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.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Accidents and romance

 Now that was good!
Black marker on notebook paper
6 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
The sketch today started because my iPad
wouldn't work. When I tried to get my book
(on the device) it kept going to Google.  I
followed the rules, turned it off, turned it
on.  Afraid to hope for my book again on
Overdrive I opened my photos, and this sketch
was born.

That's the accident part (cyber).  The romance?
I think that there are few things more romantic
than a room service hotel breakfast for people
in love.  You almost have to be in love to want
to linger in your room, to have a lovely meal
wheeled in on a trolley covered in a linen
tablecloth, with cloth napkins.

One of the best hotel breakfasts I've enjoyed
was in the Quebec City Hilton.  Two waiters wheeled
the cart in and fussed over the design of the cloths
on the table! They carefully lifted the hot plates out
of the cabinet, and with a flourish took off the lids
revealing meals as perfectly arranged as the china,
coffee pots and napkins.  There might even have been

Dear hotels, please don't eliminate room service --
your happy couples love it.  This rare treat -- especially
breakfast -- sets off the day.  Chances are excellent that
a morning begun with a sumptuous breakfast, continues
to be special.  Your guests will fondly remember the
occasion, and be eager to hurry back and stay
with you again.

Have an enjoying-the-feast-of-the-day day.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

For fruits' sake

For fruits' sake
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
We had a great dinner tonight with friends.
Lots of animated discussion about art. I
understood vividly that when you're making art
you think very differently about it, than
when you are a collector.

This small study of nectarines and one
lemon in a glass bowl, helped me relax
 because I am working on something so
slow and painstaking that I needed the
freedom of a small painting.

Plus I want to eat a nectarine, and made
a deal with myself.  I could eat one, when
I finished the painting.  So I did this
painting for fruits' sake.

Have a loving-the-summer day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Art legs

 In Blue
art group painting
Acrylic on canvas
20 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
There is so much going on this summer --
and we are completely off schedule -- we should
be on our way to Nova Scotia, and heavy painting,
but instead, we are here in Toronto, and thank
goodness my garden is wildly happy, filled with
brilliant coloured poppies and thriving,
because that almost makes up for not being
 where we belong.

Today I definitely got my art legs under me.
I paint most of the day -- trying to finish a
 breakfast painting I'm working on.

The pull of my art group was strong tonight
and I abandoned my still life, which was
moving along in great style to go and
paint with friends.  I'm so glad I did.  There
weren't many people there, but lots of
fun talking about exhibitions we've seen,
a great model, and I painted this sketch in
the hour I was there.

Have a being-with-wonderful-artists day.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wonderful artist friends

Kim Rempel and me with her beautiful paintings
at her booth at the Toronto Outdoor Art Expo
This weekend my friend Kim Rempel was
exhibiting at the Toronto Outdoor Art Expo
at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. Kim
is an amazing artist with an incredible
range.  She is equally at home with her
gorgeous, colourful abstracts and with
her large plein air landscapes and smaller
still life work.

I loved her abstract exhibition.  And
heard when I got home after visiting
that my blog friend, Catherine Jeffrey
was at the show too!  The exhibition
was huge, so I determined to go
back on Saturday and look for Catherine
and her lovely work.  Success, it was
so nice to meet her. 
Catherine Jeffrey in her booth at the 
Toronto Outdoor Art Expo
with one of her super paintings.

Catherine's cityscapes mostly of Toronto
downtown are magnificent, and it was
such a treat to see them in person.  Plus
Catherine is a sweetheart. It's hard to
imagine on the computer how big her
larger works are -- and they are superb.
I came home from my second visit to
the exhibition with glorious images of
Kim's lush abstracts, and Catherine's Toronto
filling my happy imagination.

Thank you my friends for all of the work
you put into bringing your art to the fans
in Toronto.

Have a going-to-see-your-friends'-art day.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

On the love side

 Can this be love? (work in progress)
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
There is still a little bit to do with this
one.  I was working on the idea of the
first selfie a couple takes -- and its
meaning.  We are in a photo together
therefore, we are an item.

 It was a magnificent day here,
warm, sunny, rainy and the cold.
A lot of weather in a day.

I talked to an artist friend the other
day who said she didn't like to call
her work, works in progress, in
case she didn't finish them.  I
started looking at this little painting
after that, and powered by her idea,
thought why not keep going?  So
it may go further.

If you're in town tomorrow it's
the Toronto Outdoor Art Expo,
and my friend Kim Rempel, a
superb artist, will be in booth
i11 check it out! You will love
her work.

Have an enjoying-keeping-going day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Happiest Birthday -- life changer

The Life Changer
Black marker on drawing paper
11 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

I've been reading so much about sketching that
I'd thought I'd do a drawing tonight to
celebrate my son's birthday.  We can't be
together today, but my thoughts have been
with him, as they are every year from the
day before his birthday, when I went into the
hospital to 2 in the morning today, when he
was born.

I wanted to capture that moment when
newborn and mother take the first long
look at each other. Both are tired, exhausted,
but for the mother it is the moment of total
shock when she realizes she has never
loved anyone as much as she now loves
this little person. She is filled with wonder
at the miracle of life.  That this person she has
just met was inside her the day before is
almost impossible to grasp. And for the
baby it is simply all new.

I thank my dear son for being an easy baby,
for sleeping through the night on the seventh
day, and most of the nights after that. He
has grown into an amazing, kind, talented
man, with a loving wife and exciting career
as a photographer and cinematographer.
I haven't got the beauty of either the mother
and child perfectly here, but perhaps my
drawing has the feeling.
Have a loving-the-ones-you-love day.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day and 10 reasons art makes you happy

Acrylic on birch panel
4 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
This is another one of
the people who appeared 
in a guided meditation I did
 a couple of weeks ago.  This is
Louise Hay, who never met me, but
played a huge part in teaching me
how to be a happy person today.

Happy Canada Day right off the top.  The
day is wavering between hot, hot sun and rain,
which is making people crave cottage life, and
flowers say Yes! Yes! Yes
 Me and Steven on the beach we love in Nova Scotia.
We are not there now -- but here in Toronto.  Not
sure when we're going, but can't wait!
10 Reasons art makes you happy!
1. You get to really see.  It is apparently true
that artists see more and see differently than
other people.  We are blessed with really seeing
what is out there.

2.  You get to make what no one has seen until
you make it.  Even artists who like to refer to
the real world and try to reproduce it just as it
is are always making something new.  What a treat!

3. You are entranced by the world.  Colour is
magical, simply drawing in a notebook is a
passion -- you live a blessed life.

4. You are always learning.  No one sane says to
a four year old that that superb painting he just
created isn't art. And that is true of every age.
Recently Dorothy Karkovsky, a 90 year old woman, 
 displayed fantastic art in New York.  Art is for life.

5. You become part of a world filled with
new ideas, excitement, experimentation and
brave expression. You make friends and spend
time with other artists who care as much about
colour and light as you do.

6.  You make people happy with your work.
As a portrait artist, I frequently paint either
people who want a portrait to record a moment
in their lives, or the people who people love.
When the painting is finished, collectors
usually react by spontaneously hugging me
with joy -- awesome feeling.

7.  You make yourself happy with what you
make.  It's a wonderful feeling to sit in your
studio and see the work you've created.  Each
painting brings back a memory and challenges
you -- wondering what you will try next.

8. You get to travel to superb places in the world
where you will either take photos for future
paintings, paint or draw on the spot to record the
moment, or exhibit your work and jet off to
the opening!  So much fun!

9.  You get to sell your work to people who
really appreciate what you do.  You are
living the dream -- doing what you love to
do and getting paid for it!

10.  You go to bed each night excited about
the next day and the work you are currently
doing.  You cannot get your work out of
your mind.  In your sleep you dream
about new paintings and how you'll handle

Author's note: These are the happy aspects
of art.  I know that the opposite experiences
happen too, but this list is about happy.  ;-)

Have a thinking-about-what-makes-you-happy 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!