Saturday, May 31, 2014

A merry moving day

 At La Rosa
Acrylic on mounted birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
My older son moved into a new apartment today,
and asked for sandwiches for the move from
La Rosa in Kensington Market.  I hadn't been
there for a few months, and started this
little portrait of Lisa the last time I visited.

She wasn't there today, but we saw Armando
who bought his portrait in the winter,
and he is going to tell his friend that
her portrait is done.

Tonight we went to a very cheery dinner
party and discussed and argued about
everything from politics to religions to
men and woman -- to you name it, and
laughed as we ate a glorious meal.
Superb.  It was so heartwarming to see
friends we hadn't seen for a while.  The best.

So here's the finished product.

Have a seeing-things-through day.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Season of love

 Can this be love? (work in progress)
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Valentine's Day aside, spring is the season
of love.  New relationships appear like
crocuses and tulips in public gardens,
with all that entails.  Wedding season is
upon us.  Love rules the day. 

It is my wish for all the young couples
that they have happy relationships, and
if they marry -- happy marriages.  I also
wish that every couple who wants to be in
a love relationship or marriage, has the
right to do so, and to pick the partner
they want.

Tonight's little painting, a work in
progress is of a couple selfie -- the first
document in the diary of a happy union.

I hope to finish it tomorrow.  In the
meantime may love fill your world
in one way or another, and may it
make you smile -- at each other,
and for the camera!

Have a living-a-loving-life day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


That pansy thing (work in progress)
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

Do you have zero emails in your inbox? Neither
do I.  But Alyson Stanfield who writes the Art
Biz blog is that organized.

For artists deleting is huge.  It's major in a
painting, it's huge when selecting references.
Emotionally deleting is about letting go
of self criticism, and of the criticism other
people say or transmit about your art.

Right now because spring has hit our
part of the world, I am in a major delete
mode, trying to clear clutter out of
my house, files, ....and yes the inbox.

Do you throw out paintings? I tend to
paint over the practice ones endlessly,
but I have never actually thrown out
a painting on canvas.  Still I'm intrigued.

I did go through some of my sketchbooks
this week and eliminate every drawing, or
sketch I didn't like.  Those went into
the recycle bin.  My goal was to make my
sketchbooks thinner on the bookshelf, but
also to only save work I'm proud of.

File, recycle, reuse, -- move it.  This
is the theme this week, and as a good
friend of mine knows, this mood is rare,
and must be harnessed when it's ready
to race.  

The painting tonight is a work in progress
of a small still life with the gazillions of
pansies in pots around my house.  They
beg to be deadheaded (flower deleting),
and painted.  Essential.

Have a clearing-the-path-for-the-new day.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

This joyous life!

 My good friend (work in progress)
Watercolour and marker on watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(Fiona, my cat, is a Tortie point Siamese
cat -- which means her markings are mottled
like tortoiseshell.)
Admittedly I am a positive person.
I love the song, "I get knocked down, but I get 
up again", and the song Happy.  They say it
all.  But hard times, sadness, other people's
woes can get to me.  That's why I love to
notice when life is great.

Yesterday Steven and I were going to go to a
 big Antique show, but there were 20 things
 to do in the day, and not enough time for the
drive.  So we went garage sailing (saleing)
and picked up a few lovely things (including a
 bird bath that leaks!).

But here's the awesome part.  We'd been meaning
to drive way out of town to try and buy an antique
 dresser to replace the one my son took with him
when he moved out.  And right by the side of the
street in our neighbourhood, someone cleaning
house had put a perfectly fine dresser out.  (People
in my neighbourhood put objects and furniture they
no longer want at the edge of the sidewalk).  We
stopped the car, inspected it, saw that it was good,
and then another lovely thing happened.  A couple
down the street  watering their pretty garden,
offered to help get the dresser into the car!  We
 had a great chat with them, and they were happy
 to meet their neighbours (although we live two
 streets over).

Toronto is at its finest right now, crab apple trees
gorgeous pink, yellow forsythia, tulips, bounty
and beauty everywhere.

Last night we listened to Shawn Achor's Google
talk on his book Before Happiness while we ate supper.
 And that is a shot in the arm for happy thought.  Plus
I think perhaps the engine for our glorious day was the
 super guided meditations I've been doing at the prompting
of an inspiring friend online.

Thank you universe for your bounty, and
thank you everyone of you who inspire me
in so many ways.

Have an enjoying-this-great-day day.
P.S. A super surprise looking up the
"I get knocked down song" on YouTube was seeing my son
Christopher Muir's ad for Canadian Dairy
farmers before the video -- he shot and
directed the ad.  Yay! Christopher.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The power of small

Three cheers for pansies
Acrylic on birch panel
4 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I bought a couple of small birch panels.  I love
painting on wood.  If you paint on canvas or paper
it's hard to describe the difference.  Wood does not
absorb paint like canvas, and yet it also does absorb
and direct the paint.

Since coming back from New York City where my
work is in a group show until the end of the month
I've been thinking a lot about large work, and know
I'm getting ready to do some really big pieces.
But for now I've reminded myself that as artists we
find beauty in a single flower bloom, an orange on
a blue plate, a special stone on the beach.  In that
way we remain childlike -- and I'd like to think
that's a strength.

Have an enjoying the beauty all around you day.
Speaking of wonders -- this gem on the theme
of pansies is part of a new wonderful website
of the Met collection online.  You could get
lost there on a rainy day -- no airfare involved.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My line of work

 The waiting room # 1
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

I spent the morning today in a hospital waiting
room with a family member.  Luckily I brought
my iPad along.  And though I usually like the
drawing app because it's a good way to produce
colour on the run, I thought I'd draw with black
line instead.  I've never used just black before
and loved how it felt.
 The waiting room # 2
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I draw with my finger, (I don't want a stylus, or
to draw this way most of the time) and I like
the way that distorts or alters the drawing.  The great
thing about drawing on one is that no one suspects
you are drawing.  Everyone just sees the iPad as
a game console, or YouTube viewer and that
does help.
The waiting room # 3
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
 So here they are -- quick sketches of people
in the waiting room.

And all is well.  We were out and into the
first really warm, and bright day, just before lunch.
I've started a little painting, but it isn't ready
for your eyes.

Have a taking it line by line day

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Positively pansies
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
$150.00 Canadian
payable by PayPal
contact me at the email 
address above.

There are so many painters in the blog world
whose work stops me in my tracks.  Painting
this little still life of the knock out pansies
I bought the other day I thought of many people
who inspire me -- my entire blog list and
beyond.  The daily painters, working on small
surfaces deal with the need to make big statements
without much room to turn around.  And they
do it day after day.

Thank you for teaching me so much about
colour, light, mood, delight -- all of it.  I think back
often to 10 years ago when I could not have
imagined this pleasure and feel so happy.
Then I look at your work, and I am absolutely

Have a getting caught in the 
headlights of others' work day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spring's bounty

Pansies are perfection
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(for sale $150 Canadian
shipping included)

This has been a slow starting spring in Toronto and I
don't mind.  I love the cool days, the soft green of
new leaves, and even the rain.  But for avid gardeners
the cool is unfriendly.  At the garden center the
salesman told me it was too early to plant.  Still the
bonus was that pansies were on at less than half
price, and I am a major fan.

You can expect some more paintings on this theme.
These gorgeous flowers feel so celebratory.
It is only a month since we had snow in our

If you notice that I've included a price for the work
it's because Alyson Stanfield says we should let
people know our work is for sale when it is, and add
what it costs.  Done.  Thank you Alyson.

Happy slow spring!

Have a loving-what-you-see day.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Darling baby goes home and Happy Victoria Day!

See my doggy?
Acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
SOLD ♥   
I haven't been posting much lately because
I've been working on this commission.  This
is the fifth grandchild in my collector's family
that I've painted.  I fell for her right away.

Today my client came and took the baby home.
What sweethearts -- both my client and the baby
who I met only in the many wonderful reference
photos my client sent.  

Babies are a joy to paint -- I can't help thinking
about what the future will hold for her.  She
lives in a loving family with two older brothers,
and has grandparents who dote on her. So I
wanted the painting to be filled with the feeling
of happiness that I wish is always part of her

In Canada it's Victoria Day, and we will go
and see a fireworks display to celebrate the
long gone queen's birthday.  The holiday
marks what some of us hope is the beginning of
summer.  It is a little warmer today, but still
pretty cool.

Have a joyous Victoria Day, and love 
what you're painting.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Great opening in New York at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery and Belated Happy Mother's Day!

 Baby it's you
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
Looking for paintings for Alyson Stanfield's Mother's
Day paintings on Facebook I found this older painting
which sums up the feeling of loving children for me.
Saturday we visited the Amsterdam Whitney gallery,
in Chelsea where I'm currently in a group show, and had
sherry and cookies with Ruthie Tucker the gallery
owner and her husband Ambassador Alton Louis
Amsterdam III.  That was fun.  I had come to New York
for the opening on Thursday, May 8 which was
a gala affair, with champagne, and everyone in a party
On opening night at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery
with my paintings Wonder Water Image #1, #2 and #3
I am on the left with Steven van Schaik (my sweetie) and
Ambassador Alton Louis Amsterdam III, gallery owner
Ruthie Tucker's husband.

U.S. Federal Justice Elizabeth Lamb and I talk 
at the opening party. My painting Wonder Water Image
#3 is to the right, and the work of Philip Catania can
be seen behind us.
It was raining off and on so we visited some
galleries in Chelsea then headed for central park where
we almost got soaked.  Sunday was delightfully
sunny so walked to the Skylight Diner,
had a super breakfast, then cabbed to The Cloisters, an
astonishing museum.

I was delighted to speak to the artists, Angelica
Kahl from Germany and Andrea Harris, from Chicago
whose work I loved.   Andrea and I have been
in group shows at the gallery several times, and
it's always a treat to see her.

Have a planning-to-go-to-New-York day.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Loving the city and how a painting develops

 Water Image #1, #2 and #3
at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery
in New York City
Acrylic on canvas
90 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
This has been a busy couple of days.  The opening
at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery was wonderful,
but I'm sorry to say I didn't get clear photos with my
work.  The atmosphere was delightful.  Great
paintings, super talks with other artists in the
show, and from New York, champagne,  super goodies and
Ruthie Tucker, a most warm and charming host.
Tomorrow I plan to get some more photos at
the gallery, and then I'll include some of the
cellphone shots I took at the show.

It's very late, and I hope to write a longer blog
tomorrow.  I just came across these progress
shots for the painting Wonder Water Image #1,
and I thought they might make you smile.  It's
a long way from the beginning to the finished

 Wonder Water Image #1
(drawing charcoal, starting to
block it in on the canvas)
Barbara Muir © 2014
Wonder Water Image #1
(More blocking in. Starting on highlights
and dark areas (still no teeth!))
Barbara Muir © 2014
Wonder Water Image #1
(More decisions about shapes and
highlights.  The teeth begin, and
the ocean begings to come in
 behind her.)
Barbara Muir © 2014

Water Image #1
(And here she is on the kitchen counter
just before I took her to be shipped
to New York.)

Have a realizing-that-anything-is-possible day.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


 Sketch -- coffee on Avenue of the Americas
Black marker on Moleskine paper
4 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Tomorrow is the opening of the group show I'm
taking part in at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in
New York City.  I am so impressed with artists who
easily travel and set up shows everywhere.  Just
getting out of my house felt like a huge deal.
Even though I'm frightened of flying -- lift off felt
like exactly that.  All of a sudden the worries of the
past few weeks and the long, hard winter fell away.

WestJet is an awesome airline, and the staff were
so cordial and funny.  The best experience I've had
flying in a long time.
 Water Lilies by Claude Monet
at the MoMA 

We have already visited the MoMA today -- very briefly.
The fellow on the admission desk was unimpressed that
we arrived a half hour before closing -- but hey,
we got to our hotel, a good 25 minute walk away
at 4:30, so I was impressed that we strode our
exhausted selves over there.  I said "I'm pretty
sure I could see the Monet in half an hour,"
and we ran up the escalators to the fifth floor and
saw the Monet Water Lilies paintings, which never cease to
amaze and dazzle me.  Plus I see something new
every time.  I also saw the room of Matisses, which
fills me with joy, and a Derain I have never seen,
which was huge and magnificent.
 Sketch #2 -- coffee on Avenue of the Americas
Black marker on Moleskine paper
4 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Then we walked more miles, and I sketched
very quick sketches wherever we went -- (as
in 30 seconds maybe).  I'll show you some tonight.
Had a great conversation with a fellow in the bookstore
at the MoMA, who is also a portrait artist.  I do
love this town more than I can ever say.
 Sketch #3 -- coffee on Avenue of the Americas
Black marker on Moleskine paper
4 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

The Bathers by André Derain at the MoMA
I saw the man from the front desk when I was leaving
the MoMA and thanked him, and said the Monet room
was so great. He smiled and that was that.

Have a loving-where-you-are 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!