Sunday, February 28, 2016

Daddy would have liked this

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
 24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2016
As a matter of fact my father would have loved
Pugwash, Nova Scotia, where we have our school
house.  That part of Canada has so many things he
liked -- relatively untamed nature, people who
love art, ocean scenes and delicious food.
Flowers at Mazinaw
Oil on board
24 x 36 inches
© W.W. Muir (date unknown)
I'm thinking about my father today as I work
on finishing this painting set in Nova Scotia.  
Not quite there.  It's his birthday today, and on
February 28, every year I think of my father
-- of his art, his incredible photography,
his voice, his humour, his hugs, his laughter,
and the sure understanding I had as I grew older
that he loved me.

Have a remembering-people-you-love day.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How and why?

What I've shown so far, in the Facebook, 5 paintings in 5 days challenge.
It's Day 3.

From left to right:
Summer clouds Wallace Bridge   Now that looks good! Wonder Water Image #6
Acrylic on canvas                           Acrylic on canvas          Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches                                 24 x 24 inches               30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014                  Barbara Muir © 2015     Barbara Muir © 2015

I was thinking about how people see the other day.
I was at a family member's house and we were
debating the colour of a chair I've always
loved.  It is a true vermillion -- to the red side
of that colour.

The next day I thought that what separates
visual artists from other people is the idea of "how?"
When we look at anything, our mate, our breakfast,
our backyard, our car, our cat -- we're thinking, 'how?'
How would I paint that, or draw that?  We take
vision beyond the visual, into the realm of what
we make from what we see.  It's a delicious,
frustrating and wildly exciting way to look at the
world, and I'm enormously grateful to be captivated
by art's spell.

Right now I'm doing the 5 paintings in 5 days project
on Facebook, and it's reminding me of the many
ways I've tried to figure out the how.  I am a bit
braver now than I was a few years back.  I want to
try taking my favorite visions beyond memory
and into either a painting or drawing.

But why?  The why in my case is all about
emotion.  The look of a place, a meal, a face --
moves me to want to try a painting. At first
I might feel out of my depth, but if I keep on
going, sometimes the magic Elizabeth Gilbert talks
about in her book Big Magic takes over, and I feel
so happy to have made something new.

Have a living-for-how-and-why day.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Making magic happen -- takes time.

 Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2016
(The colour is not quite right.
I'll try and get a better picture tomorrow).

I wrote this post without this first thought attached,
read it and thought what?  For Valentine's Day
I bought my husband a cushion that says,
"Today I will make magic happen."  I got it
to let him know how special he is to me, and
to remind me of how magical it feels to live
with someone you love, and to get to experience
what Elizabeth Gilbert calls "Big Magic" --
the creative experience.  For me that's making art.
And teaching.

Occasionally people who don't make art want
to harness the process.  How does it work?
I would not like to be tracked all day as I paint,
then have a tea, read, then paint again, then sit
wondering about what I'm doing.  A non-painter
might go mad watching me.

But one of the questions artists get frequently is
"so how long does it take you to do a
painting?"  I don't know how this question
applies to our bizarre craft exactly, but one of
my artist friends answers, "50 years -- that's how
long I've been alive and working on becoming the
artist you see now."  That answer makes me laugh,
but in practical time-spent-on-the-work terms,
each painting is different.

Artists have to decide how much to charge for
their work based on something -- my rate sheet
is based essentially on size. But some work takes
what feels like a long, long time to look
like you just got excited and made it in an afternoon,
and other work happens joyfully quickly and looks
like it was painstakingly produced.  See? Hard to
answer.  So here's what I'm working on now --
a work in progress. Not quite done.  But it will be.

And the reason you haven't seen any work here
for awhile?  This painting falls into the first category.  It's
a painting of the schoolyard in my neighbourhood,
just across the street and up the hill.   As tempted
as I am to paint the bridge leading to the Grand
Palais in Paris -- which I dream of every night
since my last visit to that beautiful city in October --
for my upcoming landscape show I'm taking the best
advice to artists of every type, and starting with what I know,
and going from there.

Have a loving-your-own-neighbourhood 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!