Monday, March 31, 2014

Fast Answers versus slow reflection

 Untitled (Probably going to be Water Image #4
Work in Progress
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Sometimes a painting requires a kind of back
and forth, working, escaping, looking, thinking,
sleeping on it -- process that a high demand instant
 production schedule won't permit.  'Stand back!'
they say in art class.  And they are right.

So with this painting -- part of my water series --
Water Image #4 (the name may change -- I need time.
 I'm standing back-- trying to get the answers.

On the surface you could say -- what's the deal?  It's
a face.  But to a portrait painter -- that is the deal.  There
on the canvas for all to see, is the face of someone who
has caught the painter's attention.  For me that translates
into a desire to really convey who I am painting -- to
get it right.  It isn't about perfection in look so much,
as capturing the feeling.  Faces are what we love, and
loving them well in paint is the job.

The answers don't come together like a daily horoscope
-- "Oh that's the kind of day it's going to be."  But
forgive us for looking for signs.

Here's where I am with this one.  I am enjoying the process.
I admire this wonderful woman -- a novelist -- very
much indeed. And I will be content when she is
100% there for me on the canvas.  She is coming
along.  Almost there.

Have an honouring-your-subjects day.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Modern day nobility

 Alessandro (art group sketch)
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 20
Barbara Muir © 2014
With just over an hour to capture a likeness,
I was delighted when I walked into my art
group tonight to see this model.  Dressed
in a sweatshirt and wool hat (a toque in Canada),
pulled down over long hair curling around
his shoulders, he had the air of a Renaissance,
Florentine prince.

How wonderful!  I started painting making an
outline in white (just for a change) and although
I could work on it a bit more now, I am happy with
how quickly it came together.

As it turned out Alessandro has trained in media
studies, and so he will end up being modern
day nobility -- the people who know how to
make the images we so desire in our everyday,
techie world.  On top of that Alessandro was
a wonderful person, with a warm personality,
and everyone in the art group enjoyed talking
to him.

Have an enjoying-who-you're-painting day.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Blitz and bliss

 Water Image (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
It's very late and I must go to bed.  I am working
on a blitz/bliss plan at the moment.  I have so much
to do that I dream in lists, listing what has to get
done, or what is worrying me, and then brilliantly
coming up with solutions, all in my dreams.  I
wake up in the morning with the dream messages
still crystal clear in my mind (something
I've rarely experienced in my life.)

This morning it was this blitz/bliss message.  The
idea was to blitz (work hard on) one type of work,
 switch to another, then pick a part of my life
that is pure bliss, and spend time on that, then start
all over again.

Brilliant I thought and have tried it out today.  My
bliss today was in five minute snatches of reading
my novel, and in having dinner with my husband and

So this painting in progress is part of the blitz.
I'm back to my ocean series and this is the first
of this set.  It is a work in progress, not very far along.
 Water Image work in progress
(Where it started today)
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2014
Expect changes in tomorrow's blitz.

Have a getting things done day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Down to basics -- the gray scale.

Marker and watercolour on watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I'm working on the idea for a series now.  At the
thinking stage I dream about what I want to be
doing, and that lead me back to my ocean
series and my dream of one day having a whole
room filled with those paintings. 

When I don't have time to blog, I feel that something is
definitely missing in my life.  So today I was
inspired.  I thought about David Lobenberg
and all of his wonderful studies in grey scale.
(The spelling of "grey" is Canadian.)

In fact I went over to David's blog, and scanned
through past entries (which I've been reading
faithfully since I found David's work).  David is
one of the most exciting watercolour portrait
painters I know.  Always an inspiration.  His
portraits in colour are wildy charged, highly
experimental, and gorgeous.  I am a big fan. 
But David also stresses the importance of grey
 scale painting, and that's a fun change, and
an excellent warm up.

I decided to do a fast grey scale watercolour
sketch as a precursor to my next big painting.
I've also been working incredibly slowly on
a still life that is gradually coming together.

Tomorrow I hope to catch up on your blogs.

Have a planning and then doing day.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Working slowly and speaking at my art group

Untitled (Work in progress),  Stages 3, 4 and 5
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches (3 x 4 feet)
Barbara Muir © 2014

On Friday, February 28, I spoke at the Don Valley
Art Club about getting back to work after a serious
loss.  The theme combined my writing as a guest
blogger on Alyson Stanfield's Art Biz Blog with my
belief that one of the great motivators for making
art is a feeling of joy or happiness.  During the
evening I spoke about how hard it is to get that
feeling back after one of life's hard knocks, but
how it is vital to try. Thank you to everyone who
came out and who shared their moving stories
with me.  It was a deeply rewarding and meaningful
evening for me.

As well as fighting a terrific cold I am slowly working on a
new big painting -- an enormous change from the small
wood panels I've been painting so far this winter.

The model was a gift as I explained in my last post.
And as I keep painting more and more ideas come in.
The temptation of course is to put everything in.  But so
far it's just the mother, the baby, a grove of peach trees
and a hill or mountain up behind her.

At this point I think she's in Italy, maybe Tuscany,
because I'd love to be there, but we'll see, although
that's given me another idea. (Aha! moment).

Normally I work in a fairly ordered way, but this
time I'm using the "I'd like to" method.
That means that when I come into my studio hot
lemon drink in hand and look at the painting, I allow
myself to work on whatever appeals to me at the time.
This way it will get finished, but I won't feel

It is still in the deep development stage, and I am
happy so far.

Have an enjoying-what-you're-working on day.
Thanks to everyone at the Don Valley Art Club
last Friday.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Starting a big one -- the kindness of strangers

 Untitled (Work in Progress) Stages 1 and 2
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I am excited about beginning a large work -- one of
three that I'll be showing together later this spring.
The model for this painting was a woman I met at
the Art Gallery of Ontario on Tuesday.  I spent
a wonderful couple of hours there looking at the
Canadian art I love and going througn The Great
Upheaval exhibit.

The day felt like a gift, and one of the reasons was
this lovely woman holding a beautiful new baby.
I have a soft spot for the look of a new mother
and baby, and this woman radiated that sweet
new love mothers have for their babies.

I had to ask her if I could take her picture.  All
I had was my phone, and when she agreed I
snapped off a few shots and gave her my card.
The baby's name is Daphne -- a lovely name.
And so this painting begins.  The woman who
is delicate and petite in real life is much larger
here on this 3 x 4 foot canvas.

This is a very early stage, so a lot could change.
But thank you Daphne and Daphne's mother.
I love the blanket with the stars, which I'm
sure will tie in with one of the other paintings
in the triptych.

Have an enjoying-the-kindness-of-strangers 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!