Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Happy People Project attracts Dutch media! -- over the moon Happy!

 The photo of me and Miranda Brouwers appearing in the
Dutch newspaper, The Carillon today.
We are standing in front of the landscapes
Miranda showed at the Florence Biennale in October.

Miranda Brouwers, a friend I met in Italy,
was the woman who started the Happy People Project
with me at the Florence Biennale in October.  We
encouraged friends we met at the Biennale to put
their hands in the air for 2 minutes to improve
their mood and make them happy.  And it worked.

Since her return from the Biennale, Miranda has
attracted a lot of attention in Holland for the
beautiful landscapes she paints of the area where
she lives in Lage Zwaluwe (which means Low
Swallows).  This December she was part of
the Serious Request Project, a fundraiser
broadcast all day and night in the Netherlands
from December 18 - 23 by top Dutch radio and TV personalities.
Her painting, Aankondiging van de lente (Spring is in
the air) was auctioned off by the Red Cross to raise money
for the Syrian refugees, and was in a special show at the
Royal Talens Experience Center.

Low Swallows with the Bidding Ad for Serious Request
Today Miranda is featured in the Dutch Newspaper,
the Carillon. Miranda spoke about her experience at
the Biennale, how wonderful it was to be with other artists
trying to make the world a more beautiful place.  She
was delighted that she now would have opportunities
to show her work anywhere in the world, China, New York,
and other spots in Europe.

 The article in the Carillon
The title translates I couldn't have imagined this in 
my wildest dreams
In the interview for the article, Miranda explained
when asked about the best thing she experienced at
the Florence Biennale, the wonderful artists she met --
and she told me over the phone, "You (meaning me) and
 the Happy People Project."  She loved the fact that
we helped each other to be happy, and we've continued
to do that now that we are thousands of miles apart.

It was ironic that we were so busy taking photographs
of Biennale artists putting their hands in the air in the
Amy Cuddy, winning and cortisol lowering position -- that
we didn't have a shot of the two of us raising our
arms together.

So here is the photo that will go in the paper,
and a shot of the article in the paper.  Very exciting.

Have a making-joyous-friendships day.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy Holidays and why I sign my letters XOXOXOXOXOXO

Forgive the blurry pictures.  They were taken on the run
with my cell phone in poor light.  But this is me with 
Sofia Rukoiatkina at the Idea Arts and Crafts
fair at Super Wonder Gallery a week ago.  Since then 
things have been superbusy.  Sofia was an amazing help 
to me at the show, and a support for my course on Creativity 
at U. of T. in November.  Thank you Sofia.

At this time of year when we're getting together with
family and friends a part of me is thinking about
who I wish I could see, could toast with a glass of
champagne, or sit down and have a coffee and a
cookie with and share a joke, or happy anecdote.

To all my friends and family who cannot be in
Toronto this year for the holidays, please know
that I love you and you are in my heart.

I learned the strong power of love when I held
my mother's hand as she lay dying.  It was
not about regret, although of course I wish I
could have spent more time with her.  My sadness
was about knowing I couldn't see her, hug her
and speak with her again.

After she died I knew I had to live to the fullest,
not for her, but because she would want me to.
And I understood in the most intense way
possible that however many years I had left on
the planet, they would not be enough to give
out enough love to the people I care about,
and to the world.

I don't mean to overpower people with the
XOXOXOXOXO.  I just mean to say I know
without question that however many X's and
O's I can put at the end of a note they will never
convey how important the concept of being
loving and kind is to me.
One of the delightful surprises of the Idea Show
was the Healer Gaspar.  Until I spoke with him I
wondered what he was up to.  But he had a wonderful,
kind and loving way about him, and during the
show healed at least five people I knew of of
severe migraines and definitely helped people's moods!
He even let us take amusing pictures with the pryamid shape
on top of his booth. He was a super pleasure to meet.
All of Gaspar's efforts were directed at helping 
people be happier.  And he was very good at 
solving problems for the people he talked to.

Many friends at this time of year are sharing
ideas about beliefs and ceremonies they
enjoy.  But the common thread in everyone's
background is the importance of love and kindness.

Thank you for yours in 2015, and thank you
to all my friends and family for a magnificent

Sofia, the skeptic tries out the triangle and maybe some
meditation.  She really enjoyed the weekend --
 so much fun.   
XOXOXOXOXO Sofia, and to all of my friends and family everywhere.  
Happy, Happy NewYear.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Never the same twice -- the artist's life

Snow scene Cherrywood
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
This week I've been working on a commission for
a client who really liked a painting that was on my
blog, but was gone.  My job?  Try to recreate that
painting based on photographs.

The house is across the street from me, and I've
painted it many times in different seasons, just
because it's directly in my view.  Artists tend
to paint what they see.  But trying to redo what
we've already done is a completely different scenario.

I know there are whole schools that teach the
fine art of copying,  and people deeply immersed
in every brushstroke of Vermeer, and Bouguereau,
but my job was to try and copy me.  And nothing
ever looks the same way twice.  An artist's quandary.

Still I did have fun trying, and I like this version
better than the original, and that is an artist's

I hope you enjoy it.

Have a trying-to-walk-in-your-footsteps day.

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Stubborn gladness" -- Elizabeth Gilbert's recommendation for creativity

 Pugwash Flower People
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic this week.
I became a fan of hers reading The Signature of All Things, a
spectacular novel, the writing unlike anything I'd seen
of hers before.  That made me want to read Big Magic,
plus I'd just finished teaching a course on Creativity
(Nourishing Creativity) at Emmanuel College at
the University of Toronto, so I was psyched on the subject.

Gilbert's concept of approaching creativity with "stubborn
gladness" appeals to me. I am sure I inherited my
determination to be happy from my mother who stayed
stubbornly happy to the end of her life, despite losing
her eyesight, severe arthritis, and a lung disease that
left her coughing horribly in phone calls where she
was describing something she'd read with giant
magnifiers, and special light, or heard on the radio,
or enjoyed at a friend's house that inspired, delighted or
even infuriated her.  She was definitely stubborn, and
determined to take every bit of joy she could in
her existence.  That didn't mean she ignored the world,
she was deeply committed to it, volunteering to help
children with disabilities swim when she was younger,
taking meals to the elderly until she couldn't see well
enough to drive.

Artists who claim to be painting about joy can be
dismissed as shallow.  But I believe that finding the
joy in life is an important part of why we're here.
If we don't take any joy in our love lives, our
family, the places we visit and the places where
we live, how can we commit to caring for, and
nurturing, and sheltering, and celebrating the lives
we are living.

Gilbert's book is a treat for anyone in a creative
field.  I am loving it (and I am a novel reader).
I am busy now working on a commission, but
here is a painting from a few years back, that is
all about the wonder of loving life. The subjects
in my painting work hard at creating beauty --
developing specimens of flowers that are sold
all over North America, and have been featured
in Martha Stewart Living magazine.  Yet they
are the most kind, humble lovely people,
and crazy about each other.

Have a living with "stubborn gladness" 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: barbara.muir@sympatico.ca
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!