Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The best lunch -- MoMA for Mommas

 Salad Obsession
(final version I think)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

My painting tonight is of lunch at the MoMA on
Mother's Day.  New Yorkers go crazy on Mother's
Day and the MoMA restaurant was packed.  Our
server was a young guy about Sam's age, and he
made me miss Sam.  He kept forgetting what we'd
ordered, and then apologizing.  But the egg salad sandwich
on a very fancy home made bun, and the salad
when it was delivered was both delicious and
gorgeous. A man at the next table sat with a child's
toy dog on his knee while the child ate.  A little
boy on the balcony squirreled in his chair and was
totally disenchanted until his parents order him a
massive chocolate sundae.  I enjoyed every detail of the meal
and the people in the gallery.

 Salad obsession

This painting commemorates that meal, and
started my salad obsession.  Not really of course
because I've been obsessed with salad since my
mother started serving it to us with her amazing
simple oil and vinegar dressing when I was a teenager.

 A few years ago -- maybe it's six years already -- we
decided to eat salad every night, and we do almost
every night.  We sometimes get off the hook if the dinner
has several veggie dishes.  But this painting started
what may turn into a salad series.

 "The Deep" and gratitude

I watched a little video from Deepak Chopra today,
about gratitude. To paraphrase he said that simple
 gratitude for existing is a wondrous thing. As artists
this is not a hard concept.  I asked my older son, who
is now a photographer if he see photos everywhere,
and he said yes.  We share that because of course
for an artist every way we look we see subject
matter.  Endlessly. So I let my critical mind take a
break, and went for a walk in the luminous, blue night. 
 Someone on Twitter called Deepak Chopra "The Deep,"
and I liked that because he is both deep and quietly
reassuring.  I came home to paint.

Have a watching-the-world's-magnificence day.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Subtract 5

 Salad Days
Watercolour and black marker
on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
(I'm going through a salad phase --
not eating it (I do that
every day), but wanting to draw and
paint the wonder of salad. Okay
I am crazy -- crazy for
salad, and my son Sam made an
awesome one tonight.)

Going through my draft posts I found this one that I wrote
last year.  I liked the thought.  Frequently people who
are in good health, young (enough) and fit tell me that
they're too old to do (fill in the blank with a long cherished
dream).  Last year thinking about that I decided to look
back on where I was five years ago.  Now of course
the information is about six years ago, but I can add to that.

Original idea written last year

Where were you  five years ago?  I'd been to Europe
for the first time in years, and enjoyed the art
and culture in Warwick, England, Stuttgart, Germany
and Stockholm, Sweden.  I was painting, and
appearing in a few shows a year. I had one child still
in High School, and a small art community that I
loved.  And I had no idea that you were out there

You know how we worry about what will happen.
These worries are often in vain.  Since that very
happy year, so much has happened in my art career.

And the main reason is this.  Starting and keeping
going with the blog.

The addition

Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas
36 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2007

Today I look back on 2007, which is five years ago.
In May 2007 I took a photo of a  portrait I did of a
beautiful young woman named Lucy.  I am glad to
see that for me that work done 5 years ago still holds
up.  When I read the writing of Mike Dooley from, whose work I enjoy so much, he always
says, "let go of the hows." I tell my students --
too old?  Look at me I'm having the best time I
have ever had."  What's happened since 2007
-- plenty.  I've written 1300 blog posts.  Just that is
something. I started the blog in 2008 in February.
It was a cold, hard February.

That very year I broke my leg, and convalescing
in front of my computer met some blog friends
who I have known ever since.  You know that in 2009
 I was on the Oprah Winfrey show, and I exhibited my
work at the Florence Biennale. In 2010 I showed my work
 in New York City for the first time, and have now
exhibited there three years in a row.  I have been on TV
shows.  My life has been charged.

But for me the most amazing thing has been meeting all
of you.  It's wonderful knowing I have friends in many parts
of the planet, and caring about people in Tucson,
and Colorado, Texas and New York, Boston and Chicago,
Victoria, B.C. and London, England, Ireland and Germany,
 Australia and Italy.  You can't tell me that that hasn't expanded
 my joy in life in hundreds, if not thousands of ways.

Where were you five years ago?  Do you look back
and marvel?  I love some of the work I was doing then, and
honour it, plus I delight in how my ideas have been
transformed and fueled by you and your often daily
thoughts and work.

Thank you.  I am really grateful for the four + years
we've spent together.

Have a -relishing-the-present-day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Blue shows through

Acrylic on canvas
12 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Underpainting in Blue

I went to my art group figure night tonight and was
delighted to see this young woman posing.  She is
a student at OCAD I believe, our local art college/turned
university.  The look of astonishment on her face
may be because she was asked to pose so severely,
straight back, sitting up.  But I like the expression --
so much feeling in an otherwise, young, happy

I painted her on a mostly blue ground done with
palette knife.  As time was short it was lucky
that the blue was exactly the colour of her blouse.
Fooling around with my friends at the club is
always a pleasure, and tonight everyone was in
great good spirits. 

Have a making-your-friends-laugh day.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Things to love

My next painting in process

 Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Here's a shot of what I'm working on.  I started with a black ground
to give the white a pop, and like it right now, but will continue
to work on it.  Polish is the word that comes to mind.

Things to love 

 Steven and me in New York one week ago
1. a) You
     b) Victoria Day
 Steven, Sam and I watched the fireworks 
at Ashbridges Bay from a distance.  

2.The  Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City

One of my favorite rooms at the Met in the French section.  
Love the wall colour.
3. The MoMA, New York City (inspiration for my current
 Ready to show.  Me practicing in front of the MoMA.  
O yeah.  Wouldn't that be great.
Torn and pasted printed paper on canvas
Mark Bradford at the MoMA
© Mark Bradford 2007
4. The paintings and jewelry from my friends Flora
Doehler and Larry Knox at Green Willow Studio in
Bear River -- a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada hopping
with cultural events.

5. The crazy, dominating Forget-me-nots in my garden,
appropriately named, because they make sure you don't.
6. Dinner with friends with great conversation, food and

7.  The next door neighbours who painted their brick house
and made our whole neighbourhood look more awesome.

8. Central Park and the incredible animals and people there.
A woman feeding a pair of ducks in Central Park
 part of her supper.
9. Long weekends.

10. Our pets. 

 Fiona wakes up from her afternoon nap.
I hope to paint this one day.  Soon.

Have a deciding-which-things-to-love day.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The awesome winner of the MacArthur award

 Ubaldo Vitali, Alchemist
Black marker on drawing paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
This week I was contacted by HLN CNN and asked if I'd like
to talk on my blog about the silversmith, Ubaldo Vitali, who
won the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2011.  I watched the clip
and was so impressed with this lovely, humble man --
a fantastic artist, with a wonderful face, that I had to draw him. 
The show The Next List, with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on
CNN at 2 p.m. this Sunday, May 20, will feature Ubaldo Vitali,
and I think you will love it.

Something he said in the short clip I watched impressed me
so much.  He said, "I know exactly who I am; I know where
 I'm coming from, and I know where I'm going."  How many
 people do you meet today who have that kind of self-knowledge?
 As a teacher interested in helping people improve their self-esteem,
this one sentence and Vitali's feeling of being part of a long line
 of artisans delighted me.  He added that in the computer age more
 and more people are disconnected from actual art, and how seeing
art in museums and galleries is transformative. Wouldn't it be
great if more people voiced this message?

Vitali's designs are exceptionally beautiful, but one of my
favorites is the classic take-out paper coffee cup, only this time
in silver, lined in gold.

Watching the video I can easily understand why Vitali won this
prestigious award.  His work and his story are inspiring, so if
you get the chance -- check him out. 

Have a being-inspired-by-magnificent-art day.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday back in good old Toronto

 Salad and Egg Salad at the MoMA
Black Marker on Canson drawing paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
The hard part about going away is coming back home.
I was delighted to see my son, the cats and the dog,
and will be happy to see my friends.  But re-entry
is a shock. 

The great part about travel, especially to places as
alive as New York City, is that your mind, heart and
senses get stimulated and ideas seem to be impossible
to stop.  Today I planned and thought and researched
for the coming weeks of painting.

Tonight I'm showing you a drawing that may develop
into either a more finished drawing, or a painting, I'm
not sure.

And that's all for now folks.  I do need my sleep too.

Have a coming-home-is-wonderful day.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

 Bored boy lunching at the MoMA
Black marker on Moleskine paper
6 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Happy Mother's Day to all my friends who are
mothers, and to everyone's mothers.  My friend
Betsy Anderson reminded me that the day
was originally proposed by Julia Ward Howe
in 1870 to encourage mothers around the world
to push for peace. In 1914 when American
president, Woodrow Wilson declared the first national
Mother's Day, that meaning was lost.  But we can
regain it.  Mothers around the world joined to
demand peace can help create change.

Today we were very tired.  We hiked home last night from
the restaurant to our hotel, a long and wonderful walk.
But today we would gladly have slept all day, but this was
it -- the last day in the big Apple -- New York.
 I missed my big boys -- both in Toronto now. And I
missed my mother, but was glad I'd sent her
flowers on Thursday to beat the rush, and we talked
today. My mother is a great role model.  She is brave
 and cheerful and I was so happy to talk to her.
Mrs. Hugh Hammersley
Oil on canvas
John Singer Sargent
All over New York City people were treating their
mothers like queens -- taking them for breakfast and
lunch, buying them presents, taking them to art shows.
It was touching to see.

We went to the Met in the morning, and I loved seeing
 the new Sargent exhibit, the Fauves,
and the Schiaparelli and Prada Impossible Conversations
show -- displaying the fashions of the two designers,
and films directed by Baz Luhrmann showing the possible
conversations about fashion the two designers might have
had if they could have met. In the films seen throughout
the exhibit Judy Davis plays Schiaparelli, and Prada is Prada.

We ate lunch at the MoMA, and I went to see the Matisse
and Monets.  Just before hopping in a taxi to head home we
walked to Central Park for one last look.  Goodbye New York.
We love you.

Have a Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Back to the gallery and The Art Students League of New York

 Table carnations El Quijote Restaurant New York City
Black marker on Moleskine paper
6 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Our day in New York City today was packed again.
 We headed to Chelsea to visit the Amsterdam Whitney
 Gallery, and had tea and delicious biscotti with
Gallery Director Ruthie Tucker.
My paintings at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery,  NYC
 Left to right:
First stop Paris,
Acrylic on canvas, 
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
On the road in Fredericton
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Making Magic in Montreal
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

 Rashmi and her wonderful work 
and me at the Art Students' League.

In the late afternoon we visited with a friend I made last
year just walking between our hotel and the Metropolitain
Museum of Modern Art.  Rashmi Pearce was a model for
American greats like Pearlstein.  This year Rashmi has been
attending the Arts Students' League studying as a painter.
Recently she went back to posing too, but loves the painting
and wants to continue.  It was so exciting to see her work,
which I loved, and to be shown around the magnificent,
old school.  Steven and I were so entranced, that we didn't
notice we had red oil paint, on our dark good clothes.
Luckily it all came off with turpentine.  A shout out to
Rashmi for a wonderful visit.

One of the great studio spaces at The Art Students League
Sign on the wall in one of the studios Rashmi showed us.
Students spots for long poses are marked on the floor with tape
 at the Art Students League.
Class set up for still life
 Fabulous sculpture in the Sculpture studio

For dinner we headed out to a familiar place we love
the El Quijote in Chelsea.  The food is reasonable and
plentiful, and the waiters funny and engaging.

Have a visiting-artist-friends-day.

Friday, May 11, 2012

More from the gallery and one awesome day in New York City

 Me and a gallery guest with my paintings at the Amsterdam
Whitney last night.

The opening was such a great event, and I'm afraid I still need
to get the names of the wonderful people I met like the
fellow above, from the gallery. I'll do that in the coming days.
Steven and Christopher on the High Line, NYC

Today we met our son and walked the High Line with
him -- always amazing, and particularly fun with Christopher.
Then we took a long walk in Central Park and saw so many
incredible sight.
Bubble makers in the park

More bubble in Central Park
Central Park Moves
 Something else we watched.
For dinner we walked up the street to Il Gattopardo, and enjoyed
a delicious fish dinner.

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

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fabulous opening tonight

 Me (left) getting interviewed by Kristal Hart for
the Kristal Hart show on Manhattan TV.  

The gala opening tonight at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery was
so much fun. The gallery Director Ruthie Tucker does a great job
creating a festive event. I loved how my work was displayed
exactly the way I pictured it only better. Champagne was
flowing.  I met and talked with fascinating people. 
All of the artists there produced wonderful work.
I was interviewed for the Kristal Hart show on
Manhattan TV, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

More tomorrow, as it's really late and we have a big day

Have a delighting-in-the-great-things-in-life day.

New York I love you to the max!

Coffee and Tea
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Hi there my friends,

We are in New York City.  Internet in the hotel is slow,
so we slipped across the street to Starbucks where it's crazy fast.
 I'll post a little iPad drawing today, and perhaps some sketches
 tomorrow.  We head to the MoMA in minutes.  There are cities that feel
like home right away.  Perhaps I'm a New Yorker at heart -- because this is
one of them.
The Halal Guys -- a million dollar business in NYC and is it good!

Last night exhausted from prepping for the trip, and from a long spate
 of working24/7 we decided to get food from the street vendor near
 the hotel.  Delicious and enough food to feed a family of four. 
There's always a line up -- sometimes for a block.  People come straight
 from the airport in limos to pick up dinner.  It's wild.
 Times Square in the rain last night
People snapping photos late at night in the rain.
That's Times Square.  Always hopping.

After eating in the hotel we headed out in the rain to walk to
Times Square.  So much fun.  Forever 21 on the square is open
 until 2 a.m., and even in the rain there were people snapping
photos of themselves.  The square's giant, vibrant billboards and ads
 are always striking.
Amazing architecture everywhere you turn.
New York keeps its heritage.  A key lesson
for cities like Toronto.

Tell you more tomorrow. What a charge watching
Stephen Colbert interview Vogue Editor Anna Wintour last night
 about a show opening at the MoMA today, and knowing we were
 a block away and heading over to the show the minute it

My own opening is tonight at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery.
 Photos later. Oops better charge my camera.  As for me. 
Charged full time.

Have an acting-like-a-joyous-tourist-wherever-you-are day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Going all flowery on you

The Don Valley Art Club's spring show starts next weekend,
on May 11, and is on at Todmorden Mills Gallery in Toronto for 
the next two weekends.  I decided to go with flowers, because it's
spring, and I love flowers.

So here's the final version of the painting I showed you yesterday.
Cottage Flowers
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I also submitted this painting of my friend Ken Lander in Pugwash,
Nova Scotia at his garden center, Sunrise Greenhouses, with a view
of the ocean.
Pugwash Garden Man
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

I'll be in New York City next weekend, so I'll miss the opening, but
I'll get to enjoy all the wonderful art in the great, large gallery when I
sit the show the next weekend.

Have a going-all-flowery-on-yourself day.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Perfect day and a painting in stages

It is high time to garden, but our weather has been so
odd that we're a bit afraid of frost still.  But today
the garden was a sea of Forget-Me-Nots -- the most
beautiful blue.  So perhaps the time has come. Spring
in full flower.

Today I'm showing you three stages of a painting.
The latest stage first.
Untitled (Work in progress)
Latest Stage
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Untitled (Work in progress)
Starting to paint
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Untitled (Work in progress)
Drawing in yellow watercolour
crayon on a black ground.
I decided to use black to make
the white pop.
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

I hope you had a good painting day too.  

Have a seeing-clearly-and-gratefully day.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Giving support -- You know you're the best

 Love on the High Line
(One of my entries in the contest with the link below)
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I am signed up for a contest to have my work shone on a billboard in
Times Square.  This is a separate show, and nothing to do with my
gallery in Chelsea, New York.  It's a fun contest, and I would love to
go.  If six of you have 10 friends, or 10 of you have six friends who you
can send to the web site to click on the collect button I am in.  I'd
also ask you to do this for my friend, Melinda Esparza who told me
about the contest and Flora Doehler.  You don't have to actually collect
my art, or pay anything to click on collect, but it would really give
me a charge to see my work shining in Times Square -- which I have
 got to say I visit each time I go to New York City, and I do
 love the place. Here's the link:

I know I have bothered you about this on Facebook,
but I am psyched about it.  I'm assuming that if an artist is
chosen the organizers will ask for a higher resolution image
of the artist's work.  Because at the moment the site only accepts
 a very low res picture.  If you do collect me, please let me know,
 and email me with your address, and then I'll email you
 back a thank you.

Thanking you in advance.  You already know you rock.

Your artist forever


P.S. A friend gave me tickets to a wonderful Sci-Fi symphony concert
at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto the other day.  I took my son Sam,
newly home from university, and we loved it so much.  Interspersed
with outstanding scores from Star Wars, Star Trek, Close Encounters
of the Third Kind, The Twilight Zone, and other Sci-Fi themed work
the conductor held a contest for a light saber, and talked about the
wonderful composers who created the music.
Sam took a picture of me with this Star Trooper from Star Wars
but was too shy to let me take his picture -- a lady volunteered
to take a picture of both of us with the cool Star Trooper, but
she couldn't see the buttons to snap the picture.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Just started and more to come

Here's a little painting I've just begun of a house
a few blocks away.  It has magnificent trees in front
of it, and I need to go and get better reference.
More to come tomorrow on a fabulous concert
Sam and I attended today.

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Getting out

 A serious woman
(Art group Sketch)
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Making art is a lonely profession.  True if you're a portrait
painter, people do sit for you.  But most of the time when
painters are deep into producing, they are alone -- a solitude
we crave because it's just us and the colour.  I like a bit of
background sound some of the time -- sometimes I run
a movie I've already seen, and just listen, or let TED talks,
or our wonderful CBC national radio shows enlighten me,
and make me laugh, or get sad.  But a week ago when I had
a wonderful girl working for me who does not know me well,
I realized that I also talk to myself!

Well I know we've got to, and I knew that I did encourage
myself, but what I didn't realize is that when I'm pushed to
the max the conversation can be fairly constant between
me, myself and I.  Good that we're so close.

So my point is that it's important for me, and for all artists
to get out. Out of the studio, out of our own heads, out of
 the house, right out. Out, out, out.  Travel is good, but after
 locking ourselves in a room, or working over a canvas,
or drawing for too long, we appreciate the smallest pleasures.
Our own neighbourhoods are a surprising feast of colour, light
 and joy.

 Even a trip to the supermarket three blocks away does the trick.
 In fact office workers, stopping by to get the evening's supper
 rations, at the end of a day in a tower somewhere
filling in forms, and catering to the boss's requests give us an
odd look as we delight in the colour of red peppers, and
ask the fish counter fellow about his school work.

We are odd.  So going to art group is an incredible treat -- because
so is everyone else.  Even though all of the artists come at things
from many different beliefs and styles, we share the same
dilemma, being out of step with those who don't love paint,
and form, light and dark and capturing and creating images.

Today I got out three times.  I visited the women in the
neighbourhood who meet for coffee, and had a lovely time.
I stopped by my incredible local shoemaker Mike, who brought
my favorite boots back to life, as he has three years in a row,
and I went to my art group tonight, and enjoyed everyone's company.
The model was gorgeous, and demanding.  She kept ordering
us back to work -- quite an accomplishment sitting regally as
she was when back in pose, completely naked.  I had a lot of
fun painting her.

Have a letting-yourself-get-out 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!