Sunday, September 30, 2012

Doing what I do

 After the wedding
Watercolour and marker
on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
(The day after Megan and Christopher's
wedding we had lunch in a lovely
restaurant in Wellington, Ontario
called East & Main.  They do
not have checkered placemats, but
 beige, woven mats.  The artist
needs some colour.  The tomato
and cheese salad in the background
is sooooo good.)
What I do is paint.  You know that.  Everything
else I do gets squeezed in between painting and
painting.  We painters are more than a little crazy.
We not only do this strange job, but we make up
all sorts of rules about how to do it, and how to
succeed at it.  Then we elect the gods of our craft
(and that's true of all the arts) and we revere those
people.  Meanwhile we keep on keeping on painting.
It is such a part of our painting lives.  If you're
reading this and you don't paint, don't be envious.
Maybe you obsess about something else --
building fences, or writing poems, or living the
good life.  For us, it is the paint, what makes the
paint do what we want to do.  That's our day-to-day
call --how can we make that paint follow our
thoughts, or our thoughts follow the paint, and
ultimately when can we paint again.  I'm going to
bed.  I'll paint again tomorrow.

Have a doing-what-you-do day.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

More TV

Kristal Hart, a New York reporter for Manhattan TV
reviewed our show in May, and is showing the highlights
on Manhattan TV on Tuesday night in New York City.
Here's a clip from the show.  I had so much fun there
and I think it shows.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Flowers are done, and life is awesome

Small is beautiful
Watercolour and marker on
Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Hi everyone,

Here's another picture from the garden.
 I was looking through
my blog, and found this draft of a
 piece I never posted.  But I love the
sentiment in it, and the memory of both
 of these happenings made me happy.
So here's the piece.

I do this exercise with my students
sometimes that I call the Whoop exercise.
 I learned it from Mike Dooley who
writes the Notes from the Universe that
 he sends out in email five days a week.
(The universe takes the weekends off.)
Anyway the exercise involves putting
your hands in the air and whooping like
something over the top amazing has just
happened.  Every time I do it something
 wonderful happens.

I was driving home last week, and thought
 I have to have new pens to draw with,
because they make drawing such a pleasure.
Out of the side of my eye I saw a group of
Canada Geese making their way across the
parking lot.  What I didn't know was that out
 on the four lane street going into the mall
 about 100 geese had decided
 to cross the road... walking.  And may I add
 walking at a graceful, stately and sloooooow
 pace.  The mid-day drivers out on their errands
 in their giant, shiny, fast cars do not like
 interruptions.  This is a busy and frantic town.
  But you know what?  In both directions, drivers
 in four lanes stopped stock still until every last goose
 had crossed and was safely off the road and
that took about ten minutes.

On Thursday night Steven and I headed
out to Ikea for our usual little inexpensive
dinner.  Standing in front of us in the long line
was a couple with two  beautiful children in
 a shopping cart.  The older girl was standing
up and the baby -- about two sitting and fretting.
The father picked the baby boy up, and the
 baby and I played peekaboo until we reached
the point in the line where we were served.
To my surprise, later walking through the store
 finding this and that for the house, we met the
family again.  The little boy was with his Mom,
and when he saw me he ran across the store and
held his arms up in the universal baby language
for pick me up. So I did and hugged him.   His
 name was Grayson. I put him down, he
walked away, then ran back up to me for a second
 hug.  I was completely charmed.

That was it -- my draft.  When I notice the good,
something artists are lucky to be able to do, all
of life is amazing.
Finding this reminded me of that.

Have a noticing-small-miracles day

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More flowers in the kitchen

Holding our heads high with pride
Watercolour on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
The week is nearing a close, and our kitchen table is
filled with the models from this week, white cream
and milk jugs filled with the garden's bounty --
mostly Nasturtiums, with a red geranium, some
Cosmos, and even some purple geraniums which
I haven't painted -- yet.  This focus on flowers
seems fair, and as I sip my tea, I'm thinking about
the series I'll start when the deep frost hits.

Meanwhile, here's a quote from my current
reading material -- The Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Barbery.  This is a hint about where
my painting may go, and also just exquisite prose,
something I am wildly addicted to.

"Then let us drink a cup of tea.  Silence descends,
one hears the wind outside, autumn leaves rustle and
take flight, the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light.
And, with each swallow, time is sublimed."
(From The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More Skype excitement coming up

Bright bouquet in a milk jug
Watercolour and black marker
on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
(I come by my interest in
china honestly, especially
antique china, because my grandmother
when advised to rest after a
heart attack spent her mornings
painting beautiful designs on china
that her grandchildren covet.
She was an amazing artist.)
This month a teacher in Virginia contacted
me asking me if I'd talk to his class (via
Skype) about doing portraits on Skype.
The teacher is an amazing artist himself,
and an inspiring, wonderful teacher at the
public school level.  So I'll tell you more about
 what we're going to be doing when I know more.
We had a great talk and began tossing ideas
around of how to organize the event.

Meanwhile I am still working on capturing
the last of the summer's flowers (although
now I think you'd have to officially call
them fall flowers.)
Look at this
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

But I'm also thinking about my son and
daughter-in-law half way around the world,
on their honeymoon.  They have been the
inspiration for many Skype paintings.
I'm including one of Megan and Christopher tonight.

Have a enjoying-all-of-the-excitement-life-brings day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My friend Róisín in Ireland

 Róisín O'Farrell's movie for her show at
The Doorway Gallery, A room of one's own
You may have noticed that I've written about Róisín O'Farrell
before.  She is a friend in Ireland, who I met through the
blog, and who is an astounding painter, and an incredibly
hard worker.  She has 23 paintings in a show at The Doorway
 Gallery, 24 Sth Fredrick Street, in Dublin, that opened
last Thursday and runs until Oct 16th.

I feel particularly blessed to know her, and I'm continuously
dazzled by her work.  She is a single Mom, raising two
little girls, and painting every day.  And, and, and -- she
quotes me in the movie she made herself to promote
the show.  If you want to buy any of the work, you better
get there either online, or in person fast, because she
usually sells every painting she creates.  Now there's a
mantra I can get behind.  Try it -- "I sell every painting
I create."

Have a loving-your-painting-friends-day.

Monday, September 24, 2012

If I weren't human

September's bliss
Watercolour and marker
on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I've just finished this little watercolour and it's rather
late at night.   If I had infinite energy I'd keep painting
now.  Steven fixed a beautiful, pewter, table clock on the weekend.
It's ticking, plus the big kitchen wall clock is thunking out
the seconds, and I feel hypnotised both by fatigue and
their insistent rhythm. 

But if I could stay awake in the solemn quiet of the
 night I'd paint the glorious Japanese Anemones
I brought in tonight -- standing out white against the darkness,
graceful beyond my imagination.   I am human, and
glad that you are too.  You'll understand I hope.
Here's a small watercolour of Nasturtiums and white
Cosmos. So little time, so much to paint.

Have a relishing-your-humanity-day.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Equal time

 On the mohair throw
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Here's a little drawing of Fiona, who would like to request
equal time in the land of iPad drawings, as Timbah, our
other cat has taken up space on the blog several
times.  This is as fresh as art can be.  I finished the drawing
and began this post.  I love the immediacy of iPad

Fiona is a Tortie point Siamese cat, and so
intelligent that when Steven tells the animals to go
downstairs, she runs down the stairs.  Timbah is intelligent
in a different way, because he doesn't.  The animals sleep
in the downstairs office at night, so they don't wake us
up.  Zoey, the dog curls up in a crate with many quilts in
 it, and the two cats sleep side by side on little, fake sheep wool
beds, beside a heating vent.

I went to see the Don Valley Art Club fall show today.
It was the last day and I was so glad get in before
they took it down.  It was spectacular.  This was one of the
few shows the club has held since I became a member
10 years ago, that I have missed.  My congratulations
to all the members in the show, for one of the best
I have ever seen at Todmorden Mills.

Have a taking-an-indulgent-nap day.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Being grateful for the garden

 My brilliant Nasturtiums
Watercolour and black marker
on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
During the night last night I heard torrential rain.
It's been cold enough to turn the AC off and let
the outside air move through the house at night,
so I heard the rain pummeling down through
the open window.

The sun broke through as I drove about on my
errands, and I couldn't understand later in the day
why there were huge puddles all over town.  How
easily blue sky and sunlight erases memories of

Here's another garden flowers painting.  Our
backyard lawn doesn't ever seem to dry out, and
I had to move carefully over a sea of mud to get
to the Nasturtiums.  I feel blessed every time
I look at them with their vibrant beauty.  Earlier in
the week I picked a Nasturtium leaf, and couldn't
see without my glasses what the black clump was
on the underside.  I figured it out as the clump
dispersed and turned into hundreds of tiny black
ants crawling over my hands and up my sleeves.
Ach!  Note to self. Wear glasses to navigate the

Have a navigating-the-garden day.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

One more for the summer

Be here now
Watercolour and marker on
 Arches Watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

My friend in Tucson can't imagine knowing that
cold weather is coming. But my Torontonian
friends are jumpy.  Ikea's selling Christmas
napkins and tablecloths already.
We might not mind winter holiday celebrations,
but we fear what accompanies them -- snow.

I went out to the garden and picked a small
bouquet of Nasturtiums and Cosmos.  There
were about 100 little snails trying to defeat
the Cosmos, but it's that flower's first year in
our garden.  They will win because they're

Have a raising-a-toast-to-summer day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Three rules

 Three rules!
Watercolour and marker
on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10
Barbara Muir © 2012
The rule of three is a good one.  Uneven numbers
look better in art.  That's a rule.  Other than that
throw out the rule books that tie us all to some
strange world, where a set of limits dictate what
we can do.  It's been a long day teaching today,
and I am tired.  Driving this morning in a Monet
morning I listened to Paul Simon's "I know what I know."
 I played it again and again.  The message.  I know
what I know, and you know what you know.
 Painting feels good.  So do it.  That's what you know. 

The peaches destined to be models are shutting
down and breeding fruit flies. So I put three
on the table and gave it a whirl.  Three fat, delicious
looking peaches.  Their posing days over, they go
straight into the compost bin. But not before I thank
them for being an inspiration.  Maybe I'm getting
a bit nuts.  The other night I saved an ant from
drowning in the vase with the flowers I brought in
 from the garden. My newest glasses let me see the
antennae on slugs.  I haven't been able to kill one
since I noticed this.  I put them in the garden waste
bin, and figure if they make it out, more power to
them.  Face it Jane Goodall, you're getting to me.

Have a seeing-the-wonder-in-nature day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Catch this brilliance

 Anemones on the fly
Watercolour and marker
on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
The Japanese Anemones in our garden are at the height
of their beauty.  Glorious bright white flowers like
small Camelias sit on long thin stems against nests of
large green leaves.  The leaves come first, covering the
garden, spreading their domain, then much later the
flowers stretch up and are the delight of late summer and

I did a small watercolour of some I brought inside,
feeling guilty as I cut them from the impressive mass.
It has been a good day, packed with work,
with time for dinner with Sam and Steven.  Sam made
a great dinner and we listened with pleasure to
a great interview with the painter, Frank Stella on Ideas,
on CBC.  This sent my brain into vast, colourful images
of his work.

Have a seeing-what-you-love day

Monday, September 17, 2012

Right there with me

 One more cup of coffee please
Self portrait
Watercolour and black marker on
Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Deciding what to paint today (aside from the commissions
I'm working on, which I can't show you yet) I thought about
Sheila Vaughan and her wonderful self portraits.  There I
was available to model, and I said,"why not?"  I took a shot
of myself with Photo Booth on my Mac, and got out a little
watercolour paper travel book I have.  The switch from
drawing paper to real watercolour paper was a treat, and here
is the result.

This sleepy person is back working full force.  It was a great day
painting, and a super day in class with funny, intelligent
and involved students. All in all wonderful.

Have a painting-who-shows-up day.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A painter's peaches

 Kitchen table peaches
Watercolour and watercolour crayon
 on drawing paper
10.6 x 13.8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

 I may add a dark wash over the table in this one.
I listened to an author on CBC saying he wasn't a
kitchen table story teller, and thought today I am a
kitchen table painter.  What could I do?  Here was this
beauty claiming me.  At the end of the day my son,
Sam made a delicious dinner at one end of the table,
while I painted, both of us happy with the arrangement.
Then I put my paints away and we ate dinner. 

Last year I froze lots of peaches at the right time
of year.  If you live in the south you may not get
this. But the taste of summer peaches in February is
like a miracle.  We just have a tiny fridge freezer,
but I crammed zip-log bags of peaches around every
other bag and box of frozen goodies.

This year I missed the ideal window, because I was
sick.  But yesterday I was determined to head to the
farmer's market and try to get some end-of-season
sweet peaches.  The vendors were selling the most
beautiful peaches as "cooking peaches", but in fact
they were sour, and punk.  Yet so gorgeous
that I have done two sketch watercolours to record
their burgundy and peach magnificence.  Bad on the
inside, but gorgeous on the outside.  So glad I bought
some of the ones the woman said she preferred.  Fuzzy
and odd on the outside, delicious and juicy inside.
You may not be able to tell a peach by its cover, but
you still may want to paint it.

Have a giving-everything-a-try day.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A world full of promise

 After the market
Watercolour and marker on
drawing paper
10.6 x 13.8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Hi there.  Well it was quite the month. My dear son
Christopher got married last weekend to his sweetheart
 Megan.  It was a gloriously beautiful wedding in a country
 setting, and the pictures aren't in yet.  As the mother of the
 groom I didn't have much time to take pictures, so we will
 have to wait. The very happy couple are on a three week
honeymoon now, so wait we will.

Meanwhile I am still recovering -- great days, and very tired
days from a cold that became pneumonia, but I do see the
light.  Most days I feel my old energy returning, so I hope I'll
be blogging more because I am certainly working.

Today we went to the market and I did this watercolour and
pen sketch of the table loaded with peaches from the market and
jugs of Nasturtiums from the garden.  Already frost is threatened
and Torontonians used to a summer of high heat are affronted by
nature proceeding towards fall.  The garden is at a high of lush
abundance, and it is hard to think of it all turning to mush one
cold night.
Have a gathering-in-your-harvest day.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blue Moon and thank you

Blue Moon over the city
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Thank you everyone for your kind support.  It
means a lot to me.  I realize how blessed I am
to have you as friends.  And it's working.  I'm
getting better.

Last night there was a  blue moon.  Steven and I
drove to a high spot on top of our local grocery
store's garage and stared at it.  He said that a blue
moon refers to the second full moon in one month --
a rare event.  The blue moon was actually a
gorgeous colour of yellow, that I cannot replicate

I get tired very easily still, but feel some energy
returning and drew this little iPad drawing to celebrate,
with the sound of Steven singing Blue Moon as he baked
pies downstairs in the kitchen, filling the air.

I hope you have a lovely long weekend.

Enjoy -- the brilliant blue moon.

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!