Thursday, November 29, 2012

The big one is done -- come and see it

 Breakfast in the hotel 
 (an ode on 4 canvasses)
In total 6 feet x 8 feet -- this photo the top half 8 feet x 3 feet
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2012

Come on out to the Studio Vogue Gallery to see the big
one in the group show aptly called Exuberance.  It's
a great show and I'll be there to meet you if you come
between 5 and 7 on Saturday.  I'll put the invite in here,
but first here are some photos I took today of the upper
and lower part of the painting.
Here's the lower half. 
 Breakfast in the hotel 
 (an ode on 4 canvasses)
In total 6 feet x 8 feet -- this photo the lower half 8 feet x 3 feet
(I could not get the whole thing on my camera properly.)
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2012

I could not photograph them as well as I would have liked
because I couldn't get far enough away in my kitchen.
But you get the idea. Quite the challenge.

Someone asked today -- why not just use a big canvas?
My Reasons:
  I can carry the 36 x 48" components that make up this
big painting.
I can transport the pieces in a small car using less gas that
takes up hardly any parking space.
I work in a small studio in my own home.
Infinite (my favorite)

Think of it!  This painting is 8 feet x 6 feet fully
assembled.  But what's to say it couldn't go higher
and wider using the very same plan.  That's what
Hockney, my inspiration for these paintings, has done
Check out his Grand Canyon on 60 canvasses.

Come out to the show -- here's the invitation:

Have a making-some-big-art day.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday's Child works hard for a living

Untitled painting upper right quarter 
(right side up) 
Work in progress
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012  
Here we are with the upper right hand corner
of the big painting.  I thought of Saturday's child,
because of the coffee pot -- which in a hotel breakfast
in the room is one of the stars of the show -- it gets a
workout.  Coffee is the dreamy part of
the hotel breakfast (well let's face it the whole meal
is the stuff romantic dreams are made of).  But
if you could go to sleep at night, knowing that someone
would bring you perfect coffee in the morning, you
would sleep well.  (I did last night because Steven's
ritual is to bring me coffee in bed on both Saturday
and Sunday morning.  Lucky me!)

This painting has it all -- the coffee pot, ready to help
make the morning perfect -- the bed in the corner,
beckoning -- everything is there but the telephone,
to call the front desk and ask for a later departure,
and the novel you'd be sure to read after breakfast
is completed.

Yes I am having fun with this.

Have a eating-breakfast-in-a sunny-room day.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Painting large -- upside down, right side up

 Untitled painting lower left quarter
(shown upside down on the easel)
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends.  I
am grateful for your work and the constant inspiration
I get from reading your blogs. 

Today I've been painting all day -- working for 45 minutes,
taking a short break and working again. One of the projects
I'm working on is a large -- 8 foot - 6 foot still life of a
delicious hotel breakfast.

I thought I'd show you the progress on the bottom left
corner -- it's coming along.  There is still quite a bit to do.
One of my friends does a lot of painting with the image
upside down.  This is one quarter of a really big painting.
But the quarter itself is Big -- 3 feet by 4 feet.  I find I'm turning
the painting upside down, vertical, horizontal.  Plus to join it
with its neighbours I am down on the floor, making sure they
line up.
 Untitled painting lower left quarter
(right side up)
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

I will give you more updates in the next couple of days.
Meanwhile, make sure you eat breakfast -- and I hope you
are eating it with someone you love.

Have an every-day-is-wonderful day

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy American Thanksgiving -- and if busy is good, I'm in heaven!

 Lunch at the desk
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Dear friends,

Happy American Thanksgiving.  Our little Canadian
Thanksgiving is long over, but the memory of the
turkey and happy days off together remains.  So
you deserve a little break and some special dinners
with one another.

Lately I've been so busy I can hardly get a breath.
Every time I feel like making even the tiniest
complaint about this, I consider the alternative.
I am not a city person for nothing.  I love the
hustle and bustle of this place -- constant action and
 excitement.  But I also look forward to life
being just a little bit simpler over the holidays.
 Is that possible?

I am posting a little iPad drawing today in honour
of the major inspiration for the very big painting I'm
working on -- David Hockney.  It's a still life
based on a working lunch.  You can see a file
folder, a typed page, keys, a bottle of milk, a half
eaten apple and a plastic sandwich bag.

Now it's back to painting on the big ones.  I'll post
more on that later in the week.  Meanwhile
have some turkey and pumpkin pie for me
America -- I can fill up on the thought of your
celebrations.  This fall has offered a wedding,
Thanksgiving, plus six family birthdays --
thought is really all I should be eating until Christmas.

Have a loving-the-feast-of-thoughts day.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Exciting visitors -- Blog friends in the studio

 Liza Hirst and me (Barbara Muir) posing in the studio.

We were so lucky last week to have exciting
visitors from London, England.  My friend Liza Hirst,
who I  met via our blogs was in Toronto and came for a visit.
We have been friends on the blog since 2008.
My first mention of Liza and her superb
paintings was in September of that year.  Over the
years our friendship has grown, and I've been
so happy to watch her paintings capture the mood and
essence of places and people wherever she's living.

She and her husband, Hubert, who we also met, have
been having an adventure.  First they sold their house
in France and traveled, going from Florence, to
Barcelona, and now opening up a store in London,
England Tusch and Egon.  All this time they've rented a
house in France as a family retreat, and a space to house
the many wonderful things (and paintings) they owned in
their spacious country house in France before they sold it.

When Liza arrived, we couldn't stop smiling and hugging
one another.  It was so lovely to finally meet a friend I'd
 known, and liked so much, but never seen.  Steven and
I felt thrilled to meet Liza, Hubert and their son Cosmo.

People who don't blog often wonder if the friendships
you form on the blog are real.  In my experience each
blog friend I've met is wonderful, and the
blog experience has definitely deepened our connection.
And Liza would agree, she regularly paints in London with
a woman she met through the blog.

Three cheers for blogging, and a toast to you my blog

Have a meeting with good friends day.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The final quarter and going fast and slow

Untitled work (work in progress)
upper left quarter
Drawing and beginning of the underpainting 
with some colour
Acrylic and willow charcoal on gessoed canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
My idea with this four-part image is to try and
progress at the same rate with all four paintings
to make sure that it is one consistent whole.  But
the black and white drawing and bit of an under painting
is worrying one of my blog readers who likes my
work for colour.

To her I say don't worry.  I have begun the colour,
but I am trying to ease into it slowly.  In most
of my paintings I use one colour for my
underpainting, but in these four I am trying an area by area
underpainting in places. The entire scheme is really
warm hits against a mostly white table cloth with a blue
center, and blue napkins.  So I am holding myself back
 a little from full colour right away.

To give you an idea of the possibilities, although this painting
will be much more intense (and obviously bigger) here's a
 little painting I did in August that looks something like
the left hand side of the big painting done from the same series of
reference photos.

I hope you had a lovely weekend.  It was cold today
but beautiful -- a blanket of low blue/grey clouds covering
the city, and at the end of the day a flash of brilliant, golden
sun and a spectacular sunset.

Have an easing-into-colour day.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Seeing Big, Seeing small

Untitled work (work in progress)
lower half
Drawing and beginning of the underpainting 
(This section in black)
Acrylic and willow charcoal on gessoed canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Hi everyone,

Here's a picture of the bottom half of the big, big
still life.  I will put a better picture on tomorrow,
because the right hand side is a bit bleached out
in this one.

Putting them together to photograph them on the
kitchen counter, I got so excited.  I have to admit
working on this painting makes me feel like a
kid on Christmas morning every time I look at it.
Just the sheer scale makes me want to sing and
dance.  Just ask my family.  Dancing way too much.
And still painting.

The life of an artist is inspired by the visual, and
emotional in all shapes and sizes.  Just finished
reading a very tough, but totally rewarding novel
 The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere. Parts
of it were excrutiatingly sad. The story us about
a boy living with an abusive man, who is noticed
by a very kind woman.

Artists are also moved by small things like the
sight of these pigeons eating.  Steven and I sat
in the car stunned by our vet bill, and this scene
lifted my mood.

Please give generously to the Red Cross Relief
fund for people trying to recover from the
devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

Have a good Sunday.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The third Quarter, sick cats and dog, and Halloween

Untitled work (work in progress)
lower left quarter 
Drawing and beginning of the underpainting 
(This section in black)
Acrylic and willow charcoal on gessoed canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Quite the week! My heart goes out to the people on the east coast
of Canada and the U.S. so badly hit by hurricane Sandy.
Here is the third quarter of my big painting.  It's
the bottom left hand side of the four part image.  I bought a
lovely grey colour that I've begun to use just to envision
 where shadows will fall, but the whole painting is strictly at
 the underpainting, and drawing stage.  It's really exciting
when I put the pieces together and see the scale of what
 I'm dealing with.  So much fun.

Not fun has been our animal family -- my dog Zoey and cat
Timbah starting the vet visit trauma last weekend.
 The dog is old, and also has a bladder infection.  We are
 so spoiled with our wonderful Health Care system
in Canada, where we rarely have to pay for doctor visits
and with decent insurance, even for prescriptions.  Not
so in the vet's office.

We love our vet, but with six family human birthdays
 in a row, we did not love the bill.  Then our sweet Fiona,
the Siamese got sick and quit eating last weekend.  She
visited the vet's Monday and Tuesday, was hydrated, force
fed, you name it. A six pound cat can't go without food.
We were so worried. And then miraculously it was the take-out
chicken that struck her fancy, and started her back on the road
 to health and eating. The dog and Timbah seem to be
recovering too.  Everyone else can now relax and enjoy
their birthdays.
The scene in the kitchen where I photographed the painting
-- a Halloween pumpkin, and
Fiona the cat now apparently
recovered observing everything.

Halloween was fun on our street with all the little neighbourhood
kids coming by as Ninjas and princesses.  The older kids sometimes
slink up onto the porch dressed in what look like normal clothes,
but maybe carrying a pillow case.  Their costumes are intellectual.
They describe what they are dressed as and you have to imagine
that to be true. I enjoy giving them candy just for their nerve
and bravado.

Have a painting-big-and-having-healthy-animals 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!