Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Love my Art Group!

(art group sketch painting)
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I've been working late on Tuesday nights for the past
14 weeks.  No chance to go to my Tuesday night
art group, and I missed them and our time together
so much.

A friend of mine just joined, and I urged her to
come with me tonight and draw.  She did a super
drawing, which I forgot to photograph.  It was a
special night and the place was packed.  We had
a super opera singer as a model!

So fun -- here is my quick 1 hour painting of Ricardo,
I may touch it up a bit tomorrow, but I just
loved painting him with all of my great artist
friends.  Thank you Frank Pasian for organizing
this great event at the DVAC.

Have a-loving-being-with-art-friends day.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Staring hard and The Dream -- A visit from the greats

 The Invitation
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
I don't think I'll get to paint this week --
it is filled with other work.  Of course I
want to, and when I let myself have a short
nap today I had one of those momentous
dreams that underscores what I should be
 My Cat Timbah, and the painting
 at the end of the room
We have been camping for nearly a month in
our back (small) bedroom while we wait for
a new bed to arrive.  The room needs attention
because it was my youngest son's nest until
recently.  But it hosts a gallery of my work
mostly featuring Sam, and I've enjoyed
looking at it, and figuring out what I'd do to
each painting if I had the time.

Snuggled in there this afternoon I
suppose I was drifting into a meditative
state, and then before I knew it into full
scale dreaming.

So. I was sleeping on the beach we visit
near Pugwash Nova Scotia. Part of
my mind was seeing Christmas lights, and
then hustling down the beach toward me
came a group of artists.  But not just any artists --
Mary Cassatt, Emily Carr (I don't think
they ever really met), Vincent van Gogh,
Matisse, and Gaugin.

An unlikely group to be walking together I
know. In my dream they were all around
the same age (inaccurate I'm afraid),
their long, dark coats fluttering
in the wind.  The women holding onto
decidedly inappropriate hats.

They treated me to a heated discussion
about the importance of colour, and were
incredibly kind to me, encouraging
me to keep using vivid colour and not to go
quiet or bland.
The wall of Sam paintings
(I took this photo with panorama on my phone
so the room looks as if it bends.  It doesn't.)

Before I fell asleep, I was staring at the painting
on the wall at the end of the room. I've looked at
it every day for almost two months now, and
 I'm planning some changes to it .
 Come back for a visit to see where it goes
 -- nothing major, just small changes I need
to make.

Does this happen to you when you look at
your older work?  Do you see things you love,
and places on some work that you'd change?

Have a happy day enjoying your work.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy December

Breakfast in the hotel
Petit-déjeuner à l'hôtel
Acrylic on canvas
4 canvasses
36 x 48 inches
6 feet x 8 feet total
Barbara Muir © 2012
I don't have a new painting tonight, but I wanted to
wish you Happy December.  Alyson Stanfield wrote a
Thanksgiving weekend piece called A Feast for 
the eyes: Food in Art this past weekend.  She asked
artists to share their food paintings and I posted my
painting of Breakfast at the Skylight Diner NYC there.

Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs,
December's a lovely month.  Lights are starting to
show up in the dark.  Fantasy and fun is in the cold air.
The decorations in store windows are astounding
and inspiring.  It's a beautiful month -- and
at the end the inspiration of a whole new
fresh 12 months, stretching out full of promise.

I am a fan of Christmas, even though I'm not
religious.  I love the music, the presents, the
food, the parties and seeing friends.  Plus a short
break from work for all of us is a treat.

Have a getting-ready-for fun day.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

More on clouds and wanting lights

 Untitled (second and third stage)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(I'll try taking a new shot tomorrow
in daylight.  It will be better.)
One of my friends with a birthday near the beginning
of December, decorates with strings of tiny, white lights
around the inside doorways in her house at Christmas.
It's a sensational touch, and makes her house look
fabulously upbeat even in a snowstorm.  I unpacked a
new bunch of little, clear lights today, circled them around me
after I plugged them in and sang a very corny version
of You light up my life to Steven as he came into the
kitchen.  Time to decorate!  I hold off until December
first, but it's hard because I love the smell of pine,
and the look of the lights on the porch shining
in the front window of the studio.

Our flower store friends have told me what kind of
wreathe I like (pine) and have ordered one for me
without asking me. I can check that off the list.

A few years ago my daughter-in-law decorated
with white star lights from Ikea -- beautiful.
I bought some too and I plugged those in in
the studio today, because they are
there as decoration year round.
So we're off to the races. The holiday feeling
is creeping in.

Tonight I'm showing you the next stage
on my cloud painting, and here are some guests
visiting my work at Studio Vogue Gallery
Guests check out my cloudscapes
at Studio Vogue on Friday.
Have an enjoying-the-moment-day

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

 Untitled (first stage)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Happy Thanksgiving to my American family,
and to all of you, my wonderful American friends.

Thank you for your support

Thank you for your kindness

Thank you for this community

Thank you for the inspiration

Thank you for your determination 
to keep on making art

Thank you for all that I've learned from you

Thank you for your humour

Thank you for your successes

Thank you for your beautiful and 
magnificent art

Thank you!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Snow helps -- but wind is harsh

The backyard celebrates winter 
(work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

Tonight we lost power for awhile, and it's
messing up my posts.  Sorry for that.  Here's
a little painting I started a couple of years
ago.  It's amazing how much an artist's
approach can change in that short time.
For that whole time I've looked at this
painting, and looked at it, and not even been
sure what I was seeing, although it's loosely
based on the view out my back window in winter.

So a few days ago I picked up the canvas again.
We had snow on the ground and the rooftops.
I snapped some pictures on my phone and
went back to work.  There's still more to do,
but the wind keeps cutting the power out,
so more tomorrow.

Have a using-your-power-wisely day.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Never nothing going on

Reading the dessert menu
waercolour, and black marker on 
watercolour paper
9 x 12 1/8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Yes.  It's a double negative.  A complete no no!
(Another double negative.)  But it's true, in an
artist's life, there is never 'nothing going on.'
We might fake that -- pretend boredom, answer
the question, "what's up?" with "nothing much."
But trust me, we're not telling the truth when we
say that.  We're attempting normalcy, we're trying
to blend in.

The truth is that our eyes and brains, and at best our
hands are at work full time.  As long as we're awake,
and even when we're sound asleep we are like full
time movie cameras recording measuring, trying to
hold onto and remember all that we see.  For the
most part we don't need to drink, or do any mind
altering drugs, because our minds are always on
high.  That's why we get so tired, and have to lie
down -- and then there are dreams!

I say we're lucky.  But if you ask an artist what's
happening, and hear a pat answer meant to
escape the spotlight, just say "oh" and move on,
maybe it's best if we all pretend artists aren't
different.  But here's another thing -- every single
one of us is an artist in one way or another.  Like
the guard at the art gallery yesterday who told me
she wasn't an artist.  When I asked her what kind
of artistic thing she did, she said embroidery, and
then, she started talking tools, the kind of cloth,
the kind of embroidery thread she uses.  Definitely
an artist.

Have a nothing-going-on day.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Could this be my favorite day?

Reading the dessert menu
preparatory sketch
red pencil, and black marker on 
watercolour paper
9 x 12 1/8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(Looking at Colville's work
gave me the idea to do a preparatory
sketch in pencil, then the marker,
and tomorrow the paint! Alex
Colville was big on preparing.
I thought I'd try it.)

I'm big on loving life as it unfolds, and I do
enjoy most days, but how I love Saturday, especially
when like today it can just happen --  no fixed agenda,
no one needing anything, no work appointments
for me or Steven.  That is incredibly rare.  In fact
it's been three months since that happened!

So out we went, happy as clams, listening to
Christmas carols on a CD from Starbucks in the
car, and singing.  Imagine!  Well actually we sing
together a lot.  We went to the market, and
snatched up two delicious loaves of home baked
bread.  Then decided on the spur of the moment
to go to the Art Gallery of Ontario, for lunch,
and see the Alex Colville show (for the second
time for me).  I knew Steven would be moved
because Colville's landscapes are all familiar to
us, part of our second home in the Maritimes.

 Plus I ran into a former boss who I think of
as a friend, and we made friends with a fellow
as astounded by Colville's work as we were, who
turned out to have a summer home near Lunenburg,
one of our favorite places in Nova Scotia.  What
an excellent day.  I bought my roses at the flower
shop that shows my work.  Hugs all 'round, and
headed home to write to you.

Thank you to the universe, to the art world, to
the AGO, to Colville, and to you for an excellent
day.  It just happens to be the month-a-versary of
when Steven and I met, so it was appropriate to be
moved by the love story of Alex Colville and his wife --
a marriage that lasted 70 years!

Have a loving-your-dearest-loves day.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Deep thought -- the benefit of meditation

Missing you -- write again
watercolour and black marker on 
watercolour paper
9 x 12 1/8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013/2014

It was a gorgeous day today -- the kind
you want to record and keep for all time.
North of the city it's a winter wonderland,
but warm temperatures are predicted
for next week.

I wanted to post even though time was
limited, so actually made the 20 minutes
work by using a drawing I'd done a few
years back and popping a watercolour wash
over it.  I'm sure it could use longer, and
I may do more another day.

I love her pose.  She was a superb model,
but grew up and got too busy with her work.
Her thoughtful posture, and contemplation
holding a letter, made me think of meditation.

I was feeling sad today, news of a relative's
illness, and a friend's work situation.  Then
I remembered how great I felt when I was
meditating every day to support a friend in
California with a meditation challenge.  

Ten minutes later the world changed, just
from the act of breathing and listening to
a great guided mediation.  Not bad, plus
I was astounded that 10 minutes passed so
quickly.  Have a great weekend.

Have a having-a-deep-thought day.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The joy of the everyday world

 Kitchen portrait sketch
Watercolour on watercolour paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(Anothe 20 minute challenge -- not
20 minutes,  a bit more, and maybe I
should have stopped at 20)
I love New York City.  When I'm there the
sound of the taxis and sirens, and the fast pace
makes me so happy.  But reading about Alex
Colville at his show at the Art Gallery of Ontario
last night, I agreed with what he said about
artists not needing special stimulation.  The
life of a family, the objects we live with, our
pets -- are all visual treats for us.

Colville's portraits of the various pets he had throughout
his life are magnificent -- accurate and
powerful like the rest of his work.  And the
deep love he had for his wife, and their life
together is an undercurrent throughout the
extensive show.

Colville was a war artist in World War II and
I'm sure that made him appreciate the quiet

Have a revelling-in-the everyday day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Square bowls and the 20 minute challenge

Breakfast squared
watercolour on Arches watercolour paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
As a china freak since I was first fed on good
china, I do not get the square bowl, or in fact
square plates.  There is something so elegant
and natural about the circle.  But square is
in, and this hotel breakfast was served by the
most genial server.  We stayed in a lovely and
reasonable hotel in Ottawa (Canada) last summer,
 more than once. The server got to know that I
was an artist, and liked to paint breakfasts, so
she made a special effort to deliver a pretty meal.

I came upon some watercolours today done in
response to Laura of laura's watercolors's
description of doing fast painting sketches.
There was a lovely one of my son Christopher
as a younger boy, and I thought I'd give the
process a try again.  It turns out this breakfast
took a bit longer than that to cook, but I enjoyed
 the challenge of trying to get it down in watercolour
without an ink sketch first. (I did sketch the scene in
red pencil).

Tonight I went to see the Alex Colville show
at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and
found it very moving.  I have always loved
his work, and it was wonderful to see so many
pieces I marvel at in one place.  It is a glorious
show, and if you like Colville's work, you should see

Meanwhile my show with Anette Walther is on
at Studio Vogue Gallery.  Please check it out.  You
can see it from Wednesday to Saturday from 11 -
6 p.m. until November 29.

Have a loving-what-you-see day.                                                                           

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A place to speak

Market flowers rock out (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas board
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(I could not get a clear photo of this.
I'll try again tomorrow. ;-)
I'm super tired after a 17 1/2 hour day, but found this
post I wrote last summer, and liked what it had to say.  I've
spent most of my teaching life whether in art talks,
private art lessons, or teaching English or Psychology,
encouraging people to find their voices.  In this one
short life, I think that's part of the job, and the joy
in living. So here's what I was thinking:

"I've had laryngitis today -- most uncomfortable.
I confess I'm a talker.  I love conversation.  Funnily
enough in the midst of this difficulty, I had phone
calls from some pretty funny people.  There have
been sad stories too today, and in both cases, a
voice would have been useful.

It made me realize that we take our given gifts
for granted (or I do). Voice -- vocal,  visual and
written is an incredible gift.  I listened to an
audio meditation today on gratitude.  (One of
the things you can do really well with laryngitis
is listen ;-)

I now realize that I'd like to be grateful for the
knowledge that being able to speak your mind
about whatever delights, inspires, even about
what terrifies and angers you -- is a huge gift,
and not one that many people in the world

So thank you again to blog land, to this place
to speak about my work, my day, and about
art and artists.  As a younger person it was my
dream to have a column.  Today I have it, and
even if my physical voice is on strike, I still
am thrilled to be able to talk to you.

Have a loving-your-voice day."

Monday, November 17, 2014

No it's not what it is

 Sandra Martin
Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas
36 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2004
Here's the thing about art -- it defies that overblown
cliché, "it is what it is."  It isn't.  It can look
like it is what it is, but in fact it is colour, light,
design, harmony, planning and pleasure, hard
work and excitement, bundled up to make
an image, or images, that are something new.
For instance this portrait of Sandra Martin,
the Toronto writer, is not an exact photographic
replica of Sandra, but it captures the mood,
the sparkle in her eyes, her vivid intelligence.
It was painted from life.  No her hands aren't that
big, but they impressed me as I painted her,
probably because those are the hands that
capture her wonderful work for her on the computer.
They deserve to be honoured. (By the way, at the
time her hair was blue.)

"It is what it is," is a sentence that drives me
mad.  It's a perfect phrase for people giving
up on something.  Art is made by people who
don't give up, they keep on going.
Lecture finished.

I stood laughing in a light snowfall Sunday
with an artist who has so much gusto and
drive it isn't funny.  I was visiting
Kim Rempel at the  Christmas Handmade
Market at the Honsberger Estate Winery
in Jordan, Ontario.  Traffic was manic because
of the snow and the Santa Claus parade in Toronto.
So we arrived just as the event was closing, but on
time to see Kim. She was as usual, kind, buoyant and
happy to see us even at that late hour.

I am working on something, but can't show it to
you today.  For those of you living in the snow belt,
try to stay positive, and drive carefully.

If you live in southern (warm) climates.  Enjoy.
We are working hard on not being jealous.

Have an enjoying-each-day day.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Miracle -- Inspiration from a long distance friend

 Studio lemons in a glass bowl (work in progress)
Acrylic on cradled birch panel
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
After a wonderful day that culminated with meeting
my dear cousin Peter at the gallery to show him
my work, I headed home happy and exhausted
to make dinner and watched a glorious series of
TED Talks while I did.  Some I've watched before,
and enjoyed reconnecting with them, and some were
new.  All of them were geared to starting your
motor again and jumping you back to life.
Joyce Fournier adjusting my paintings
 today in the gallery

Steven is working all night, so I decided to look
up my friend Janet Vanderhoof's work.  Watching
a video of Janet working made me want to paint.
And there's the miracle.  I started this painting of
lemons a few days ago, and have had zero time to
paint.  Janet got me back in the studio, and although
it's not finished, I feel happy about the painting so far.
More than that -- painters gotta paint -- so the act of
painting made me joyous.  Thank you Janet. And
thank you Joyce, for being a gracious gallery director,
and thanks to everyone (and there are quite a few of
you) who made this a great day!
More work in the Studio Vogue show, on now
and until November 29, from 11a.m. - 6 p.m.
Wednesday - Saturday.
Have a witnessing-the-miracle day.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A great opening, and non-stop events! Whew!

 Before Thursday night's opening 
at Studio Vogue with
Summer clouds Wallace Bridge 
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

Thursday night rocked.  I was so touched by all the
people who came out in the rain to see my work.
Thank you to everyone.  It was great fun.

Our family is on a string of birthdays, that stretches
until mid-December now, and then of course there
is Christmas, and New Years.  The year is galloping.
So after the gallery opening we skipped out for dinner
to celebrate my son's birthday the next day, because
he was going to be out of town.  Then it was my husband's
birthday Saturday, and we celebrated Sunday too.  Two
sets of birthday songs, cake, ice cream, laughing, presents.
Next weekend we officially celebrate my son because he
was away, and hasn't had his gifts.  Whew!

And I'm behind on my blog.  So forgive me.  I love your
comments and will post more pictures soon.  This one's for
Flora Doehler, who wanted to see the scale of my painting.

Have a celebrating-everything day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The show's the thing

 Wonder Water Image #1, #2 and #4
Acrylic on canvas
90 inches x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(There are now 7 paintings in the Ocean series
these paintings are part of. Some day my plan
is to run them right around a gallery.  But as it
is they look pretty amazing with three).
Today's the big day.  I will be at Studio Vogue Gallery
from 6 - 8:45 p.m.  The invite says 6-8, but we can
stretch it if you're late getting home from work.
I'd love to see you.  Anette Walter's work is beautiful,
and I am very happy with my part of the show. 
It looks wonderful in the gallery.  Joyce Fournier
and her husband Paul, put on a lovely opening.  I am
so looking forward to seeing you there.  It
should be fun.

Have a coming-to-an-art-show day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The sky's the limit -- falling in love

 Clouds dancing over Toney Bay
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Today I took this final painting in to Studio Vogue Gallery
for my show that opens this Thursday.  If you're in town
please come out to the opening from 6 - 8 p.m. The
work looks amazing.

The question about these landscapes is, what made
me paint them? An artist friend who loves painting clouds says
that I just never noticed clouds before.  But the truth is
I noticed them more as a backdrop to the foreground, as
the beauty behind the faces I love, as settings.  Still the
landscapes crept into my ocean series portraits, and
because the series is about oceans -- the scenes in my second home
in Nova Scotia started to fill my brain, and my camera and
demanded to be on the canvas. So they are big time.
These images have long been emblazoned in my memory
and heart, and I check them off one by one each
time we return to our schoolhouse.

Here's the final 40 x 40 inch offering set in a beautiful
spot near the Sandpiper restaurant in Pugwash, N.S.   The
restaurant is named after the birds -- the sandpipers that
flock to this part of the Toney Bay looking for food.

 Have a recording-your-heart's-dream day.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The whole thing -- and have to sleep!

 Summer clouds Wallace Bridge (detail)
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Oh painter friends.  Sleep is apparently very
important, and I am craving it now.  I feel
like I have been painting solidly for days.
And maybe I have. It's been a great pleasure.
I am painting the land and water and sky
I love in Nova Scotia, and dream about all

I first started loving clouds (in the sky I've
always loved them in your paintings) when
a friend in Tucson started sending them
to cheer me up.  Which is funny of course
because she has no control over our weather --
but it became a story between us.

I thank Melinda, and Lynn for talking me through
this baby.  It was a major helps to distract
myself with their delightful conversation and
get this baby done.

Thank you to all my friends for your inspiration
and support.  It's bed time.

Have a getting-some-sleep day.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dirty hands -- the painter's way

 Summer clouds Wallace Bridge (detail)
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
It's hard to be a painter and a cleanomaniac.  Maybe
the two are diametrically opposed.  My hands are
definitely dirty tonight -- covered in paint, but as I painted
like a fiend all day today I could hear the common
myths about artists running through some quarter of
my mind, and I'd chuckle to myself thinking about them.

1.  We're disorganized
      Myth -- we need to be very organized just to
      paint one painting.  We need to plan the image,
      get the colours mixed, buy the canvas, do
      the underpainting -- and perhaps that is in different
      parts of the painting.

2.   We're emotionally stormy and deranged.
       Myth -- I'm not completely discounting this, but please!
       It's hard to concentrate for hours on end, dedicate ourselves
       to the task, keep the non-artist people in our lives
       happy if we're having hissy fits.  We can't.  Plus
       making art is supposed to be very, very good for
       the brain and the emotions. Calming.

3.  We are selfish.
      Myth -- Not true, I've talked to more than one artist
      in the past few days who was getting
      work ready to donate to a cause.  This is great
      for the cause, but for an artist dependent on selling
      that work to make a living not so lovely -- in Canada
      Statistics Canada says that on average a woman artist
      working full time makes $8,000 dollars, and on average
      a male artist working full time earns $9,000 per year. 
      Which means that donation is the height of generosity.

I'll stop at three.  The artists I know are happy, kind, have
well rounded lives, families, and frequently two or three
other jobs just to support their art careers.  Of course that's
an anecdotal sample, but I feel blessed to know each one.

Have an-enjoying-getting-your-hands-dirty-making-art day.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Glorious abundance

 Summer clouds Wallace Bridge (detail)
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(This is just a tiny part of the painting.
The photo was taken with my phone,
and it is blurry I realize.  More to come
tomorrow ;-) 

Louise Hay has an affirmation that I always love,
"abundance is my natural state."  Those words have
inspired me to really look around whenever my
positive mind goes off the rails, even for a minute.
And boy does it make you notice the plenty in your
life -- from the lovely seagulls flying over my head
in the parking lot the other day, whooping it up
in the wind, to the white Japanese nasturtiums in the garden
still lovely in our current freezing cold, to my friend
in Tucson saying she was experiencing a, "meteor
shower of miracles."  And so am I.

My family gave me a lovely party, and so many
wonderful gifts yesterday on my birthday.  I took
most of the paintings for my show opening this
coming Thursday, November 6,  to the gallery
this afternoon, and what a pleasure it was to see
my gallery owners, and the work starting to be in
place. A complete treat.

And of course the most important gift is love --
love from friends, family, coworkers and the
artworld.  And love of life, the joy of just being
in the present moment.  On this Saturday night
I'm not at a party, but starting a big painting while
my husband sleeps, because he has to work at
midnight.  The cats are snuggled on the comforter
with him (it is winter cold), and the dog lies on a quilt on
the floor.  We will have social Saturday nights soon,
but this one is quiet and peaceful offering
more time for art.

Have an enjoying-your-abundance day

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sky struck -- things is looking up!

 Clouds over the bay
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I meant to post my Wonder Water Image series
tonight, but realized there are one or two small
changes I want to make before I do.  So here
instead is a large landscape I'm working on,
and it is very close to finished.  You may remember
the smaller painting I did that sent me off in
this direction.

But the real inspiration was the sky this summer
-- always full of glorious clouds, that begged
a painter of people like me to say -- "Huh!
will you look at that!"  And I've been looking up
ever since.  I am pretty happy with this one.  At
40 x 40 inches -- the scale is strong enough to
almost evoke the same feeling I had standing at the
shore and seeing this.  Total awe.  The real thing.

Have a feeling-total-awe day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Opening at Studio Vogue November 6

 Shown above on the invitation
Wonder Water Image #2
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I do not know the title of
Anette Walther's lovely painting.
Hi Everyone,
Please come out to the opening of Time Passages
on November 6 from 6 - 8 p.m. at Studio Vogue Gallery
in Toronto, at 216 Avenue Road across from the Hare
Krishna Temple.  If you're in the Toronto
area, I would love to see you and meet those of you,
who follow my work, but haven't been to a show yet.

I will be exhibiting the Wonder Water Images series
(part of the ocean series) and a variety of work.
 I know it will be a great evening and it will make it even
more special if you are part of it. 

Have a-marking-November 6-in-your-calendar day.

Monday, October 20, 2014

One wonderful woman -- and down the home stretch

 Untitled (work perhaps still in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(The photo is from my phone.  I will take a proper
"photograph" tomorrow.)
Hi dear friends, it's been awhile I know.  Here
is one of the paintings I've been working on
for quite some time.  The subject is the wonderful
Lilou Mace who gave me permission to paint
her as part of my ocean series -- Wonder Water

Lilou Mace is determined to make the world
a better place by conducting television interviews
with people around the world working on
helping people live positive lives through
the power of the mind, the body, the spirit, and
through dynamic connections between positive
people who she calls "co-creators" around
the world.

She has done more than 2,000 video interviews.
I will tell you more tomorrow.  For tonight I
know I can rest easy because my portrait of
Lilou is if not completely finished "as near
as makes no never mind," as my mother used to

I became a big fan of Lilou's when I started
meditating and loved her meditation that
allowed the listener to meet a guide.  She has
a beautiful voice and everytime I listened to
this meditation I got not one guide, but usually
a group of guides.  You can read about one of those
experiences based on her meditation on my blog.
I was not listening to Lilou in this story, but
followed a memory of her voice in my head and
it was a great meditation.

I may say more about this painting tomorrow.
I am more than delighted that it is (almost) complete.

Thank you Lilou, and thank you Mariette
Chatain who works with Lilou, for all of
your wonderful help with this project.

Have a living-with-passion-and-finishing-the-work-of
your-heart's-delight day.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My good man and a long day

Outside then please
Acrylic and marker 
on bond paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Okay I sketched again today, after a 17and1/2 hour
working day out of the house. I came home
to a husband who had set the table and made
a delicious dinner and waited until 10:15 p.m.
to eat with me -- knowing that my day today
began at 5:30 a.m.  It was a great day.

Highlights?  A fellow teacher telling me
he was 110% feeling great, and me responding,
150%.  I love positive people -- they transform
the day.

A fast five minute meditation by Lilou Mace 
that energized me for the evening's work.

A quick visit from my son and his girlfriend --
so sweet and funny.

And meeting and talking to wonderful people
all day.

So I decided to draw on another piece of
palette paper over a mix of blue paint again.
This is my good man, persuaded by
my cat Timbah to go outside and sit with him
enjoying the day.  It is based on a photo taken
a few minutes after the inside one I drew
yesterday with Timbah crawling on Steven's
shoulder while Steven was working.

Have a noticing-your-joy day.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sketching and the 3Rs

Timbah wants up
Acrylic and black marker on
bond paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I'm working on a portrait that is very slowly
coming together.  Wait!  I keep saying to myself.
Don't worry.  But meanwhile what do I put on
my blog?  Many of my blog friends do challenges.
This seems to be productive.  I volunteered for
a challenge to meditate every day, and am still
going four months after that began.  So tonight
I mused about challenging myself to draw every
day.  I can't make that binding because I am really
busy right now -- but I thought tonight I'd draw on
a piece of paper I'd used as a palette, and let the
awesome blue that was trying out to be a sky set
the tone.

The 3Rs?  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  So I reduced my
challenge  (just tonight for sure ;-) I reused a piece of
paper used as a palette.  And I will eventually recycle
that too.  How about you?  What challenges can you
accept, and which ones do you have to refuse?

Have a loving-the-challenges-you-accept day.
P.S.  Timbah loves my husband Steven's shoulders.
He's a big cat, and one rear leg is a bit weak.
In this picture Steven is both helping Timbah onto
his shoulder and holding him there. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Up to my elbows in peaches, and a peach of an art show

 Peach party
12 x 12 inches
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2008
I am still working on the larger work that is taking
time, but I miss blogging so much that I've decided
to use the "throw back Thursday" idea and put up
a work from 2008 which is one of my favorites.

Steven and I are a bit like the squirrels tearing apart
my window box planter (already struggling with the
cold) to hide a few choice nuts and seeds.  In our
case we headed out last weekend looking
for peaches to freeze (me), and can (him).
We went to a great little market on Keele Street north
of York University on Saturday.  The owner farms
35 acres right in the middle of Toronto.  There we
were careful -- just two baskets of gorgeous

Was that enough?  Oh no.  Here we are both working
crazy hard, and we meet a super farmer named Mike
in Vineland, and bring home 6 more quarts!  By
tonight, even though the weather is cool, the time
for slow action is over, and I've just spent an hour
cutting and freezing and bagging my peach friends
in immediate need of attention.
Wonder is infinite
watercolour on watercolour paper
with a superimposed watercolour paper grid
8 x 10 inches (framed)
Courtney Lee © 2014
My dear friend Courtney Lee is part of
No Vacancy Cirque at Village Square in Burlington,
Ontario Canada tomorrow (Friday).  The show runs
from 7 - 12 on September 19 only and sounds incredibly
 cool.  If you're in the area check Courtney's amazing
watercolour and paper abstracts!  It will be a peach of a show!
Courtney Lee
Have a visiting friends' art shows day.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thinking about my father and 9/11

Stopping for clouds along the highway
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Today is the anniversary of my father's death,
a day that sticks in my heart year after year.
He died years before 9/11, so the day is
doubly resonant because of all it means.
I remember the day so clearly because my
father managed to say goodbye to all of
us the evening before he died, holding my
hand and calling me "beautiful."
This as he gasped for air under his oxygen
mask.  He was dying of lung cancer --
probably the direct result of being exposed
to radiation in the navy. His bravery inspired
me, and his determination to be strong was
a gift to all of us. 

Thinking about him today I wish he could
see how my life has turned out, how
art is at the center of my days, how his two
grandsons have grown into wonderful,
loving young men, both exhibiting his way
with words, and his artistic leanings.

As for 9/11, I never go to New York
that I don't think of it, of the courage
of that city, and of how valiantly it
has recovered its vitality and moved on.
Speaking of art, creativity and theater,
New York is really where it's at.  How I would
have loved to have gone there with my

The painting tonight is another cloud scene
from Nova Scotia.  Looking at the reference
photos I have, I keep thinking I don't know how
Nova Scotians ever get anything done
when the skies are so achingly beautiful every day
that all I wanted to do was stare.

Have a loving-the-clouds-in-your-life day.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The lessons of older work -- and wonderful friends

 For the lily
Pen and ink and coloured pencil
on art paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir ©
We put our crazy dog in the car today and
headed out to Hamilton.  It was a gorgeous day
and we walked along the waterfront with our
friends Marcia and David.
View of the waterfront in Hamilton
Back at their lovely, spacious house I noticed
a drawing by the front door, and realized it
was mine from long ago.  Woo Hoo I thought.
I sure could draw!  I was a big fan of a number
of botanical artists, and for a while when my
oldest was a baby made my money from
this work -- pen and ink drawings coloured
in coloured pencil.  Looking at this I was
astonished at the detail, pleased even, but
glad that I have moved on from that.
I still like precision, and I am happy with the
movement in this drawing, but it made me
crave a big brush and a big canvas.

Ciment fondu sculpture
Marcia Labelle ©
I asked Marcia if I could include one of her
pieces in my blog.  She pointed to this
superb sculpture of her husband David.
She probably did this at about the same
time as I did the drawing.  It shows off
both her incredible skill as a sculptor,
and the love she felt for David, then and now.
You can check out more of her work here.

Have a learning-from-your-old-work day. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Blue paint on my foot -- and loving "my" beach

 Tide coming in by the farm
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I had to dress up yesterday in a dress and stockings
to go and teach a class.  And that's when I noticed
dark blue paint in a splashy stripe on my foot.
Not a big deal in the current environment.  Everyone
has body paint and tattoos.  But a happy symbol
to me of being back in my Toronto studio where
space is tight and my concentration so intense when
I paint that I forgot a brush fell on my foot.

Tonight's painting is another view of the beach
and coastline, where I have spent part of my summers
for 20 years.  This landscape is part of my psyche.
It belongs to me.  In the words of one of the
characters in the Joshilyn Jackson novels we
listened to full time in the car out east. "Mine!"  She
even writes about a baby who wants the ocean in
A Grown Up Kind of Pretty.

On one of my old Louise Hay audiobooks,
(I don't know which one), she talked about
enjoying other people's good fortune, beautiful
houses, every kind of luxury, and she said,
"we never really own anything, it is only on
loan to us."  I loved that idea, because of course
it's true.

You are not allowed to claim the beach in
 front of your cottage as private in Nova
Scotia where we walk on the beach.
My school house is a 25 minute car ride
from the beach. I don't own that beach,
but my eyes, heart, memory and spirit own
 it inside out.
Market flowers, and peaches.
Starting to prep for the long winter.
I miss it but love Toronto too.  We went to the
market today, and came home laden with
peaches and flowers.  I thought of my friend
Flora, in Bear River, who grows a huge garden,
cans and freezes endless amounts of veggies and
fruits and paints giant, gorgeous paintings.  My
admiration for all that energy knows no bounds.

Have a loving-the-places-you-own day.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Homesick and a friend's gift

 Clouds over the bay
Acrylic on archival canvas board
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Our first week back in Toronto is always
a rough one.  It's hard not to miss the Maritimes,
and even the drive from Pugwash to Toronto
through Fredericton, Quebec City and Montreal.
Canada you are beautiful, and if you've never
been here, this is a drive that will dazzle you.

A few months ago a friend I met through
FaceBook asked for someone to write her
each day saying that they had meditated.
I agreed without thinking -- my motive
being to "help out with a project."  Ha!
I committed to 5 minutes a day, for one
month.  We reported faithfully to one
another daily for 3 months.  The result is
that I am doing guided meditations from the
Internet for between 15 and 25 minutes a

The formal reporting is over, but during the
process I have gained a wonderful friendship,
and a habit that is changing my life.

Here's the list of benefits of meditating I
sent to her.

1.  I can now relax with greater ease, much more
 quickly than I could before.

2.  I've always believed in the power of the
mind, but I've been blown away by the power
of the breath to calm the body and the mind.

3. I care about being positive, but meditation has
helped me tap into the well of positive
thought I have inside me, and to stay in the positive,
even when circumstances or people are hard.

4.  I've learned the importance of daily dedication
 to my own peace of mind.

5. I've re-affirmed the importance of a concerned
 and encouraging friend when starting a new activity.
My friend's interest, suggestions, and dedication,
and strength of purpose have meant the world to me.

6. I've been so impressed with how a small amount
 of time -- anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes can
 change the tenor of a day, increase my energy.

7. I've connected with the infinite possibilities available,
when I do want to meditate.  Understanding that I could
never explore all of the wonderful guided meditations,
audio meditations and meditation scripts available through
 the internet has given me a clear and impressive
example of the bounty of the universe.

8. Words have always mattered to me.  I have
written guided visualization scripts, and shared
them with groups of people,  but I am hyperconscious
of the destructive nature of negative words right now.
That doesn't mean I don't think and speak negatively,
it means that I instantly recognize that I want to stop
when I do now.  Plus I can move away from other
people's negative words more easily now -- just
deciding that that's their issue, not mine.

9. I am lighter in spirit, even more connected to
the beauty of the planet, than ever before.

10. I have always been a happy person, but I am
 easily 1,000 times happier than ever before.

So thank you so much.

Maybe your life is idyllic and you don't need
meditation.  But I think it's good for artists to be
able to unwind. Our job involves the potential
for over the moon excitement, coupled with
stage fright and anxiety.  I am endlessly
grateful to my friend for inspiring me to take
this on, and make it part of my day.

Have a thanking-a-friend-day.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Visiting Bear River and Annapolis Royal -- plus Give Out Love

 With Flora Doehler in her studio in Bear River
This has been a meaningful year for me.  My
mother's death last October seems to have
taught me so much.  One thing I realized is
that the whole of life is very short, and
altogether there is not a lot of time to give
out love.  This idea lodged in my brain and
my heart, and I know in some ways it has
always been part of my belief system.

We were in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia,
on the weekend.  This way of living -- being kind,
thoughtful and caring about other people -- seems
 integral to how Nova Scotians live.
Flora with one of her favorite paintings
not named yet.  It is 36 x 48 inches.
Our friends Flora Doehler and Larry Knox
have a place in Bear River, not far from
Annapolis Royal, and when we
are in Nova Scotia we make a point of
visiting them, and seeing the work they're
doing in their studio.  Kindness could be
the Doehler/Knox's middle name, and
Saturday we were treated to a studio tour,
a superb lunch, and delicious dinner.  Plus
they are funny, and fun and we had a
great time.
Larry Knox with some of his jewelry.
Larry and Flora share the studio on their
land in Bear River.
Artists are extremely lucky it seems to me,
because they work in response to strong
emotion.  What gives them pleasure goes
from the landscape, still life, or people
right onto the canvas, or paper, or sculpture
or film. Flora's canvasses and Larry's jewelry
express a love of life that is infectious.
Giving out love is a big part of what they

Have a giving-out-love day.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Watch out for fruit in the studio!

 Studio cherries
Acrylic on cradled birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Fruit in the studio can seem like a good
idea.  You want a snack, you want to be
healthy.  You've been working on this
large, important painting for some time.
Fair enough.

But be wary.  To an artist fruit is one of
the most attractive subjects possible.  It
is dazzling, seems so perfect, simple -- why
not paint it?  And there you are -- distracted
and entranced, and before you know it you
are starting a painting, photographing the
fruit (because you do end up eating it), and
fruit has won again.  Another case of trick
the artist.

You might want to think of unattractive snacks.
I can't think of one right off the top, but give it
a try.

We are in Nova Scotia, in the large school house
studio.  I wish you could see the views we see
every day, just driving around.  Speaking of
distractions, Nova Scotia offers nothing but.
The people are lovely and kind, and funny.
The views are breathtaking, and the food
Clouds over farmland
Near Pugwash, Nova Scotia
Barbara Muir © 2014

Have a watching-out-for-and-then-eating-fruit day.

Friday, August 15, 2014

On the road and still painting

 Summer welcome bouquet
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

We're in the Nova Scotia studio now, and have
been under the weather literally and figuratively
for a week.  It's a thousand mile journey, and
not only did it rain the whole way, but Steven
and I were also sick with a horrific cold and
cough.  We had two doctors visit the house
a few days apart before we left to make sure
we were good to go, although we felt like
pure garbage (you know the organic kind).
Essentially both doctors said, "Merp," or
"Meh" -- meaning not impressive illness
and sure we could travel.

So here we are.  A little worse for wear, but
valiant.  Nothing that two weeks of solid
sleep wouldn't cure.  Instead I worked on this
little painting today.  My dear friend Paula
up the road left a beautiful bouquet from
her garden as a welcome. Arriving late at
night in the dark after a long day in the car,
tired to the bone, seeing these pretty
flowers on the table cheered me up so much.
Paula is one of the kindest and most
thoughtful people I know.

Have a thanking-the-people-who-care
-about-you day

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Skylight Diner -- and the last strawberry

 Breakfast at the Skylight Diner, NYC
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
In May this year in New York City I had a
romantic breakfast with my husband at
The Skylight Diner.  We might have spent
an hour in the restaurant, eating this fabulous
meal, drinking cups of coffee planning the day.
Which is where painting captures the real zen
of time.  Because it has taken me the better part
of a month to paint that moment.

I've been thinking about why, and I think it
has to do with love.  I usually paint people,
but when I paint still life or landscapes,
you can bet people made that vision stay
bound in my heart and brain, and determined
to hold it.  And that was a day when I loved
my husband, the meal, New York City, exhibiting
there, and our long taxi ride from the diner to
The Cloisters.

I am sure I've painted strawberries before.
I don't care if you've seen 100 movies
about art and obsession -- you
don't get it, until you sit down in front
of a painting that is maybe an hour away
from done, and you must finish.

Now that's when the creative spirit needs
to call on determination and grit to come
to the studio party.  Can I go for a break?
Yes!  On the clock -- five minutes, maybe
ten and then you get back in here.  That's
willpower talking, and logic. 

These strawberries decided to be center
stage, as they so often are, and that required
focus.  They aren't the whole story, but they
are delicious.  On the spring morning in New
York City when I ate them I was as happy as
can be.  Now hold onto that feeling -- ahhh.
That's it.  Here's your picture -- strawberries
and all.

Have a finishing-the-berries-on-your-plate day.
P.S.  I may change something minor tomorrow,
but I could not go to bed without sharing this
with you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The happy place of art

 Miriam's parents
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30
Barbara Muir © 2005
(To see a clearer version of this --
I took it with my phone --
click here.)
Today I had coffee with some friends in my
neighbourhood.  We are for the most part
the mothers (and some fathers) of children who
long ago were in a school called Cherrywood.
That school was an alternative school in the
school across the street from my house.

I love getting together with these people I've
known since my oldest was in kindergarten.
As Christopher (my older son) is happily
married now and making a living as
a cinematographer, that's quite a while.  We share each
others joys and sorrows, and help and encourage
one another.  Pretty wonderful.  Plus many people
in the community come to my shows and own my

So it was a great pleasure to see my painting of
my friend's parents on the wall, and to be pleased
with the tender love that it expresses.
Roberta and Miriam's garden
Outside the garden was spectacular, especially happy
with our cold winter and very temperate summer (not
at all like Toronto which is normally roasting at this
time of year.) A happy, happy morning.

Have a loving-your-friends 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!