Friday, January 31, 2014

31 paintings! Yes I did it!!!

 This calls for ice cream
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
My goal for this month was to work on a
new painting every day, and I have.  Some
still require attention, but some just flew into
creation.  It has been a great month, and now
I am changing my approach.  I hope to work on
a new painting every other day, and in between
to show you the slow and steady progress on
larger, work.

I hope you'll stay with me on the ride through
this year.  February is one of my favorite
months because smack dab in the middle of
it is Valentine's Day, one of my all time favorite
occasions for celebration.

Thank you January for helping me kick start the
year in high gear, and now I can step back a bit,
and use all that I've learned.

The painting today is of my son Sam. I can see
there are things I'd change, but he is a willing
model when he's around.  And the spoon is
for his ice cream -- a family favorite.

Happy weekend, Happy Super Bowl.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The lake of happy dreams

 On the joyful lake
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
It's late and before I head off to bed here's a little
painting of one idyllic moment this past summer.
Steven and I were visiting my daughter-in-law's
parents in their glorious summer home.  We
walked down the very steep hill to the lake,
sat on the dock and were blown away by the
spectacular clouds. It wasn't very warm, but
we all went swimming and had a purely
summer vacation afternoon.

Great company, a sweet dog, a quiet lake, and the
joy of swimming.  Perfect.  We don't live in the
past, but the past lives in us. I'm grateful for this
little piece of summer on a cold, winter's day.  This
is the second time I've painted this view.  Let me know
if you remember the first time.

Have a sitting on the lake of happy dreams day

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The most sensual meal?

 Yes! Breakfast is best
Acrylic on birch panel
6 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Breakfast has to be one of the most sensual
meals possible -- and served in an excellent
hotel, as room service.  Please!  The best.

This iconic meal has been the source of some
of my favorite paintings.  No I am not the
bacon and eggs type, but it's impossible not
to be pulled in by the lure of this gorgeous
looking fare.  I love china -- including hotel
china, and silverware, and good cloth napkins.

The hotel in Quebec City that provided the
inspiration for this little work in progress,
knows how to serve a breakfast.  And as
tempting as the views of old Quebec are
out the window, this kind of meal makes
you want to linger in the room a little longer.

I am not quite finished with this one.  But I am
also not far off, which is a happy thought on
this coooold day near the end of January.

Have an enjoying-breakfast-whenever day.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The wrap up -- it's cold outside, and warm in the blog world

 Parrots with the cookbooks
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Thanks to everyone who posted a comment on Alyson
Stanfield's Art Biz blog on my piece 11 Ways To Work
Through Your Grief And Return To The Studio.
I found the whole experience affirming.  I'm grateful to
everyone who wrote to me both on the blog, and off,
in personal emails and Facebook messages and Tweets.
 What generous souls you are!

It has been quite a year, but although sad in ways
I no longer need to go into, moving beyond compare
in the ways my friends, colleagues, complete strangers
and my family of course have extended thoughts of
kindness and affection to me.

Thank you.  If you haven't read the piece on the Art Biz
Blog you still can, and you can still comment too.
This experience was a delight to me.  It is a frightfully
cold day -- colder than (you fill in the blanks).  But it
was also one of those perfect looking winter days, clear
blue skies, white sparkling snow. And inside I have been
warmed beyond measure by your support.

The painting today is of parrot tulips (my favorite) putting
on a show in front of the cookbooks.  Flowers seem
to gravitate to the counter where we store our random
cookbooks. Not shown in the painting is a couple of
bottles of wine off to the left.  The whole scenario
speaks of festivity and the promise of a very happy

Have an enjoying-the-bounty-around-you day.

Monday, January 27, 2014

150.000 hits -- thank you everyone!

 Summer evening on the kitchen table
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
How exciting!  I have never felt anything but positive
about the blogging experience.  It was a complete
surprise to me when I started this blog, that people
around the world were interested in what I do, and
willing to share their wonderful work and words
with me.

Even more surprising have been the delightful
friendships that developed through the blogging
world.  I listened to Nalo Hopkinson the other day on
The Next Chapter on CBC Radio saying, "I sort of 
think the very fact of existence is magical."  I'd agree.
The very fact of the existence of this blog world still
seems magical to me, and I am still enthralled.

Have an enjoying-this-magical-world day

Sunday, January 26, 2014

10 More Reasons To Be Happy!

 End of day at the prettiest house
Work in progress
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(There are many pretty houses in my
neighbourhood, but this one
is certainly one of the prettiest,
and it always cheers me up to see it.)

I've used the exercise 10 Reasons to be Happy which
I made up, but it may not be original, to great effect
with students.  At the start of a class I pick 10 people to
go the front and start a sentence with, "I'm happy
because", and then say why.  I explain that the
reason could be very small -- as in, "I'm happy
because there was enough salt for my eggs this
morning."  Invariably people who came to the front
said their reasons, and let the class clap for them,
got happier. It sounds like psychobabble magic,
but in fact it's the same principle as blogging and
showing work for artists, and as writing in a journal
and then reading it aloud to friends or people
a writing group.  It gives people a voice.

Voice in art and in the world matters.  Getting a
chance to think about what makes you happy,
shifts your focus to the positive, and as I've told
you before the former happiness teacher at Harvard
University, Shawn Achor, says that when we are
happy we think not only more creatively, but
better.  Hmmm.  So... Here goes.

My husband Steven, seen here preparing
the plum pudding and espresso for Christmas
dinner dessert, (with great élan I might add
 because the heat and hydro had just come on in
the house 24 hours before after the ice storm.)

Our children (left to right, Sam, Christopher and Megan 
Christopher's wife).
These three make me so happy.  They are funny,
kind, and generous -- wonderful people. 


Our animals, Timbah, Fiona and Sally

Our extended family, who are far too many 
to show here, and who insisted no pictures.

5. Our friends who also insisted no pictures!

Nova Scotia, and our time, our friends and collectors there.

7. Good Health -- an incredible boon.


Crocuses and Hyacinth (or a mystery plant)
in January -- not out yet, a taste of spring
Cherries in January -- one of my 
favorite things to eat!
Shown here still in the bag and
asking -- where is a bowl please?


You! Thank you 

for everything!!!

Have a thinking-of-ten-reasons-to-be-happy day!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday night and his jacket

His Jacket 
(work in progress)
Acrylic on mounted birch panel
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Hi everyone.  It's Saturday night and there is
just too much going on for me to write a big
post, but I do want to thank everyone who
responded to my post on the Art Biz Blog.

This is a portrait I've begun.  The girl looks
exactly like a friend of mine from years
ago called Heather Moon.  We drifted apart
when I broke up with a boyfriend in the same
band as her boyfriend.  I have no idea what
happened to her, but she was fun and I wish
her well.

Have a working-on-having-a-good-weekend day.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A High Wind and summer thoughts

Back porch pie
work in progress
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
This little painting isn't finished.  It's been
a long, great and hard day too.  A very good
friend was in the hospital and I spent most
of the day there.  It was very gratifying to
read the comments on my post on Alyson
Stanfield's blog on my phone before it
died, and most enjoyable to be out of the
hospital and home again.  It feels a bit like
coming back to shore after being on
a long, rough but dull boat ride.  Hard
to explain.

The wind and plunging, bitter temperatures
made me think of summer and back porch
parties.  I am a ways from finishing this one
but wanted to give you the idea.

Have a loving being home day.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I'm on the Art Biz Blog Friday

 Sally the dog
Acrylic on canvas
5 x 7 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2014

A huge honour for me is being featured on Alyson
Stanfield's Art Biz Blog on Friday January 24th.
My piece 11 Ways to Work Through Your Grief
and Return to the Studio was written after both
my mother and my dog died this fall.  It was a
tough season, and for a while I could not even
think of painting, or would try, and just not be
able to keep going.

I am giving a talk on this same topic -- getting
back to creativity after a loss, or after stopping --
at the Don Valley Art Club on February 28.

I feel blessed that Alyson was supportive of this
topic, and encouraged me to write it for my guest
blog.  Thank you Alyson for all you have done for
me.  I don't think I'd know half of what I know
today about how to be an artist without you.

The painting tonight is not part of the post,
 it's of my dog Sally -- who is bona fide nuts.
One of our friends says that she is just a puppy.
But she is all that and much more.
Her energy level, plus her need for our carefully
thought out strategies to calm her down have
played a huge role in helping my whole family
recover from the sadness of two deaths in a month.
So despite her craziness, Sally the dog has brought
a lot of joy into the mix.  I loved her from the moment
I saw her at the Toronto Humane Society and couldn't
even hear the adoption fellow's explanation about how
she'd had 3 homes already, and how she had serious
separation anxiety.  When I saw her in the cage I sat
down on the floor and cried, and she started pulling
my purse into the cage. (I guess she knew there was
a small adoption charge.)

Sally 11 weeks ago at the Humane Society.
She was a year old, and had had three owners
before us.
Check out my piece in the Art Biz Blog, and please
comment there and here.  It will mean the world to

Have a getting-back-into-the-studio day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The wonder of the new

 New in pink
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2014
I had to paint this baby tonight.  I'm not quite done,
but she captivated me as babies do.  I was staring
at her sweet little blanket and T-shirt, and thinking
about what it's like before the baby arrives.  We
used to walk past Sam's room with the crib in it,
and tell a doll who was a substitute for the soon-to-be
real boy, to be quiet and go to sleep.

Then the real baby is there wearing the clothes you
bought, sleeping in the furniture you picked out
and you are numb with the shock of what you've
done.  A new human -- a whole life to help
encourage and nurture.  Astounding courage is
required.  But you look at a little baby and think
'Aw!'  I wish the parents of this little girl a wonderful
time.  I do think being a parent is one of the best
jobs on earth.

Have  an enjoying-the-new day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Looking good and International Hug Day

 I picked you
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Off the top, Happy International Hug Day.
I hope you had someone to hug.  If not hug
yourself -- a technique for curing winter
blahs suggested by a very happy sounding
woman on CBC radio today.  She said
hug yourself, and say, 'You are the best!'
Try it.

Now for looking. For an artist looking is like a
drug, and we are definitely addicted. 

But what I wanted to talk about instead was
how we mull things over.  How we see an
image, or person, or face, or colour, or
technique, sometimes over and over again,
are attracted to it, and still hang back like a
high school kid afraid to make the first move
on a date.

A case in point -- I'd looked at these market
flowers when I got them from PegAnn, and
wanted to paint them right away.  But it was late
summer, the day of my mother-in-law's birthday
party, then huge, hard life events happen, and I
didn't get to it.

Whipping back through my photos today looking
for a certain painting, I saw this image and said,
"Yes.  Now's the time!"

Side note:  These flowers were on the reject heap
at PegAnn's booth.  I am a regular in market season,
and she said I could take them.  Their heads where
flopping, their stems were broken, but they were
glorious. I bandaged them with masking tape, and
they lasted most of a week, and now are stars in my
painting.  A happy ending, all from looking hard,
and belief.

Have a loving-what-you're-looking-at day

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cure for the deepfreeze -- Hot lemon!

 Lime in the middle
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
This is a short one today because I'm
feeling a bit tired.  My herbalist's cure for
staving off flu, curing a cold, or in general
feeling better -- is hot lemon.  His recipe
calls for a mug of boiling water, at least
three slices of organic lemon, organic
maple syrup to taste, and cayenne pepper,
just a few shakes.

It's pretty effective.  So I'm going to go
and have one right now.  The painting tonight
is of some lovely lemons with their citrus
sisters, mandarins and limes.  It's all good.
I added a bit of Caribbean blue, for what
would be certain to make us forget the cold.
It's minus 25 Celsius here tonight.

Have an enjoying-a-hot-lemon day

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Two great dogs gone

Ziggy in snow
Acrylic on mounted birch panel
6 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Some sad news today, the wonderful dog who was sister
to my dog Zoey died today, about a month shy of her
14th birthday.  Back when the dogs were puppies we
spent so many hours together in the park watching them
romp.  They loved one another, and this summer I am
glad we had the chance to take care of Ziggy while
my friend was on holiday, and that the sisters had some
time together before first our dog, Zoey, and now her sister
took their last walks.
Ziggy (foreground) and Zoey
sleeping in our hallway last 

There is something so wonderful about a great dog --
the way they love you, the way they join in on
your family events, the way they get you out
into nature, and teach you so much.  Ziggy was a
very smart dog.  She learned how to toboggan on her
back one year, and from then on tried the same stunt
even on grass in the summer.  Zoey our dog used to
watch in amazement, but she was more cautious
than Ziggy, and I think she thought that looked scary.

We are lucky that a dog-loving friend told us that
we were good dog owners and would make another
dog as happy as Zoey.  We were so lonely for a
dog after Zoey died, that I feel blessed that we got
Sally, our latest addition to the family.

Have a toasting-all-the-great-dogs day.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Darling companion and small changes

Fiona (work in progress)
Acrylic on mounted birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

The painting today is of one of the sweetest animals
I have ever known -- my Siamese cat, Fiona.  Fiona
is intelligent and the emotional monitor in our house.
She does not like arguing -- at all!  And she lives
in a house with a man and woman with strong
opinions.  As she grew she became a conversation
cop.  We are not allowed, basically, to get annoyed
with one another -- and if we do, and we raise
our voices, Fiona yowls, interferes, makes a
nuisance of herself.  Brilliant tactic.  We can't
ignore her, and end up laughing and when she
feels she's settled matters, she either goes to bed
or plays with one of her toys, or sits on someone's knee.

The groom
Acrylic on Birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I made minor changes to this painting today -- mostly
to the face.

Have a listening-to-your-wonderful-animals day

Friday, January 17, 2014

After school tea

Tea on the couch 
Acrylic on Birch panel
6 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
When I teach I dream all the way home of a
warm cup of tea.  That's why when I saw
my friend's photo of her daughter I asked
if I could paint it.   The milk carton and
teapot loom large and the little girl looks
so contented sitting with the huge cup of
tea in her hands in the late afternoon sun.
Wonderful.  Perfect.

Have an enjoying-the-ideal-treat day.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The other glass bowl insisted

The fruits of January
Acrylic on birch panel
5 X 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I am glad I went through an intense antique collecting
phase.  A good friend knows a lot about antiques, and
 it was our treat to go searching for bargains together.
Ten years ago there were many more places available
to buy great stuff.  My collecting phase is mostly over
 now because our small house is thick with china -- white
 jugs mainly -- that I've painted  filled with flowers.
 But I also bought two very lovely cut class footed bowls,
and I'm glad I did.

This month one of those bowls kept coming into the
studio to show off its wares -- magnificent  fruit.  And
I painted a few pieces based on those cheerful meetings.
Today the other bowl asked for equal time.
What could I do?

It was sitting on the kitchen hutch looking forlorn.
Under my big studio light it immediately climbed up
on a cookie tin and posed.  I was delighted.  Here's
the result.

It's been a good day, I'd have to say a wonderful day,
and this elegant bowl of fruit was part of it.

Have a painting-what-must-be-painted day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

More from the bakery

 The Baker
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

I can't exactly say I was feeling stressed yesterday
when I left the hospital while my very good
friend was having surgery.  But I wasn't relaxed
either.  A friend said she'd send me puffy clouds
in a blue sky, and as I headed out for a walk
they were there!  As she lives in the southwestern
United States I was pretty impressed.

But in the midst of what could be a worrying
situation I found a bakery that warmed
my spirits.  It was filled with men drinking
coffee and talking.  And the person having
a conversation with the woman in my
painting last night was this man -- the baker
I am pretty sure.

I've been painting him thinking what a
wonderful face.  I don't know him at all,
but I could feel all kinds of truths emerging
from that face.  When I paint someone
I'm getting to know, the person's stories
fold into the picture.  But with a stranger
(Remember I asked if I could take pictures
for paintings), building the image starts
stories flowing in my mind.  He looks like
a kind man, and I think he is the baker.
Plus he looks loved.  I think when I see
him again I'll find out that everyone in
that shop likes him.

Have a-thinking-up-the-best-stories day.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Can I just say something?

 In the bakery
Acrylic on birch panel
6 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Sally Chupick the other day had a great post about
how distracted artists are.  Today I had lunch in
a wonderful bakery in Kensington market.
I don't even know the name of the bakery, but
it's just around the corner from Toronto
Western where a very close friend was
spending the day. 

They served the most delicious chicken
sandwich I have had in a long, long time,
and I savoured it and listened to the
conversations around me.  Somehow (how?)
the talk turned to a discussion of Rob Ford,
and how sad it is that all the rest of the
world knows about our wonderful
city, the third largest in North America,
is about our crack smoking mayor.

In the middle of the debate about his
future I lost all thought focused on this
woman's face.  I knew I wanted to paint
her, and a man who seemed like the
bakery owner, or baker (stay tuned).
In the middle of her saying, "Can I
say something?" I said, "Can I say
something?" and asked if I could take
her photo so I could paint her. She

So here it is.  I would like to spend a
bit more time on it, but I am very happy
with it so far.  She had a wonderfully
intense face. Quite beautiful.  And I
don't even know her name.  If you
read this, and you are her, write me at
the email at the top of the blog.

Have a saying-what-you-mean day.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bring it on -- light and warmth

Kitchen pansies with the cookbooks
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
It wasn't exactly sunny today, but it was so warm that
when I went out with the dog (many, many times),
I could wear my gardening clogs into the yard, and
my inside fleece instead of a coat.  After the deep
freeze we've lived through, this alone was cause for
joy.  But add to that a clear and increasing trend
towards more light, and I understood why
flights of sparrows were teasing the dog and
chattering at her not to leap the fence chasing
squirrels, but to jump up trying to catch them as
they feasted at the feeder.  They'd land, eat,
wait until she started to jump, then fly up in
a huge swoop, and scold her from the apple

This weather can't last, but it was wonderful.
Here's a little painting capturing the mood of
happy thoughts.

Have a taking-light-and-warmth-where-you-can-get-them day.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cocoa, free design and painting --A day of learning

 On the river (work in progress)
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

I spent the day painting and learning.  We were
having a working day, and in my breaks I
watched a video on painting techniques from
 Artists Network.  Connecting with Alyson
Stanfield's Art Biz Blog Twitter Tweekly for
January 12 set me off on some fun paths.  I
learned about key ways to use a Facebook cover
 page from the Social Media Examiner and learned
how to do a FaceBook cover page design change
 at Canva.  It was a wonderful, full, idea-packed day.
 My favorite kind of day.

On another note one strange tip from the loop
was to use cocoa powder as face bronzer.  Tried
 it and went out walking the dog looking wonderfully
 tanned.  (Proviso -- cocoa is chocolate, and great as
 it may look on your face as a bronzer, it stains clothing
 -- so wear a towel around your neck when/if you are
applying cocoa, and don't get it on clothes.  Dark
clothing is advisable.)

This little portrait is still a work in progress,
but it is coming along.  All in all a great
Sunday, a perfect end of the week.

Have a-noticing-your-best-times day.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The goddess of fog and rain

 The goddess of fog and rain
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I teach journal writing, and gave a talk recently to an
art group on written journaling to help create art --
called Writing To Vision.  Today I was looking through
my email and found an article on art journaling --
50 Art Journal Prompts.  One of writer,
April Bowles-Olin's suggestions was to draw
yourself as a goddess.

I am not religious, but I was wondering what to
paint and this idea struck me.  What would I want
to be goddess of?  Then of course thoughts
started barreling in like my dog hurtling across the
damp park.  Goddess of happiness -- maybe that would
be good, but what about a combo goddess -- happiness,
kindness, the environment, love, education, art,
oh my.  I knew I was going to paint goddess me on
a very small surface, so I would have to limit my
focus somehow.

Here's the result.  What would you be Goddess, or
God of, if you could just decide it was so?

 The icy off leash area in the park where 
the goddess walks her dog.  Very
foggy and rainy and pretty today, 
-- slowing my racing dog down not a whit

Have a-being-powerful-in-your-own-world day.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Heat is On

 Cherries in a summer window
Acrylic on mounted birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
SOLD ♥  
Believers in positive thought (count me in)
think that the more you can move your mind
in a positive direction the more positive  your
experiences will be.  The thinking goes that
praciticing staying positive will attract
wonderful experiences into your life.

Of course it doesn't always work.  And when
you're down for an inescapable sorrow, you
can't just leap up and be happy.  But I have
been trying out the five actions for Happiness
proposed by Shawn Achor this week, and it
has been an astoundingly wonderful week!
I've been having a great time and plan to
keep working on thinking this way.

I have met some amazing bright minded
people this week.  Dazzlingly intelligent
even.  I've had superb talks with artist
friends and am packed with a passion for

Today it is hot in Toronto +6 Celsius.
Warm and steamy with fog and snow
melting.  It looks like winter, but here in
Toronto it seems like summer after
minus 35 Celsius last week.

In terms of the new year, the heat is on,
because it's time to think about what big
projects to get involved in, where and
what to show, and what to create. 

Have a getting-a-great-year-going day.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cats and dogs and the start of a painting

 Late evening tulips (work in progress)
Acrylic on birch panel
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
If you are lucky enough to live with cats and dogs
you know that most of what is stereotypically
assigned to the animals as character traits is
incorrect.  My dog is upstairs sound asleep.
She's had a good run and enough food, and as
far as she's concerned nothing could be better than
being left in my room instead of going down into
her own bed. 

My Siamese cat on the other hand is worried, and
that's why I'm going to bed without finishing this
painting.  She has checked on me about five times
because she knows I need to get to bed.  She is
very concerned with our wellbeing.  If we begin
to get emotional about a discussion of any sort she
begins to yowl for us to stop.  She is big on my
word of the moment -- order.  And in this case
I need to follow her lead.

She knows that it's time for me to quit painting
and go to bed, and she wants to go to hers.  The
cats and the dog sleep in the basement at night, and
my cat knows that time has come -- and gone.

I have painted from this reference photo before in
watercolour, but it's an entirely different experience
painting on wood.  This is just the start, and I feel
happy already.

Have a listening-to-your-animals day. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bouyancy -- the kindness of friends

Acrylic on Birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
This was a wonderful day.  I spent most of it with
super intelligent young people filled with ideas.
It was both fascinating and exciting to hear the
range of what they were thinking about.  It made
me hopeful for a better tomorrow, and joyous
about the day.

The painting is of a dear friend of mine.  I am
lucky to live in a community of super supportive
and loving people.  In fact as I know I say
often, I'm lucky to live, work, and know kind
people in every part of my life.  I love the
expression on the subject's face.  I know I'm probably
going to work on it some more.  With portraits
often I do keep going.  I like it when the person
starts to seem present.  That's beginning to
 happen here.

Have an-enjoying-your-wonderful-life day.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cold, cold, cold -- and the delights of order

Winter walk in the alley (work in progress)
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
This was a gorgeous, sunny day which cheers the spirits
immensely after many grey days, but it was sooo cold.
It seemed like the perfect day for filing and organizing.
Alyson Stanfield who writes the Art Biz Blog asked
people last week to think about a word for 2014. 
My first thought was happiness, and that is my number
one objective all the time,  but sitting on that thought
for a day I realized that right now I also want to focus on order.

Twyla Tharp the dancer and choreographer follows
the same routines every day so that she can concentrate
on her art. She writes about the importance of discipline and
habit in The Creative Habit.  It seems to me that order helps
artists concentrate.  In my case I need more order this
busy month, so that I have time for art and blogging
which matter so much to me. 

Perhaps the joy of the new year is partly about
understanding what worked and didn't work last
year, and a determination to do more of what works,
and less of what doesn't.  I don't make resolutions,
but I do feel the possibility of new enter all of
my thinking when I put up the new calendar for the
new year.  One week in I'd have to say it's been a
great year so far.

Have an enjoying-the-creativity-that- results-from-order day.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Getting Happy

 Winter tea in the gallery (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Have you heard Pharrell Williams singing Happy.
I listened to the short version the other day watching
the video, and I thought this is me.  Today I'd planned
to watch the 24 hour version of the video, but I was
painting pretty hard, so I could listen, not watch.
The idea  is cool, but the short version has the whole
song and it is just so fine.  "Clap along if you feel like
happiness is the truth."

Here's what I've been working on.  It's not quite done,
but I need to get back to it tomorrow.  Almost there.
Meanwhile I've been dancing a lot today and this
painter's putting away the paints, taking a break.
But I can tell you that after a long, sad time, feeling
happy is the best feeling in the world.  Thanks for
making me feel so happy to be an artist in this super
community of wonderful people.

Have a happy, happy day.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

More snow and summer thoughts

The groom
Acrylic on Birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

Today's painting celebrates some of the best times
I've had in the past couple of years, going to
three wonderful weddings and dancing until
the festivities ended.  I love weddings -- the
celebration of two people falling in love.  So
moving and joyous.  And I love dancing.

It is snowing and we have freezing rain again
here -- an excellent time to think about warm
days and love.

I came upon this photo from one of the
weddings, and had to paint it.  I love the
expression on the groom's face -- this
happened in the painting -- not in the photo.
Once again this is a small painting on a
birch panel.  The wood is a treat to paint

Have a getting summer thoughts in a winter storm day.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Back to childhood -- and 1500 posts to you!

 Turning to the happy lemon
Acrylic on birch panel
8 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

Wow.  I was ready to publish this and noticed 
I've made it to 1500 entries .Yay!  Thanks
everyone who reads my blog, enjoys my work,
and comments. Thanks to all my friends,
collectors, galleries and everyone who
has helped me keep working and thinking and
wanting to reach out to you.  It has been so
much fun, so heart warming, and so rewarding
in terms of learning and excitement and superb
friendships.  I think I'll keep on going.  Yes.
I will.

This may be my last painting of the fruit in
my glass footed bowl right now.  Don't know.
I'm awfully tempted to paint trees because our
local trees have taken such a gruesome hit.
It was warm enough to walk the dog today,
and we had to climb down the normal path into our park,
because huge trees were down all the way.

On the way home Steven picked up a chunk of
ice that had fallen off a tree and it was two inches
thick.  The piece was about half a foot long and
weighed almost a pound, imagine that weight
all along every branch on every tree, no wonder
they came down.

The fruit makes me happy, so I turned the bowl
around today to see the lemon on the other side.
When I was a little girl in Ottawa oranges were a
special treat in winter.  I think that's why it always
feels luxurious to see crates of clementines in
the store, and lovely piles of fruit.  In spite
of all our part of this city has been through,
there is hope.  It was strange to see families
tobogganing today all around the dead trees,
determined to have fun.
 The series in my studio

Have a determined to have fun day.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Memories of Florence

More fruit singing in the footed bowl
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
SOLD ♥  
As Steven and I hurried around on New Year's Eve
preparing for our party, I spotted these clementines
with leaves, and was sent reeling back to Florence, Italy
and my time there during the Florence Biennale.  There
was hardly an aspect of the city that I didn't love --
I loved it all.  The markets were especially delightful,
even the little supermarkets near our apartment
were brimming with things we didn't see at home.
The anemones were huge compared to their counterparts
in Toronto with blooms the size of saucers.

One of the things that struck me was how often the
fruit was sold with leaves still attached.  Especially
oranges, clementines and mandarins.  So the other
day I bought a few clementines with leaves thinking
I'd like to paint them adding life to other fruit.  The
result was two paintings so far, and an intense
trip back through my delicious memories of

I want to do some paintings, perhaps this year,
based on images I photographed there, so count
this small painting as a second song to the beauty
of Florence.

Wishing you a glorious first weekend in the New Year.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Celebrating heat -- ice storm tales

Ready for action
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
We were without heat for three and a half days
during the ice storm that hit Toronto the Saturday
before Christmas.  Steven had the flu, so we
stayed until we were too cold sleeping even with
our winter hats on, and moved into a hotel.
Christmas took a hit, because we'd planned our
biggest push for the festivity for that weekend and
the lights went out just as our son and his wife
were putting up the tree.

But on Christmas eve the magic of lights on
happened as we drove down our street to fetch the
cats and put them with friends with power, who
had kindly offered to take them.  So we had
Christmas morning and Christmas dinner in
our own house.

The power went off again the next day for five and
a half hours, and friends came to rescue us, taking
us home to their house for dinner.

My painting today is of one of our friends at a
very quiet (but warm) dinner at our house. 
Not much hoopla thanks to shortages of power at the
malls, and closed stores, but great joy in the return of light
and heat.  This is a very small painting for me --
8 x 8 inches.  But it captures something of my
friend's expression.

Happy New Year to all, and may the power be with you!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year! Happy Happy 2014!!!!

 Fruit singing in a footed bowl (work in progress)
Acrylic on birch panel
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Last night we hosted our New Year's Eve party, a tradition
we started when my oldest was in high school.  So much
fun.  People come and bring the food they must have on
New Year's Eve.  We serve lots of champagne and the
combo of our food and their amazing treats.  We watch
the ball at midnight in Time's Square, sing Auld Lang
Zyne, make a racket with horns and cheering, then head
upstairs for plum pudding, other desserts and coffee.

This year there was more singing and lots to talk about
because the ice storm had left many of us without power
for days in the cold just around Christmas.

Today I was so happy to start a new year.  This piece
of birch board underpainted in bright pink magenta
has been waiting for a painting for some time.
I loved the arrangement of citrus fruit in this bowl, and it
seemed to symbolize all that we hope for this year -- sunshine,
fruitfulness, and growth in nature and in everything to do
with happiness and art.

I had a great talk today with an artist friend and lots of
conversations in the past week about creativity, so I thought
I'd better get cracking on this year's work.  The painting is
not quite done, but it was a singer (a painting that begs to
be painted and sings along as you work -- a joy in other

Have a very Happy New Year, and a wonderful start to the year.

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!