Sunday, March 31, 2019

Month's end -- and everything is new!

Before the Dance in the blue dress
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir ©
Looking forward and looking back.  I love this
portrait part of the Dance series.  The painting is of Sam's
high school friend Donelle, and I first posted it on
the night they were in their last school concert together.
Sam and Donelle went to Oakwood Collegiate, which
at the time had a magnificent music program.  Both
of my sons are musical.  Sam played the trumpet,
and sang in the school's production of Hair.

This painting of a young person on the very edge
of adult life was a theme for me for a few years.
I loved the tentative nature of teens emerging into their
twenties, and all of the decisions about where to go,
and what to study that happen then.  Decisions on the
edge of major changes happen over and over in life, as
I've talked about a lot in my thoughts on The Month of
Change.  In some ways we are always both Before the Dance,
and at the Dance of life.

Today we are on the verge of a new month, and one
quarter of the way through this exciting new year.  It
has already been an amazing journey.  Thanks for
joining me.  And thanks Donelle for posing for this one a
while ago! I wish I had a better photo of the painting.

Have a getting ready to dance in your glorious life day.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

A spectacular Month of Change! Thank you!

In a park by the lake -- happiness
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

It's not a new idea, but the guided meditations I'm listening
to every day emphasize that we make our own reality.
Today it's raining.  I need to find/buy an umbrella.  But as
we take our regular Saturday morning drive to the
market, I notice the rain drops on every tree branch,
shining and luminous like jewels, and I feel completely

Maybe that's what I've learned or relearned in the
Month of Change -- the incredible power of the mind
to control our moods.  My point of view.  I do think
I'm lucky to have been born on the happy side.  No
specific reason why.  But super glad to have been
born into a family of mostly funny people, to have
married a kind and funny man, and to have raised a
couple of very cheerful and funny sons.

There it is.  The answer to existence according to
my current sources.  Enjoy the wonderful parts of your life.

Have a singing like the birds because it's raining day.

Friday, March 29, 2019

More thoughts on Winter in the Month of Change

The real winter
5 1/2 x 8 inches
Black marker on drawing paper
Barbara Muir © 2019
(Dirt and potholes are a fact
in Canadian winter.)
For the most part I loved this winter.  Let it be known
that I am really good at luxuriating in any possible
hint of nothing to do.  I am not the snow shoveler
here, although I did break up some ice one day
briefly.  I did go walking with my icers on a few times,
and kept them in the car.  But if winter weather means
I either have to stay in and paint, or read my book, or
talk to friends on the phone -- I am happy.  An artist
friend in the Netherlands and I concluded that that may
be the most surprising fact about us.  Despite serious
difficulties from time to time, in her case serious
health issues, we like to laugh and have fun.  Yes.

Steven and I took a trip to Ottawa for Valentine's
Day. And it was an eye opener (always good for
an artist).  Most of the way up the 401 to Kingston
most towns had far less snow than Toronto.  But then
we turned off the highway to head to Ottawa, and
the snow got steadily deeper.  And in Ottawa
it was much, much more dramatic than in Toronto.
But everyone there just dressed appropriately, and
their streets were clean! Unlike ours.

The snow banks heading up to my brother's place in
Chelsea, Quebec were not pristine white, but grey and
pitted, and filled with grime from the roads.  We painters
don't show that side of winter.  But I drew a little sketch
of it here.  The thing is -- even dirty, icy snowbanks
are attractive to an artist, because the snow looks like
sculptures made by some other world force.  Cool in a
way. (Actually very cool!)

Have a remembering both sides of winter day. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

So sorry to hear our dear friend Marilyn Fancey is gone!

At the farmhouse
14" x 16"
Barbara Muir © 2006
I opened Facebook tonight to see a goodbye note from our
dear friend Marilyn Fancey.  She said that if we were reading
this she had died. I couldn't believe it.  I just saw her in August.
Marilyn and her husband Ian were the first people in Nova Scotia
to befriend us and welcome us into their home.  We loved visiting
them, and because they were so kind they sold us furniture at crazy
low prices from an antique shop they ran in an outbuilding on the
property of their lovely farm house.

Our kids loved visiting them.  Christopher and Sam would watch
TV (we didn't and still don't have a TV at the school house),
and we'd play cribbage with Marilyn and Ian every single
visit.  They were amazing at it and we were not, but we had
so much fun.

Both Ian and Marilyn were folk artists, and showed every year
until recently in the Lunenburg Folk Art Festival.  One of the
first gifts Ian gave us is a folk art wooden shovel painted with
a picture of our family mowing the lawn and playing
ball on the grass outside the school house.  It's a piece we've
cherished ever since.  

I did this watercolour back when my kids were young.  They appear
in the farmhouse window behind Ian and Marilyn and their dog

We are so sad, and heartbroken for Marilyn's children Lori and Steve
and Marilyn's husband Ian.  Thank you Marilyn for all the love you
gave to us every summer for more than 20 years.  We will miss your
wonderful laugh, your great sense of humour, and your kindness.

Have a loving the friends you love day.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Winter nostalgia in the Month of Change

The Cake House
Acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2011
Toronto is moving slowly into spring.  Only a spoonful
remains of the mountain of snow that was on our tiny
front lawn last week.  Steven and I went for a long walk late
this afternoon, and found ourselves commenting every time
we saw snow -- bits of it here and there, but mostly gone.

It was not a horrible winter.  Okay a lot of snow did fall,
but not until the end of January.  We had almost two
winter months with no snow -- December and
January -- not normal.  Yes we did have winter --
cold temperatures and a couple of really impressive
snow storms.  But we need both winter, and snow in
order for the summer crops in this part of the world to grow.

So despite the excitement over spring's actual arrival, we
are a bit nostalgic for winter.  We had a good one.
Kind friends and family, (okay a month of illness
in January), but even so if the season starts in December,
most of it was good.

I am working on a winter landscape, which I put away
to chill last week.  Today I feel like I've cracked the code.
A glorious feeling.  I was painting all day, and in
high spirits, but the piece is not done.  So I'm showing you one
of my favourite winter paintings from eight years ago.
It's of the back of a house on a path in our local park
called the loop.  At the time we called it "the cake house,"
because as it was being built it looked like an ever more
spectacular cake.

Have an enjoying the seasons day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Constant change in the Month of change

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

Quite frequently I am a slow painter.  It's not that I can't go fast,
it's that some paintings take a lot of thought and deliberation.
And I could no more explain to you which paintings require that
focus, or why, than I could explain astrophysics.  The process
remains a mystery to me.

This painting is one of those slow babies, and it is changing minute
by minute.  It is like a complicated recipe that you have to move from
stovetop, to microwave, to oven, to the refrigerator.  So here we are
today in this iteration, and I can confidently expect more changes
tomorrow.  Because I will go to sleep and dream, and new answers
will come flying into my brain.  For now.  This is it.  And I am
enjoying the dance.

Have an enjoying the dance of change day.

Monday, March 25, 2019

A day off -- Not happening in the Month of Change

To all the Jemmas in the world!
Acrylic on bond paper
10 1/2 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

So tired tonight.  We agreed that I'm allowed to say that
right?  I won't go on.  But I thought maybe I won't blog
tonight, and then I thought about artists like Nicki
Ault, Edward B. Gordon, and Harry Stooshinoff.  All
prolific bloggers, and painters. And I thought,"what about
that abstract sketch that reminded you of Harry Stooshinoff?"
Not my painting -- it doesn't look anything like Stooshinoff's
work, but the fact that Stooshinoff does abstract landscapes
(and does a painting almost every day), and here I am.

Thank you to all the prolific and excellent painters on
my blog list, on Instagram and on Facebook.  You power
and empower me.

Have a super day, and keep on being creative in
whatever you do!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Small changes in the Month of Change

Lemons at the dinner party
Acrylic on cradled Birch panel
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

I may not be finished the little painting I'm showing to you
today, but it feels done.  It has more zip and punch than it
did the first time I showed it to you. The changes were small,
but made a huge difference.  

Wishing you a super week, as we move into the full beauty
of spring. We were lucky today to see the last day of the Mickalene
Thomas: Femmes Noires show at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the 
exhibition.  Mickaline Thomas is prolific and powerful and uses unique
techniques like printing photographic collages onto mirrors.  Her
work is huge and arresting. Both shows were amazing.  My favourite 
piece in the Impressionism show was a Degas painting of a woman 
ironing that I'd never seen before.  The light was magical.

It's been a wonderful day entertaining the youngest member
of our family, who is filled with life and ideas, and transforming
every minute.  Her influence hits me both with a sweetness
that is heartwarming, and the inspiration that comes from watching
how hard the very young work at learning and changing every 
day -- sometimes in every hour.  A treat.

Have a making small changes and enjoying them day.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Hey artist friends --- Try meditating! And Happy National Puppy Day!

Sally the dog
Acrylic on canvas
5 x 7 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2014
(I'm posting this for National or
International Puppy Day.  Sally was
a puppy in this photo, and horribly thin 
when we adopted her from the 
Humane Society.  She's not
fun around other dogs, but a 
wonderful house dog, and we love
her so much!  Happy Puppy
Day to all the puppies out there.)

It seems to me that animals - my dog and my cats are
really good at sitting still and breathing. I am trying to
make small changes as I move through the Month of Change.
 What are they?  Funny you asked. Well. I have started
meditating again.  I realized that I am subconsciously nervous,
which comes out in my dreams sometimes, so I decided to fix that.
Meditation really works, and it doesn't have to be for long.  Even
a five minute guided meditation from a video on the Internet, if you
don't have more time, can tip your day into happy.  And moving
towards a more positive viewpoint helps us be more creative.

Plus I've been trying to walk for an hour every day.  For the
whole month of January I was sick with pleurisy.  I
still worked on both art and teaching, but for much
of the month I was in bed.  Walking is my exercise
and the sidewalks are dry in Toronto now, the snow is
disappearing. Today we walked in the streets down around
the St. Lawrence Market.  I teach down there
one night a week at the moment, but hardly ever go there in
the daytime, it was cool to see it differently. A beautiful area.

Another change I've made as you might have noticed is that
I've been blogging every day.  This may end soon because in
addition to the art I'm trying to finish, I am taking on a heavier
teaching load in May for a few months.  Balancing everything
out may mean no blogging for awhile. We'll see.

Hope you had a fabulous Saturday.  Yes I did.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Being clear in the Month of change

Sun spill
Acrylic on watercolour paper
6 x 8 inches
© Barbara Muir
It's Friday night and I've been working on a larger piece all
day, but it's not ready.  Here's a little piece from a few years back
of one of my favourite views on the beach in Nova Scotia that we

My fascination with skies started as a little girl when I used
to lie  on the dock at the cottage in northern Ontario that my
parents rented every summer, staring at the clouds.

Clouds started floating into my portraits, eventually leading to
my ocean series of people in front of their favourite ocean
views (always with clouds).  Now with the oceans in peril
around the world that concept seems ever more poignant.  It's
my hope that by helping people focus on how beautiful landscapes
are, we can get closer to understanding how vital it is that we
save this place we love -- planet earth.

Have a taking care of yourself and the planet day.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

In the month of change - the wonder of fellow artists

Acrylic and charcoal on 
watercolour paper
16 x 23 1/2 inches
Barbara Muir ©
On Tuesday nights when I've been able to for the past 15 
years I've drawn with an art group from the Don Valley Art
Club.  Many of the people I started with are not
there anymore.  But some are.  And over the years
watching people draw and paint in a short evening with
a model, we form strong bonds.  Plus we help one
another be creative.  We don't have to discuss art to learn from
one another.  We just have to observe what other artists
are doing with the very same subject.

The night of this drawing, which is a few years back, our
model didn't show up.  And one of the best artists in the
group -- Marko -- posed for us.  Knowing how amazing his
work was (he drew like he'd been schooled in the
Renaissance) I was a bit intimidated to draw him.

Sometime after this evening, Marko decided he wasn't going
to do art anymore.  I was devastated.  He was a natural
born incredible artist.  So now I'm glad I have this
drawing.  I consider him to be a friend, though I don't
get to see him anymore.  He was always kind to me, and
I feel I learned a lot from watching him draw.

Have a learning from your friends day.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

First Robins -- Spring is in the air!

Robin earns his stripes
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 
Begun in 2009, finished in 2019
Yes!  Robins arrived in our yard today!  How perfect on
the first day of spring.  Every year we put our Christmas tree in
the backyard, and Steven fills it with birdseed.  That way when he
works at home, he can always see birds flying in and out of the
tree.  I know!  It's the first day of spring, but to be fair
there is still snow on the ground, and it did snow a little

At any rate the tree will come down this weekend, but the birds
will miss it.  And apparently a pair of newcomers to town
found it this morning, and said -- "what a good idea!" in Robin
talk.  Of course this made Steven so happy that he hadn't taken
the tree (quite brown now) down. Plus in this part of the
world the Robins arrival is a sure fire beacon of spring!

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The power of change in my art group -- so wonderful!

Tuesday in the red shirt
Art group sketch
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 16
Barbara Muir © 2019

Happy last day of winter and it was.  I had a truly wonderful
day, and tonight worked on this portrait with my art group.
The model was excellent, and the atmosphere so relaxed, that
unlike the normal rules during a pose, people were talking and
sharing stories.

I was only there for an hour, but I felt so recharged and transformed
that I completely changed what I'm doing with one of my
bigger paintings when I got home, and felt happy and excited
about that.

For some of you reading this we are already into the first day
of Spring.  Doesn't that have a magical sound?  It does to
me.  So much so that I took a brief stroll under the moonlight
with Steven.

Happy first day of spring.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The pluses of being tired -- it's okay!

Dreaming of Florence
Charcoal on bond paper
18 x 24 inches
© Barbara Muir  
I wanted to do a charcoal self portrait tonight when I got home
from teaching my Monday night class.  But it was too late, I
hadn't had dinner, and I was just too tired.

I watched a great show on Amanpour last night about fatigue,
and our society's allergy to the concept.  Apparently that desire
to always be on, to not admit to fatigue is really bad for us says
sleep expert Matthew Walker, and it could potentially be killing us.

So I decided to give myself a break.  I love this portrait of a
wonderful model named Shakoya. I drew it just after I came
home from my first trip to Florence.  I loved, loved, loved
the art there, and wanted to put gold leaf halos on everyone.
For me they weren't religious symbols, just signs of high affection.
As in -- "you are so wonderful!  I think I'm going to paint
you wearing a halo."  The urge wore off back here in
North America, but seeing this drawing tonight, there's a powerful
 attraction to the concept.

A halo brings out the saintly in all of us.  I also like her necklace
of butterflies, which I think was Shakoya's.  But in this time of
panic about the environment, it seems appropriate.

Have a letting yourself be tired day.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Happy St. Patrick's day -- the concept of home

First sighting -- coming home
Acrylic on watercolour paper
10.6 x 13.8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
I love this painting -- done from memory of one of the views that tells us
we're almost "home" at our school house in Nova Scotia.  This idea of 
home is playing around in my mind because of the idea of roots of some
kind.  Having visited this place at least 10 times a year (going back and
forth between Pugwash and Amherst, or Oxford), it is a view embedded
in my brain, and my heart.  Today we celebrated St. Patrick's Day with
our son Sam, and talked a bit about ancestry.  His background is a 
mixture of about 8 nationalities.  And Irish is low on the list.  Our 
Irish ancestors were French. (Read yesterday's blog for details).

So Toronto my home for most of my adult life, Ottawa, my parents'
home for the same period, Pugwash, Nova Scotia,  for the past 20 years
once a year -- are my hometowns.  What I've found curious in recent
years when I've traveled more extensively -- to New York, Florence
and Paris -- is that almost anywhere will feel like home to me after 5 days
if the people are kind and welcoming.  A very happy thought.  And if 
we return to the same neighbourhoods in New York or Paris frequently
enough we might be so lucky as to have people there we can call friends.

It is my dream to travel more this year -- to see the places we visit
every year, and to go farther if possible.  I raise a glass to you and
the people who make your feel at home on St. Patrick's Day.  This 
painting is right because it's green and of the place where I fell in 
love with that colour in paintings. We had a touch of green champagne, 
and after our festive lunch Steven and I headed out to our favourite park 
near Toronto and fed the ducks, geese and the swans.  It was a super 
happy day.

Have a feeling at home day.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Super Day getting ready to "be" Irish -- Happy St. Patrick's Day

Lucky Shamrocks
acrylic on birch,
5 x 5 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2012
Happy St. Patrick's Day.  I sold this little painting last year.  This is what
shamrock flowers look like -- delicate wee things, not the hearty,
shiny green we will decorate with March 17 for a small, but festive St. Patrick's
Day family lunch.   My mother thought that the Poindexters, our "Irish"
relatives were Huguenots, who fled France for Ireland, and then fled Ireland 
for Canada settling near what is now Perth, Ontario. By that time they were 

They lived in harrowing times fleeing persecution and famine.  Our
family made up of Scottish, English, Irish, French and Italian on my side,
and Dutch and Indonesian on Steven's side started celebrating this
day when the children were little.  And because children have
fabulous memories you can't have a special celebration once, so
it became a thing we do every year. And will again this year! Have
a good one.

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Looking forward to positive change -- 10 more reasons to be happy!

The feeling of pink
Acrylic on birch panel 
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

In an effort to be part of your Good News Network, here are 10
reasons why I am happy today.

1. I'm finished this little painting of pink tulips, and I like it.

2.  A dear friend came for coffee, who I hadn't
seen in a long time.  So much laughter.  It was

3.  I saw another artist at the printer, who is
very funny, and helped him apply to an acting agency.

4. I picked up a photo reference for one of my
bigger paintings.

5.  A friend in the Netherlands let me know
the type of packing case for canvasses she uses
and where to buy them. Thank you so much!

6. It is the day before my wonderful nephew's
birthday and I miss him.  He is an amazing artist,
actor, writer and director.

7. I read Danny Gregory's post about How to feed your soul.
He talked about how "your body is the dog of your mind."  Meaning
you have to take care of yourself at least as well as you'd take
care of your pet dog.

8.  Danny Gregory's post had such an impact on me that I asked
Steven to go with a walk with me tonight. Even though it
was raining, slippery and dark we went for a walk which left us
both in a very cheery mood.

9. The farmer friends we visit at the Brickworks market will
be back from visiting Turkey tomorrow, and we're going to pick
up our standard order of eggs, lettuce and quiche - all

10. I am thinking about the solutions to a couple of paintings,
and I know the ideas will come to me.

Have a thinking of 10 reasons to be happy day.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Pi Day -- grateful for a constant in the month of Change

Stand Back for the Pie
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
© Barbara Muir 
I feel lucky to be married to a quirky man who is a big fan of science
and math.  That's particularly nice as I am interested in science, but not
 good at math. Although oddly enough every now and then lately
I have been wizard at it!  Each year Steven (my husband) and I mark
Pi Day -- the 14th of the third month -- March, by eating "pie". According
 to the Huffington Post Pi Day is named after the Greek symbol π which
 is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. The first three
 digits in Pi are 3 (this is the third month) and 14 (the fourteenth day)
= 3.14 or Pi

This year instead of getting a whole pie we bought wonderful tarts, and
served them on my grandmother's good china, with ice cream.  What
a treat.  We sing Happy Pi Day to the tune of Happy Birthday -- appropriate
because it is Einstein's birthday. 

I have featured this painting on Pi day for a number of years because it seems
to say it all -- celebration, the perfection of flowers -- and the pie is Steven's
cherry pie -- the last from our cherry tree (now gone).  My mother was a 
bacteriologist, and also entranced with all things science.  I think of her
every year on this day too (and on every other day!)

Hope you had a wonderful Pi day. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

All Happy News Network!

Good news Clementines with Lemon friends
Acrylic on cradled birch panel
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
Hey!  Wouldn't that be great?  Not fake happy news, I
mean genuine upbeat stories breaking all day.  I'd
love that.  I know the world is plagued with climate
change disasters, corrupt politicians and corporations,
even with people cheating their children into Yale.
I teach once a week at a community college, and cheating
is something we teachers detest.  Still.

What if there was a real news network you could turn
to that gave you nothing but good news.  I am sure there
are enough of those every day to power a 24 hour news
cycle, and I'm not saying I'd watch or listen to such a
station full time.  But how sweet to take a break and
hear only good news.

Searching through my paintings today I realized I could
probably have a whole show dedicated to clementines.
(maybe some lemons and limes too.)  This got my husband
Steven, and me laughing and trying to sing Oh My Darling
Clementine -- which we insisted would have to be played on
a ukelele.  You get the idea. So how about it?  If you have a
 happy news story -- why not share it?  It's a very grey day here
in Toronto and we are ready for All Good News.

Have a sharing your good news day.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Art Magic in the Month of Change

All dressed up for you
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

Today I spent most of the day in the studio -- determined to get this
painting finished.  It's been a slow one.  And as far as I can tell
tonight, I am done.  I've loved the painting for some time,
but it just needed a bit more work.

Now I think I've cracked the case, and I feel a happiness
you can't explain to people who don't wrestle with these
creative problems.  (Secretly I think everybody wrestles
with creative issues, no matter what field they work in.
But let's keep that concept between us.)

This painting is about love.  Loving the scenes in my
neighbourhood, loving the seasons, loving the sky.
It is love from start to finish, and available for purchase
by emailing me.

Have an enjoying your own creativity day.

Monday, March 11, 2019

We happy, crazy Canadians in the Month of Change

Apples and Sunflowers
Acrylic on watercolour paper - glazed
3 x 5 inches
 Barbara Muir © (from the files)
(a shot of colour for a grey day)

Today it was "warm" out.  We had a high of 2 degrees Celsius (35.6
Fahrenheit). The sidewalks were bare (I mean almost).  We're still
parking on ice on our street, and slipping and sliding over icy snow
banks trying to get from one side of the street to the other. But some
of that snow has melted.  Woo Hoo!

Now add to the fact of ice everywhere, the reality that it was a
grey day here in Toronto.  For sunshine freaks -- the day bordered
on morose.  But were people sad?  No.  Everyone was walking
along the streets with peppy smiles on their faces. They could
walk on bare sidewalks without being afraid of falling.
I mean! was above zero.  I love my fellow Torontonians.  It's
no surprise that many of the comedians in North America hail
from Canada.  You have to have a sense of humour here, and
a positive attitude or you're doomed.  My neighbour was so
excited that we were both outside!  We could say "hello"
to each other and stand still talking.  (People don't hang around
chatting even for a minute in freezing cold, or freezing rain -- and
we've had quite a bit of both.) So hurray for us. Everyone kept
saying that it was a beautiful day.  Funny really.

Here's a cheery little painting I found in my files.

Have a happy Canadian type of day.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Sisters helping sisters -- change is a given

The Blue Sweater (detail)
acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2005

No time to paint today, doing the other work artists need to do --
organizing, writing letters, getting it done.  But on this International
Women's Day weekend, I have been thinking a lot about my
sisters all over the world -- the women I care about, who support
me and encourage me, and about all women.  Then I thought about
my real sister, the one who grew up under the same roof as I did, who
understands so much about me even if I don't say a thing.

I posted this portrait I did of her 14 years ago, because I am thinking
of her.  She has taught me so much, and probably is the main reason
for whatever mental health I can claim.  She is a psychologist, and
 when I was going through hard changes after having my first child, 
I got therapy from her psychologist partner. That therapy transformed
my life, and made me aware of how important it is to pay attention
to our brains, and our way of living.

My sister has been a loving force in my life, and I hope that I am one in
her life too.  She lives a long way away in California, and our sisterhood
is powerful.

Have an enjoying your sisterhood day.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Working on Happiness in the Month of Change

Up the hill at the end of the day
(work in progress)
Watercolour and black marker
on watercolour paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 
I can't remember exactly when I realized that I could influence
my degree of happiness, but I know that my life has been
increasingly enjoyable ever since.  I have studied as much as
I can about the process of getting happy.  And this is at times
of serious stress -- loved ones suffering from cancer, disagreements
with friends and family, and worst of all the deaths of people
close to me.

I was not always happy.  When I read my diaries from my
teenage and early twenties I don't recognize myself as me.
I certainly struggled with depression from time to time. A lot
of that was about self esteem -- not being the same as everyone
else, and wanting to be.

Over the years many of my students have dealt with these
problems, and I sympathize.

One thing that helps is thinking of 10 reasons to be happy:

Here we go:

1. I got to sleep in, and my husband brought me coffee -- first
a cup, and then a fill up (very ceremonious with the coffee pot
and the milk jug).

2.  I completed the list of captions for two of my art books
that I'm submitting for review.

3.  We spent the afternoon with our son Sam, and went to
see Joe at Optikon, who is a miracle man with glasses.

4. A friend says the weather is going up to 9 degrees Celsius
next Thursday which made me think of a funny skit on
22 minutes (click the link) about zero degrees and Canadians.

5. Scrolling through my blog looking for captions I
saw so many wonderful experiences I've had in Florence,
Italy, Paris, France, New York City, New York, Toronto,
Canada.  And it made me feel both excited and grateful.

6. We had a delicious dinner with candlelight (as always)
from Thai Mango. Yum.  For the plastic conscious out
there we take our own containers.

7. I found this lovely watercolour (work in progress) that has
the feeling of summer.

8.  We watched a superb movie tonight:  The boy who harnessed
the wind.  So wonderful.

9. Tomorrow is Sunday, and I get to sleep in.

10.  We turn our clocks back tomorrow, so we did it today,
which means we are already on the new time!  Hey.  Good
thinking in the Month of Change.  Changing the time is
real change, and that has a big impact on people's lives.
We are ahead of the game. Yay!

Have a thinking of 10 reasons to be happy day.

Friday, March 8, 2019

International Women's Day -- a celebration of community

Me with the painting I entered in
the 100 Years of International Women's Day show
eight years ago. My painting is about
happiness, which has been an underlying theme
in all of my work. Gallery curator/owner Jill Yuzwa
was holding up my work.  
Ready for Joy
24 x 24 inches
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2011
Eight years ago I took part in a show to celebrate 100 years of
International Women's Day. So many great women took part
in that exhibition, and many of us are friends to this day, even if the
participants lived too far away to attend the show opening!  Thank you
to Nicki Ault, and Kim Rempel for encouraging me to join this exhibition.
My friend the sculptor, Marcia Labelle Cohen took part, so the gathering
was extremely fun. There was this "Woo Hoo, we can do it vibe!"  Very
cheerful, and so much great art.  I still feel a thrill when I think about it, and
it was in Ayr, a tiny little Ontario town.  It just goes to show you.  When
artists get together, magic can happen in surprising places.

Georgia Fullerton with her painting
(upper image) 
24 x 24 inches
Georgia Fullerton © 2011

The blogger friends meet one another in Ayr -- so much fun.
Left to right: Marcia LabelleTammy HextKim RempelNicki Ault, and Me

My friend the artist, Nicki Ault
took this photo of me with two of
the paintings from my Ocean series
that I brought to show the other artists at
the exhibition.
The painting I submitted was of a woman holding her hands in the
air in the Woo Hoo position, which is not only a power position,
but a pose guaranteed to lower cortisol, and have people feeling
better in just two minutes.  If holding your hands up in the air
for two minutes is too hard, try putting your hands together behind
your head for that length of time.  With that smart move, we women
and men artists may enjoy life and each other, plus get in a
celebratory mood.

The photos today, celebrate that event.  Thank you to all the kind
and wonderful artists I met there, and thank you for your continued
friendship and support over these past eight years.

Have a celebrating women's equality day.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Mary Cassatt and 7 reasons to be grateful

Mary Cassatt (painted from a black and white photo --
photographer unknown --colours imagined!)
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
Tonight I'm posting a little portrait I did of Mary Cassatt in
2015.  I was motivated to do a series on my heroes that year,
after having a powerful experience meditating and then a
dream that all my heroes were walking towards me on the beach
we visit in Pugwash Nova Scotia.

I have loved Mary Cassatt's paintings ever since I first
discovered them in high school.  To see them in person
in New York City at the Met in recent years was amazing,
even though they were in glass cases, and below eye level.

Now for 7 reasons to be grateful in honour of March 7
in the month of change.

1.  My son came over for coffee.  We had a super visit, plus
he helped me move boxes of books into the car, so I can donate
them to friends and little outdoor book libraries around the neighbourhood.

2.  I painted for most of the day.

3. My husband made dinner tonight - Salmon and rice,
steamed broccoli and a delicious salad. Delicious.

4. Someone at posted a petition against
single use plastic at one of Canada's major grocery chains --
Loblaws.  I signed it and shared it. Plastic pollution is a
major worry for both me and the planet.

5. I talked to my friend in the Netherlands who is feeling
healthy and enjoying riding her bike -- she sounded so
happy and I felt delighted talking to her.

6.  I have just finished Barbara Kingsolver's Unsheltered,
and it was a superb book.

7. Tonight when I'm finished painting I'll start reading
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.

All in all a great day.  Thank you for being part of it.

Have a being grateful for your heroes day.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The past asks for change now -- going back to older work with new eyes

Mary at the ocean
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
2019 changes
The reality of being a painter, is that from time to time
work will drive you completely around the bend.  Which might
be the title of a larger work I'm working on that goes around
a bend in the road.  Today I put it away for a few days -- and
I know that's a good idea.  Sometimes you get work out that
you haven't looked at for years and see a new way of doing
things.  Nicki Ault wrote about that in a recent blog.

Today I felt like looking back on previous year's blogs on
this day, March 6, and found this painting sitting there
wanting to be looked at.  So I did.  I haven't changed much,
but I did work on one or two things.  All the time I've been
thinking, while I'm looking backwards to see how things
have changed, this little girl will have moved forward into
her teenage, or late teenage years, and her world will be
completely different.

Mary was a girl my friend Gill Cameron met when she
taught in Tanzania.  I did some paintings for an art
show Gill put on about her time there.  This girl's portrait
makes me happy, but keeps needing more work.  That's
fine, especially today, on March 6.  Looking back to
other March 6's and seeing how time flies when you're
having a good time.  So I worked on her some more today and
I think I'm getting there Mary.  You certainly pop more
than you did when I started tonight.

Have a taking a happy look back for change day.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Loving Friends Day in the Month of Change

Summer Collection
Watercolour and pen on Canson paper
10 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir ©
I decided to post a watercolour sketch I found in my files that's
clearly from the height of summer -- peaches and nasturtiums.
The best. I know this is an August scene, but that will when I
get my true vacation this year, so I can dream.

This is a great day to celebrate my friends, and a wonderful
group of them, who try to get together, work permitting
to meet on Tuesdays.  What a stellar group!  People who inspire
me, who are kind to me, who teach me so much, and who
attend my shows, and buy my art!  I mean.  But most of
all they care for me, and I care for them.  They are there in
good times and bad.  So Happy Tuesday!

Today the talk focused heavily on the environment.  People
are worried about air pollution, and climate change trauma that
is happening around the world.  I know the olive crop is
threatened in Italy.  But this group can bounce back from
worry, and encourage one another.  Spring is coming.  The
gardeners here are excited.  There is a look of hope and promise
in their eyes.  Before we know it, this group will want to sit
outside for their meetings, but not today.  Very cold, and snowy.
All hope is for a world of solutions, answers, changed behaviour.

Spring is afoot, and change is happening!

Have a loving your friends day!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Monday, Monday -- Up and at it, painting is change

Lemons at the dinner party (Work in progress)
Acrylic on cradled Birch panel
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

Last month was the Month of Love.  We had a wonderful
time.  This month is all about change.  Like me most of us wake
up Monday morning thinking about what we "have to" do.
But what about what we "get to" do.  Every time I hear myself
chanting a list of "have to's" I try to switch to "get to."

If I am concentrating on change this month, I want to
notice what stops me, what holds me back, + Plus, and
most especially what fires me, gets me moving, makes
me want to paint, write in my blog, plan for something
special in the art world.  One activity I do that makes
me very happy is teaching.  Right now I teach a pretty
straightforward and creative writing course on Monday nights.
Tonight was that night.

What I love about teaching is the new ideas generated
in a class.  In a great class on any topic -- art, writing,
drama, math -- people share ideas, get inspired, form
lasting friendships, and leave the class with new ideas.
What's not to love?

Have a welcoming change day.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Sunday March 3, and the magic of three

The Conversation Continues
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 90 inches (combined), 
or 30 x 30 inches each
Barbara Muir © 2011
(I've done quite a few triptychs.
This is one of my favourites because
it captures a conversation I had via
Skype with Henriette Sonne who
I met at the Florence Biennale. And
she is wonderful!)

The rule of three is big in art, in design and in writing,
so here we are on March 3, the third day of the third
month, and we can feel a spark of delight rising in us
with the falling snow.  In art it applies to proportion.
A landscape is usually one third land, two thirds sky,
or the reverse.  In placing objects in a painting, odd
numbers are usually more pleasing to the eye.  1,3,5,7
and so on.

Here is a Triptych (three paintings)I did a few years
ago.  They are always a pleasure to create.  Why?
There is the treat of breaking a large image into
smaller ones, or joining images together with one element
in each painting that links them.  They are fun.

I'll be thinking about that when I start a new painting
this week.  How could it work in a triptych?

Have a happy Monday.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

What kind of artist are you? Let's be happy artists in the Month of Change

Marriage Bed, Mother Complex
Oil on canvas
38 x 43 inches
Claire Bonenfant © 2019
Your voice. That's what art gives you.  Not in spoken
words, but in images.  Whether what you're producing
is light and joyous, or deeply emotional or political,
what matters for you is that you are happy making
your creations.  The pieces I'm showing today are by
my friend Claire Bonenfant. They are definitely emotional
and deep, but I am certain that Claire is happy when
she is painting.

I wish that happiness for you on this first Saturday in
the Month of March.  We went to see Claire's paintings
in a lovely show A Tribute To Joyce in honour of Canadian,
artist Joyce Weiland at the Heliconian Club.  Claire  has two
magnificent pieces in the show -- featured in this
blog post.
Liberated Sleeper
Oil on Canvas
36 x 24 inches
Claire Bonenfant © 2019

Me with Claire Bonenfant at the 
opening of A Tribute to Joyce
Now we're home it's time to relax, and also get organized.
In Canada even though there are weather warnings of cold
weather, and today we had more snow, we feel a huge turning
towards the incredible hope of spring in the month of March.
It rushes along our cells, and we are eager to see what's next.

What's next for you?  Whatever it is, I wish you total
joy in your work.

Have a loving your life day.

Friday, March 1, 2019

March -- the month of change -- and Spring!

Detail (Work in Progress)
24 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
All of us know that March is named after Mars,
the Roman God of War.  But somehow after the Month
of Love, that just wasn't good enough for me.  Surely
we've had more than enough war, and we really need
the love to continue.

A friend of mine today said she has no desire to
rush through winter -- she's well aware that life is too
short to miss months of her life. Super point.

I love this quote I found about March from Ben Okri
in an article in the Guardian Magazine in 2011 called What
the Months of the Year Mean to Me"March is a month of
magic and mutability. Its presiding deity is change. True
 magic is not pulling rabbits out of hats; it is the trans­formation
 of things. In March, seeds are transformed into plants. The earth 
breeds ­inwardly. Dark days have passed; the earth shows 
its new face to the cosmos. The shape of the year is 
being prepared."

Change is inevitable I know, but Spring is the change we
welcome.  I've decided that March for me will be about
 flourishing exuberance in every area of my life.  I will be
loving to my family and friends -- as always, joyous in my
artistic life, and inspiring to my students.  Look out world
--we're going to have some fun!  (More fun!)

Have a rejoicing in change 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!