Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Bounty of the Universe

The flowers' party
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

On Saturday Hay House, the company Louise Hay started
is beginning a free, 10 day  World Summit over the Internet.
Louise Hay is the first person who I heard say, "the bounty
of the universe," and her point of view set me on a course
to enjoying my life.

As artists that bounty is always available, but it is even
more remarkable in the spring and summer.  This year
our long, cold spring has produced such an extended, lush
period of flowering trees.  One after another they come into
bloom, and then it's the next lot.  Lately it's been lilacs
-- the most profuse we've seen in a decade.

My kitchen table always feels like a display for abundance.
And right now it's home to pansies, and the last of the
 forget-me-nots that fill the garden with an ocean
of blue flowers.

I did this little painting to capture the mood -- joyous
and light -- a time for dancing with the cats and each
other.  Everyone so filled with spring fever -- bubbling
up for months now, that there's got to be a party.  And
I think the month of June will be one long party!
Woo Hoo.  (Lots of work too, don't worry!)

Have a life's-a-party day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Super talks with friends and artists all day -- plus back to my art group!

Nude with tulips in the art gallery
Acrylic on canvas
20 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

What a fun day.  It has been a misty, rainy, and a full out heavy
showers day.  My favorite.  I must have been born on a boat,
because I am always happy around water, and usually glad
when it rains.

I met with some friends for coffee to start the day, came
home and worked on a watercolour for most of the afternoon.
I spoke to a good friend in Ireland, and listened to
the exciting news about her life and art.  Afterwards the
watercolour seemed to sing off the brush.

Then tonight I headed out in a downpour for my art group,
and had a marvellous time.  The model was everything I
love, quiet and serious about posing.  I decided to put her
in an art gallery.  And enjoyed painting her and the work
behind her as quickly as possible.  The paintings are imagined
works by friends.

This is what a good model does -- inspires the artists to think
their own thoughts and go off into their imaginations.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable, and art packed day.

Have a day filled-with-art-and joy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy start of the week -- thinking about the Maritimes

 Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013
Here's what I've been working on today.  I'm getting together
some work for the summer.  Last year we went on a road trip
to Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) from our school house in
Nova Scotia.  Although the trip crossed through three
of Canada's 10 provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick
 and Prince Edward Island,) it doesn't take long to get there,
but we dawdled, taking photos all along the route and enjoying
 every minute.

 In Victoria P.E.I. I took lots of pictures for future paintings,
having that "Oh look!, Wow!, Oh isn't that beautiful!"
response around every corner.

This scene is only partially finished, but it's already got the colours
that took my breath away when I was there.  P.E.I.'s colours
are dazzling.  It's supposed to be a bit like Ireland.  I'll
warn my friends in Ireland now, that if that's true, when I
visit Ireland I may not come back home.

Have a summer-is-around-the-corner day.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pansies, a favorite professor and love stories

 Please --More pansies!
Acrylic on canvas
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013
When I was studying at OCAD I had a favorite
teacher who seemed like a comic.  I drew my
first nude male at 17 in his class.  The model
was a very overweight, pasty, white man in his
50s, and my teacher helped a group of shocked,
innocent kids concentrate on drawing, and get
over their embarrassment and learn to describe

That teacher was incredibly exacting in his own
work.  He refined and refined and was really never
satisfied with what he'd done.  Some of his watercolours
sold for $15,000 dollars.  But he'd go into museums and
take them out of the frame and keep working. His one
relief from sad subject matter -- decrepit, rotting, old
houses, sagging, depressed, older bodies  -- was pansies.
Every spring he painted dozens of pansy paintings and
sold them all.  They were bright, cheerful, joyous
watercolours.  Completely out of step with his usual work.

I have always loved this flower -- so brave and cheerful
in the cold of Canadian early spring, and resurfacing in
garden stores in the fall.  So here's another little pansy painting

The story?  Check out the movie Love is All You Need
with Trine Dyrholm,  and Pierce Brosnan -- a beautiful,
sensitive and joyous love story.  Set mostly on the Amalfi coast,
in Italy it was a total visual treat as well.  Delightful.

Have a going-to-see-a-love-story day.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Favorite towns -- Victoria P.E.I.

The Happy Yellow House
(Work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

Victoria, Prince Edward Island is one of my
favorite towns in the world for many reasons.
Years ago when Sam was a baby, we spent
more than a month in a cottage on the south
shore of Prince Edward Island.

As is our practice when we travel, we explored
the island and loved it for its gorgeous sea views,
rolling farm land, red sand, delicious food,
warm people and many lovely, old Victorian

My painting today is of one of the many superb
homes in Victoria -- which was just down the road
from the glorious cottage on the beach where we
spent one very happy July.  Today Victoria
has a theater, several great restaurants, an amazing
antique store, and is a treat for the senses.

I'm almost finished this little house.  I may put on
a few final touches tomorrow.

Have a visiting-a-favorite-town day.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Roses in a crystal jug

 Roses in a crystal jug
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

I wrote a cheerful blog on Monday, which was the Victoria Day
holiday here. But sad news hit that day with the Tornado in
Oklahoma. My heart goes out to the people in Moore after
this horrendous storm. To donate to the Red Cross Disaster
Relief fund click here.

I decided to change my blog, and leave it at this.  Take
care everyone and stay safe.

XO Barbara

Monday, May 13, 2013

First pansies and chilly nights

 First pansies
Acrylic on canvas
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013
The weather is beautiful out today, but tonight
 the temperature in Toronto is expected to fall
to zero degrees Celsius or 32 Fahrenheit and it
could go lower, because we have frost warnings!

I have some pansies in pots, (not planted yet), and
 I have to bring them inside.  Cold springs happen,
but this is really cold.  Imagine searching for
your winter gloves in May. And yesterday as Steven
and I were coming home from shopping it was
snowing!  Snowing!  On May 12th in Toronto.

I finished my little painting of pansies today, and
I hope we don't get frost tonight because I've been
dreaming of those peach trees we saw Saturday
and the peaches in August.  Such a treat.

Have a keeping-warm-and-creative day. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day -- My art and family life

The baby's sleeping
(work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(This painting captures my feelings about
motherhood perfectly.  No matter how
much your children grow up, this early
beautiful time, and the powerful
feelings of new motherhood last for mothers
throughout their children's lives.
That's why we are so protective, so
crazy, so fiercely proud and so loving.
A heady mixture.  Enjoy kids!)

I hope you had a Happy Mother's Day.  I started the day
talking to my Mom, so sorry I couldn't be with her.  Then
as I drank my coffee and read my novel first Steven brought
me coffee, then Sam brought me enough roses to fill the
house!  Amazing.
Spring Break Shoreline
Acrylic on Canvas
30 x 30 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2007

Then tonight Christopher, Sam and Steven took me to dinner
at my favorite restaurant The Golden Thai.  The waiter Wilson
was very kind, and knew Wing, whose portrait I finished in
March.  He gave us special extra treats.  What an evening.
We laughed and joked and reminisced the evening away.
So it was a perfect day.

 Sunset at the Lake
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2008
(This painting is of my daughter-in-law Megan.
It's a powerful painting in person. I am crazy
about Megan, she's added so much fun and 
laughter to our family.)
Christopher and Sam in the restaurant tonight.
My grown up children
Thank you guys for a great evening,
and wonderful time being your mother.
Happy Mother's Day to all, and thank you to everyone who
gives me moral support, kindness and friendship -- women
and men, you are all like mothers to me.

Have a loving-the-mothers-and-fathers-and-
loving-people-in-your-world day

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Visiting Kim Rempel at the HandMade Market

 Kim and her gorgeous paintings 
(Head out tomorrow and grab some for your Mom
or yourself)
Steven and I took a beautiful drive today to
St. David's near Niagara-On-The-Lake
where Kim Rempel was selling
her beautiful paintings in the St. David's
HandMade Market at the Ravine Winery.
Kim with me at her booth 
(those baskets are full of superb paintings)
The location was superb, and the weather just
right -- cool and sunny, although the wind must
have been a challenge for some of the outside
stalls.  I've admired Kim's work since I first
saw it on line, and her posts too.  She is a
pro through and through, and the most
generous of bloggers, taking us on holiday
with her to France a while ago and on her ski trip to
 Vermont in the winter.  Plus she is always painting.

Kim and her sister Sheri who was 
helping her at the market.  What
fun they are!

Here's to another great day on Mother's Day
tomorrow Kim. 

Our other reason for the trip.  We've been hunting
for views of fruit blossoms.  Kim tipped me off
to where they were (right near the Vineyard), and
so after visiting her we drove through miles and
miles of paradise.  Thank you Kim!!!

Have a very happy Mother's Day

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sewing backwards and forward -- it's like painting

Mary at the ocean
Work in progress (stages 3, 4, 5, 6)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013
For the past couple of days I've spent part of
the day working on a cover for my dog Zoey's
crate.  The old cover was a navy blue tablecloth
from Winners.  It had had its day.  I hauled out
my ancient sewing machine and used yards
of canvas I had to make a kind of rudimentary
box that covers the crate.

Sewing so that something won't fall apart
involves sewing backwards and forwards over
the same seam at both ends to strengthen it.
And this made me think of painting. It ws
liberating to learn that the artist Lucian Freud,
the painter had stacks of unfinished work
leaning against the walls of his studios,
and would often pull a painting out at random
to finish.

I saw this girl today and thought yes! She  is
an orphan girl in Tanzania who my friend Gill
taught when she was there in 2011. I started
this portrait a couple of summers ago, and felt
like working on it today.  There is a lot more to
do, but it's on its way.  I painted her friend  Jesca and
she and Mary were living at a school and orphanage called Peace
Matunda.  My other painting  is larger.

Mary at the ocean
Work in progress (Stages one and two)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013
That's why I am going backwards and then forwards
just like in sewing, and I hope it makes for a
strong portrait.  It does make for a happy art
experience.  More to come.

The crate cover is admired by Zoey's fan club -- Fiona.
Zoey is inside ready for bed. By the way if
you don't have a dog, the crate is a refuge,
a private room.  Our dog loves hers, and
goes there whenever she needs to get away,
or in thunder storms.

How it looks with the front piece down

Have a going backwards and forwards for strength day.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The power of action

Pansies center stage (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013
I have a friend who recently said, "you always do exactly
what you want."  Not really true for a variety of
reasons although I do love my life. This is a common
misconception people have about artists.  But many
artists are terribly constrained by the voices in their
heads that criticize their ideas, and hobble their creations
before they begin.  A few years ago I found the antidote
 to this one. Action.  As Neil Gaiman says, "Make good

That instruction to make good art, could send some
artists (including me) squirreling back to the newspaper to
look for any other job.  So I say, just make some art.
Be gentle on yourself.  You don't have to be Michelangelo
or Mary Cassatt, or Andy Warhol, or anyone else.
You just need to indulge that preternatural urge you
won't escape by not doing, to make art, and make some

Here's a little bit of art I'm working on making, following
my own dictum.

Have a making some art day.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Flower watercolours for Mother's Day

Small is beautiful
Watercolour and marker on
Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Yesterday The Globe and Mail newspaper Style section
ran a column on what to give your mother for Mother's Day
(next Sunday) that wasn't the standard chocolates and flowers.
Their suggestions ran from shoes and purses, to floral pillows
to Espresso machines.  But what about art?

By the way this is also a great present for your wife, if
you give her Mother's Day presents, as I know my husband
does. (I do the same on Father's Day). Some people give their
aunts or a favorite person who has acted in lieu of a mother
a present too.  What a lovely gesture.

I have a great idea.  How about giving your mother art --
and more specifically one of the floral watercolour paintings
I am including here.  If she's allergic to flowers, but really
loves them -- one of these little paintings is the perfect
gift.  Email me at if you're
interested.  They are all $200 Canadian unframed, and
shipping is included.  What's more I will personally deliver
them -- gift wrapped in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).
They are all 10 x 6 inches and will cheer up any wall,

Bright bouquet in a milk jug
Watercolour and black marker
on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
My brilliant Nasturtiums
Watercolour and black marker
on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Be here now
Watercolour and marker on
 Arches Watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

If you are interested in purchasing one of these paintings please
email me at  You can pay by PayPal.
Have a getting-ready-for-Mother's- Day day. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A delight in strangers

Cutie the bunny goes shopping
Black marker on Fabriano note paper
6 1/4 x 8 1/2
Barbara Muir © 2013
Artists see the whole world as their subjects.
Right or wrong it's true.  So naturally I was
intrigued when I happened upon this lady in one
of my favorite furniture stores walking beside her
husband and a cart with their purchases.  She was
calmly carrying a live rabbit (their pet) in a plastic
box you'd normally use for storing office supplies.
I had my phone with me, asked if I could take her
picture. She happily agreed.

Today I am pretty busy, but I always need to make
time for some art, and I decided to do this sketch.
I might do it again in a series I'll call the kindness
of strangers, paintings of people who've agreed
to pose for photographs for art over the years.  But
I've just come up with that idea, so it may be
a while.  You know from my Easter painting that
I once owned a rabbit named Harold, and that
I love New York -- so oddly enough this woman
and I had an instant bonding experience.

Have a delighting-in-strangers day.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Finishing baby, and a great daughter and father show

Baby at the party (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013
Today I worked to put  the final touches on my baby
 painting.  But I'm not entirely finished.  I might think
more about the background and could do more detailing
perhaps in her dress, still she is done for the moment.

Thinking about this little girl and her parents
connects to a show my friend I've shown with
many times, Gill Cameron is having starting this
weekend with her father Ken Cameron. Called
A Full Circle this show is an emotional tribute
for Gill to her father's influence on her art.  Gill
 is a wonderful landscape artist in watercolour,
and her father depicted his beloved Canadian
 landscape in oil.
 Blue Rivers
31x11 inches
Gill Cameron © 2013
The idea of a show combining their work grew
for Gill this year, after her mother's death last
fall.  It struck Gill one day that her new landscapes
were all about the love she felt for her parents, and
how strange it was to have them gone.  She decided
to honour her father and her love for both her parents
by having a show together with her Dad. And the result
is a magnificent show of strong landscape paintings
that are quintessentially Canadian.
1 Cameron
Oil on canvas
33x38 inches
Ken Cameron ©
Getting back to my baby -- I'm sure that this
little girl, who by now is probably walking and
talking has the same deep connection to her
parents.  And that's why it matters to paint
babies. The love they start to feel at that
early age can influence them all of their

Full Circle opens at Artscape Wychwood Barns
601 Christie Street Friday night May 3 from
6 - 9 p.m., and runs from May 3 - May 9.
Check it out. 

Have a-loving-your-children-and-parents 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!