Friday, July 21, 2017

Joyous rain -- artists are complicated

Rain Ahead
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017

Talking to my wonderful friend in the Netherlands
this morning, we touched on rain.  I always find
the divide between what goes on in the studio --
(what really goes on -- painting), and what is
imagined to be happening -- both surprising and

So my friend said that people assume that when
we artists paint a grey sky, or a rain filled image that
we are gloomy.  But no.  Because we love the look
of rain too!  Landscape painters love weather and
change, and find beauty in nature's variety.

I don't think I've shown you a photo of this painting
 -- Rain Ahead -- capturing the amazing rain my husband
 and I saw driving home to Toronto from Ottawa on our
 anniversary weekend.

Have a happy in rain, or shine day.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The total joy of happy collectors!

A collector's arrangement of Barbara Muir works.  © Barbara Muir.
I love these three paintings which all glorify daily life -- my intention
when I painted them.  And it makes me happy to see that. Thank
you to a wonderful collector.

Is there anything better for an artist than being
taken through someone's house to see the place
where your art is displayed?  No way!  You
dream up ideas in the night, you plan, and paint
and think about your work.  And then in a show,
or a private viewing -- Woo Hoo!  It sells.

Yes.  That is a huge thrill, made even bigger
if possible, by a collector who shows you
how your work looks with wide, wide smiles
beaming with pride.  Whew!  Knock me out!

One such wonderful collector sent me this photo
of my work yesterday.  What a delight.

Have a loving-your-collectors day!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Walking in a dream

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017

The gift of landscape painting -- is that what you love is
around you all the time.  It was the most beautiful
and long spring this year, and is now a magnificent
summer.  This painting is of crabapple trees a short
walk from my house that felt like a fantastic party in
pink at the height of their glory.

Our winter was so grey it was recorded as one of the
longest winters without sun in some time.  So to step
out of the house and see this was like a spectacular
present -- a miracle.

I have loved working on the painting, and it's almost done.

Have a loving-what-you-see day.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pop Up Art Show opens tomorrow -- Come on out!

I have three pieces in the Independents Show opening
tomorrow night.  Come on out to 1340 Queen Street
West between 7 and 11 p.m. tomorrow night and I'll
see you there.  Admission is free -- it's a big show --
wonderful work, and this is the party we've been
waiting for.  See you there.  One of my paintings is
in the bottom right hand corner of the ad above.

Have a going to an art show evening (tomorrow).

Friday, June 23, 2017

Happy Anniversary Steven My Love

The two of us in Quebec City
watercolour and marker on
watercolour paper
9 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

Today is our wedding anniversary, and I just want to
thank my wonderful husband for the sweet life we
have together.  I am one lucky woman. I love you

A couple of days ago a friend on Facebook posted a
piece about treating each day as your last, and got
me thinking about the opposite, treating each day
as your first!  Eh?  Not a bad idea.  I've been doing
that ever since and enjoying every day so much.

 I wake up in the morning and think -- this is my
first day on the planet, and okay I'm a grown woman.
But wow I'm married to a gorgeous man, who loves
me.  I have a super family -- two wonderful sons,
a daughter-in-law I love, my son's girlfriend, who I
love, and baby Alice who visited today who I love.

Everything in my life seems fantastic -- almost magical
viewed this way.  And of course that is how artists see
all the time -- in some ways. We are quite often high on life,
but this idea takes it to a new level.  Wonder at everything.
And back to this day.  What a treat it is to love someone
with all of your heart, and to be loved back equally.
A miracle. I am so grateful that that's been my reality.

I have been absent from the blog because I agreed to teach
a 7 week course a couple of evenings a week, but it took up
 all of my time.  Don't worry I am coming back.  I had a
wonderful time teaching, and learned a lot.

Meanwhile -- this is our anniversary, so I'm posting a
portrait I did a few years ago of the two of us.  It doesn't
look like us really, but the mood is there.

Have an enjoying-your-life-as-though-it's-brand-new day.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

On the days between -- my love to you!

Before the Dance in the White Dress
Part of the Dance series
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 
(Thank you to my sweet niece Chloé for posing for this one)
I am probably the most cheerful artist you know.  Or one of
them.  Not because of a life free from problems, or because
I am wildly successful, or even because of art itself.  I just
simply am.  Right now the loudest sound in this huge city
other than my typing is a Robin chirping on the back porch.

That could be why I am happy right now.  Or is it the kitchen
table with it's little silver tray crammed with white cream pitchers
filled with purple and yellow pansies?  Or the dog wondering
if I will eat more soon, and if so could she maybe have a taste?
Or could it be that this is one of slowest, wettest, most beautiful
springs in recent memory -- that new spring green just lasts and
lasts captivating me. Or is it -- yes it is -- knowing that you are
out there with your wonderful creativity, your affection, your life
lessons, and inspiration.  Thank you.

Art sometimes is slow in coming.  I am working on a very happy
painting now, but it is not a fast painting.  And when I don't write
I miss you.  What to do?  How about showing you a painting from
my Dance series of a few years back that I am very proud of.
This series was about young people on the edge of life in "Before
the Dance" paintings, and grew to include people "At the dance",
and even "After the dance." I'll show you what I'm working on soon.

Have a loving-your-life day!        

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

An iconic Nova Scotia landmark -- home in Ontario

The House on the Hill #2
Acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
This house -- is a perfect example of a Nova Scotia
clapboard farmhouse.  It's a sight I crave when I'm not
in the province. This particular house means that we
are almost there -- almost to the small town of Pugwash,
almost to our school house -- almost home to Nova

I have never met the owners, who would probably be
flabbergasted that I've painted their house more than once.
In fact this painting needs to have a #2 added to its name
because I sold a different view of it last year with the
same name!

What is particularly happy news for me is that the sight
of that house meant Nova Scotia, and nostalgia for a
beloved place to the buyer too.  So even though the
painting will live in Ontario, it will bring the beauty of
Nova Scotia to the collectors who now own it.

A very happy ending all round.  Thank you owners of
this iconic house.  Your house makes me happy every time
 I see it.

Have a loving-what-you-see day.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sometimes everything happens perfectly -- grace in action

A Perfect day
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
One of the things that makes me happiest about painting is
being able to create an image of a place, person or still life that captures
what I feel in the first moment of seeing what I'd like to paint.
As the painting goes on, even if the process makes it appear
simpler, the thrill is in the Aha, of "Yes! that's what I wanted to do!"

This painting has that, and it made me happier than I can describe
properly when a woman came to our This Magic Land show, and
stood in front of this scene caught up in her feeling about place.
The Maritimes landscapes are magical to her, and we share that
feeling.  So she took a photo of my work and went home to see
where it might fit.

Next day she came back eager to buy it, and had to wait until the
show came down.  At which point I packed it up for her, and off she

I love how that worked -- how I felt moved by the scene, and she
did too.  I loved how we talked about the Maritimes, and about the
peace we feel there.  And I love that my perceptions meant enough
to her that she took the painting home and put it up in her house.
In this artist's life that is grace in action.

Have a finding-the-art-you-love day.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Home again, home again to a wonderful new home

In the right place at the right time
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2016
This painting is a world traveler that's been to places
I've never been.  My lovely artist friend in the Netherlands,
Miranda Brouwers got me into an exhibition called
Kunst in Drimmelin in support of a nature reserve called
the Worp.  The whole painting experience was a delightful
example of international co-operation.  My friend wanted
a painting with my blue skies of her beloved spot.  She
sent me many photos, and I researched the look here in
Toronto at a marsh that looks quite similar.  The result --
my happy painting -- In the right place at the right time.

The painting traveled to the Netherlands rolled up in a tube,
was stretched by Miranda and exhibited in a beautiful church.
It came home just in time for another exhibition.

At the This Magic Land show the weekend before last it
sold to a collector who loved the painting featured on our
invitation, and enjoyed its back story too.  I was so delighted
to deliver the painting to a collector who commissioned a
poignant work years ago of her mother and father.

I know she and her partner will enjoy living with the painting
as much as I loved creating it.

Have a doing-the-work-you-love day!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers and children of the world

Some of my paintings of mothers (and grandmothers)
Happy Mother's Day.
One of my happiest roles in life is to be a mother to two sons.
And now the role gets better and better as my boys have
grown into men, and our family has expanded to include
my daughter-in-law, and my son's girlfriend, and to our
son and daughter-in-law's lovely baby, our granddaughter.

Sometimes I am baffled by how intelligent we are as
children.  And something I knew that I wanted to be from
about three on was a mother.  Of course I admired and loved
my own mother, and she was the original inspiration for
that dream.  But I also loved babies and children and
took care of them, and was paid to do so from the moment
I was big enough to hold a baby.

A great thing about the connection to humanity through
your children, is that as your children grow up, you love
every age they reach, which makes you love and understand
children going through all of the stages of baby to adult.
That is very helpful when I'm teaching young and even
older adults.  We all started out as eager, loving, curious
beings.  And the glorious thing about that, is that it is
all still inside us -- that wonder, curiosity and eagerness
to learn.

Much love to my children, my family, my friends, collectors,
and to all the mothers, children and families in the world, and
to my wonderful husband who made my dreams come true!
Thank you.

Having a loving your mother and mothering day

Thursday, May 11, 2017

To the beaches -- we fans can't stay away

Winter at the beach
Acrylic on cradled birch panel
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017

Coming back to Toronto after being away sometimes
makes me sad.  Take being off in Paris for instance --
seeing truly magnificent architecture and art -- for a few
days Toronto can seem small, and not quite with it.  The
answer to my "other city homesickness" is the beaches.

My husband knows me so well, that at the first sign of
my overwhelming longing to be somewhere else he takes
me to our favourite, quiet little beach in Toronto.  But if
at all possible, on weekends he may try an even more
profound cure, and take me as far as Port Stanley on
Lake Erie.  This is how this little painting came about.

We head to the beach in all weather -- and this is Port
Stanley in winter.  The collector who bought the piece
knows that drive along the lakes well, and is also a fan
of beaches in all weather.  So this quiet scene sold to a
really good and appreciative home.  Thank you to the
collector, and to my dear Steven.

Have a heading-down-to-the-beach day!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

First choice -- the joy of a long distance summer drive

Best summer drive
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
As promised, for the next few days I'll feature work that sold
in the show last weekend with Gill Cameron -- This Magic Land.
I have a friend who makes fun of my positive stance on the world.
But views like this on long drives, on a perfect day, definitely bolster
my spirits.

Our two sons both went to the University of Windsor -- which
seemed ironic to me because I left that town with my family
when I was four -- and moved to Ottawa.  But the university,
especially the acting program, was a wonderful place for
my children.  And we got used to frequently making the journey
from Toronto to Windsor, which is about a 4 1/2 hour drive.

Over the years we started to look forward to seeing the stretches
of wide open countryside, farms and windmills, and all of the
nature along the highway.  This is one view -- quite beautiful trees
next to the road.

Have a loving-the best-long-drives day

Monday, May 8, 2017

300,000 + hits! And the lemons go home

Studio lemons in a glass bowl 
(final version)
Acrylic on cradled birch panel
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
What a gorgeous sunny day we had today here after four
days of rain.  Parts of the country in low lying levels,
near rivers are seriously flooded, so sunshine and no rain means
the chance of the waters receding -- critically important news
for the people who have been evacuated from their homes.

On a lighter note I've been watching my blog stats to see when
I'd reach 300,000 hits and it happened last weekend when I was
so busy sitting the This Magic Land art exhibition with Gill Cameron,
that I couldn't even take in that fact, but I am so pleased to see that

Plus I thought this week when I have time I'll write about
what has sold in the past week.  This painting of lemons is
first because the collector ordered it delivered when she got
home from her winter vacation, and it was sold before we
opened our art show this weekend, so couldn't be in the
show.  Today I took a leisurely drive up through gorgeous
countryside to Aurora north of Toronto, to take the painting
to its new home.

And the collector was delighted with the work.  So am I.
After a wonderful weekend at our show despite the rain,
the story continues and this was a superb day.

Have a loving-your-life day.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Come on out -- enjoy the last day of the This Magic Land Show!

Some of my paintings in the This Magic Land show, open today Sunday, and 
then closing at the end of the day.  The center painting is 60 inches wide, so
it is hard to get the scale of this.  I took some pictures with my phone during
set up, and some just before our two openings, so I may get better, clearer
images tomorrow.  Meanwhile this is a 10 foot wide image to give you a sense
of scale.

So touching to see so many friendly faces, at our openings
Thursday and Friday night, and during the day on Thursday,
Friday and Saturday.  Today is the last day.  And I think it's a
magnificent show, so come on out between 11 and 3 and we
will be there!

Here are some images from the show.  The Wychwood Barns
Gallery off Wychwood in Toronto is a beautiful space, and
it showcases our work beautifully.

I took some of these photos before the labels were up. But you get an impression of the scope.
We'd love to see you.

Have a visiting an art show (ours) day. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Wonderful openings -- Magic Land -- a great escape

Gill Cameron and me in front of our art. 
Gill's work is in watercolour and mine
is in acrylic.
Super fun tonight at the Friday night opening of the Magic
Land show featuring watercolours by Gill Cameron, and
works in acrylic by yours truly.  This was our second evening
in the double openings for the exhibition and a great crowd
came out despite the second day of heavy rain, to bask in
our warm, sunlit landscapes and and enjoy a happy atmosphere
and great conversation.
Friend from the Brickworks Market, Staz 
with his friend Nicole. 
A beautiful couple to start the party
The Youngest guest likes the art 
and the crackers and cheese
To be compared to past artists is always  unnerving but Gill
and I received an amazing compliment from one guest tonight who
said that Gill's work reminded her of Lawren Harris's work,
and mine of Tom Thomson's paintings.  Now in Canada that
was a very high compliment, and that made me happy for the rest of
the night.

Some views of the art :

I'll post more tomorrow.  Super tired right now.

Have an enjoying art day.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Come out to our show and Belated Happy Birthday Hugo!

The happiest view (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 60 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
This weekend my friend Gill Cameron and I are having a show at
the Wychwood Barns in Toronto -- with openings on Thursday
and on Friday night from 6 - 9 p.m..  Please come out if you're in
town.  We can't wait to see you.

I'm posting a painting that I'm working on -- just about finished. This one is
going on tonight in belated honour of Hugo Leemeijer in the Netherlands, 
who turned 15 last week.  I met Hugo and his brother Marnix with their parents,
my wonderful friends Miranda Brouwers and her husband Rolf Leemeijer last October 
in Paris.  Hugo and Marnix were amazing young men -- Dutch and -- totally
fluent in both French and English. So much so that Hugo and I got along very well.  
He always got my jokes, and groaned the way teenagers are supposed to.

Happy Birthday to Hugo. I wish him a super year, and I wish your whole
family could be here this weekend Hugo, so you could come out to our show and
see this painting when it's finished.  Meanwhile have fun on your
new boat! It would be very happy on the Atlantic ocean pictured here
near Pugwash, Nova Scotia.

Have a celebrating friends and art day. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Please come out to our show!

Next week on Thursday and Friday evening from 6 - 9 p.m.
my friend Gill Cameron and I are hosting our 12th show
together.  The show title This Magic Land, is in celebration
of Canada's 150th birthday this year.  Both Gill and I are entranced
by the Canadian landscape, and it's unique appeal.  Our work
shows well together -- Gill's lush watercolours are magnificent.
And my acrylic work, mostly in bright colour adds to the theme
of loving this country and the planet.

Whether I'm painting landscapes, people or still life --
my hope is that I am bringing the beauty and joy I feel
capturing the visual world to the people who see my work.
That's also the feeling I get when I look at Gill's paintings.

Please come out and join us next week. We are having a double
opening.  Come Thursday night, or Friday night, or both
for super parties, and lots of fun!

Have a planning to go to an art show day.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A strong inner voice -- and the ecstasy of beauty

Untitled (Work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
I went for a short walk tonight in the freezing cold rain.
Spring is trying its best, but blossoms were blowing off
trees.  Someone else would find it grim.  Yet in the
few minutes I was out I saw raindrops on branches,
and jewels of light shimmering on pine trees like
decorations.  The visual hits kept coming.

As I walked I thought about the people we can encounter as
artists who try to make us feel like we don't know
what we're doing.  Or try to define us as a certain "type of
artist." It's a strange job.  My advice is cultivate lovely
people to support you -- I am lucky to have those people
and thank you so much. Plus work on getting a strong
inner voice.  Not always easy in the face of our own and
others' thinking, but vitally important.  Artists need to
talk themselves into it, into carrying on, into feeling
happy.  That voice matters.  The one that says -- 'yes
it's coming along.'

This painting is almost done.  There are a few things I'll
work on.  But it's doing what I hoped it would do --
express my love and wonder for the east coast landscape
I revel in each summer.

Have an enjoying-who-you-are day.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday -- and it was good

Nightfall Cherrywood
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 

I'm afraid I didn't paint today, but devoted the day to
my husband who had a remarkably rare day off.  We
are devastated by the news of more war, of and an
increase in world violence, and worry about what we can do.

Meanwhile, it was a gorgeous day here and we
took a walk past lawns vibrant with bluebells,
a pond with ducks, forsythia bushes and tall
glorious trees.

Here is a little painting I did in plein air on my front
porch looking across the street eight years ago.
It does capture the love I have for my city and my
neighbourhood.  The trees are not out like this yet,
but they will be soon.  So wonderful.

Have a beautiful weekend.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring transformation!

Pansy design -- Pansy paintings, Left and right (flipped)Positively pansies
Acrylic on birch panel, 5 x 7 inches, Barbara Muir © 2014
Center --We're Here, Acrylic on birch panel, 5 x 7 inches, Barbara Muir © 2014

It is funny to be writing about spring tonight when
it is sooooo cold.  We've had days this week when
a friend actually spotted someone lying on a Toronto
beach in a bathing suit sunbathing -- but that is not
today.  Winter doesn't want to let go.  It is the coldest
day we've had in weeks. Winter coat weather.

Still spring is winning.  Sorry winter -- a small walk
in the neighbourhood treats us to carpets of gorgeous
bluebells under trees, surrounded by bright yellow,
mauve and purple crocuses, and even tiny vibrant
purple irises. Forsythia bushes are bursting out in yellow.
That gorgeous tender spring green is quietly budding
in every tree!  Wahoo!

And Torontonians' confidence that spring is here to
stay is clear in joyous pots of pansies that flank front
steps -- so pretty and suddenly rich with colour
that our hearts melt in appreciation.

This was my last once a week evening class --
and I thought I'd celebrate with a pansy
painting design.

Have a three cheers for spring day.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thank Goodness for Harold the Bunny

Harold and the Blue Eggs
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir ©
A few Easters ago thinking about the Easter Bunny,
who has played a huge role in my children's memories
of Easter -- I remembered my sweet bunny Harold
the rabbit, and painted this painting to celebrate her.
I am glad I can show her portrait each Easter when
it seems life is really hopping.

Harold was a bunny I owned in my last two years
of university.  She was very pretty, with hot ears,
and gave me a little extra clout of cool when I took
her to parties with me, very dressed up as I used to
be.  She didn't mind parties, but as her owner I had
to clean up the odd mess she'd make under couches,
very discreetly.

She got along with my cat, and lived a happy life.
That is she did until I moved in with a boyfriend
in a place north of Toronto, and she got out
and excited the landlord's loud barking dog.
She was not hurt I don't think, but she died of
a heart attack, because I didn't know you should
have brandy on hand as a tranquillizer if you
have a rabbit for a pet.

That may well be why that particular romance
with that young man didn't last.  My husband
grew up on a farm, and knows a lot about nurturing

Have an enjoying your animals day.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Fast sketch of the Worp

Trees at the Worp -- fast sketch
Pastel, oil pastel, coloured pencil on
Maison Haute Couleurs Charvin Paper
7 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
I was super moved my some photo reference I found
today of the Worp nature reserve near my friend Miranda
in the Netherlands so I did a fast sketch.

I used pastel (and I think they were mine at art school --
so are very old and dry), oil pastel and coloured pencil.
I was breaking probably every rule and rediscovering why I
like paint.

But I had a lot of fun, and heightened my incredible
admiration for pastel artists like my friend Marcia

Have a trying what you don't normally use day.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Light -- the whole story

Speeding landscape
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir ©
Light was the whole story today -- because this city
was blessed with one of the most fantastic spring
days.  Perfect temperature -- warm with a cool
edge -- perfect bluer than blue sky, and sunlight
bouncing off every face, every surface, every
couple's clasped hands, every one of the millions
of cars clogging the streets with their passengers'
newfound energy and need for an excursion.

It was like a party.  And we went to the market,
bought some groceries, got our glasses tightened
by wonderful Joe at Optik Zone, so I could keep
reading my Peter Mayle books.  And we sat on
the back porch in the brilliant light with the
cats and the dog, and felt revived.  We made it
through the winter!  It was a really easy winter --
not very cold, and hardly any snow -- but grey
as all get out, overcast, gloomy -- and hey it did
snow yesterday adding to today's miracle.

I did not paint today -- so I give you this one from
a few years ago -- which is about the light seen out
of the window of a car driving through a rural landscape.
Seemed right.

Have an enjoying-the-light day.

Friday, April 7, 2017

A love of bright colour

Fall in Bear River
Acrylic on canvas
10 x 10 inches
© Barbara Muir 
I painted this piece to honour  Flora Doehler
who moved from Toronto a number of years ago to 
the little town of Bear River in Nova Scotia,
where she has been a very happy citizen along
with her wonderful husband Larry Knox.  

Flora Doehler is one of my favourite painters and a friend.
She paints in vibrant colours that leap off the canvas, and
captivate her collectors.  And I am in constant awe of 
her work.  

So my painting Fall in Bear River was painted a few years
back to celebrate both Flora and Larry's brave move from
urban Toronto, to semi rural Nova Scotia, and to show
the beauty of that area, which we've visited many times.

Have a loving-nature's-beauty day.  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The lure of room service breakfast

Breakfast fit for a queen
Black marker on Fringe drawing paper
9 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017

It's a cold night in Toronto -- with, of all things
snow in the forecast.  Uh huh, and before that a
deluge of rain and freezing winds.  Not a party.

No wonder I decided when I got home from
my Wednesday night class to do a drawing of
a room service breakfast.  This one was in
the Queen Elizabeth, Reine Elizabeth hotel
in Montreal, which I see is temporarily closed.

That makes me nervous because it was a
beautiful hotel, that understood the magic of
room service, of white table cloths and silver
coffee pots, and creamers and sugar bowls.
I think room service breakfasts are one of
the most romantic meals.  There is no
hurry.  You can savour every bite -- in this
case oatmeal with berries, brown sugar and
milk, perfectly served, perfectly hot --
and coffee -- lots of it.

There is nothing like the luxury of eating in
your room with your sweetheart, and then
dawdling through the morning, reading the
local paper and your book, finishing your
coffee -- okay I'm dreaming, and it's time
for bed.

Have an enjoying thoughts of food day

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

French clouds and Peter Mayle

Untitled (detail)
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
I don't know if you've ever read anything by the author
Peter Mayle, but I am on a definite addictive streak now
with his writing.  I think I picked Toujours Provence
up in one of those little book libraries that look like
houses that people in my neighbourhood have on their
front lawns.

It was sheer delight to read as I was trying to ward off
 a horrible cold, with hot lemon and thinking
positively.  The book was a godsend.  So Steven took
me to the bookstore and I bought three more.  They
describe life in the south of France, Provence -- that
I visited long ago, and where I would love to return.

Peter Mayle had to leave France for awhile because
his readers -- fans -- found him, and even let themselves
into his house uninvited.  But after a short stint in Long
Island he and his wife had to get back to their beloved
Provence.  I must say I get it.  These are not French
clouds.  But they're the beginning of a new painting,
and they have been at least partially inspired by
absolutely brilliant and delicious writing.

Have a getting a favourite book day.

Monday, April 3, 2017

In the halls of academia -- the concept of culture

View from the highway
Acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
(99.99% finished)

I am lucky to have lovely bosses now when I teach
English, but an exercise I used to do with my classes,
is not possible with night classes.

A few years ago I had a wonderful boss who
encouraged me to carry out one of the best
teaching exercises I ever did.  We were studying
an essay on Vimy Ridge, and the park in France given
to Canadians in thanks after World War I.  So I took my
students to the Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario on its
free night to look at Canadian art from that period.
(It's 100 years since the Canadians took Vimy Ridge.)

Most students had never been to a gallery before, and
the AGO is gorgeous.  They were entranced
from minute one. Each student had to write about
a different artist, and connect it to the article in the text.
I loved watching them argue and jostle to try and claim
the painting they loved the best before anyone else.

They had so much fun!  Afterwards they'd go out to one of
the restaurants in the area.  They organized drives for one
another, or took the TTC, and this was inevitably the high
point of their semester.

Sadly my boss retired and the next boss at that college
didn't get the connection between art and literature.
 So that wonderful series of outings ended.  But before
 it did I was at the art gallery one day, and a docent yelled
 out, "Barbara!" and let me and my friend move to the front
of a long lineup to see a special exhibition.  His trip to the
gallery with my class a few years before had turned him on
to the world of art, and he was now working there.  How
exciting! We were both delighted to see one another.

Have an enjoying-the-connections-in-culture day.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Messages to a cloud freak -- thanks Facebook

Pink light
Acrylic on canvas
Acrylic on canvas 
36 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © Revised 2017

Facebook turned up a memory today that hit me in a
powerful way.  First because I was so impressed with
what my students did in the class I described,
and second because I thought the painting shown in
the blog post needed work.

I read the inspiring thoughts on creativity my 2015
class had come up with and I was moved.  So I knew
I still had the painting that went with the blog, and thought
the whole piece deserved a second run.

Then I looked at the work.  I'd been out on a short
walk today and saw magnificent clouds that took my
breath away, and they were like the clouds in my painting
but -- they had room to breathe.  So I've revised this and
like it much more. I also got rid of the green trees at the
bottom and darkened them, because they were stealing the
clouds' magnificence.

Here are the thoughts from that class two years ago
on how to get out of a creative corner:

1. Go for a walk.
2. Dance to your favourite music.
3. Have a shower -- feeling clean makes you feel new.
4. Look at yourself in the mirror and say, 
"Hi you're wonderful, you can do it!"
5.  Leave the project alone and have a nap.
6. Better yet turn off the light and go to sleep for the night.
7. Call a supportive friend.
8.  Get over yourself.
9. Make a list of all of your accomplishments.
10. Eat your favourite food.
11.  Make a mind map planning out what to do.
12.  Write a series of questions and then wait and 
write down the answers as they come to you.
13. Take a ten minute break and then get back at it.

Pretty wonderful.  I'm grateful to them.
Have a seeing-with-fresh-eyes day!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Spring and Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson
Black marker on Fringe drawing paper
9 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
If you aren't Canadian you probably don't know
about Tom Thomson.  But here's who he is -- the
most famous Canadian painter.  Ever.  When I
go to the Art Gallery of Ontario -- the major art
gallery in Toronto, I can't leave without looking
at the Tom Thomsons.  His work is iconic,
revered, known by so many Canadians.  And
why spring?  No one captured the wild spring
landscape better than Tom Thomson.

Yet in the art world outside of Canada -- sorry, he is
not known, and certainly people don't have an
image in their minds of what he looks like.
You know Picasso, you know Berthe Morisot,
you know so many artists by their portraits.
But not Tom.

So I did this somewhat inaccurate little sketch
from a blurry photograph.  I know I will try
again. But I loved the look of this photo -- of
how young Tom Thomson looked with the fancy
white bow at his neck, and his vest and jacket.

The artist's mysterious death is a story that
haunts Canadians.  A consummate canoeist
he died drowning with fishing line wrapped
around his ankles.

Have a knowing-your-national-artists day.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Last day of March -- One overwhelming month!

Feeling thoughtful
Self portrait sketch
Black marker on Fringe drawing paper
9 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017

What with health issues in the family, what's going on
in the world, and daily worrying news this month has
required a team of cheerleaders, both outside in the
world and inside in my heart.  I do think I'm lucky
because I have those cheerleaders in my friends.  And
I thank you. Everyone I know is going through hard
times in some ways, but working so hard at being optimistic.

And then I listened to a show on CBC tonight about
a girl trying to escape from war torn Syria to Sweden
with her fiancé, but he drowned when the
smugglers running the boats, got angry with the
refugees and rammed their boat drowning 500 people.
This young woman was handed two stranger's babies,
and somehow survived and was rescued holding
the babies, wearing only a child's flotation device

She is now studying in Sweden where she wanted
 to be with her fiancé, and she is being treated well.
 But she hates the label "refugee." She says no one would
voluntarily leave a peaceful homeland. No one would take
such desperate chances unless they absolutely had no other

Have an enjoying-your-own-life day.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Drawing and thoughts on seeing

Cold day outside at the mall
Black marker on Fringe drawing paper
9 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
Here's another little drawing of the man outside the bookstore
a couple of weekends ago.  What I like about this one is
that the man is in his world, and the woman walking by is
in hers, and they are oblivious to the other person's

Super late, super tired.  Big shopping malls are a fascinating
subject for an artist, because everyone has an agenda, and
the rest of the world is backdrop.  Most of us don't see each
other, like the man and woman passing each other on a sidewalk
by the parking lot. (The square thing in front is a mailbox).

I painted today too, and think I've resolved something
that was bothering me.  But this is it for tonight.

Have an enjoying what you notice day.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Slow dancing with spring

Happy Morning in Port Philip
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
Thank goodness for my friends out there, and here
in Toronto, who keep me on track on positive
thinking.  It is the secret to life. Stay happy,
and whenever possible move on. If the negative
insists on being in your path, cross the street.

I am also indebted to Stephen Colbert and Jimmy
Fallon, whose humour frames the strange changes
the world is going through in an easier to take light.  

I did this iPad drawing the other day, and it was waiting
for me tonight when I came home from teaching my
evening class.  No time for painting today. I love the
pure, glorious colour that bounces out of my old iPad,
and begs me to upgrade to the latest iPad with the fancy
pencil, so I can have even more fun with this
drawing habit.  I do keep thinking of the amazing
show of Hockney's iPad drawings I saw in a gallery
in New York a couple of years ago.  Mind blowing.
Hockney is one of my art gods.  At the time there
was a Degas show on at the MoMA and it was
fascinating how both artists pieced together paper
to make larger images.

Have an all ready for spring day.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

More from the hospital -- on a beautiful day

Thinking about the crossword puzzle
Black marker on Fringe drawing paper
9 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
Strange to be spending time in a hospital with
relatives on a joyous, sunny spring day -- with
tulip leaves poking up in the garden.  But a blessing
in a way because in this vibrant city you get a
picture of how many people are sitting waiting in
hospitals for tests or surgeries worrying about
their lives.  Many, many people.  And in Canada
we are so lucky that all of these tests, treatments,
 and operations are free.
Worried Dad, Sick little girl
Black marker on Fringe drawing paper
9 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
Waiting for Mom
Black marker on Fringe drawing paper
9 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017

I did a few drawings sitting in several waiting
rooms, and am grateful to my family who
are there for each other, to my friends for the
sweet card left in the door, and even to my
country for making this care available to
In this together
Black marker on Fringe drawing paper
9 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
Trying to read and text
Black marker on Fringe drawing paper
9 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
Early morning -- the good nurse
Black marker on Fringe drawing paper
9 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
Thank you to all of you who support the work I do. 

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!