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.

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!