Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Face it

 You are so great to talk to
Watercolour on Artches watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Maybe the reason I like doing portraits so much, is
because I love talking to people face to face. The portrait
process not only lets you do that, it demands it.

This is another grey scale painting of a dear friend
of mine. Her beauty always astounds me, and has
since the first day we met.  Then there's her voice,
its deep wonderful sound, and her infectious laugh.
She is one of those friends who's a boon to the soul.

I haven't got her here exactly, and I know that in
acrylic I'd just keep going until I had her, shifting
and painting over and continuing.  But watercolour
is a one off, and in some ways that's what's great about
it.  I do like the painting, and maybe the next one
will really be my friend, and then if she doesn't want it, I'll
treasure it.

Have a treasuring-your-friends day.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Grey's great

 What a smile
Black marker and watercolour
on Arches watercolour paper
3 x 5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
David Lobenberg is an artist whose work inspires
me again and again.  He's great with acrylic, fantastic
with watercolour, and can paint anything -- but is
especially captivating with portraits.  Lately he's
been doing spectacular work in watercolour -- dazzling

David is a big believer in grey scale.  Working on value.
I have spent most of my life in value aversion therapy,
and find I do love thinking about value when it's attached
to a colour, but I want to free myself from all hold backs,
so why not plunge in I thought.

On the weekend I bought a tube of Payne's Grey, and
the other night did this small portrait of a friend, using
that colour exclusively (as David recommends) with
a black marker drawing underneath.  There will be more
of that.

In the late afternoon today we had real winter, and I drove
home from my long day at school clutching the steering
wheel.  We've been beyond lucky this winter -- I think
this is the first real snowfall yet, and only the second
day of freaky driving.  That's probably a bad sign for the
planet, but it has been a treat.

Have a working-on-your-values day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Remember to notice the light


 The lane in winter
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

In some ways it's been a somber day.  Friends and
family members having some hard times.  But outside
nature was putting on a spectacular show -- first of
all a snowfall that coated everything in that perfect
sugar candy coating of snow -- every branch, every
leaf still trying to grow in the garden.  Then the sun
came out and melted most of it.  And at the end of
the day wispy clouds against a azure sky.  Winter
you sure know how to shake things up.

I looked up a photo I took of a lane near my house
that I love, and decided to do a drawing on my iPad.
The colours are so glorious -- pure pleasure.  And
that matters.  So here it is.  Another little iPad drawing.
I'm heading back down to the studio now to mess
with some paint.  My sister-in-law Lina pointed
out that the light's returning to the land.  Now
that is joyous news.

Have a rollicking-in-the-light day.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is happiness real?

 Dreaming of Maine
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Once again I've had a great day.  Not much time
to paint, but I had fun thinking about Maine and
parts of New Brunswick with this one, where you
come upon buildings that run into one another, and
go on and on because some new addition was needed,
and unlike our tiny city lots the room was there,
so Bob's your uncle, ipso facto, lets add another
section on.  Some of them are my favorite white
clapboard, and that's what I was thinking about
in this little dreamscape.

I met a friend I hadn't seen for a long time today,
and we had the greatest talk.  I am such a firm
believer in happiness and always enjoy
good conversation in a lovely setting.  I walked
away with a rich feeling of delight colouring
my day.

But by contrast it seems that so many people
I've talked to recently are leary of the idea
of happiness. They ask -- is happiness real?
Substitute possible, achievable, valuable? 
Is this just winter acting on the collective
mood? Maybe it doesn't matter.  Apparently pessimists
are classically conservative, and optimists more liberal.
I have no idea whether or not this is true. I do
know that it feels infinitely better to think you're
happy, than to know that you're not.

Steven and I went out to Ikea, for our Thursday
night supper.  The people behind the counter
there recognize us because we've been following
this strange, predictable pattern for almost
two years.  We eat practically the same meals, and
sit where we can watch little children and families
playing.  Tonight a mother was spoon feeding supper
to her six year old girl, so that the child didn't have
to stop playing to eat.  Both the mother and child
were happy.  I think.  And we were happy watching
them.  I think.  We also seemed to be happy in
the car listening to a wildly funny radio show
and laughing our heads off.

Maybe it's those new vitamins Steven's been giving
me, because despite reasons for sorrow that are
always present, I have been feeling overwhelmingly
content.  Even happy.  Maybe you're the reason for
that, and you and you and you.  Thanks for that.
I think it's real. And if I'm living in some
Descartian/Augustinian duality for now I think
I'll chill, and say WooHoo! Today life is good.

Have a having-a-great-day day

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What's up?

 Jesca (Work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012 
Wednesday is another long day for me.  On my break
I went to a nearby mall and walked for an hour. Then
I downed a Starbucks coffee, wondering why it tastes
so good when a barista makes it, and not quite as punchy
when I make it at home.  But I was revved enough, that I
taught my class, drove home and worked on this
portrait of a little girl named Jesca.  She's an African girl
and an orphan who needs help to be able
to go to high school.  The orphanage where she now
lives is a school that can only help the children
until they reach high school age.  So for high school Jesca
needs sponsors to raise the $8,000 her high school
education will cost.

I'd meant to finish this painting for the show I had
in the fall with Gill Cameron, who is trying to raise
funds for Jesca, and another little girl, Mary,
but it was an insanely busy fall and I didn't have
time.  So now I'm going to get it done.

I wanted to wait until it was getting there before
I showed it to you.  For me a portrait is starting
to come together when I start to talk to the
person in the painting.  That may sound crazy,
but I'm willing to bet that other portrait painters
say the same thing.  Unless she feels present, she
has no chance of being lively.  So she's beginning
to feel present to me.  There are many things I'm
working on in the portrait, and I'll let you see my
changes as I go along. At this point I'm painting the
painting for me, so I have no idea whether it will
help contribute to the charity or not.

Meanwhile thank you to everyone who made this
day a great one.

Have a-getting-along-and-enjoying-your-life day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

For the love of houses

 Nova Scotia Dreamscape
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
When you drive out to the Maritimes from
a central industrial city like Toronto, the pleasures
of getting away are many.  It's a long, long drive,
but the air gets cleaner, and cleaner the whole
way -- until you reach Moncton, New Brunswick
where it smells like clover in the summer.  But another
one of the huge anticipated treats of getting back
"home" to the Maritimes is the sighting on the
horizon of a white clapboard house standing
at the top of a hill, or in a field.  When I come
upon a bunch of sweet buildings in the classic
child's drawing house shape, I feel like a kid in
a candy shop.

Today's painting is a very loose, abstract view
of a cluster of clapboard buildings.  Mmmm.

Have a loving-your-favorite-landscape day.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Just miss you in the mist

 Fog in the woods
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I am working on a sustained portrait and it's not
ready for a first viewing.  I will show it to you
when it's ready to be a work in progress.
Today is Monday, and it's been a crazy long work
day at school for me.  But driving to and from
school today was incredibly beautiful.  The
roads were shiny with rain, and closer to school
a thick fog blanketed the fields, and filled the
woods with gauzy grey.  I told Steven how
gorgeous it was and he asked ,"wouldn't a famous
artist like Georgia O'Keefe, or A.Y. Jackson
make a sketch?"  So I did -- on my
iPad.  Paintings will be here soon.  I just missed you
and thought I'd share the impression of "mist"
or in this case, very thick fog.

Have an  enjoying-the-warm-mist day.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dreaming of Nova Scotia

 The Schoolhouse in the snow
Acrylic on wood panel
5 x 5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I got thinking about my little school house in
Nova Scotia today.  Normally because the
temperature is warmed by the waters of the
Northumberland Straight there is not a lot
of snow there.  But I think this winter they've
had some impressive snow storms.  So I
imagined my little school house right against
the highway surrounded my snow.  The wavy
piece is the highway that runs right by her
front door.  I showed the painting to Steven and
he loved it, so it must evoke our little home away
from home.  It is strictly a summer place, heated
by a woodstove, and no insulation.  On a bigger
canvas I'd put in the crows and the red squirrel
who inhabit our acre, but realistically I didn't have room.

This little painting is on a small wood panel,
self-framed in wood.  Many of my painter friends
in Europe paint amazing scenes on little boards
just 5.9 inches square.  This structure is 5 inches
square, and painting on it left me filled with
admiration for my friends.

Have a painting-your-dreams day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Spring on a snowy day

Daffodils in the kitchen (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
We got some snow today, and I worked on
this little painting of daffodils.  Our
good friend John gave me a pot of daffodils
on New Year's Eve, and they have just finished
being beautiful.  I took a shot of them at their
best and worked from that today.  I'm not quite
finished, but almost.  It felt great to get back
to painting. This weekend the Christmas tree will go
outside and become a bird sanctuary until
its needles dry out in March or so.  So I will
get my whole studio back again.  I'll miss
the tree, but love a bit more space.
Have a getting-back-to-the-work-you-love day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The need for action

 Working day face
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I am a firm believer in what we've done here --
on the internet -- created a community of
artists that stretches across the world.  We've
shared so much, and directed one another to
all kinds of fascinating information, entertainment
and experiences.  Please go to Avaaz.org and
sign their petition against the hyper control
of the internet.  This affects every one of us
who loves this medium.  I am not usually
political here, but this one matters too much.
Click here to read about it.

My drawing today was done mostly in my
break between classes at work.  It was a long
day today.  What I didn't finish at work I added
to at home.  My face changes between the two
places.  A lot.  But I am a ready model.
So here's today's offering.

Have a keeping-what-we've-got day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thinking of peonies


 Peonies in a Victorian jug (Work in progress)
Black marker on bond paper
12 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I walked my dog today in a chilly rain.  We walked
by gardens missing their snow covering, green
leaves that have grown, frozen, grown -- and
have no idea what's going on.  This winter is an
odd one so far.  Tomorrow we should have snow again.
But I started working on a drawing
of peonies, from a photo of the glorious flowers my
neighbour lets me cut every year -- the perfect shade
of pink, the smell like heaven.  This is not an iPad
drawing.  And it may turn into a coloured pencil
rendering, but I haven't had time in the past few weeks
to go that deep.  For now, I like the line.

Have a following-a-glorious-line day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The whole point

 Calling home
iPad Skype drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
(For a non-techie I thought this was funny -- a
double barreled tech attempt, Skype and iPad in one
fell swoop)
It may not be the entire reason for being on the
planet, but I think it's an important one -- and that
is loving people.  Rock bottom we need to learn
how to love ourselves first, but then it's family,
friends and so on.  This face is the center of
my loving world, my dear one, Steven.  He has a great
face, and a great tenderness for me and our sons.

Drawing with the iPad reminds me of the contour
drawing exercise teachers start you on at art
school -- only then you were feeling the face with
your pencil. With the iPad, you are feeling, and
drawing with your finger (you can get a stylus), and
that is cool, because it really is like feeling the face
as you draw. 

Have a drawing-the-people-you-love day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wonderful weekend

 Self portrait Sunday
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
It's the end of a great weekend -- beautiful weather, if
incredibly cold, and great fun.  Last night Sam, my
youngest was home from university briefly, and
today we went down to the hotel where his class was
staying to say good-bye.  He had just performed
two monologues for an audience, which might include
agents, and he was so excited.  He knew he'd been
good.  We hugged, and then let him go -- me a bit
teary as I always am on good-byes even though we'll
see one another soon.

Here's a little self-portrait on the iPad, done at
home.  Got to go.  It is going to be another gorgeous,
sunny winter day tomorrow.

Have a loving-the-winter-sun  day.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

More from the iPad

 Chelsea house in snow
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I've been meaning to do a little sketch of this house
since I found the photo reference. This is a house
in Chelsea Quebec, near my brother's house.  His
neighbourhood is rural and charming and looks
good in all seasons. 

I'm working on a drawing and a couple of paintings, but don't
have anything to show you yet.  Today our son Sam
came into town with his class to meet people in
the business.  He's in his final year in acting at
university.  So we spent the evening with him, and
it was wonderful to see him. 

I promise I won't be on the iPad exclusively much
longer, but it does a nice job with snow.  And hey!  We
got some yesterday and verrrrry cold weather.  So
all of Toronto is back in costume again, black
down coats with hoods, mittens, hats, great big boots.

Have an enjoying-your-season day.
High five to you Sam.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Self in Techie style

 Self Portrait at work
iPad drawing on Sketchbook Pro
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

I taught today, and felt blessed to have a very long break
between classes.  I had fun talking to my friends
at work, and helped some students.  I could even have
gone home, and come back.  Just.  But instead I worked
at a self portrait on my iPad. The result is less than stellar
-- I am essentially finger painting on plastic, or glass, or
whatever the screen is made of.  But I like it anyway.
The colours are a treat to work with.

I might get back to painting tomorrow.  Don't know.

Have a feeling-blessed-to-be-painting day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The 5 second rule

 Portait of a woman
iPad drawing on Sketchbook Pro
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Henriette Sonne posted a link on Facebook to a
woman called Mel Robbins at TED today.  Mel
Robbins says that we are hard wired Not to do
anything different from our standard routine,
even if that routine doesn't serve us, if we take
more than 5 seconds to make the decision to do
something different.  While I was watching her,
I tried to do her portrait.  It is really hard on
an iPad with your finger, but I decided to be happy
with a portrait at all.  Because I like the happy
errors I make with my awkward use of this medium.
Now before I change my mind I have to get
ready for tomorrow.

Have a deciding-to-change-quickly day.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dog tired like Zoey

 Zoey hides her head
iPad drawing 
8 X 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Long day teaching today, but so much fun.
Still leaving the house at 7 a.m. and returning at
7:30p.m. -- pretty much jumping and talking
and carrying on all day -- Whew!  Tired.
So I decided to draw Zoey sleeping on her
Winnie the Pooh quilt on her doggie bed.
She pushes that quilt around until it's just
right, then shoves her head in so the light
won't bother her.

For the aficionados of the iPad drawing.
I will probably stick to the finger for
my virtual art for awhile, because I can't
wait to get back to the paint/paper/canvas
equation.  As the song says -- "there
ain't nothing like the real thing baby."
Still this sure is fun.

Have a getting-back-to-the-real-thing day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Flora's challenge

Chelsea in the snow
Ipad drawing on Sketchbook Pro
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

I start school in the morning and talked to
famous Canadian artist Flora Doehler tonight
via telephone while I made dinner.  She challenged me to
draw something real with my iPad.  I explained
that I'm just using my fingers, but she wouldn't
back down.  I decided she had an intriguing thought.

So here it is.  It is a house near my brother's place
in Chelsea, Quebec, in the snow.  Still learning
Flora, but it certainly was fun completing your challenge.

Have a following-friends'-ideas day.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My first ever iPad drawings

 Blue Spring
Sketchbook Pro drawing on an iPad2
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Okay -- tonight I crossed the line into techno wonder.
How could anyone hearing about David Hockney's
wonderful work with the iPad, not be tempted to
try it out.  Last month Hockney had a show here, all
displayed on iPads and I get it now.

Tonight I got the Sketchbook Pro app and started playing.
I have no idea what I'm doing, but the possibilities seem
to be endless.

Will I do this from now on?  No.  Of course not,
but from time to time, or maybe even every couple
of days I may show you what I've been doing.
We are meant to enjoy what's out there I believe.
And we are!
 Just Messing With Ya
Sketchbook Pro drawing on an iPad2
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Here's my first effort.  Clearly I had no idea what I
was doing.

Happy New Year!

I missed you, but I've had the flu this week.

Have a drawing-with-whatever-you-can 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!