Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Mystery of Manet

Quick sketch of Manet
Black marker on Moleskine paper
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
Based on a photo by Nadar
I drew this little drawing of Édouard Manet
today trying to discover what made him
the heart throb of his era in Paris.  According
to the novel I'm reading, I Always Loved You
by Robin Oliviera, women were in love with
his looks.  He may have been more imposing
wearing the high silk top hat of the time.

But for me he looks a bit too wooly, although
the jaunty polka dot cravat must have been the
height of fashion.

I love Manet's work, and may try to draw
or paint him in more than a hasty sketch.
Drawing someone makes them real to an
artist, and I have never thought about
what Manet looked like before, only about
his work, which was definitely the focus
of my art history classes. 

Have a wondering-about-your-heroes day.

Friday, January 30, 2015

More on the chemistry of art

Acrylic on canvas
36 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2007
It's been a busy day, so I am showing you
an older piece. Last week at my art group,
there was a great discussion about alla prima
(working from first strokes).  Carol Marine,
whose work I admire greatly, is a wonderfully
decisive painter.  Most of the time I am not
so clear on exactly what I want to happen.  Light
changes, moods change -- the painting

This painting -- the portrait of Sean --
a super boy I painted in 2007, stands
out in my mind forever as a direct
experience, clear, fluid, easy, and
joyous in its creation.  I've debated
this before on the blog -- wondered why
this happens.  But when it does I am
so grateful.  One of my collectors said,
"your work gets looser looking the longer
you work on it, doesn't it?"  And frequently
that's what happens, but when I painted Sean
it was as if I'd known him forever. 

He was the last in a three part portrait of
his family.  His two sisters Madeline and
Elizabeth were also a joy to paint -- and
perhaps learning their features as I painted
them in the summer and fall of 2006
prepared me for the ease I had with Sean
the next spring. 

Sean, Madeline and Elizabeth
36" x 6'
acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2006 - 7

Have a creating-with-ease day.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Art talks

 Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on birch panel
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
I didn't get too far today --what I like about
painting on wood is that if I just use a wash
and then sand the wood, the surface sucks the paint in
and insists on the wood texture. That's why I spent time
reinforcing my lights, and moving some borders.

A wonderful artist friend, came to tea and we talked
about painting. She's taking a course with an instructor
who says the subject isn't the point, it's the paint. I know
what he means, but the point for me is capturing
what I love looking at. And light is what gets me.

I'm reading a novel on Edgar Degas and Mary
Cassatt I Always Loved You by Robin Oliviera.
In the book Mary Cassatt and her friend are
talking about painting the old way --
classically -- and the new way -- like Degas.
It's fascinating to me how new the Degas way still is
for so many painters a century plus later.  The novel's
a delicious read.

Have a getting-the-light day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dreaming of hotel breakfasts

 Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on birch panel
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
It's been a long day -- and I wanted to
paint again.  This is a breakfast painting.
I started drawing on a prepared red wash
piece of birch with a pink coloured pencil,
and soon switched to blue. (Pink didn't show
at all!)

I felt contrary -- if someone's rules say
start with darks, I wanted to start with
highlights.  My inner rebel knows there's
 no 1, 2, 3 to painting.  Also instead of
planning too long -- jump in.  My
inner overbearing mother hands out
advice like candy. 

So I did.  Here's how far I got today.
I'm working from a blown up photo
of a delicious breakfast I had somewhere.
I've forgotten where.  But I know I wasn't
camping, and I know that it was wheeled in
to us on a cart covered in a white cloth.
And I know the china was white, not
hipster black (thank you hotel of my
dreams).  In other words it was perfect.

Have a dreaming-of-romantic-breakfasts day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Painting fast -- artists need artists

Totally confident 
(art group sketch painting)
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
It made sense to get back to my art
group tonight.  I dashed over to the
studio, whipped out my paints, and
caught this image of the model
in less than an hour. The title
describes tonight's wonderful model.
She was completely happy with herself.

There weren't many of us there, and
the conversations were intense, funny,
and packed with information.  Everyone
was doing amazing work, and I was just
experiencing paint.  What a treat!

Have a being-with-fellow-artists day.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The magic of drawing and More from the dresser

 Happiness framed
Black marker on moleskine paper
4 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
(I may work on this a bit more

The little silver frame in the drawing here
has always been a favorite.  But until I
sat down to draw it today I didn't know
why it is so perfect.  I never noticed
that it was surrounded with ribbons
connecting a ring of cornucopias (ae).
Drawing is a gift because it opens
our eyes to what is right there.

As symbols of the abundant life the
horns of plenty couldn't be more perfect
to frame the first person who taught me to be
a mother.  The fun we've had as a
family, with two wonderful sons, and
now a daughter-in-law has been
abundant indeed.

Have an enjoying-the-magic-of-drawing day.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Happy Robbie Burns Day

 Crowds at the dresser top
Black marker on Moleskine paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
Happy Robbie Burns Day.  We were lucky
enough to celebrate yesterday with some
diehard fans of the traditional celebration.
The Caledonian is listed as one of Toronto's
best Scottish restaurants, and they do the
event up proud.  There were readings from Burns,
toasts to the Haggis, a brilliant bagpiper,
and highland dancing.  Oh and the food
was delicious.  Glorious evening!

Today's drawing is of the dresser top in
our back bedroom, where we've been
essentially camping out since October.
In the cold it's one of the warmest rooms
in the house -- but this still life is a bit
more crowded than it would be if half
of these items migrated down the hall.

See if you can pick out my son's
monster clay sculpture in the midst of
this.  I like it because basically it is just
a glossy (glazed) lump of brownish
green clay, with a great big tongue
sticking out of it.  A helpful symbol
if you were having a bad day.

I have had a delightful day, and hope
you have too. 

Have a drawing-your-life day.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day 6? Yes I had to keep going.

 The ocean series
Wonder Water Image paintings #1, #2, #3
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2014 
Water Image paintings #2, #3, #1
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2010 Each painting is 30 x 30 inches
(and there are more!)
It is one of my art goals to one day have these
paintings all along the wall in an entire
gallery.  To that end, I had to post a day 6
on the five day Facebook art challenge.
Which means I can nominate another
artist whose work I love, and I nominate
Sheila Vaughan.  Sheila may not want
to have anything to do with this, and
that's fine, but I love her work, and
want to make that known.  She is
an outstanding landscape, portrait, abstract
and bravely experimental painter.

Have a keeping-a-good-thing-going day.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day Five -- Whew -- Coming down the home stretch!

 Clouds dancing over Toney Bay 
 Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2014
Wow!  That went quickly, and I feel like I've just begun
the awesome Facebook challenge.  It has been so much
fun, and there are so many paintings I'd like to share,
and so many artists I want to nominate.  But I may take
a two day break from this line of thinking and move
on -- or else -- keep posting a bunch of paintings,
and naming super artists.  We will see.
Summer clouds Wallace Bridge
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2014

I love painting portraits, and food, and flowers, and
this summer was blown away, knocked over, in love
with the clouds in Nova Scotia and here, and
everywhere. I still am, but I'm trying to control
Clouds over the bay
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2014
Cleaning up rooms in the past few weeks I
unearthed my diary from when I was 11 - 16.
Fact of very early life:  I was in love with someone,
possibly someone new almost every day.

Now it's visual.  This summer clouds were
an obsession, and once caught, always caught.
Warning -- cloud love can be hazardous to
driving.  Wait for a red light, to really 'look
up, look way, way up!'

Nova Scotia is my second home, and I feel
so happy every time I return.  My good friend
Frank Daley, who hired me to teach school
success used to say that you can't love a
thing.  Here is where we disagree. As
an artist you can love a thing, a food,
and a place.  Just differently.

Have a loving-what-you-want-to-paint day. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Goodbye Christmas -- Love is on the way!

Breakfast in the hotel
(full breakfast in sunlight)
Upper left section
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
My son Sam helped us get the Christmas tree out
of the studio today to my great relief.  I have been
working on small work, but dreaming of going
after something like the four paintings I chose
for the Facebook Challenge Day 4 today.
Breakfast in the hotel
(the star of the show)
Upper right section
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
The tree will go in the backyard on a stand
that Steven made to hold not yet dead Christmas
trees and he will be able to see the birds and
squirrels arguing over the birdseed he'll put
on the tree from the window through to
the downstairs office until the tree goes brown
sometime in March.
Breakfast in the hotel)
1/2 there (the top)
Acrylic on canvas
3 X 8 Feet
Barbara Muir © 2012
This has become our tradition because it makes us
sad when the Fraser fir moves out.  Those trees
stay vital and hold their needles a long, long time.
And besides it's time to start thinking about Valentine's Day.
Breakfast in the hotel
(Toast and jam)
Lower left section
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I debated putting any number of my food paintings
on today, but these are my largest combined work
to date, and it made me happy to post to Facebook
all in one go. So I'll put them on one by one, and
then fit the puzzle together. Thinking about
Valentine's Day makes me think about Breakfast in the
hotel.  Great idea!
Breakfast in the hotel
(oatmeal purist)
Lower left section
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Breakfast in the hotel
1/2 there (the bottom)
Acrylic on canvas
3 X 8 Feet
Barbara Muir © 2012
I nominate Nicki Ault for the Facebook challenge
today.  She is an awesome landscape painter.  I
often think she's inherited the Tom Thomson
gene somehow -- our most famous Canadian
landscape painter.  Plus she's a great person
and a friend.  
Breakfast in the hotel
Acrylic on canvas
6 X 8 Feet
Barbara Muir © 2012
Have a thinking-really-big day.
(I know I am.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Get Ready for Day Three!!!!

The Conversation Continues
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2011
(see individual paintings below)
I put the exclamation marks there to tease the
writers in my family who go insane when they see
too many exclamation marks.  And for them
one is too many -- she exclaimed ;-)  But the world
of punctuation has changed and these three
paintings make me happy, bringing back
so many memories.  They deserve extra
Listening across oceans
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
I showed them in New York at the Amsterdam
Whitney Gallery in 2011, and they were very well
received. It was a super time from start to finish.
Late night in Norway
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Henriette Sonne is a wonderful artist I met when
we both showed at the Florence Biennale in
2009.   She inspired me because she came to
the show with her family, and her youngest
was a baby in a stroller.  Yet she'd produced
superb paintings, and like many artists
who are painters, fit her painting time around
her family and her job.  I did the Skype
interviews over a period of days, while she
had coffee at home, and while she worked
alone at night in a nearby factory making
wall art decals.

Today as well as painting and teaching art
Henriette runs her own gallery -- Galleri
Sonne in Drobak, Norway. She was and is
a going concern.  
The best news right here
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

I nominated Laura Starrett to pick up the
Facebook Challenge.  Her watercolours
are terrific.  And that is the best news 
right here.

Have a making-brilliant-memories day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day 2 of the FaceBook Challenge

 Today's FaceBook Challenge entries
See descriptions below.

Dear friends,

I am not that computer savvy and it shows
in my Facebook album shot for today's
contribution.   Today is my second
day of the FaceBook Challenge and I nominate
Sally Chupick, a wonderful artist who runs the
Gallery at the Porch Door near Kingston, Ontario,
Canada, which you absolutely must visit if you're
in the Kingston area on a summer weekend.
Reading before the dance
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 24 inches
© Barbara Muir
Today's offerings from me are some of my
commissioned portraits.  The two women posed
for me for endless hours at a time, and the children
were the beginning of a new way of working for me.
I photographed them in their home, talked to their
mother about what she wanted and then got
photos of the children to work from.  They could
not pose for me for more than a few minutes at
a time. 

 At the park -- ready for summer
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

Pam in New York
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
Both ways of working are highly enjoyable.  

 I am showing the paintings in the order that
they were painted.

Have a loving-your-work day.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Okay here goes!

 Three paintings from the Before The Dance series;
Before the dance in the red dress
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2008
 The Promise
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
Before the dance with the cat
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

I attempted to start the Facebook Challenge today.
Day 1.  I have been asked to post three paintings
a day on Facebook for five days.  I started today
with my Before The Dance series, which is what
I was consumed with when I started blogging in
February 2008.

They were paintings to capture people on the
edge of growing up -- waiting to go out on an
important date to a dance.  By the way, I still
own all of these, and if you'd be interested in
buying one, just write me at

Thank you again to my Facebook promoters:
Flora Doehler, Kim Rempel and Janet Vanderhoof.
I nominate Marcia LaBelle today.  Her
drawings and paintings are exceptional.  I
am always in awe of her work.

Have an honouring-your-art-friends day.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Planning for new paintings

 Before the dance with the cat
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
There's a Christmas tree in my studio,
and I am thinking about new paintings and
would really like to work with live
models again.  This combination of
thoughts, plus a Facebook challenge
I hope to start working on sometime this
week had me hunting through old photos
and marveling at how my wonderful
models have worked together with me,
and inspired me.
Tia in the studio with
Simone the cat.
This brilliant young woman, Tia, modeled for
me in high school and part of university,
then grew up and joined the wide, wide
world.   Tonight I'm posting a shot of
her posing in 2009, at this time of year.
The painting was finished on April 27th,
the day Oprah's crew contacted me to
draw Oprah via Skype that May.

I love the contrast of the photo and the painting.

Have a painting-from-live-models day.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

More New York Thoughts

Mother's Day in New York City
Black marker on Moleskine paper
8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
Another cold Saturday.  A perfect day
for staying in and reading a long, long,
novel.  I am on page 1500 at the smallest
font on my iPad of a saga checked
out on the Toronto Library website,
and wondering -- when the book will end.

In my reading breaks I am dreaming of
spring.  I'm sure I'm not alone in that.
Today's drawing is of the mother who
is holding the baby I drew the other day.
Drawing her dark, dark fall of hair with
a fine, black marker I realized that I
could spend a few more hours on it to
get the right rich contrast.

When I took the picture in a brief moment
in a day filled with museums -- both The
Cloisters and The Met, I didn't realize how
cool her haircut was.  The baby was so
captivating and the mother shy and proud.
It makes me happy to see her more
completely now. 

Have a thinking-about-spring day.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Deeply Honoured by Three Great Artists

Red Flowers, © Flora Doehler, 2013
Breakfast in bed, © Kim Rempel, 2014
A Sacred Place, © Janet Vanderhoof, 2014

Flora Doehler, Kim Rempel and Janet Vanderhoof
have nominated me to take part in the Facebook
challenge of putting 3 paintings up every day
for five days on Facebook.

They are all magnificent artists, my friends,
and art heroes.  And I could not be more grateful.
This week I spent one day in the hospital because
I have a very sore leg, and I've been instructed
to take pain killers, rest and do as little as possible.
I have just apparently shocked my muscles in
the cold.  So I will begin the challenge next
week when I feel better.

Meanwhile thank you, you three wonder women.
 I am deeply honoured.

Have a delighted-to-be-chosen day.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New York Baby

New York Baby!
Black marker on Moleskine paper
8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
Thinking about The Cloisters in New York City
last May, took me back in a flurry of sense
memories, to being on the high hill where
the Cloisters museum is, and realizing that
taxis (the main way of getting around in
New York aside from subways) did not routinely
go there, and that we were a long, long way from
our hotel on Times Square.

I suddenly had a vivid memory of walking down
the steep hill through gorgeous spring green
trees, and seeing a couple at the bottom of the
hill holding a beautiful baby girl.  It was 
Mother's Day and New Yorkers take that day
seriously.  So this couple, dressed to the nines,
with their beautiful baby were taking pictures
in the park setting.  They told us where we
should walk to to get a cab back "home."

I asked if I could take their picture, and they
happily agreed.  I have been meaning to do
something with those images ever since.
Tonight I found a photo of the baby, and
drew her, thinking all the time about that
glorious day.

Have a swamped-with-happy-memories day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Identity -- who are you?

 Claiming identity
Black marker on Moleskine paper
8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
I drew this young woman the other night,
and she liked the drawing, so sent me another
image tonight, so I could try again.  I think
a lot about identity. Mine is as an artist, teacher,
wife, mother, pet owner, friend in no specific
order, depending on the day.

And this young woman is holding up her work
badge, which she's proud of. But as a friend she
is also helping me produce for my identity.  She
knows I teach on Wednesday afternoons,
have hurt my leg, and want to blog.   Why
you ask?  Because.  I thank her for the
pleasure of getting to draw her again!

As soon as I have my full vigour back I
look forward to fulfilling the honour of
being nominated to post 3 paintings on
Facebook for five days.  My friends
Flora Doehler, and Kim Rempel have
nominated me to do the challenge.

Flora does amazing bright floral
and landscape paintings.  Her colours
sing.  Kim is a stunning abstract painter,
who can paint a realistic landscape that
will take your breath away.  These are
two of my all time favorite artists, and
I thank you so much.

Have a thanking-the-friends-who-get-your-identity day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

First hand -- the Quick sketch

On the Triage team
Black marker on 
Fabriano paper
8 1/4 x 6 1/4 (cropped)
Barbara Muir © 2015
In Canada we are blessed to be able to spend six
hours visiting a top notch hospital emergency
ward with zero fees. That's where I did these
sketches today  -- waiting.
 First waiting room
Black marker on 
Fabriano paper
8 1/4 x 6 1/4 (cropped)
Barbara Muir © 2015
I've hurt my leg, and no one knows what I've
done. Two doctors and a lengthy ultrasound
later. No answers. Take pain killers. Rest the
Second waiting room
Black marker on 
Fabriano paper
8 1/4 x 6 1/4 (cropped)
Barbara Muir © 2015
Don't sit so close to me
Black marker on 
Fabriano paper
8 1/4 x 6 1/4 (cropped)
Barbara Muir © 2015
The up side -- the pain is expected to dissipate, And
I have these very quick sketches that document
the day.
The Cloisters
But I promised to tell you more about our visit to
The Cloisters.

Last May when I exhibited in New York City,
I told my gallery director about the series I
spoke to you about yesterday.
She suggested we go to the Cloisters,
a beautiful museum which had Unicorn tapestries,
like the Medieval tapestries in the book
The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier.
 Tapestry at The Cloisters
wool, gilt, silver, gold
1495 - 1505
Our cab driver was shocked that we wanted
to go all the way to the other end of Manhattan,
but we did.  Up the Hudson River, on a gorgeous
spring morning.

New York is always filled with warm, helpful
people, so when a fellow in the museum,
dressed a bit like the guards started
explaining the Unicorn tapestries to me
I assumed he was a guard. "Nope he
explained, I just like helping people get through
university.  I never did. I couldn't afford
to go." He  cheerfully walked
me through the symbolism, and the story
of the girl in the tapestries.

"Know how I know all this?," he asked.
"I wrote an essay for my sister about it.
It was really good. She got an A. "  I asked if
his sister got her degree. "No," he laughed,
"But it wasn't my fault."
 Yours truly at The Cloisters, May 2014

Have a happy-to-live-where-you-are day! 
 Start again
Black marker on 
Fabriano paper
8 1/4 x 6 1/4 (cropped)
Barbara Muir © 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tanya in the studio -- the slow evolution of art

 Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2014-15
Last winter I began planning a series, and then
knew I had to prepare for my spring show
in New York.  It was obvious early on that
the large 3 x 4 ' paintings would be too
ambitious for the short April deadline.

I was painting a woman I saw in the art
gallery, who gave me permission to paint
her with her baby.  I love the idea for
the series, and this year I want to complete
it, but it hasn't become any easier.

Tanya came to visit me in July with her
two children and her husband.  It was a
hot day, an enormously kind gesture,
and the photos I took in the excitement
weren't good enough.
 Tanya in the studio
Today I've had sharp pains in my right leg,
and couldn't paint. Tomorrow the doctor. 
But the paintings still form, move and
create themselves in my head.  Soon I will
get in my car and go and see Tanya, and together
we'll get this first painting in the series
done.  In the meantime I researched
tapestries (my inspiration) at The Cloisters
in New York City, and I'll tell you more
about that tomorrow.

Thank you Tanya for your patience.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

On my team

Breath of fresh air
Black marker on Moleskine paper
8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
When I was getting ready for my last show
this beautiful young woman called me
up to invite me to another opening,
happening as she spoke.  I was up to
my ears in paint and couldn't go, so
she insisted on visiting me.

What a treat!  She loved my paintings,
our house, enjoyed meeting my husband.
Our cat Timbah loved her, and balanced
himself precariously
on her shoulder with one of his legs on the
back of her chair, the whole time we
visited drinking coffee and laughing
at our kitchen table.

When she left I was happy and felt
more confident about my work.  Her
visit was like a breath of fresh air.
It made me feel so joyous today
drawing her and remembering that

Have a welcoming-upbeat-guests day.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I hope you know I love you!

Catherine Scott
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
Dear friends,
Spending time with your family and people
you love, matters every bit as much as
spending time drawing and painting.  Yes
there are lonely souls who work at art,
and art that is anything but happy.  But
to my mind, our lives with people who
love us, or cats and dogs, or people we
work with, are what give us the juice to
create.  And that matters.

Apparently purpose according to every
sage happiness writer I've read, is what gives our
life on this planet meaning.  My purpose here is
partly to be a loving wife, and mother,
and friend, and artist and teacher, and
person in the supermarket, and wherever
I go.

Two posts I've seen and read today moved me --
one to tears, and one to near tears.
Read this blog post by the renowned writer,
Rona Maynard.  And watch this video by
Lilou Mace, who graciously let me paint
her for my November show.

It has been a rough week in the world.
I grew up in a generation that believed
love is the answer, but I really didn't
understand what that idea meant until
I had my own family, and understood
that loving takes work, a continuous
back and forth of great times, poor times,
with rewards of joy and laughter in store
that are unimaginable until we experience

So I did not paint today because I wanted
to spend time with family and friends,
 but I will post one of my favorite paintings
of all time. This was painted as a gift to a woman
dying of cancer from her dear friends
who knew she wanted a vivid record of
herself left behind.

Portrait painters get commissions to record
every stage in life.  I felt both honoured and
overwhelmed with this assignment, but
Catherine, the subject loved it so much,
and felt her friends' profound love when it was
unveiled on her birthday. That day I really
understood my purpose on the planet.

Have a knowing-I-love-you day!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Getting to Yay!

The Fruits of Love
Work in Progress Stage 6
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
I am reading Shawn Achor's, Before 
Happiness and was excited to learm
about the finish line phenomenon.  Apparently
when we know we're close to finishing a
project or a race, our brain kicks in
accelerants that give us the physical and mental
energy we need to finish.

We all know how this is in art, especially painting.
The start stems from an idea, or the visual stimulation
of a theme or model, or event in our lives.  So
we are all fired up when we begin, and then there is
the middle, when we flag.  The painting seems
too hard and we think we'll never finish, or it's
stupid anyway, or we were wrong to begin, or
we're all off.  If we stop there we will stay
in limbo with that work.

But what Achor says is that if you can convince
yourself that all is going well, and you're nearly
finished -- bang -- brain resources flood your
system with endorphins and your creativity and
thinking juices up, until -- aha!  Wonderful
-- the finished product.  Yay!

Working today on finishing a work I started
last year, that was getting there, but not done.
What stopped me? Whatever it was -- it seems
a perfect subject today for a very cold winter's day.
I haven't made that many changes so far, and it will
mostly be just shadows and a bit more detail, but
it felt so wonderful to paint!

Have a feeling-the-Yay! day

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Brilliant exuberance!

Brilliant Exuberance
Black marker on Moleskine paper
8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
I worked all day today with wonderful women.
I painted one of these friends recently, and
today had a try at drawing my friend
Courtney.  She is helping me work on
web development, and while she questioned
me and worked I drew her.

Make that three tries.  Her joyous expression,
huge, gorgeous eyes, intelligent kindness and
humour are hard to define with a pen and
paper.  I came the closest by photographing
her and drawing the photo upside down.

Mike Dooley says to "expect miracles every
day."  I think the companion to that idea
is noticing them.  The two women who helped me
out today are miraculously fantastic.

Have a noticing-miracles day.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Now that's what we call Cold. Brrr!

Fiona and me
Black marker on Moleskine paper
8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
Happy one week in 2015. It's been an eventful
one. My drawing tonight is of me with my
Siamese cat, Fiona, who looks like a mouse
from above -- a very big mouse.  Fiona is like
a familiar to me, she both loves me
and scolds me on the rare occasions
when I step out of line in her opinion.
She finds the current Toronto temperatures
of minus 30 degrees Celsius with the
windchill disturbing, so is shown here trying
to warm up by snuggling against a
human.  Me.

Have-a keeping-warm-and-cozy 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!