Saturday, November 30, 2019

The ink disaster sketch

Parrots in the kitchen
Acrylic ink and marker on 
watercolour paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
A short one tonight.  I started this sketch, which could
definitely be improved, to record some glorious rare
yellowy orange parrot tulips before they died completely.
Their shapes intrigued me, and I set to work.

I was working on our ancient two board kitchen table
because the light was good there, and my studio is filled
with large works I'm finishing.

So there I was happily painting away when my cat Timbah
jumped on my sketch and knocked over my very staining
green acrylic ink -- all over the table, my computer, luckily
not the floor (newly replaced last week).

I have cleaned it up as best I could.  Scrubbed the table, cleaned
my computer, and actually went back to the sketch.  Even forgave
the cat.  Poor cat was just trying to say it was time for food not

So this is how far it got.

Have a closing your ink jar lids day.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Packing it up -- One step in an artist's life

Steven unpacking my work when it came
home from the 2009 Florence Biennale.
That was one of the least expensive,
and most fabulous shipping jobs ever.
It was controlled by the Biennale,
and very well done.  Sadly that option was over
for the 2015 Biennale. 

Shipping is not a joke, and I just read an old post of mine about a video
by Seth Godin, who uses shipping as a metaphor.  I understand why.
He says you have to have the courage to get in the game, and shipping
gets you in the game. He explained that what some of us do is stall, and
miss deadlines, and that gets in our way.  Shipping puts the heat on.
You have to ship by a certain date. Period.  There even has to be leeway,
to make sure you achieve that goal.

I packed up four pieces today to send to New York City.  They have to be
there by Tuesday, and the shipper assured me that they will be.  But 
it is still a dicey proposition to pack up four of your paintings that you
love -- understand that the shipping will be expensive, and then send it

Trust is a big word in the art world.  I have used the same shipper for
international shipping for 10 years, in the same place.  Faces in the
business change, but their work has been excellent, and other than the
galleries, and the curators, they are one of the entry points to showing
internationally.  Without them it could not happen.  So I am grateful.

The other thing people don't mention about shipping art to a show is the
"whew!" factor.  All of the anxiety you've been running on for weeks,
or months since you committed to this insanely expensive proposition,
falls off you like leaves off the trees when the pieces leave your hands
and are taken over by others.  I still have a ton of things to do.  But
that job can go off my list.  

Have a shipping with people you trust day. 
There was a woman in the shop today shipping a suit to Kingston, Ontario
 -- a three hour car ride away.  It had to be there today.  I'm thinking, "wedding?,
big speech?, graduation? Why today?"  And the woman said she would,
"spare no expense!"  so let's say it can also be fascinating waiting for
your problem to be taken care of in the shipper's store.  

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Untitled (work in progress)
Almost done
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
I hope you have a lovely joyous Thanksgiving with family and
friends.  Our Canadian Thanksgiving happened in October and it was
amazing.  The youngest person at the delicious dinner was
two months old and taking it all in!

I love the idea of a celebration based on gratitude.  In Canada
it's about the harvest, and I love the day because it's about
food, getting together and being happy, and everyone can
participate.  It isn't a religious holiday -- it is wide open.

I am not keen on the major sales push now tacked on to
Thanksgiving both here and in the U.S. "Black Friday" seems
almost criminal to me with our oceans filling up with plastic and
now not being the right time at all for us to need, More, more,

But back to a happy celebration.  Wishing you and your
family and friends a joyous holiday weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving to my American family and friends

Tulips for Tucson
Acrylic on watercolour paper
10.6 x 13.8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015

Not a lot of time tonight.  It's an early day tomorrow and a whole lot
going on.  I want to shout out to my American family who I love
so much, and to my American friends a Happy, Happy Thanksgiving.
I absolutely love Canadian Thanksgiving and I'm sure you feel
the same.  I love the idea of celebrating the harvest and of getting
together with family.  So much fun.

So have a wonderful day.  I'm putting up this painting because
I have parrot tulips in my kitchen right now, and they absolutely
say -- "Aren't you over the top grateful for us?"  I am, and I am
so grateful for you.

Have a happy day wherever you are.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The rules. Really?

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
(This is one of the paintings
I'm working on right now.  I think
it's going to make me happy when
it's finished, because I already 
like it a lot.)

We need rules in life, and laws and information.
But in art we need to learn the rules that can
help us know how to create art, and then forget
all about rules.

This year I've been told a lot of rules.  It
helps that I'm a researcher.  It helps that you
are out there teaching me so much every day.
It helps that I've been doing this for a long
time.  It even helps that I'm a teacher
and have to invent, describe, prescribe rules.
That makes me a good kind of skeptical.

But I've been told -- "no one buys portraits."
"Don't paint your own life."  "Don't use
bright colours." "Don't make your portraits
look at the viewer."  Another one I read
recently was, "don't make your landscapes
about specific places."  I think that's a really
great one.  I sold a painting of a nature reserve
in the Netherlands in Toronto, paintings of
Toronto in New York City.  No one rule works
for everybody.

I've noticed that my most "successful"
artist friends follow their own rules, paint their
own heart and soul and story on the canvas.
Invent worlds.  And although they learn from
artists they admire, they follow no one.

Have a following your own heart and mind day.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The transforming power of kindness -- thank you for yours!

The lane in winter
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
(As my husband drove me
to school so I could teach
tonight, we drove through 
neighbourhoods brilliantly
decorated and lit for the holidays.
It made me think of
this holiday card from an
iPad drawing I did 7 years ago.
I still like it, and I love the 
festive season.  I can't believe 
we are already moving towards December!
Happy American Thanksgiving, and
very soon Happy Holidays!)
I have always valued kindness, but  my mother's death
6  years ago, and the profound loss I felt then, began my
deep understanding that love and kindness are paramount
in this world.

When I showed in the Florence Biennale the second
time in 2015, it changed my viewpoint on this subject so
radically -- it was in a way like my former self
was eradicated.  I met such wonderful, and exceptionally
kind people that it was as one of my friend's in Toronto said,
"the bar was raised."  Exactly.

Now all of the people who are part of my world are kind -- in
every area of my life.  My new rule was pretty simple when I think
of it now, but I wouldn't have been able to express that
feeling then.  And that is that to be part of my life you've got
to love me back.  I am happy to give endlessly in teaching
situations to people who may not get me, but in my friend
circle, it's fantastic when the affection is reciprocal.

That can be a hard request in a grown up person's life.  People
who can't be kind, who are in fact the opposite, exit pretty quickly.
I don't mean because of one offhand remark, or one unkind gesture.
I mean if people don't consistently work on being kind to their friends,
to my family, to people in the world, to me -- it isn't fun spending time
with them.  And it's not about someone going through a hard time.
People do that, tell you what's up, and are still essentially kind.
Kindness matters.

Enter you!  Every single one of you boosts me up and teaches
me. I grew up in a loving, but critical environment. People
actually thought that it was their right to let me know what
was wrong with me.

Now I feel secure enough, and loved enough to know that I
want to be with people who get me.   I can never tell you enough
times how incredibly grateful I am that you do.

Have a being kind to your friends day.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Transformation in progress -- exciting!

Clouds over the bay
(work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2014 - 2019
When I paint an ocean scene I want the beauty in the work
to be overwhelming, like it is in real life.  This painting was not
giving me the joy it needs to.  I see it every day, and half wince.
Tonight I began working on its transformation.  All I've changed so far is
the blue between the clouds, and just below them.  Already it pops
more like a magical sky, but expect more.  The scene I was trying
to capture of Nova Scotia clouds over the bay near the beach we visit
every day -- was not rendered powerfully enough to let the painting

My colour choices for the clouds aren't completely satisfying to me.
I painted this the year after my mother died.  I was for sure grieving her,
and also changing -- growing up the way we do ideally with the loss
of a beloved, brave person.  So I will be changing the clouds a bit.
But I'm already so much happier with the painting.

I've also been thinking about this practice I decided on of blogging
every day.  It has been a great pleasure, and I'm also aware
of the pressure on artists to be present all the time on social
media.  Thinking about the great works of art I've seen
in major galleries in Paris, New York, and Florence.  None
of the massive, brilliant, detailed iconic work happened
overnight.  Some of those beautiful paintings took years
to produce.

Things have changed for artists.  We do need to communicate
with the world. But that's not why I'm here writing to you. It's
because I enjoy it.  When you comment on what I've painted, or
drawn, or written it makes me feel wonderful.

Have a loving the present moment day.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The search for art

Tulips unwrapped
watercolour on Arches watercolour paper
10 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © first run 2010
Improved 2019
"Here's the thing."  I have a dear friend who used to be my
boss who says that all the time.  When you're getting
work ready to travel, and completing projects, and you
still want to blog -- what do you do?

I start searching.  My goal for this year was to blog
300 times.  Done it!  But I guess it's not enough.  The
compulsion is there to reach out to you and say something.
I found this sketch from 9 years ago, and amped it up
a bit tonight with acrylic ink.  I am eternally grateful
to Flora Doehler for among other things teaching me
about acrylic ink.  The stuff is amazing! A perfect
happy ending to a wonderful day.

We went to a huge mall today to try and get a winter coat
for my husband, and boots that don't hurt for me. We
achieved that goal, and ate dinner in the mall dining area.
I found the visit so moving.  Not because of shopping,
which feels tedious, and in some ways impossible when
you don't find exactly what you're looking for.  But this
mall is a gathering place for people from all over the city.
It feels culturally rich, because everybody is there.
Everything Toronto is about -- being one community -- is reflected
in that incredibly busy shopping experience.  So wonderful.

Now it is time to wrap up the night, and wish you a very happy Sunday.

Have a loving your city day. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Getting there -- and wow 300 posts!

Flowers in a silver jug
Acrylic on canvas
Acrylic and acrylic ink, and 
marker on canvas
11 x 14 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2019
I love the people who post pictures of their work in progress
when the work goes in a straight line -- each step making
total sense along the way.  That's not about formula, it's
about total confidence and understanding about what to do
and when.  It's sort of like driving a car.  When you absolutely
know how, you do all the right things, in the right order,
and you get there.

In painting I am more of a feel my way along person.  I do
know that in most cases when I want to complete
a work, I will.  But I can change my mind 15 times in
one painting session.  In fact that's why I leave the room.

I am a person who needs a painting to be like my morning
oatmeal -- on high heat at first, and then low heat for a
long time until it's cooked. (Boy I am crazy for metaphors
and similes tonight.) I love coming back in the room (my
studio) and going "Right!" and knowing just what to do next.

But sometimes my spirits, or energy lag, and that just plain
takes more time.  So I am totally grateful to people who
paint in carefully thought out, intelligent and beautifully
successful steps.  Believe me I study you.  I want that.

This painting has gone forward, stopped for a holiday,
gone forward, got off at the next stop, gone forward
and gloried in my delight in it, and is still going forward.
But I would say it is definitely getting there.

Have a learning from clear thinking creatives day.

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.

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!