  It was sold as a dwarf apple tree.  This
year the frost hit the blooms, so there won't be many
apples.  But the apples that have survived will be large
and yellow.  And the tree is reaching, reaching across our
tiny yard trying to touch the house I think.  Definitely
a large and growing entity.

Still I love it.  Love its seemingly huge green, soft
leaves.  And the year Sean gardened for us, (which goes
down in our memory as a special year indeed),  this is
what it looked like.

Have a loving-the-trees-you-see day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Flourishing in the light

 Daffodils in the kitchen (final version)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

The other day an artist quoted someone talking about
how creativity could be harmed by too much praise.
  I know I've talked before about the backlash to
positive thinking idea going on now.  But I know legions of
grown ups raised with faint praise because of a common
fear in their childhood years that complimenting
children would "go to their heads" and they would
become insufferably conceited.  This generation of
therapists are certainly working hard to counter that
whole generation's insecurities.  In short cutting out
kindness and praise for children does not make them
feel great.

Too much praise.  I have never seen that
in my lifetime.  In my experience as an artist, and
teacher, acknowledging how much we appreciate
one another's small deeds, and great talents helps all
of us to flourish.  It makes us feel seen, needed,
-- yes okay, even special.

This little painting of daffodils goes along with
this thought because the models for the painting
were gorgeous -- well taken care of, and secure in
their beauty.  Plus they were generally praised
every day. 

Have a praising-everyone-possible day

P.S. This painting is currently available at the
Gallery at the Porch Door.  If you are interested
either contact Sally Chupick at the gallery, or
 email me, and I'll let Sally know.  (You can see
the painting in the background in the photo of the
 gallery in yesterday's blog.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Super Sally and The Gallery at the Porch Door

Some of my paintings displayed
In the white frames from top to
bottom: Full Tank,
Full Serve and Self Serve
--all are watercolour on watercolour
paper -- Barbara Muir © 2011
Photo by: Sally Chupick

If you're ever driving through Kingston, Ontario
Canada on the 401 you're going to want to make a tiny
detour and give yourself a treat.  Head for The Gallery
at the Porch Door, and meet the owner/curator Sally Chupick.
She is without a doubt one of the sunniest people
I've ever met, and the gallery, in the lovely porch of
her century old stone farmhouse is an absolute
delight.  Sally has wonderful taste and displays the
art and many smaller and perfect gift items with a
designer's eye.
Sally Chupick and me in my kitchen last November.
Have lunch in one of the super restaurants in Kingston,
then head west again, and turn up exit 613 to
Elginburg. At the light in Elginburg turn left
and a short ways down the highway you'll see Sally's
beautiful home on your left.  A warmer reception
would be hard to imagine, and you will quickly
realize that you've come upon a find that you'll
want to revisit again and again.
The Gallery at the Porch Door is the star on the Map
Map courtesy the Gallery.
Oh and incidentally as you can see above I have
several paintings in that gallery expertly displayed
by my good friend,  a superb artist herself, Sally Chupick.

Friday, June 8, 2012


And then there were seven
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I have a friend who can look at my paintings before
they go out to galleries and tell me whether I
need to change something.  I trust her taste
impeccably, and her absolute kindness to me.
She never says a negative comment -- which
makes her the perfect companion for those
last minute decisions.

My son Sam has a similar eye, and the same fine
approach.  He is my other "vetting" person.
I've notice recently that his remarks always
center around clarity.  I've been finishing off a slew
of small work that was just about there throughout the

Now I can show you the few changes I made at
the end -- that is if there really ever is an end
with artwork.  But that's an entirely different

Have a moving-towards-clarity day.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


 Salad for two
Black marker and watercolour on drawing paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
(I added watercolour to the drawing
I posted on May 14.  Here's the
The other day we had one of the first huge rainfalls of
the season, and the power went out for just over an
hour.  I'd had one coffee, but need two to feel
truly awake.  In our little house it was too dark to
read without a flashlight.  I couldn't paint because
my studio was much too dark.  I started to list the
things I couldn't do in my mind and it was a long one.
So much of our house is plugged in.  We have a big
clock that runs on batteries, and I have a landline
phone.  Resigned I got a big flashlight, opened the
curtains and shutters as wide as I could and settled
in with my book.

 All of a sudden the power flipped on, and I ran downstairs
 to plug in the kettle. In the three minutes before the power
 went off again I made a second cup of coffee, and felt so
 blessed to be drinking my delicious, hot, morning drink.

It got me thinking.  I don't have any solutions to it.
But I need to be equipped to paint even if the power
goes off.  On my desk I have a cue card that
says Power that one of my students made for a presentation
this year.  Every time I look at it I feel happy remembering
that delightful, high energy group.  And I remember
my own power.  The power to change, grow, adapt and
to make a difference both in how we use power, and in what
power -- mental, physical and electrical we use.

My main powers are the power to get making art, and
the power to keep myself on a positive track, and to
try to help other people stay there too.  I do believe that
together we have power.  So if our computers go down,
 we're going to need windmills, and solar, and new and
 exciting environmentally safe power inventions that
we don't even know about now.

As radioactive tuna has washed up on California's shores
from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, which is still not
contained, I hope we collectively turn our backs on
Nuclear soon, and vote it out as they have in Italy.
We have the power to act together and change
art, thought and even how we live.  Thank you for
the power you give me.

Have a plugging-into-your-emotional-power day.
P.S. We  planted our tiny front garden last night, a bit of
teamwork between Steven and me.  He's the digger/
planter, and I'm the bone meal/ hand the flowers person.
As he put the last two plants in the garden (impatiens
because it's a shade garden) it started to rain.  We just
got inside when sheets of rain came down.  Perfect
timing I said, and we went out on the front porch to
admire our handiwork as the rain thoroughly watered
the young plants.

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!