Thursday, November 21, 2019

November's friend -- the trusty lemon

Memories of California
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
A few years ago (he says he didn't, but he did) my older
son taught me that when you can't have flowers as a centerpiece,
lemons and limes do the trick.  Not only that.  I mean they
are beautiful -- especially in a pretty, antique glass bowl.
But say you get a cold -- a clear possibility in November --
you cut part of a lemon into slices, pop them (three slices)
into a mug, pour in boiling water, add a dash of Cayenne
pepper, and some maple syrup -- and oh boy does that taste
and feel good.

This painting seemed right, because I've used at least four lemons
today, which would be 8 cups of the hot drink described above,
and I am feeling much better.  I was on the edge of a cold,
and may have vanquished it.  Yes!

This painting was in response to a Carol Marine challenge.
I don't receive those anymore, but appreciate Carol Marine
for all she's taught me just by looking at her beautiful

Have a loving lemons day.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Art and life mentors

My portrait of Susan Carlin
quick sketch
charcoal on watercolour paper
12 x 9 inches
(One of my early blog mentors
was the artist Susan Carlin.  The day she
asked me to sit for a Skype portrait
and to do her portrait via Skype long distance to
Texas was a big day. I had already been interviewed by
Howard Wolinsky for a YouTube interview,
and was contacted by my friend Melinda 
Esparza who did a portrait drawing from Howard's first
YouTube interview with me.

Susan taught me a lot about drawing.
She taught me how to draw a curve.  Big lesson.  She
now can't remember that, but you did Susan
on one of your internet drawing classes! You are part of the 
reason I love drawing coffee cups)

Leaving your parents' sheltered and safe home to
go out on your own at 17 can have its downsides.
It is lonely - even if you live with a friend, and
scary, even if its in a safe area of town, and a lot
of work.  But what I was lucky enough to realize
early on -- if you read my earlier story about a family
in my neighbourhood who were kind to me as a seven
year old -- is that the world is full of mentors.

I was transformed from practically a stick figure
drawer at the end of high school, into a decent
life drawing artist in the 8 months of my first
school year at OCAD.

When I switched to English at a different university,
I was taught that contrary to the views expressed
by my family, I was smart!  What?  An A+ student
all of a sudden.  I could write a 40 page undergraduate
thesis on Iconography and Imagery in Edmund Spenser's
The Fairie Queene!

And so the story goes throughout my life.  Brilliant teachers,
wonderful artists, and magnificently inspiring friends and
mentors have given me the delightful life I live -- filled
with loving family, superb friends, exceptional books,
music, film, super walks and above all happiness.

Mentors in recent years other than family,  have been all of
the artists in the blog, Facebook and Instagram world, plus
the artists I show with, and in the art clubs I belong to.  So
ultimately this is a thank you!  Thank you for teaching me so
much on a continuous basis, and for supporting me.  You are
all my mentors and you empower me.

Have a mentoring someone day.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Thinking about beauty, and an incredible Ideas broadcast

In the kitchen
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 
This is one of my favourite paintings, because the woman,
Jennifer was a lovely person.  I had just started painting in
acrylic -- switching from focusing on watercolour when
she posed for this painting.  I feel like we had very
few poses, maybe one or two, and it's a big work.  But her
rich expression and kindness shone through in the portrait.
To me kindness is a huge quality in beauty.  That and ideas.

Tonight on CBC Radio's Ideas program the theme was
about another kind of beauty -- what we have to do to
save the planet.  David Schweickart asked, "if there is
another way forward for capitalism -- one in which the
choice isn't between the economy and life itself."
Schweickart said that as bad as it is that our planet's
clmate  is warming up -- we are lucky because we can
track the problem today, plan massive change, and save

He pointed out that if the planet had reached this crisis point
150 years ago at the height of our use of coal, we would
not have known, because we didn't have the means to track
the earth's temperature, and we would not have had the
means to solve it.  He says that capitalism and consumerism
have brought us to this crisis point.

Still I found his optimism about our ability to fix it -- inspiring,
and perhaps I'd go so far as to say that it was beautiful.  He
had logical reasons to back up his beliefs.  So let's get going.
Maybe we can start in our individual kitchens, have friends over
and talk about what we can do.

Have a noticing beauty and taking action day.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Or you could buy this!

Before the dance in the red dress
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
An artist friend of mine wants me to put prices on everything
I display on my blog, Facebook and Instagram, but I prefer
to mention prices occasionally, when the mood hits me.
But maybe she's right, and this should be the Month of Sales.

I do have set prices for different sizes of work, and I'm happy
to discuss them with you if you contact me via email or
Facebook, or Instagram messaging.  But let's just start with
the price of one work.

This beautiful woman in Before the Dance in the red dress, is
 part of my Before the Dance series. The painting was created 10
years ago, and the model is the daughter of a former neighbour --
a brilliant young woman just starting to grow up and go to university
when she posed for me for several paintings.  The title of this
series incorporated the theme of getting ready for a formal
dance, as a metaphor for preparing for adult life.

I love the painting, and have not worked actively at selling
it, because she lives in our house, and makes the room she is
in sing.  But if you'd like her to do the same for a room in
your house, the one time only sale price is $1500, shipping not
included.  If you live in the Toronto area I will deliver it for
free.  The regular price of a 3 ft. x 4 ft. painting is $3500,
shipping not included.   So this is a special deal for sure.

Have a buying art day.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Animals — the artist’s friends

Sally the dog
Acrylic on canvas
5 x 7 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2014
Artists are just like everyone else.  We work, we display our
work, and sell it to earn a living.  But unlike most other workers,
we work alone.  That's great when what you want is quiet time,
or time to think about, and plan your next project.  Still it
can be lonely as heck in the long hours it takes to get a
painting or drawing right.

That's where the beasts come in.  Pets.  They are the answer
to the solitude of the slow, deliberate, have to do it,
artist.  Take my pets.  Sally the dog needs to be let out
regularly. That gets me out of the studio, and at the very
least to the back door to look at the yard and the day.  I
don't walk her often, because she pulls, and especially
now -- in icy weather, I wait until I can walk holding onto
Steven and see Sally chase her ball, and toboggan on her
back down the snowy hills in our local park. Just had such a
walk this evening, and it was so much fun!
Good cat with a good book
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Timbah is my morning cat.  He understands that when I'm
reading and drinking my coffee before the day starts in earnest,
he is my companion, snuggled beside me on the bed. Sometimes
when I'm eating at the kitchen table I feel a sudden warmth beside me
and he's on my chair purring.

Acrylic on mounted birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
Fiona is my familiar.  She's Siamese and requires both affection
and entertainment.  If I need a nap partway through a project,
to think things over, she will sleep on my sweater, her face at
my neck, and her purr puts me out in a few minutes.  She's also
musical, and wants some time on the piano, so I open it up, play
a few notes, and she takes over, putting on a cat concert.  Very funny
and entertaining -- the perfect antidote to artist's block.

Don't have a pet?  Go for a walk and see all the wildlife around.
Or get a pet, but realize that's a lifetime commitment, so it's
a big decision.

Have a thanking your pets day.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Thoughts on a fabulous day

Gaya Kairos painting to Dr. Draw at the Super Wonder Gallery
Rorschach Show opening, November 20, 2015

This has been a super day with my sweet husband Steven.
We went to the market, went to lunch at a local wonderful
restaurant, got our hair cut (yes both of us) at our local
place, and just finished watching a movie.

I was looking through past photos to show you something
tonight, because the new work is still cooking.  And I
came upon this video, which may or may not work of
a fabulous opening at Super Wonder Gallery, in its
former iteration, when Daniel Anaka was curating
so many shows.  I do miss that time.  Daniel always
put together great openings, and the one I'm thinking
of was for the Rorschach show in 2015.

The wonderful electronic violinist Dr. Draw played
that evening, while Gaya Kairos painted a free form
abstract painting to the music. It was so exciting to
listen and watch.

The video is very short.  But you get the idea.  I will
post the links tomorrow.

Have a loving super memories day

Friday, November 15, 2019

More on the snow theme

The Yard in Snow 
Maison De Haute Couleur 
Charvin, Paris Watercolour and
black marker on Fabriano paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
Out on the streets today the snow theme is still a factor.
There is a still a risk of falling on the icy sections of the
sidewalk, but people are acting like -- "ya, it's snowy,
but then we knew that."

I was flipping through photos with a girl who was visiting
tonight, and this image came up.  She said she liked
it, and that prompted me to think -- 'well then that's
tonight's image.'

I am working on two, maybe three larger paintings
and can't show them to you until they're in
the final stages of creation.

I've done a lot of paintings based on views of our
backyard.  This is one of them.  I like the light sketchy,
watercolour feel to it, and yes it's available too!

Have a loving your discoveries day.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Missing the flowers

Flowers for my father
pencil crayon on paper
21 1/2 x 26 inches
Barbara Muir ©
Yes I love snow, and today was warm so the snow was
melting, but I do miss going out to the garden and bringing
in some flowers.  We didn't plant our entire garden
properly this year.  And our beautiful irises almost
died out completely, but the garden we did have made
me very happy.

Tonight I'm posting this old style drawing of flowers.
It looks a lot like the style I learned studying art at
the Ontario College of Art and Design.  I still
love it, especially as I drew it on the tablecloth from
Portugal that my parents brought home from one of
their favourite trips.  It was dedicated to my father
after he died.

And I am grateful to my subsequent teachers, and all
of the artists in the blogworld, Facebook and Instagram
and artists I've met at shows around the world,
for teaching me new, looser (sometimes), more abstract ways
to see.  Someone at one of my recent shows
asked if my colours had always been that bright.
No they weren't I guess.  But now I like colour, bright and
muted and every which way.

Thanks for your continued support.  You do make my day.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

More winter and the luck of it

The Cake House
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2011
Yes we have snow, and we had a bit more.  The luck of
it in the current news is that we are not experiencing flooding
as they are in Venice, Italy, or the fires that are devastating
California and parts of Australia.  It is just snow, and Canadians
can deal with snow.

This has been a busy, almost crazy, busy day.  (By the way
if you don't live in Toronto, that is a very Toronto thing to say.
You see someone in the elevator if you work in one of our
high rise office towers, and if you're asked how you are,
you say,"busy!")

But seriously it was busy with so many different tasks,
and requests, and demands.  So I am showing you another
snow painting.  This is one of my favourites, which I still
own.  I have not been up to the loop in Cedarvale park for years.
The loop is a path that goes in an irregular oval through a
lovely wood. A couple of weeks ago I went with Steven and
our dog Sally. It was a beautiful, autumn day, and the leaves
against the end-of-day golden light were astoundingly beautiful.

We walked by the house in this painting, which is French
castle themed on the street side, and red brick on the ravine
"loop" side.  Much more human out back.  But now they
have a huge solid fence barring the view of most of the
house.  So I'm glad I painted it when it was young and fresh,
and a beauty in the snow.

Have an enjoying your weather day.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Yes I do paint snow

Winter on St. Germain 
(Third in the Trilogy of Our First House)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
I'm actually working on a portrait tonight, but can't
show you until it's ready.  Looking through my snow
paintings this one amused me.  A wonderful collector
wanted paintings of her new house in three seasons.

And for the winter image she wanted authentic snow,
plus her husband and two children in the painting.
Challenge #1.  It did not snow.  Not like Toronto today
which is encased in snow on November 12, that fell
yesterday.  I wanted to deliver the paintings before
Christmas.  And it would not snow!

Finally it did!  Whew.  We artists have a very different
view of weather.  Especially if we're painting it.
#2 Painting recognizable images of her wonderful
husband and two lovely children in a portrait of a
house on a 12 inch x 12 inch canvas was a challenge.

With great cooperation from my client, I feel like
we achieved our goal, and everyone was happy.

So Toronto, let it snow.  I was asked the other day if
I paint snow because I paint clouds.  I do, and now that
I've painted so many clouds, I'm looking forward to
painting more snow!

Have an enjoying your weather day.

Monday, November 11, 2019

New thinking -- the delight of making it work

The excitement of light
Acrylic on cradled birch wood
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
I remember my dear friend George Shane from the Don
Valley Art Club saying that you don't really know if
a painting is working until you've put it away for
three months.

Sometimes you know right away.  Done is done, and
the feeling of exhiliration that comes from that can't be
beat.  But sometimes months or even years after you
started a work that you don't know how to complete,
the answer comes out of the blue (or red, or yellow).

It was that way with this sunset cloud painting.  The
changes I made were minor, but they made me happy.  I
am pretty sure it's done.  It is one of the views I might
get to see when we go to Nova Scotia.  The astounding light
teaches me over and over how incredibly beautiful nature is.

Have a rethinking your work day.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Supportive friends - and going to New York City

Artist Franco Kwacha  Mbilizand I
at the opening of the ground floor
Amsterdam Whitney Gallery
in New York City in 2016
Last week I was invited to join the December 2019/January 2020
exhibition at the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in
New York City.  So we hustled and arranged hotels
and air fare, and I'm going to the opening on
December 14.  If you're going to be in town (New York City)
please let me know and come on over.  I believe the opening
runs from 3 - 6 p.m. as usual, but I will check that.

Tonight I'm showing you a photo of me and the artist
Franco the Creator at the opening of Amsterdam Whitney's
ground floor gallery in Chelsea NYC in 2016.
I did not have art in that show, but was invited to celebrate
with the gallery director, staff and exhibiting artists.
I'm sorry I don't know the name of the artist in the work
behind us.

This photo captures my sheer delight at seeing Franco
there.  We have been friends since we met at an earlier
exhibition at Amsterdam Whitney Gallery.  Franco's work
is amazing -- both spiritual and hopeful, and apocalyptic
at the same time.

The Gallery Director -- Ruthie Tucker is one of the kindest
and most supportive people I've ever met.  Even though
I was not in this show, and neither was Franco, Ruthie asked
the TV interviewer Kristal Hart to interview us.

With Kristal Hart and Franco Mbilizi
being interviewed for MNN, Manhattan TV
in front of Wonder Water Image #6
at the new Amsterdam Whitney Gallery.
The painting had sold, and was not in the
exhibition, and still the gallery director
wanted me to be featured with Franco.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Into the smalls -- the source of some big work

It's a fine day sweetheart
Acrylic on cradled birch panel
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
One of the paintings currently showing at the Heliconian
Club, until the end of November, started out as a small
painting.  Many artists I talk to talk about scale.  The
nice thing about smaller works is that they fit into smaller
spaces, and they are less expensive

The painting I'm showing you tonight is one I picked out
of my box of smaller works, and thought -- 'hey this is
a nice one!'  I have been working on the theme of the
beautiful fields we see driving to the beach in Nova
Scotia, or through the countryside to the store an hour away
to get some groceries when.  As the passenger on these trips
I am probably quite annoying because I am continuously
gasping and asking Steven to stop the car.  So much beauty

In fact I probably have enough photo reference to paint
for a long, long time.  But then there's tomorrow, and what
magic it might contain.

I love this painting, and the title too. And yes it's for sale
if you're interested.  :-)

Have an enjoying your work day.

Friday, November 8, 2019

The art of the card

Apples and Sunflowers
Acrylic on watercolour paper - glazed
3 x 5 inches
 Barbara Muir © (from the files)
Today was a dear family member's birthday.  There have
been two of them this week.  Working with a wonderful
printer I like to create my own card -- from photos and
my work, with personal, funny and meaningful
words inside.

It takes more time than looking at a card stand and picking
out the card, but it makes me happy to give an original
image and original words.

For a very loving message today I used this bright image.
It's a small painting that's been sitting on my dresser
staring at me and making me happy for the past couple
of weeks.  I thought I'd pass on that good emotion.

Today it got its turn, and was delighted to be on the front of
a card -- bringing warmth and happy thoughts to a very
cold and sometimes snowy, and very happy birthday.

Have a loving your family day.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

It all starts with thinking -- how a painting begins

No Contest -- Nature Wins!
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2016
I am at the planning stage with at least two paintings.
One is more formal and has required a lot of research,
which is not completely finished.  The other is out
there circling around my brain like the airplanes
circling the airport in Toronto, or the birds that
always fly off a building on St. Clair when I turn off the
street to head home.

Like those birds, my thoughts about a painting are 
many, beautiful and inspiring in my own head.  Every
time I see the birds (pigeons I think) doing their sky
dance I feel incredibly happy.  Even if one second
before they fly up I was sad or frustrated.

So my thoughts are trending in this direction.  Landscape
with a human element -- buildings, or city, or highway.
Not sure.  The main thing is this wonderful uplifting mood --
which leads to paintings like the one above.  That and love
of place.  And no question about it I love Nova Scotia.
This painting sold in New York City two years ago.
And as I'm heading back to exhibit there in December --
what works with the audience there fascinates me.

Have a loving your creative thoughts day.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Even more from the Heliconian Four Seasons In Climate Crisis exhibition -- on now

Four seasons: captions going clockwise: 
Blue and Yellow
A Good Day to Saunter
The Harvest and the Hunt,
and The Long Night
All four paintings are Acrylic on canvas
10 x 16 inches
Dougal M. Haggart © 2019

I wish I had thought of taking photos of everyone's work,
at the dramatic, and inspiring opening of the Four Seasons
in Climate Crisis Show at the Heliconian Club in Toronto,
35 Hazelton Avenue.  But at the time I was too entranced with
the dance performances, and musical pieces to think of it.

Although I may talk more about the exhibition -- it is
dealing with such a crucial theme -- I think this is the last
story about an artist.

Dougal Haggart created a lovely quartet of pieces representing
each of the four seasons.  Dougal explains that she, "grouped
4 small landscapes together linked by elements signifying the
season in the foreground of each painting." She adds that she
used her colour associations with the seasons -- "from no
colour in winter, to the exciting relief of the bright colour returning
in the spring."

The figure in A Good Day to Saunter is experiencing the
high heat of summer, and in  The Harvest and the 
Hunt the person is battling the cold winds of fall.

There is a delightful warmth to all four paintings.  Even in
The Long Night there is a well lit house in the distance
watched over by a white arctic fox on the hill. You feel
like you could climb down the hill and find some supper
and a warm drink.  That painting was inspired by an amazing
trip Dougal took north of Churchill, Manitoba in 2006 to see
 the polar bears. You can read about that journey and feast
on the photos here.

As we face a serious climate crisis, the paintings in the
Four Seasons in Climate Change Crisis exhibition serve to
remind us of what we will be losing if we don't save our

Have a caring about your planet day.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Heliconian Four Seasons - another look

Artist Linda Briskin with her work Reclamation
A photo collage printed on vinyl
36 x 50 inches
Linda Briskin © 2019
To add to the drama of the piece
Linda placed rusting found objects
on the mantel beneath her work.

The Four Seasons in Climate Change Crisis, on now at the Heliconian
Club, is both a beautiful and disturbing exhibition.  Whether the artists
are painting or photographing the beauty they don't want to lose, or the
environmental issues at hand, the work is both dramatic and moving.

Linda Briskin's Reclamation -- a photo collage -- depicts
a commentary on how we are destroying the planet, and
an element of hope based on the earth's determination
to continue despite our excessive efforts to destroy it
through our habit of neglect.

As Linda explains, this is "a collage constructed from
more than 30 photographs, many of which were taken at
a car dump on Cayman Brac, a small coral island off
Grand Cayman."  She adds, "the geometry, textures and
colours of junked cars and rusted metal have their own
strange and grotesque beauty.  The green vines weaving
their way around and through the detritus are a reminder
of the earth's resilience and its capacity to regenerate."

In part Linda uses the vines as a symbol of the hope
that we as part of the growing and changing life of
humanity, will change our habits and grow new
ways of being conscious of and caring for our planet.

Linda leaves us with this heartening fact. "Every year
around 27 million cars around the world that reach the end
of their useful life are recovered for recycling. Over
25 million tons of material is recycled from old vehicles."

The collage Reclamation is powerful, and has the strange
beauty Linda describes. To see more of Linda's work,
check out her website here.

Have a thinking about the planet day.

Monday, November 4, 2019

More from The Four Seasons Show

Claire Bonenfant with Portal
Found objects ( a table) and acrylic
30 x 27 inches
Claire Bonenfant © 2019
There is a great variety of work on display at The Four Seasons
in Climate Crisis show on view now until the end of the
month at the Heliconian Club at 35 Hazelton avenue.

An artist I'd like to talk about tonight is Claire Bonenfant shown
here with her painting The Portal, painted on a small table, and using
the table legs, as the legs of the fox which encircles the elements.

The painting is absolutely beautiful.  I recommend that you go and see
it.  Claire says, "Every being which makes its home on Earth is also a member
of the Greater Whole, kept alive, as part of a single integrated organism, through
the beating of one heart."

The portal at the center of the painting made up of two seeds is a vision
into the universe beyond.  It was emphasized over and over again in
this exhibition that by seeing ourselves (humans) as separate from the
whole of nature, only catastrophe can result.  And that is happening.  When
we realize that we are the fox, the morning glories, the water, the fish in
this magnificent piece, we understand that we must protect the beauty
around us, and care for it as if it is our own child, or mother, or ourselves.
Nature on this planet was designed to be integrated and we have lost sight
of that leading to the climate change crisis we are facing.

Claire says it beautifully, about Portal, "we are all present: biome, fungi,
insect, fish, fowl, mammal, earth, rock, water, wood, and vegetation, with
fire and metal implied in the stars and planets. The large seed is a symbol for
the source from which all life germinates."

I love both the painting, and Claire's wonderful integration of beauty and
symbolism in a spiritually rich whole.

Have a caring about your world day.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

More from the Heliconian's Four Seasons in Climate Crisis Show

Faye Jordan with The Interdependency of Water and Clay Series
Gouache on paper -- 8 pieces
Faye Jordan © 2018
Featured this month at the Heliconian Club,

In the current show at the Heliconian Club on for the month of
November at 35 Hazelton Avenue in Toronto, the artist Faye
Jordan is exhibiting a series of eight paintings called The 
Interdependency of Water and Clay Series.  Four of
the images are abstract references to the human body, which
like clay, depends entirely on water.

Faye's thoughts on climate change center in part around the materials
she uses as an artist, and their effect on the environment.  She
has committed to using up her current art materials, plus she
is going to source out eco-friendly and plant based materials
for all of her future art projects.

The water and clay interdependence in her art work are
a metaphor for how completely human beings depend on
water because we are 60% water.  Faye points out that only
2.5 % of the water that covers 70% of the planet is fresh, and
we absolutely require this water.

But Faye's thoughts on water, art and pollution extend even to
how she hung the work, with all natural materials, that can be
reused, and the art can be rolled up and rehung, without requiring
heavy framing or transport costs.

A wonderful series.  More from the show tomorrow.

Have a caring about the environment day.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Fabulous show opening today

Me with The Light of My Life (left) and The Heart of the Neighbourhood (right)
Acrylic on canvas
Both are 30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
Hi everyone,

I will write more about the Four Seasons in Climate Crisis
exhibition that opened today at the Heliconian Club in Toronto
in the next few days.  I am incredibly tired tonight, and it has
been a day of enjoying the show, and then spending time with
family, so not much time for writing.

The photo today is of me with my new work I created for
this exhibition, of two places I love very much.  The painting on
the left is called The Light of My Life and depicts a pond we visit
when we go to one of our favourite parks out by Lake Ontario
to the west of Toronto.  The one on the right is called The Heart of
the Neighbourhood and is about the breathtaking scenes we see
at our local park a couple of blocks from our house.

The opening featured two amazing dancers, and
musical performances on the cello, flute and piano.
These contributions were inspiring and magical.  Plus there
were two poets reading poems about climate change, and two
young activists talking about their plans.

It was a wonderful afternoon and very moving.

More tomorrow.

Have a caring about the environment day.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Art show and performances tomorrow at the Heliconian

Please come out to the Heliconian Club tomorrow for an art show
from 1- 4 p.m.  I will be there for the afternoon and would love to
see you!

See the address in the ad for the show above.

Have a going to an art show day.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

In Toronto -- fabulous Halloween

Our porch on a rainy, windy Halloween night.
The canvas pumpkin princess reigns supreme.
She is pinned at the bottom, and
stuffed with newspapers.  We 
recycle the paper.  She goes flat and
rolls up to be put away for next year
when the fun is over. 
Once again I stuffed up our very practical Halloween pumpkin
princess, that I created last year to counter all the extremely
expensive ghost and demon machines in the neighbourhood.
I am championing Halloween's sweet side, which for the kids
in our neighbourhood is the whole thing. (As in candy and then

So my art for the night is the princess.  It was raining pretty
much the whole night, not very warm, and finally very windy.
But parents braved on with their children and little babies --
the parents dressed up too as Penguins, and Panda bears.

I loved the incredibly wide range of costumes children wore
when they came to the door.  And of course the sound of
Trick or Treat.  Steven carved the pumpkins and I drew the
faces. Our neighbourhood squirrels had eaten most of one of
the pumpkins. That was a delicate carving job for Steven,
to let the pumpkin be part of the celebration, but he managed it.

Have an enjoying the celebrations of the season day.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Happy Halloween -- here's another one I'm working on

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

Have to go to bed.  A very early morning tomorrow.  So enjoy this scene.

More about this and about everything on Halloween.  

Have a great day! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

What I'm working on -- a fascinating day

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017

This painting is about the wonder I feel walking around my own neighbourhood.
Clouds certainly do captivate me, and I get to see them perform their
incredibly awe inspiring and beautiful dance when I go and walk my dog
in the local park.

Much as I love traveling, my own neighbourhood means the world
to me, and makes me want to record what I see.  And surprisingly
some of my scenes of this community's spaces has sold to people
in New York City.

It has been a happy, crazily frustrating, and ultimately very satisfactory

Have a loving your neighbourhood day.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Another ink drawing from the past -- Inktober rules

black marker on watercolour paper
12 x 9 inches

Another drawing in celebration of Inktober.  I'm prepping for a show
this week -- and it's landscape painting, so the ink portraits I'm
showing you here are from a decade ago, and were portraits of
people attending the Consumer Electronics show in Lad Vegas.  I remember
that this fellow was a great guy, and very cooperative.  I had to draw him
live via Skype at the show, and then produce a more formal drawing
from reference I took in good light via Skype. This was the
final drawing.  He had a great sense of humour, which comes through
here, and I hope all is well in his life.

Have a loving what you do day.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Ode to Inktober

Nicole (the more polished drawing)
black marker on watercolour paper
12 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 
Sometimes when we switch modes, it's hard to switch
back.  I am in full painting mode now, and have had
to let my Inktober work fall to the wayside, even
though I may pick it up in another month.  Like
NovemInkber, or DecemInkber.

Here's an image from 10 years ago.  It was for one of
the biggest jobs I ever had -- drawing people live at
the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Luckily I was allowed to do two versions of the drawings.
One was an informal one I did live via Skype while
they sat for me, and the other more polished one, was
the final one from reference I took of the person in
better lighting.

Have an enjoying what you're doing day.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

In the studio -- the best place to be

On the easel: Untitled -- Work in progress (early days)
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
Some days you get it right.  Today was one of them.
We were off to the market early because Steven was
buying apples for applesauce.  I only like MacIntosh
apples, but I do like Steven's applesauce made from
various varieties.

After some time in the studio, we went out to our favourite
park.  There is a heavy wind and rain warning for tonight,
so we wanted to see the leaves before they were blown/rained off.
The lake (Ontario) was rough with gorgeous high waves,
smashing in 20 foot bursts against the rocks at the shore.  It was
mighty cold, but we went to the pond, which was a bit sheltered
from the wind, and fed the ducks.

Then back home and more time in the studio.  I am quitting
for the night with the sound knowledge that I love
painting and will paint again tomorrow.

Have a doing what you love day.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Wild nostalgia, the blog has the answer

After Breakfast
Black marker on bond paper
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013
I spent a good part of the day drawing.  First from a photo
by my father that was very touching of a little girl in
profile, with very dramatic light.  I was almost finished
when I looked at it and realized it absolutely wasn't

Then I worked on a drawing of an artist friend of mine
who lives in Chicago, and after about an hour thought --
you know what this isn't going to do it either.

What gives?  No idea. Huge end of week fatigue for sure.
Lots of obligations, I don't know.  Flipping through my blog
for an image for you I found the one above.  And I found
the message that joy is the easiest choice.  Thank you my
blog, and my normally upbeat self.  Joy is the best choice
if you can choose it, and so much of this day was wonderful,
that that made sense.

So the drawing tonight fits Inktober, though it's about six
years old.  And it's of one of my favourite meals ever --
breakfast in the hotel.  This image is of the table after the
meal -- but that delighted, happy vibe is there.

Have a choosing to have a joyous day.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Throw back Thursday -- a painting of local bounty

The pick of Picton
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
Available $200 plus shipping
I was standing in my studio today.  (I've been painting edges, and running errands
and thinking.)  And suddenly I saw this painting on a ledge above the window.
I think my eye is so used to those paintings (there are four small ones there), that
I don't notice them.

But I did today.  And I thought -- how lovely.  Plus it's throw back Thursday!  What
could be more perfect.  The painting is of market tomatoes from Picton, Ontario,
Canada, sitting in a bowl on our kitchen table -- with the strong late day light we 
get at this time of year hitting them. 

They look like an offering to the Gods of Fall -- who it seems are many.  We are
having such a spectacular fall in Toronto this year.  Just over the top gorgeous.

Have a loving your city (or town) day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Baby Catherine and the too amazing coat

Catherine in the coat and hat
Inktober drawing 
Black marker on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
When I was a little girl I adopted a family.
Really they adopted me -- because I was told
to go outside all the time, and would be hanging
around the nearby streets with my dog. The long
and the short of it is that a nice family let me
come in and see the baby.  I fell in love with
the baby, and the couple proceeded to have
three more from the time I was seven when
I met them, until I was thirteen when I moved away.

I loved, loved, loved these babies, and before long
I was helping change their diapers, playing with them,
and I was allowed to take them for walks around the
corner to my house and my mother.

My mother was sad about changes in baby clothes,
and snowsuits, and things that tried to make babies
look older than they were.  She was an amazing sewer
and sewed this beautiful coat and hat for one of the children,
Catherine, in a deep rose corduroy (so it would be
washable). The coat had pleats and so much material,
but it was sweet, and Catherine's mother was sure to
let me dress Catherine in the coat and hat if I was bringing
her to see my Mother.

Have a loving your memories day.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

More Inktober -- the teenage muse

Black marker on paper
5.5  x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

The Inktober drawing today is about the sudden change
in the world when a child steps onto the edge of teenage
life.  This can happen as early as 11, but by 13 it's
in full force.

As parents you are no longer right about much.  And
even when you try hard to please your preteen,
you can botch it up.  I was calling this bad hair day.
Because the model is angry about a haircut, but
I think I'll just call it.  Really?  or  Moody.

Have a loving your teenagers day.

Monday, October 21, 2019

A good night for memories -- showing in the Louvre

Left to right Marnix, Rolf Leemeijer, Miranda Brouwers, Hugo and me.
in front of my painting Dream Selfie -- Wonder Water Image #7 
in the 2016 Carousel du Louvre exhibition
Tonight is a big one here in Canada.  We've just had a federal
election, and all of the TV stations are talking about nothing
else.  Plus I taught tonight, which was wonderful, but when
I came home after 10:30 I just wanted to relax.  Yes I voted,
and the candidate I voted for won, so that is good news.

I am loving doing the Inktober drawings for you, but
practically speaking today it just wasn't going to happen.
So one of the things artists need to do in addition to moving
forward, trying new things, learning and loving life, is to
look back on the amazing things that have already happened.

Showing in the Louvre with the EA Editore team the first time
was amazing.  The second time in 2016 was so fun it would be hard
to match the great time we had.  My friend Miranda Brouwers,
who I met when we both exhibited at the Florence Biennale,
was in Paris too, and in the same show.  Plus she brought her
family with her, and Steven and I got to hang out with her
husband Rolf, and sons Marnix and Hugo. It was the best.

That trip makes me yearn for Paris and Europe and my friends
there. So here is a fantastically wonderful art memory.  Thank
you to everyone who made it happen, and thank you to my
collectors who bought the work I exhibited there as soon as
I returned.

Have a loving your memorable times day.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

A perfect day in October -- make that Inktober

Loving the new kitten
Inktober drawing
Black marker on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
Here's another Inktober drawing.  I was hoping to show the
kitten the girl is holding, but the page wouldn't let me include
it.  Still I think the look of absolute love you feel holding a
baby animal is there.

It has been the most beautiful day here in Toronto.  After a
week or so of cold, it was so warm that when we went
for a short walk I had to take my jacket off.  I hope you
had a magnificent day.  The trees here are brilliant and
range from the green we're used to, to vivid red, orange and
yellow.  Plus they are luminous in sunshine, and they make
you want to do nothing but stare.

I hope you had a superb day.

Wishing you all that you want in the coming week.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Carolanne -- another Inktober portrait

Carolanne McFarlane
Black marker on paper 
Inktober drawing
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
I don't know what happened to Carolanne.  I can only hope
her life has been great.  I did this portrait from a very
moody photo my father took of her.  I don't know how
he even got the shot because Carolanne was very sunny.

But when we moved away to Toronto I lost touch with
my former neighbours, who were so much fun.

I realized working on this drawing how much my father
loved light.  He loved to make his photos as dramatic as
possible -- and yet they were about everyday subjects --
our neighbours, the scenes we lived with every day, my
mother in the house or the garden.

What I love about the photos that he printed in his
basement darkroom is that the people are very
much alive, even though he only printed in black
and white.

Have a loving what you do day.

Friday, October 18, 2019

More from Inktober -- Friday portraits

Let's talk
black marker on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Mur © 2019
It's been a great day for art.  I worked most of the day
on a painting that is coming along nicely.  And
tonight I drew this Inktober portrait.  So much fun.

I loved something Elizabeth Gilbert said about being
a "celebrant" today on Instagram, and understand that.
I'm working on pieces that celebrate the landscape,
and they're for a climate crisis show  My focus on
seeing how amazing the world is, is my way of
saying, "let's take care of this place."

Have a celebrating each day, day.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Happy afternoon with a major collector

Adriana's celebration
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2012
To take a break from Inktober today I’m posting a
painting of one of my top collectors who I
visited today. I've had the honour of being
like a family portrait painter for her. And
there is a new personality joining that group.

Over tea and delicious cookies we discussed the current
planned piece, which should be fun. And she
said I could take a photo of a portrait I love that I did of

All in all a wonderful time, and a mood of
delightful anticipation.

Have a planning for joy day.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The 16th of Inktober -- Portrait time

Bibby's new dress
Black marker on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
What I love about Inktober is the challenge of trying to
draw something -- if not every day, as often as possible.
Today it's a portrait, and I enjoyed thinking about texture
in terms of line, very different from painting, although
many of my favourite painters' portraits begin with
a detailed line drawing on the canvas.

The portrait tonight is of a little girl who just got a new
dress.  I could keep going with the portrait and fill in all
of the pattern and texture of the dress, but I felt like
her expression mattered the most, and it's all there.
What a treat to draw.

Have a loving your work day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The sunny side of life -- Inktober

Manu in sunlight
Black marker on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
It was another beautiful day today, and this
portrait based on one of my father's super
photographs goes along with that.

I'm hoping that our garden flowers will make it
through another chilly night.  The anemones are
absolutely magnificent and it will be a definitie
loss of beauty when they're gone.

I am a fan of Inktober whether I'm doing it
properly or not, because I continue to work
on a bigger piece and it's still not finished.
To be able to show you something new makes
me feel wonderful.

It is a very fast paced world now, and the
time and care that goes into more painstaking
work doesn't fit the model of immediacy.
But drawing does, and I am delighted that
it does.

Have an enjoying all that you do day.

Monday, October 14, 2019

A day of joy -- Happy Thanksgiving

A line on roses
Black marker on Moleskine paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
Today was the actual Canadian Thanksgiving Day.  We had
our celebration with the family on Friday, and decided we'd
have a special treat tonight at one of our favourite restaurants.

It was a beautiful and very cold day.  We sat on the back porch
watching the wasps who would otherwise be interested in us,
devour the maple syrup we'd put out for them.  Watching
them was mesmerizing and very relaxing, and we could have
watched the crew of about 14 come and go, and jostle for
position.  But we had places to go.

So we went down to the lake.  It was magnificent there -- big
sailboats anchored in the bay, blue water sparkling in the sunlight,
children playing under the trees, couples in love (like us), a
woman running by talking to her mother on the phone through
headphones and telling her that some of her behaviour caused
tension.  Seagulls floated in the air about us and we were as happy
as can be.

Then tonight we dressed up and went out for dinner.  It is supposed
to be very cold tonight so I cut lots of flowers from the garden and
brought them in -- now the kitchen looks so festive.

The roses in tonight's drawing, could be an Inktober drawing but
I did it four years ago.  To me roses are celebratory, and although
we don't have any at the moment we have a lot of garden flowers.
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving.  October in our family is packed
with celebration.

Have a loving your life day.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

The only important message on this weekend here in
Canada is Happy Thanksgiving!  Families and friends
all over the country have spent the weekend gathering
together to express our gratitude for the bounty of
the harvest, for each other, and for the planet.

I love Thanksgiving because it includes everyone.
It is not about religion, it's about gratitude for what
we have, and sharing a meal with the people we
care about.  There are no gifts other than food and
good company.  It is a wonderful holiday.

I am taking a break today, so for now best wishes for
a very happy day on the last day of this long weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

So grateful for artist friends and our community -- an art weekend

Me with the artist Jennifer Hinrichs and her
beautiful work The River, (see below).

The River
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Jennifer Hinrichs © 2019

On Thursday night we stopped in at the Aird Gallery in its
new location at 906 Queen Street West.  My friend Jennifer Hinrichs
had a piece accepted into their juried show Paint which runs until
November first.  The gallery was packed both with paintings, and
with eager art lovers -- always a treat to see.

It's a wonderful show, so if you can make it, go and take a
look.  The gallery is in the basement of the building, and they are
hoping to expand.   It's in a great area with lots of restaurants and
all of the good things the city offers.

Jennifer's piece River makes you want to do what the young girl
in the painting is about to do -- find some water to swim in
and jump in.  Oh for summer!  It's cold tonight and the thought
of a hot summer day is a treat.

Today we went to the Art Gallery of Ontario, had a delicious lunch
in the Member's Lounge, and went to see the Rubens exhibition.  I
loved the quote they had on the wall, and thought "right on Rubens
 -- good attitude!" Rubens said, "I confess that I am by natural instinct
better fitted to execute very large works than small curiosities.  Everyone
according to his gifts; my talent is such that no undertaking, however vast
in size or diversified in subject, has ever surpassed my courage."  He
wrote this in a letter to William Trumbull dated September 13, 1621.

I'm not fond of his paintings of sad religious images with figures lying
in agony bleeding, but I do love his portraits and needless to say, the man
could really paint. And size did not scare him.  He was telling the truth.
Some of the works are very large in scale.

Home to my own humble studio, and time with the family again.
We went for a walk in the park, and enjoyed the art of the natural
world, and the beautiful moon tonight.

Have a loving art, and a Happy Thanksgiving weekend day.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving -- the gift of family

Today's flowers from the garden
Watercolour and black marker on 
watercolour paper
6 x 9.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

Tonight we had Thanksgiving dinner with our growing
family.  The youngest person at the table was two
months old, and no she did not have turkey.  It
was a delicious meal and wonderful fun.

At one point a song played that my mother had
especially loved, and I suddenly wished so badly
that she could have been here to watch her family
laughing, dancing and singing.  My mother
died on (Canadian) Thanksgiving Day six years
ago.  I'm putting this painting up because it was the
first painting I created after she died. For me the painting
was the beginning of the possibility that I would
ever feel joy again.

And of course I have.  I am lucky to be a happy
person at heart.  And I am blessed to have a joyous,
loving family, and very grateful for that.  Most
Canadians will celebrate later in this long
weekend, but tonight was the only time our
whole crew could meet.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Inktober -- My mother's sewing -- my father's art

Cutting a pattern
Black marker on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
In some ways in a family of artists my father was the most
prolific.  He had a very serious period as a photographer in
black and white images that he printed himself in his dark room,
and could have easily gained fame from the quality of those
photos.  Plus he was a pretty good, self-trained painter.

I based today's Inktober drawing on a wonderful photo of
my mother cutting gorgeous fabric -- perhaps for a dress.
As I've been thinking about Botticelli, and Florence, I
think the link here is that the fabric was no doubt Italian,
and perhaps Florentine.

My parents went to Italy for six weeks when I was a girl,
and left us with a woman, who might have been a drunk, but was
certainly mentally ill.  Children were too much for her.
She waited on the front lawn all day the day my parents
were expected to return.

The fact that my mother's great grandmother was Florentine
was never discussed in our family.  A cousin of my
father's was into family tree information, and found that
out to my great delight.

I learned how to sew very well from my mother, but have
not continued that skill.  As for my mother -- she could,
and did make anything.

Have an enjoying your story day.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

10 reasons to be happy

Untitled (Work in Process)
Acrylic and acrylic ink, and 
marker on canvas
11 x 14 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2019
I took a little break from Inktober today, although the painting I'm
showing you started with an ink drawing on canvas. 10 reasons to
be happy -- is an exercise I used to do with my psychology class,
and it always created a great mood. We need that right?

1.  I talked to some wonderful artist friends today, and
exciting plans are in the works!

2. Toronto has declared a Climate Emergency.  I
know that sounds like a bad thing, but it isn't.  It means
that the city is recognizing Global Climate Change, and we
may begin changing how we do things as a city. Terrific news.

3. I had time to work on my larger painting today.

4.  I did some work on the painting I'm showing you
tonight, which is a work in progress.

5. I sat on the front porch with Steven when he came home
from work, and we watched the magical end of day light
in our neighbour's golden leafed tree.

6. It was Steven's turn to make dinner, and dinner was

7.  We are having Thanksgiving dinner with our family, which
is wonderful.  I love Thanksgiving.  (This is the Canadian one,
which is about the harvest.)

8. The Fall Blooming Anemones in our garden are hanging
in even though it's been super cold at night.  They are eight
feet high and a beautiful cloud of white flowers.

9. Even though our entire street is under construction, I got
a parking space in front of our house!

10.  You make me happy every day, and I'm so glad I know
you, and that you comment on my blog, and make me feel
like I'm part of a community.

Have a finding reasons to be happy 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!