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

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!