Thursday, January 31, 2019

Happy end of January -- a wonderful month!

Friends in Quebec City
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
Today is throw back Thursday on some social media, and
that works fine for this little painting. I started it 10 years
ago, and worked on it on and off for this past month
between bigger work, and when I was not feeling well.

Surprisingly with a strange lung bug, and no answers from
doctors, I kept my promise to myself that 2019 would be
a very happy year.  And now I am better, I still feel this
way -- joyous -- in the face of so much that is not great
in the world.  If you are suffering either terrible cold, or
overwhelming heat right now due to climate change, I
feel for you.

My style 10 years ago was very different.  But when I
found the painting, at the back of a bookcase, I loved
the mood.  Every summer we visit Quebec city on our
way to Nova Scotia, and on our way back to Toronto.
We absolutely love the city.  It is magnificent, charming,
beloved by its citizens, filled with art, history, and one of the
oldest cities on the continent.

So this painting expresses the happiness I always feel when
I'm there.

Have a thinking of places you love day.

Monday, January 28, 2019

And a new one -- finished -- happy news!

Sky high summer joy
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

This painting is finished -- a great feeling.  Ironically
this lush summer landscape came together on a day
that offered the first true sign of winter this season.
I grew up in Ottawa -- in winter snow was a daily reality.
But this year in Toronto we had our first snowfall last week, nearing
the end of January -- and a big one today -- the 28th of January.

To Torontonians the lack of snow was bliss. And the first flurries last
week didn't even cover the grass.  But today's real snowfall, 
panicked the city, and there have been school closings, and
other services on hold.

So as I usually teach on Monday night, and class was cancelled --
 I took a deep breath, felt sorry that I wouldn't see my students, and
worked at getting this painting done -- top of my list for the day
even without the snow.  The lush fields of last summer, and the bright 
farm buildings called to me -- reminding me of the bliss
I feel driving out east in July to our little school house in Nova
Scotia. Happy summer thoughts on a proper winter day. 

Have a dreaming of summer and enjoying winter day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Bob Burridge is right -- they all are. Just go into the studio

Constant Inspiration (work in progress)
Acrylic and faux gold leaf on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
I went into my studio today -- still not quite full strength.
After meeting with some great women in my neighbourhood,
I was resting watching Bob Burridge's latest little video.
He is so confident, warm and encouraging, and he said get
down into the studio.  Which was right.

I was nestled in bed with a book and wanted to sleep, but
I settled in the studio intending to work on a landscape I
started a while ago. Then I came on this partially started portrait
of my niece. Before I knew it I was working on that, and
looking for real gold leaf (have to get some -- the fake stuff
is not as good) and having fun.

The landscape sits on the easel saying, "And?"  And I explained
to that painting (silently) that this was small, and intimate and right for today.

Have a going into the studio day.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Amazing grace -- the pleasure of drawing

Me today
Black acrylic marker on drawing paper
6 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
(Danny Gregory explains that drawing
yourself is not narcissistic, it's 
practical -- you are a willing,
available model.)

Since my last post I have been a bit under the weather.  Wow!
Antibiotics, two home doctor visits, one office doctor visit and a really fun
chest X-ray, and the conclusion is -- Um.  You've been sick!

Me a few days ago
Black acrylic marker on Mead paper
7 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
But thanks to wonderful Danny Gregory's posts and blogs, I
have continued to draw.  Plus I kept painting (but some of
what I was working on needs revision. New vision? Ya.)  I put blogging
on my list today -- so here I am.

Oranges and lemons in a footed glass fruit bowl
Black acrylic marker on drawing paper
6 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

So tonight some drawings.  And I think I may be turning the
corner.  (Please) (Full energy back please).


The view from my bed
Black acrylic marker on bond paper
5.5 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

Have a doing what you love day!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Brave, determined and ...sick!

Tulips in the students' gorgeous present
Acrylic on bond paper (formerly a palette)
14 x 17 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
What an amazing New Year's Eve party we had!  So lovely.
Friends bringing every kind of food, lots of wine, champagne,
soft drinks, fizzy water.  Plum pudding with flaming brandy,
singing. So much singing!

These sketches are from photos of an opening in NYC, but they have the right 
mood -- on the left At the party, on the right Toast to the New Year.
Both are black marker on drawing paper.  
7 x 10 inches,
 Barbara Muir © 2019.

I ordered Louise Hay's I can do it calendar before the year
began and it is such a daily inspiration.  Plus I've read two
amazing books by Danny Gregory:  Art Before Breakfast,
and A Kiss Before You Go.  These are books combining drawing
and writing.  Amazing.  I've been a fan of Danny Gregory's
for years, and think of him as one of the most positive
people on the planet.  So I was shocked to read that his first
wife - honoured in A Kiss Before You Go, died in a tragic

The upshot of reading Danny's books is that I've been drawing
a lot.  But I came down with a bad cold two days after New
Year's Eve, and have not been out to get art supplies. So that's
where brave comes in, and determined.  Another great inspiring
artist for me is Harry Stooshinoff  who paints every day.  And his
work is amazingly wondrous -- landscapes brilliantly defined and

Harry uses the paper he mixes his paints on in collages so
that nothing gets wasted.  I'd run out of notebooks without
lines, and decided to draw on a piece of paper I'd mixed
colours on for another painting.  Thinking of Harry, I
thought -- just go ahead. I quite like the resulting sketch
of an amazing bunch of tulips called Tulips in the students'
gorgeous present.  One of my positive psych classes a few
years ago gave me this beautiful glass jug.  I love it.
Chloé with the tulips
black marker on notebook paper
7 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
Danny Gregory says to draw everything.  
So with that in mind I attempted a portrait
of my niece, who we lost a year ago
with tulips both hanging over her photo, and
tulip shadows surrounding her. Her photo
stays in my studio.  I miss her and wish
she could be here so I could give her a hug.

Here's to a wonderful year, and the bravery to keep producing if at all 
possible, and the audacity to try new things.  Thank you for your kind
and generous support in 2018.  You are all over the top wonderful!

Have a loving your life day.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy New Year and the final five

The Moon's Out Early
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
The Howard Wolinsky challenge to list 2018 things I learned in 2018 ends
today.  Thank you to Howard, a wonderful journalist and photographer
for his constant inspiration. Here are the last five things I learned in 2018.  Bye bye old
year -- you were great!

The 2014th thing I learned in 2018

Life can always surprise you
Looking back carefully on my life, surprising things happen
every day -- some good and some not.  How could you
predict that a random lady would be in the cat food section at
Loblaws who wanted to advise us about our vet?  And how could
you imagine that being in an international art exhibition, would
bring you true friends from around the world, but it happens.
One of my best friends in the world lives in the Netherlands,
and we talk as often as possible on the phone! And there are
so many more lovely people in my life, who I could not have
imagined knowing even a year ago.

The 2015th thing I learned again in 2018

Care about the environment 
It's almost impossible not to think about the fact that we've been
given 11 years to save the planet.  2018 seemed to be a tipping
point.  As in it's now or never.  So it worries me that
we are still so devisive, and that vast swaths of people in North
America don't want to believe that climate change is real!
I feel desperately sorry for them, as the heat climbs to a level
that is impossible to live in, and drops to lows we could never
have imagined.  I feel sorry for them, as storms and hurricanes
ravage their towns, and fires burn their homes. I feel sorry for
all of us, but we need to band together and see saving the
environment as a number one priority.

The 2016th thing I learned in 2018

Work for kind people
Where we work makes all the difference in the world.  I've
worked for people who didn't understand me, maybe didn't
like me, or didn't get me.  I've always had excellent experiences
in my art world -- thank you.  And in my very part time
writing teaching life I now only work for people who
respect my dedication to teaching, and to helping people learn,
and who help me in every way possible.  Thank you!

The 2017th thing I learned in 2018 (again)

Talk positively to myself
Do you talk to yourself -- either internally (and I think we all
do) or if you are alone -- out loud?  I'm an artist, and when I'm
painting I'm usually alone -- so I am the friend on the spot.
What I say to myself makes a big difference in my day.
How many times have your heard yourself say, "It's
just that kind of day."  Which explains why the day is going
wrong.  But if I take things minute by minute the voice
inside or outside my head can recommend changing that
track from ,"Look you spilled your coffee!, you ran out of
gas, you misplaced your favourite book," to what a friend
of mine in Tucson says is how dogs think, "Forward, forward,

The 2018th thing I learned in 2018

It's a big, big world -- so we need to travel
And I have only seen a tiny part of it.  So for my final
thought I seriously want to travel more in 2019.
Travel is one of the best and most thorough
teachers available. But a surprising number of people
in North America have never traveled outside of their
own country!

Have a very joyous Happy New Year

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!