Sunday, December 30, 2018

The 2008th -- 2013th things I learned this year

Best summer drive
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
To continue to try and fulfill the challenge given to
me by the wonderful writer and photographer,
Howard Wolinksy to write about the 2018 things
I learned this year:

The 2008th thing I learned (again and again)

Be Happy!  Doesn't that sound simple? It is, but we
lose our way over such ridiculous things -- like
traffic.  Instead of thinking, 'I'm clean and dry and
listening to my music', we think, 'I can't move as
quickly as I want.  This bus, this train, this plane,
this car is not going fast enough.'  But the reality is
the whole thing -- my life -- is whizzing by, so I choose
to enjoy it and you.  And I am so blessed that my
family and friends are wonderful!

The 2009th thing I learned (again)

Coffee is important.  Don't knock it.  People like
me need three large cups to get moving, but when
we do get moving, we are usually pretty fun to be

The 2010th thing I learned

Art is healing.  As an artist I knew that.  When I'm painting
and things are going well, I do feel happy and my troubles
fall away.  But now hospitals, and therapists are taking
people to art galleries, because being around art makes
people feel better. And hospitals are installing art for
patients to enjoy!  This of course means that you would
feel great if you bought some art -- contact me! :-)

The 2011th thing I learned

Enjoy this moment.  Here I am alone late at night (early)
in the morning) writing to you, and it is wonderful.
The animals and my husband are all sleeping.  There
is absolute peace, and it is fabulous.  I'm reading
Art Before Breakfast by Danny Gregory, and he
talks about noticing everything and enjoying the moment.
It is a super book, and at a time when family
demands make it hard to find time to paint, he has
got me drawing in every spare minute.

The 2012th thing I learned (again and again)

Teaching is a two way street. I teach writing once a week.
And I learned that my students can teach me things, and do
all the time.  For instance did you know that most
tea bags now (the paper part), are made with plastic?
Not great -- but good to know.  I wrote to the company
that made most of the tea bags we use, and they
 they replied that 'yes they do use plastic, but they're
working on it!' I now drink from a brand that does not
use plastic in its bags, and am grateful the student who
pointed this fact out every day.

The 2013th thing I learned (again.)

Love matters, so I want to show the world that
I love the planet, show the people who love me that
I love them back.  Some people may find it corny
or insincere if I tell them I love them.  But
I know that it matters.  People now are saying that they
hated 2018.  I'm a reader, and try to keep up with the
news, and know it has been a very tough year.  But I am
so moved by the kindness people show each other, even in the
hardest situations. And I'm moved by the people in
my life, who care, make me laugh, and will listen
when times are tough. After my mother died I realized
that even though I told her I loved her every time we spoke,
or saw one another, that we can really never tell each
other too often that we love one another.  Love does matter.

Have a loving what you learned in 2018 day.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The 2005, 2006 and 2007 things I learned this year

A collage of some of my portraits
© Barbara Muir
I put this together, because listening
to myself -- I would like to get back
to painting portraits from time to 
time.  Landscape has become my love,
but people are so compelling,
and fascinating. 

The 2005th thing I learned: Listen
Continuing the challenge from Howard Wolinsky to come up with
2018 things I learned in 2018, I work in part in a talking industry,
maybe entirely in talking industries.  As artists, we have to pull
ourselves out of our studios, get on decent clothes and stand in
front of something we painted all alone listening to music or our
own thoughts, and talk about the work.  As a teacher I tell stories
to try to keep my students engaged.  But what everyone in the world
wants is to be heard.  So we talkers have to be quiet and listen.  There's
a peace in that too.  As a break from trying to compose
something special, we can go out and listen to nature, take the
head phones off, shut off the phone and listen.  Which is why
I love the ocean.  It insists.  You have to listen, and it is the rhythm
of the planet, in and out like our breathing that calms us down.

The 2006th thing I learned (again):  Trust myself
This one's easy.  If something seems wonderful, and all of my
instincts tells me it's true -- I go with it.  But speaking of
listening, if everything both inside and outside of me says,
"No!  This is a bad idea, this seems really crazy."  I
am probably right.  At least I am about 80% possibly
right about this for me.

The 2007th thing I learned (again):  Read
I just listened to a CBC program on how populist politics gain
control, and erode democracies -- and the speaker suggested that the
main way, especially with younger populations, is that people don't
read.  Add not reading to not traveling, and you have a formula
for ignorance. Reading changes that dynamic, and as a voracious reader, I am
working on pulling myself away from just reading novels, and reading
about what is happening in the world.  I know many people
who would rather not know what politicians are doing, about
climate change, about racism, about global hunger problems.
But we can't change things -- about ourselves, and about the
world unless we know.  So that will continue.  Reading has
been a major force for learning for me in 2018.

Thank you to Howard, and thank you to everyone I know
both in my town, the art world, and here, for being my teachers.

Have a learning something new day!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2002, 3, and 4 things I learned this year!

Untitled: Today's art group sketch
I do now know the model's name,
but luckily she loves turquoise and
mauve, and liked her portrait.
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

Continuing my plan to answer Howard Wolinsky's challenge
to come up with 2018 things I learned in 2018...

The 2002nd thing I learned (again)!

Hang out with people who make you feel wonderful.  I am
so lucky to know people here in my own city, Toronto,
and because of taking part in International shows, all over the
world, who are so kind, funny and exceptional in so many ways.
You know you make me so happy.  Thank you.

The 2003rd thing I learned (again)!

Be here now.  Don't drag around the harsh comments, bad behaviour,
of the occasional bad tempered person you encounter.  I am trying to
live in the present moment as much as possible.  When I do, I see that
there is so much to be happy about.  And if I have met someone grumpy
 in my travels, focusing on the present let's them go! :-)

The 2004th thing I learned this year!

Recognize the amazing generosity of everyone you know! 
I know this all seems pretty simple, but I have been blessed
with so much generosity from people in my home town, friends,
family, co-workers, the blog circle, on Facebook, Twitter,
in my community, from stores, market people, collectors,
gallery owners.  The list of boundless generosity in my
experience is endless. I can never thank you enough, but
please know that I appreciate your generosity so very much.

That's it for today.  Only 14 to go.

Have a loving what you've learned day!

Friday, December 7, 2018

First of 18 more for 2018 -- Be the light!

Light from the kitchen table
iPad sketch
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
#1 of 18
Be the light.  Lately the news has frequently been harsh:
the fires in California, hurricanes on the east coast, climate
change so out of control, riots in Paris, and mass shootings.
I think a normal reaction is to feel despair. But that despair
is not generative -- it doesn't lead to change. And change
has to happen for the sake of the planet, and quickly.

As I write this I'm thinking of the work of my artist
friend in Nova Scotia, Flora Doehler.  Not only has
Flora chosen to live a rural and sustainable lifestyle.
Her paintings jump out at us, and give us a shake.  Flora
 grows her own garden with her husband Larry Knox, and
 also sits in the garden and paints -- celebrating the ecstasy
and beauty of the natural world.

I think that is one of the powerful reasons for making art --
to lift and inspire people, and to give them a reason to love
the planet, and value their lives on it.

Have a shining your light day!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

More than 400,000 hits! Wow! And another thousand things I learned in 2018.

And this painting is one of my favourites
because it's of a pond I see almost every weekend,
yet this year it jumped out at me.
Higher Love
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
Wow I have passed 400,000 hits.  Who could imagine that?
Thank you to everyone who visits my blog.
To continue from the other day -- Dhyāna āpō, or pay attention
in Gujarati, connects massively to the second one thousand
things I learned in 2018.  (This is in response to Howard
Wolinsky's suggestion that I write about 2018 things I
learned in 2018).

For my second thousand I'd say paying attention was my
big lesson. As an artist that means being on -- seeing the world,
and taking it in.  My focus is the magnificence of nature at
the moment, and certainly more than 1,000 times this year I was
dazzled and in thrall to nature's beauty.  At this time of
year the flowers have all died, which is why the brilliant
seasonal decorations that brighten every doorway and porch,
and light up so many trees mean so much.  No matter what holiday
we celebrate, the point is bringing back the light to a
gloomy world.  And we need to do that metaphorically too --
by caring.

Caring for one another and the planet is paying attention.
In addition to caring about what I see and want to paint and
draw, I want to be as kind and caring in every situation as
possible. Not always easy.  But even if it takes 1,000 tries
I want to do it.  And this year because I broke my wrist,
had my arm in a cast and a sling, couldn't carry anything,
and was in some pain from February -- to September,
I am grateful to everyone who helped me carry my books
into my class, including my students led by Pooja Chauhan,
and my dear husband who drove me to school when I
couldn't drive for 4 months, and helped me in every way,
and to the kind curators who helped me with my art.

So that is my second thousand things I learned, every time
I turned around.  I learned to see the amazing sights surrounding me,
and to notice the thousands of kind things my students,
friends, family and art community do for me every day.

Have a seeing the kindness around you day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The first 1,000 things I learned this year

Untitled (work in progress)
acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
Journalist/photographer Howard Wolinsky and I go back
10 years, to the time Howard did the first video interview
with me about drawing on Skype.  In fact that interview
aired exactly 10 years ago today.

The first 1,000 things I learned this year -- summarized:
Well yesterday on Facebook when I posted a painting
I'd done from a gorgeous Howard Wolinsky photo in
2016, that was part of a post 10 things I learned in 2016,
Howard challenged me to write about 2018 things I learned
in 2018. For me 2018 was a year jam packed with learning.
So I thought I'd summarize the first 1,000 things just to try
and please Howard because he's been so good to me (I mean
he got me on Oprah because of the link above).  I learned at
least 1,000 times over that the more I think I know, the less
it turns out that I actually do know. In short I have a lot to

Even though I didn't travel that much, I probably learned more
about more places, people, ideas and facts this year than ever
before.  And that's exciting!  The truth is that we are
absolutely bombarded with information on the Internet,
in books, and on TV News.  Plus one night a week, I have
the good fortune to teach people from all over the world,
who do every kind of job. So I learned how to say "Pay attention!"
 in Gujarati, which my students who speak Gujarati find more
than a little surprising. It sounds like this: Dhyāna āpō.  

A passion for learning is a gift that repays us at least
1,000 times over. Here is the painting I'm working on now.
I hope it is close to finished.

Have a paying attention day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The demand for loose

Grey Love 
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
In my art sometimes I'm loose, and sometimes uptight.
I like some of the work that develops from both states,
so I can't yell out that loose is better -- but I sure enjoy
watching loose painters like Susan Rothenberg, and
Bob Burridge paint.

In the past week I've watched videos of a few super
loose and dynamic painters painting, which is
probably why I could get this portrait painted last
night at my art group in such a short time.  I felt
happy to have a good size canvas prepared.  I loved
having a group of creative people around me --
and away I went.

Seeing the model at first, who was shy, (and I didn't get his
name, I'm sorry), I would not have expected this painting.  But
it flew out of me, and the model was brilliantly inspiring
in his steady, non assuming pose.

So there you have it.  Thank you to loose painters everywhere.
I will join you from time to time. And thank you to my
art group.

Have a painting the town day.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Conquering Fear and Flashback Friday

Look at this
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

A friend and I were talking today about fear of the unknown, 
and how it hinders an artist's life.  Then I was looking for a photo
of my art for a Facebook cover, and found this image of my son
and his then girlfriend, now wife, Megan.  It was a Skype painting.
Enter fear.

I was afraid of starting a blog, and my friend and fabulous
artist Flora Doehler persuaded me to do it.  Christopher
was going to teach in Korea for a year, and helped me
get started before he left.  Once he and Megan were in Korea, Skype
was the best way to talk, and not feel so far away.  During
conversations with Christopher I'd draw him on sticky notes
or whatever was on my desk.  Then I did a little sketch painting
of my friend Flora via Skype, and published it on my blog.

When Chris and Megan were heading for Korea I was so
anxious about those two being so far away -- a 14 hour plane
trip.  When I started using Skype I was afraid I'd mess it up.
But I got a job via New York company drawing people via Skype at the
Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and did not
know that my Skype images were being broadcast on a huge
screen at the show. That connection led to journalist Howard
Wolinsky from Chicago calling and asking to see my Skype
paintings. Howard interviewed me on a YouTube video for the Skype
blog, I was terrified.  He asked me if I could get some new paintings
together in a week, so I did.  (Deadlines always help).

Oprah Winfrey's people saw Howard's YouTube video, and asked me to
be on a show called Where In The Skype Are You?


I have never been so frightened in my life. But I did it -- and do
 you see where I'm going with this?  Essentially if you follow the
 dots -- Christopher and Megan going to Korea got me on Oprah.
And that show got me media attention, invitations to exhibit in art
shows internationally.

So yes fear is bad, and yes there are things to fear -- but some of
the things we fear -- especially when it comes to art -- will bring
us miracles.

Oh yes.  This is important!  After a year in Korea Christopher
came back to Toronto to work as a photographer, and then a director of
videos. Megan is working on her PhD in Early Childhood Development.
They are married now, and have a beautiful, brilliant daughter --

Have a letting your fear go day.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Sorting Saturday -- wonderful finds in my photo files

Acrylic and silver leaf on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2006
I'm going to call today "Sorting through Saturday".  This
painting popped out at me when I was going through my
 photo files and I realized it was one of my favourites. I
like it--I love how loose it is, how it captures that little girl,
Madeline, so well, and the sterling silver leaf used on the front
of her dress -- which I had to repair after the painting sold,
because I'd been using gold leaf which doesn't tarnish on other
works, and I didn't know then that you have to glaze silver leaf
 so that it doesn't.

That was painted in 2006 when Madeline was 11, so she must
be 21 now.  The last time I saw her I was visiting her mother (the collector's)
house when Madeline was about 16.  Not surprisingly
she had grown up into a beautiful young woman.

Timbah (left) and Fiona in the cat train
She was a pleasure to paint.  In between sittings we used to go
and sit in the garden to talk sometimes, and she got us to make
a "train" out of boxes for the cats to pull along the floor.  She said
that the cats wanted a train, and she was right.  They did.

Have a fun sorting your things Saturday

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Back to my art group again, and Happy Halloween!

Art Group Sketch
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

Hi everyone,

Tonight I went to paint with my art group again.  We had a wonderful
model, Lillian, who in her regular business life (outside of modeling)
travels all over the world, and has lived in the middle east, the U.S.
and for now makes Toronto her home.  She loves travel, and I am with her there.

I find that to be together for model night at my art group, I need prep
the canvas beforehand.  So I gessoed this canvas, and wiped on an
underpainting of blue.  Painting with my group I considered either moving
out of the blue, and painting a more realistic painting,
or staying with mostly blue and mauve.  That seemed to work better
in the short time I had.  I am happy with the mood, and it was fun to do.
Thanks again art group.

Steven in the door ready to hand out candy,
and the Pumpkin Princess hanging over
one of the shutters.  A friend persuaded
me to display her this way.
Here's what I was working on for Halloween.  I didn't completely finish what
I'd planned, but she worked out just fine, and may be improved for next Halloween.
She's a pumpkin princess, with wings, and is the antidote to the grim side of
Halloween, that I've never liked, and it seems to get worse each year.
Pumpkin Princess is trying to lighten the mood a bit.  She thinks we need
more fun, and less scary.  Or her creator does.  She's made out of canvas, and
although I didn't finish painting the back, she was sewn together and her wings
were stuffed. Our approach definitely appealed to mothers and fathers with small
children out trick or treating. So much fun!

Have a loving your creative life day.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Just in -- a video of my work in New York City -- go and check it out!

Hi Everyone,

My wonderful gallery in New York City, the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery,
just sent me a sweet video of my work on display there until the end of
October.  If you are in NYC please go and check it out at 531 West 25th
Street- Ground Floor-Chelsea New York.  And if you know a collector
who needs a special painting of a gorgeous Maritime landscape
take that collector along.

My price for the 30 x 30 inch works is $2500 USD.  The 36 x 48 inch
piece -- "Higher Love" is $3500 USD.

Have a going to New York and buying art day -- or call the gallery
and put in your order at 212-255-9050 and ask for Ruthie Tucker the
Executive Director.  Or email

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Back to my art group -- a wonderful night!

Michelle -- Art Group Sketch
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
I've been a member of the Don Valley Art Club for
15 years.  One of the best things about that for me
is the portrait and figure drawing evenings held once
a week.  For the past two years a variety of injuries
and teaching assignments have mostly kept me away,
and I was missing it keenly.

So this week I got some help (carrying is not my
strong suit since I broke my arm last winter), and
joined my group again!  Yay!  What a welcome!
And a lovely hour and a half of painting followed.

There is something so inspiring about working
beside other artists whose work you love.  And a
live model is a particularly wonderful treat.
Michelle #2 -- Art Group Sketch
Acrylic on Birch Panel
6 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
In this case Michelle was an engaging and lovely
model.  I set up beside Frank Pasian, who always
produces multiples in an evening, and inspired by him
worked on two sketches.  Both make me happy.

Have a working with your art friends day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Goodbye to a wonderful show, and hello to what's next

Me and Gabrielle Fischer Horvath with my painting Cloud Magic
Cloud Magic
Acrylic on canvas
4 feet x 6 feet
Barbara Muir © 2018
Photo courtesy Gabrielle Fischer Horvath
The Water for Life show is one of the longest running exhibitions
I've ever been part of.  It started out in Niagara Falls at the Niagara
Falls History Museum in May of this year, and was featured there
until September. The show took a brief break and then moved to
Toronto to join with the Passion for Life exhibition at the Arta
Gallery this past weekend, and add to its purpose.

Angelina Herrera, international curator and Antoine Gaber Artistic Director of the
Passion for Life and Water for Life exhibition in Toronto
with my painting Cloud Magic at the opening.
Photo courtesy Antoine Gaber.
Some of my friends
Georgia Fullerton, me, Pooja Chauhan, Naomi Phan
Photo courtesy Georgia Fullerton
Initially conceived by Antoine Gaber and Angelina Herrera
as a way of uniting international artists in an exhibition to
honour water, and our dependence on it, plus to champion
every person on the planet's right to clean water,
it added to this mission in Toronto.  Here the exhibition got
behind the cause of breast cancer research, and each artist
contributed part of the value of their work to the cause.

Georgia Fullerton and I enjoying the super atmosphere at
the Passion for Life/Water for Life opening 
Photo courtesy Pooja Chauhan
I enjoyed the opening so much on Friday October 12.  There
was such a feeling of both friendship and hope.  And it was a
beautiful exhibition.  My work Cloud Magic that had been
on display in both shows was in a gorgeous spot the moment
you walked into the space at the Arta Gallery.

Thank you to Antoine Gaber and Angelina Herrera for giving
me the unique privilege to be part of these dynamic shows,
and to gain a whole new community of artist friends around
the world.  Woo Hoo!  It was amazing.

Have a loving the people you work with day.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The beautiful Maritimes fly south

Moody Beauty
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
One more painting that will show in New York at the Amsterdam
Whitney Gallery opening on October 6, next Saturday from 3 -
6 p.m. And yes I'll be there and delighted to see you if you'd
like to attend the opening.

This work, Moody Beauty, underscores the truth for me -- that
the Maritimes (and our drive out there from Toronto) are always
beautiful.  Grey day, sunny day -- every day astonishes with
its endless views of magnificent land -- much of it untouched by
the vicissitudes of progress, and overconstruction we see
in the urban environment.  Don't get me wrong -- I'm a city
woman, but that makes every trip I take to the country all
the more precious. 

Have a loving your country time day

Thursday, September 27, 2018

More for New York -- and they've arrived!

Higher Love
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

Happy news today -- this piece and three others arrived
in New York City and will be on display at the
Amsterdam Whitney Gallery for the month of October.
My Gallery director was delighted, and says all four
will be showcased beautifully!  Woo Hoo.   I've been painting
round the clock for the past few weeks trying to finish
the work, and am ready to breathe a massive sigh
of relief.

Shown today is a painting based on the pond in the
park behind the Brick Works in Toronto.  It's a big
happy piece expressing my joy in visiting the
Brick Works market and the beautiful park out
behind the market with this lovely wild space.
Lately the pond has been home to a massive
turtle. But he wasn't there when I started this
painting last February.

Have a loving-where-you-live- day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

New work for New York

The Moon's Out Early Today
work in progress 
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

I feel like I just got back from travelling to the east coast.  Well we arrived home
just over two weeks ago, but the Maritimes are still deep in my mind,
thick in my soul, and wrapped around me like a warm blanket of thought,
imagination, and beauty.

This is the landscape we hit when we're driving to Nova Scotia that tells
us we are almost there.  And it's the passage through the Maritimes that
breaks our hearts when we're heading back to Toronto, our home.  So
the place is as thick with memories as the paint I used to create the
fields.  Such beauty -- and of course the clouds of the Maritimes, and I
couldn't resist a day moon against the deepest blue sky.

Have a loving your memories day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

My thoughts on 9/11 posted first in 2016 (revised)

In the right place at the right time
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2016
I first posted this blog on 9/11 2016.  It says everything I want to say about 9/11 --
the day my father died -- some years before the 9/11 attacks in New York City.
It now comes out that many people have died, and that people are continuing to develop
serious, often fatal cancers from exposure to cancer causing dust and fumes spread 
when the towers fell. This story is about what can happen when we join together in
 friendship -- and there was never a time in the world when that was more important.

Under the beautiful window, on the left you see my painting
In the right place at the right time, which is in the right place
as part of the Kunst in Drimmelin exhibition,  in the Netherlands
Thank you to Kunst in Drimmelin for the photo, to Miranda Brouwers,
Rolf Leemeijer and Vittorio Dorigo for everything.  You all mean the world to me.

Another photo of the Kunst in Drimmelin show in the Restaurant Onze Kerk,
from the exhibition photographers, showing my work on the left and 
and to the right you see half of my friend Miranda Brouwers' gorgeous
landscape diptych, plus many other super artworks.  
My Dear Father,

I think of you every year on this date because you died on 9/11 some
years before the tragedy in New York City.  For me your death,
and the devastation and sorrow New York experienced blend together
in a cloak of sorrow.  But this year something else is happening.
Computers -- which you were fascinated by, and the internet
have lead me to be invited to partake in wonderful exhibitions
(something you as an artist would have so enjoyed), and also
brought me some truly delightful friendships.
My friend, Miranda Brouwers' beautiful, large diptych of the Worp 
One of these -- my friendship with Miranda Brouwers who I met
in 2015 at the Florence Biennale -- has resulted in me being part of
an exhibition in the Netherlands this weekend, in a show called Kunst
in Drimmelin. I know that even if you would have had trouble telling,
me so, you would have been proud of this event, of its focus on the
environment -- something you cared about.  You might also be
surprised that I paint landscapes now too -- something you were
known for in the creative part of your life.

I think of you lost to ill health, and of the losses of all of the families
all over the world who have lost people they loved because of war, violence and
terrible and pointless hatred.  And I wish for all our sakes that
we turn to peace and saving the planet in time for our children,
your grandchildren, and mine.

I love you and miss you Daddy.

In the right place at the right time
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches

Barbara Muir © 2016

Have a creating a more loving world day! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

2001 -- a blog Odyssey

Magic Moonlight
Acrylic and acrylic ink on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

Yes!  This is my 2001 blog!  I am ridiculously excited to tell
you that!  Why?  Because my blog has brought me every wonderful
thing in my artistic life.  I am not exaggerating.  This blog
helped me meet amazing people from all over the world.  It got
the attention of Howard Wolinsky the then Skype blogger from Chicago,
back in 2009 when Skype was huge!  And Howard's YouTube piece
got me a spot on the Oprah Winfrey show talking to Oprah on Skype.
Amazing!  Yes!

But that connection and all of the media exposure that followed
attracted the attention of the Florence Biennale, and I was
invited to participate, and have exhibited in the Biennale in Florence,
Italy twice.  What else? My gallery in New York City where I've
shown many times, and two exhibitions in the Louvre in Paris!

But most of all this blog helped me meet and learn from artists all
over the world.  It helped me get into the International Water for Life show
that will be on view in Niagara Falls at the Niagara Falls History
Museum until September 9.  I now have artist friends who help me,
 and care about my work, in Europe, in the United States, and across Canada.
These amazing people make me so happy to be part of their communities.

The painting tonight is a simple landscape from memory of
seeing spectacular moonlit nights in Nova Scotia.  I have just returned.
Nova Scotia is one of my soul's homes for sure.  I love the people and the
landscape so much.

Have an enjoying your own story day.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Today's sketch, and another day immersed in art

We'll take the river road
coloured pencil, watercolour pencil
and brush marker
on Canson paper
8.5 x 5.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

The lucky thing about being an artist, is that you get to meet
an artistic community wherever you go.  Thursday evening
we were treated to dinner with the wonderful artist Norene
Smiley and her husband Greg. Here we are sitting in a school
house essentially on an acre just above the bog on the Wallace
River -- you might think not the height of the art world,
but you would be wrong.  Only a short distance away
are amazing artists.

Norene advised us to check out Louise Cloutier's show in
Oxford, and we did after having dinner with the folk
artist, Marilyn Fancey.  Louise has a spectacular solo
show on now, and her partner Richard wrote powerful
poetry to accompany each incredible work of art.

Today I'm showing you a drawing I'm working on -- probably
 finished because I don't have brushes here -- and it's not watercolour
paper, so I'm painting with the watercolour pencil crayons with
a rolled up piece of paper towel, and my finger.  This
can rough the paper up enough that it finally says stop.
We may be at that stage.  I enjoyed thinking about the
feeling of clouds along the river in New Brunswick,
and I may do more tomorrow.

Have a loving what you do day.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The urge to art -- answer -- get drawing!

Along the road
8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches
Pencil crayon and watercolour pencil
on Canson paper
Barbara Muir © 2018

Here's a  drawing I did in the sketchbook I brought with
me on our road trip.  Every bit of the route between Toronto
and the ocean in Nova Scotia was captivating, in every
kind of weather.

This was not a high, blue sky, day -- but it was lovely. The fields
are so spectacular now.  Working in coloured pencils, and Derwent
watercolour pencils -- I drew a soft version of what I saw.

I hope you're having a miraculous end of August.  We are.

Have an enjoying what you see day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Welcomed home -- our lovely friends in Nova Scotia

Flowers from the heart
Black brush ink on Canson paper
8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
My dear friend down the road opens our school house
for us and cleans it up.  It always has some exciting
animal visitors, and this past winter was no exception.
What is wonderful, aside from arriving late at night
after a 1,165 (1875 kilometers) mile road trip to find the place
clean, is the sweet touches my friend leaves -- little bouquets
of flowers from her garden, and on the back deck,
a beautiful planter.  So sweet.

I had to sit right down last night and draw this
little bouquet.

Have an appreciating your super friends day. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

The feeling of coming home

The fields between
Acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
Painting is a driving force in my life I realize.  Without
painting I do feel a bit lost.  I'm so happy to finish this scene today
of the fields just inside the New Brunswick border when you
drive out of Amherst, Nova Scotia.  Plus it's a landscape I've looked at
with delight every time we pass it when we're visiting the
Maritimes.  Perhaps that's because clouds love this wide open
space and perform gorgeous miracles for the fields below.

On the way to our school house these fields are a sign that we
are almost there.  A joyous sight after the long, long trip from
Toronto, and our skyscraper views.

Have a loving the work you do day.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Jumping back in -- for the love of portraits

Charcoal on watercolour paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
Tonight I'm showing you a quick sketch I did today for a
finished portrait I'm hoping to do in the next few weeks.
For me a drawing is a great way to figure out what I'm
trying to do.  This sketch could be polished, but instead
I'll probably do another drawing.  I was using charcoal on
watercolour paper, and I may try another drawing on
smooth paper, or a line drawing.

It is very hot in Toronto -- it was 42 Celsius today with
the Humidex, which is 107 Fahrenheit, and way too hot for
we Canadian folks.  So we stayed inside for most of the day
enjoying the air conditioning, and then sat on the front porch
with the animals where it's cooler in the late afternoon.

Have a cooling things down with art day

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Day 7 and one of my favourite places

Summer clouds Wallace Bridge
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2014

I don't have a great photo of this piece, and it's been living the
high life in a featured position in its wonderful owner's house.  
It captures the wonder of a Nova Scotia cloudscape.  This summer
Toronto has been giving Nova Scotia a run for its money with 
some spectacular clouds -- but nothing can really top (pardon
my pun) the clouds in Nova Scotia.  When I am there I'm dazzled
by one view after another that absolutely knocks me out.

So it's appropriate on this the last day of the challenge, that
my thoughts are straying to that gorgeous place -- where I'll
 go before the summer is over.  As we head into August
I catch myself filled with nostalgia for a summer so packed
with work that there was barely a moment to breathe, let
alone enjoy all that nature has to offer.  Still as an artist
I am drinking the beautiful images in any chance I get.

Have a loving your summer days day. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

The one day dream -- a room full of my ocean series

Wonder Water Image #6
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
This is the 6th day in the challenge I was invited to join by
the amazing sculptor, Gabrielle Fischer Horvath.
I am incredibly lucky to know an amazing bunch of women,
including this brilliant and beautiful woman, Etana, who
dropped by today.  My portrait of her is certainly one of my
favourites because it captures both her beauty and her serious
side.  She is committed to  helping Canadians work together on
saving the environment, on human rights, and on figuring out how
 to get people engaged in caring about their communities.

Her portrait has (appropriately in my opinion) traveled to be
part of the Florence Biennale and to New York City. She is
delightful, and I'm sure that my affection for her comes
through in the painting too.

In Florence, Italy the painting showed with another portrait
and a large diptych of an ocean scene.  I managed to say to
visitors to my wall that these paintings were about saving the
ocean, and these young women, Etana, and Emily on the other
side of the large ocean scene would be the ones to do it.
I spoke just enough Italian about saving the oceans
that more than one visitor stood in front of Etana's
portrait, and then Emily's portrait, very moved.  It was lovely to
witness that.

It is one of my dreams to one day have a show of my ocean series.
These portraits are very special to me.

Have a loving what you are trying to express day.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Still Life and the Flower Queen

Breakfast at the Skylight Diner NYC
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
This painting took me to Paris, where it showed in
the Louvre in the Carousel du Louvre in 2015.  It got me to meet
the fabulous Russo brothers, Francesco Saverio Russo, and
Salvatore Russo who were hosting the show in the Louvre,
and my dear friend Alessandra Mascitti who worked as
their translator/curator, and who is one of the funniest people I know.
So I am very grateful to this painting, inspired by a romantic
breakfast I had with my husband in NYC.

I started loving painting still life around the time when I
met the fabulous artist, Flora Doehler, who has yet to exhibit
her work in Paris, and New York City, but I think the time is long
overdue, because Flora's work is amazing, and beyond amazing,
astounding.  She can make flowers sing the way they do
in real life, and make you feel over the top wonderful.

I met her at a show in the Don Valley Art Club, went to
her incredibly vivid and artistic house in Toronto, and I
think I was responsible for getting her to visit the Maritimes
(no she comboed it with a wedding).  Whatever our lovely
time in the Maritimes maybe 10 years ago, when she visited
our little school house -- lead to her and her husband, a
fantastic ceramic artist, Larry Knox moving permanently
to the small and picturesque Nova Scotia town of
Bear River. And she and Larry have been loving their brand
new Maritime life there ever since.

But back to the painting.  Wow.  Paintings can take you
anywhere.  And this one gave Paris a bit of NYC.  All
in all an international vision fest, and incredibly wonderful
time.  Thank you painting, and thank you Steven for the
delicious meal that inspired the painting, and thank you
Flora for constant inspiration. And thank you Russo brothers
for inviting me, and thank you Alessandra for being the best
twinie anyone has. (our joke).

Have a loving your artistic life day.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

A shared love of the environment -- Day 4 of the challenge

In The Right Place At The Right Time
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2016
For day Four of the Seven Day Challenge I've been invited to 
take part in by the amazing sculptor, Gabrielle Fischer Horvath,
I choose one of my favourite paintings.  So much of what I paint
is energized by love, the love of what I see, of who I talk to,
of who I'm painting for.  This painting was created to celebrate
a nature reserve in the Netherlands, and was in an exhibition called
Kunst in Drimmelin to to honour that area in Drimmelin -- the Worp
I was invited to join the show by my friend the wonderful artist,
Miranda Brouwers.  I shipped the painting rolled up and she and
her friends there restretched it for me.  It came home and sold! 
Miranda sent me many, many photos of this area for reference,
and wanted my blue sky and clouds in the painting.  I am eternally
grateful to her for getting me into that wonderful exhibition. 

Have an enjoying loving your art day.

Day Three -- a chance meeting and a happy painting

Tobias and the tigers
acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

Today's painting in the 7 paintings for 7 days challenge I was
asked to join by Gabrielle Fischer Horvath, is a
painting of a little boy named Tobias, that I did for the HGTV
show Pure Design in 2009.  The whole experience was a delight,
and one lovely part of it was that Tobias's mother Carm cried
when she saw the portrait because she loved it so much.

Today Steven and I decided to go and sit on a park bench
on the hill at our local park-- to have a little relaxation
time for ourselves before dinner at the end of a long
work week.  While we were there Carm, and her daughter
stopped by and said Hi.   They were going to meet Tobias (now 11).
So amazing because I was thinking about the painting the other
day, and have not seen Carm in a few years.

The short conversation we had reminded me of the treat
of making this painting, and the joyous reaction from
Tobias's family -- the best possible outcome for a portrait

Have a loving what you do day.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Capturing Love -- the best part of portrait painting

The Maharani's Great Granddaughter with 
her Great Granddaughter
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2016
Today is day two of the seven paintings in seven days
challenge I was invited to take part in by the amazing scultptor
Gabrielle Fischer Horvath.  This painting is one of my
favourites because it captures a sweet moment with
my lovely mother-in-law and her great granddaughter.
My mother-in-law Daisy van Schaik is dead now, and
I am so happy I have this image to remember her by.
She was so delighted with this beautiful baby, and the
moment lives on in my painting.

I'm grateful to Gabrielle for this challenge, and for making
me think about what matters in my art.

Have a loving the people you love day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Artist friendships -- a bond that both inspires us and drives us

First stop Paris
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I've been asked by an artist friend, the amazing sculptor Grabrielle Fischer Horvath
to post a painting a day on Facebook for seven days, and invite a new
artist each day to participate too.  I am very grateful to Gabrielle,
because I've been meaning to blog again as promised, but
have been wildly busy with an exciting, complicated and demanding
teaching job.  This ends next week, and I will go into full art production then.
But for now, I will happily answer Gabrielle's challenge and post seven
of my paintings.

Today I'm posting First Stop Paris -- a painting I did in 2012 -- six years ago.
The model, Shaniece, was a super young woman, and posed for a few of my
favourite paintings.  Here she perfectly expressed the joy I feel each
time I land in Paris, and know I am in a city I love.

Have a loving your art friendships day.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The yellow farm house and Joni Mitchell

The artists' yellow house
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017

I started this little painting of my friend Flora's farmhouse
in Nova Scotia today.  It was a lot of fun -- I have a few
things to change, but I could feel how it would be walking up
the path to this amazing house -- how glad I always am to
be there to see Flora and her husband Larry -- both awesome

In the supermarket today I heard a Joni Mitchell song, and
the part that captured me was, "on the back of a cartoon
coaster, in the blue TV screen light.  I drew a map of
Canada. Oh Canada, with your face on it twice."
Nova Scotia is a part of Canada I miss with an almost
bodily ache, and Joni was really good at singing that feeling.
Oh Canada indeed.  How I love you.

I hope I have some time to tweak the odd thing on this little
painting tomorrow.  Meanwhile Canada and Nova Scotia,
"Oh you are in my blood, like holy wine." To me that
is always sweet.

Have a painting what you love day. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

In charge -- the feeling of knowing you're there

River Run (work in progress)
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

What do I mean?  What a great day I've had today -- powered
 by the connection with you.  Just getting back to blogging
made it seem like anything was possible.  Okay yes within reason.
I decided to do what I've done for a long time -- work on
painting whenever I can.

And I began thinking about the pieces I've begun and need
to finish.  Here's a little 5 x 7 inch painting I'm having fun with.
But every part of today was smoother, more creative, more
logical, and happier -- and I know it's the connection with the
wider painting world -- you.

I'm reading an article on Eudaemonic well-being -- Eudaemonic 
well-being, inequality, and health: Recent findings and future 
directions by Carol D. Ryff. Basically it's about happiness --
a subject that fascinates me.  Apparently blogging and connecting
to the artistic world I love is part of what makes me happy.

Have a doing what you love day.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Missing you. Thank you for getting me through to today.

Black marker on Fabriano paper
6 x 8 1/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
Here's what happened!  I broke my wrist in February -- falling on the cat.
True.  Late at night after school, making my supper, with a cat spinning in
circles under my feet.  I was working on my big painting for the Water for
Life exhibition at the Niagara Falls History Museum, opening in May at
the time and running until September 9. And for awhile most action stopped.  
Opening a tube of paint hurt, opening a jar hurt.  Opening a cat food can was impossible.
Yes my valiant right hand still worked.  But every small task was like climbing 
a mountain.
I know
Black marker on Fabriano paper
6 x 8 1/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

So when I was offered intensive teaching work -- for some reason I accepted it.
( I do love teaching).  My sweet husband Steven drove me to work.  I couldn't
drive, or carry my bags holding the class assignments. I needed help with just about
everything.  Luckily I was much better at the wonderful opening of Water for Life in May,
and could go without the splint my doctor recommended after the cast came off.  Now at the beginning of July, I am almost completely back to normal.  Naturally my urge to blog
has returned.
The studying jam
Black marker on Fabriano paper
6 x 8 1/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
Meanwhile I've taken on teaching a super demanding, fast-track course, so all of my 
time is squeezed.  Now I intend to manage that, and painting, and talking to you.  
Here are some drawings I did at the end of my last school term. I'm inspired by people who 
say I should draw every day.  I'd like to now.  It's hard to concentrate when you need pain 
pills every four hours, but that is finally over. Hurray!  What did this teach me beside 
watch that cat? (who I love, and who is fine).  Enjoy moving, and every single bit of health and happiness you have.  Life is precious, art is wonderful, everyone who helped me is so kind and
special. And enjoy yourself.  I so enjoy you.  And thank you for your inspiration and
help, and affection.

Key search in the small purse
Black marker on Fabriano paper
6 x 8 1/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

Have a loving whatever holiday you celebrate day!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

In Memoriam -- portrait artists feel the loss

These are two separate portraits -- Bruce Northcote, and Judge Ann Northcote, his wife.
The paintings are acrylic on canvas,
24 x 36 inches each, and 
are by me -- Barbara Muir © 2011
I enjoyed painting them and was sad 
when the paintings were finished.
To read more click here.

These days I am mostly painting landscapes -- usually with
high clouds, and a background of oceans or lakes. But I've
spent a lot of my career as an artist painting people, which
lead to portrait commissions like the ones I want to honour

I was commissioned to paint Judge Ann Northcote, a citizenship
judge and her husband Bruce ten and a half years ago.  Ann
was a lovely person, passionate about Canada, proud of her
job and her Order of Canada pin.  And Bruce, her husband,
was a retired accountant, passionate gardener and traveller.

One of the most touching things about the couple was how much
they clearly loved one another.  I think that comes out in the paintings.

Ann died in 2011, and Bruce died this month.  I was commissioned
to do the portraits by one of their sons, a friend of ours.  When you
 have subjects coming to pose for you, you are very much in the
present moment -- wanting to capture their expressions and personalities.
You don't think that one day these images will speak to coming generations
about who they are.  I hope I've done them proud.

Bruce had a quiet sense of humour, and he was observant.  He
showed up in my studio smartly dressed with the smart red tie in
the painting.  And he quickly noticed that I complimented him a lot
on the tie, and so he added the pocket handkerchief.

I had so much fun getting to know this couple, and I am so
sorry for the family's loss in Bruce's death.  Rest in Peace
Bruce Northcote, may you be with Ann again.

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!