Thursday, December 31, 2020


Happy New Year!
I couldn't get the Top 9
App to work on my phone,
or iPad, so I'm making my own.
Art and Photos from 2020
Barbara Muir © 2020

Happy New Year.  Looking forward to the changes that will happen this year
to make it easier for everyone, and to help a return to some semblance of
the life we enjoyed before. I hope for improvements in our care for all people,
our treatment of the environment, and fairness to everyone. 

We couldn't have our New Year's Ever party this year. If we could be together
with you to have cake and champagne we would indeed. Thank you for all
of your posts in 2020.  You helped to make me happy.

And thank you to everyone who worked so hard to keep our spirits bright this year.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Loving what I learned in 2020

Some of my images from 2020.
The top 9 app wasn't working
so I gathered some images I love. 
Happy New Year.
Photos and artwork
Barbara Muir © 2020

I looked at a blog from this day a couple of years ago, and
some of it seems as true today as it did then, even with this
year's enormous difference.
This year has been harder in most
respects, although in the past decade 
we've lived through family
members dying, and struggling with hard 
illnesses. But COVID-19
has been a constant, serious gloomy, horrifically scary
influence affecting almost every aspect of our lives, every day. 

Yet by my calculations in the 10 months of the year that we've been
dealing with this virus, 
I've been dazzled by so many wonderful, loving,
and kind gestures, 
phone calls, and Zoom meetings. Even with this deadly
virus l
ife has 
frequently been delightful. Major sources of my joy are the
wonderful work, ideas, and suggestions you share in 
your posts on your
blogs, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. 
Some of the most challenging things
I learned in other years still apply. 

Be Happy!  Doesn't that sound simple? It can be.  This
year COVID has definitely made working on being
happy an uphill battle sometimes. Even before
the virus I noticed that we 
lose our way over ridiculous
things -- like 
traffic. As well as the richness of discovery, love
and a happy life, 
there have been many silly arguments about
how to behave in the current Lockdown, the occasional

sleepless nights, and worry about other people's health and

I've tried to listen to a voice in my head that tells me to rethink
my attitude (I think it is my mother), 
to notice what is great,
instead of what is wrong. I'm keenly 
aware that our time on the planet
is limited. I so enjoy 
your support, your beautiful art, and great thoughts 
I feel so blessed that my family and friends are wonderful!

You (I) don't know what's going to happen next.
Wonderful things happen when we aren't expecting them.
A dear friend showed up at the door today with mince tarts
for Steven. It was a grisly day -- dark grey skies, freezing rain,
and her brightly masked face was a treat indeed.

Teaching is a two way street. I teach writing once a week.
I've loved watching my students learn to be brave
and step into their own abilities and power.  This year all of
that work has happened online, through Zoom, emails, videos.
hardest challenge my students face is learning to talk in
front of a group. 
And every student this year has perfected that
talent.  Plus I love
 learning about places and customs all over the
world, where I've never been, bringing new thinking,
new ideas, and experiences into a virtual class room from
everywhere.  My students know that we're learning virtually
to try and avoid this virus. Young people are aware of the current dangers

to the planet, and actively working on changing the current policies.
This has been both inspiring 
and motivating for me.

Love is vital,  But I know that love is a major force.
I'm a reader, and try to keep up with the news, and know
that aside from the Corona virus -- politics, climate change disasters,
and the brutality of war 
have made it another very hard year.  But I am
once again so moved 
by how sweet people are to each other,
even in the 
hardest situations. And I'm so grateful for the people in
my life, who care, make me laugh, and listen when times are tough.
I've told you this before, but after my mother died I realized

that even though I told my mother that I loved her every time we
or saw one another -- we can really never tell each
other that we love one another too often.  Love is key.

Here's to a New Year filled with love for you!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Dreaming of the ocean

Down by the sea
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

Maybe my dreams are the result of all of the time we spent outside in the
freezing cold celebrating Christmas for the past few days, but I woke up
this morning from a dream of walking on the beach at the ocean near
Pugwash, Nova Scotia where we normally spend some time every year
but this one. This year the CanadianMaritimes were in a closed bubble
to try and prevent a rise in cases of COVID-19.

The dream had an immediate effect. I sat down with my iPad before I
even had a coffee, and began to draw what I'd seen. So here it is -- a little
iPad drawing of an idyllic scene beside the ocean with the red sand, the bright
clouds, and the high grasses.

Oh to be by the sea, the sea, the sea. We will be there again Nova Scotia. Meanwhile
everyone in Nova Scotia please stay safe, and stay healthy. We love you my friends.

Have a loving your dreams day.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Something else I learned

Somewhere warm
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

Another thing I Learned in 2020

In so many ways this year, that everyone is saying they can’t wait to end,
has taught me so much. Maybe it did that for all of us. The number one thing
we can be grateful for if we are well, and have not contracted the virus, is
that we have our health. For so many people this virus has meant the absolute

My family have been so wonderful about doing whatever we have to do to get
together for the big occasions like birthdays, and now Christmas. In the current
lockdown we can’t have anyone who doesn’t live inside our family house come

I told you that on Saturday night we had a full Christmas dinner with Sam and
Emily on the back  porch. It was cold and we did everything we could to withstand
the cold and still enjoy dinner socially distanced, masked except when we were eating.
Afterwards I checked out the weather, and discovered that we'd been sitting outside for
two hours eating, then exchanging gifts in minus 4 degrees Celsius weather. 

Today, in what they say was the equivalent of minus 6 Celsius with the windchill,
we sat outside with Christopher and Megan and the two girls giving each other
presents, talking, and having fun. I think we are lucky to be such stalwart Canadians
that we still got together in below zero weather. And I am aware that we were especially
lucky that it wasn’t -30°C, which can often happen at this time of year. 

What I learned is that love makes you willing to learn how to manage even under
difficult circumstances. (And of course as a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend
I have learned that before.  But this year gave the whole idea a new twist.) And also
we were aware the whole time that what we were enduring in order to have any time
together is nothing compared to what people are living through who contract this virus,
or who lose family members to the disease.

Let's all get ready for happier New Year.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The year in colour

The main colours I used in 2020
on Instagram as analyzed by

My thanks to the wonderful artist Nicki Ault for turning me on to the idea of
looking into the Year of Colour website, that analyzes the colours you've used in
your Instagram posts in 2020.

Nicki explained that it’s fun to see how the main colours you used look on different
backgrounds. So I tried doing that, and the colours I used, according to this website,
look way more cheerful against a black background. So here they are.  It’s fascinating.
I would not have thought that some of those colours occurred in my work at all,
and yet there they are!

I’m so looking forward to the new year, to new colour experiments, new paintings,
new drawings, and a new spirit of hope and renewal in my work, and in our lives.

I had some wonderful conversations with artist friends today on either side of the
world, and it was so exciting to hear their stories of family, of how they reacted to
this year, of happy celebrations, and about art.

I can’t wait to continue these conversations in the new year with my friends here
in Toronto, on Facebook, on Instagram, around the world and on my blog. Thank
you. You brought all of your beautiful palette into my life this year.

Here’s to a very happy end of 2020, and hope, joy and resolution to our virus
problem in 2021.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Let my cat say it all

Fiona shows us her reaction to the
Did you know
that turkey makes you want to sleep?
Barbara Muir © 2020

Today was for family.  All day long Steven cooked, and I wrapped, and
we planned.  We hauled a huge mahogany table out of the basement 
and up two flights of steps onto the back porch.  Steven put up temporary
plastic shielding to try and make it warmer, and we had a delicious,
socially distanced dinner with Sam and Emily.

It was super cold.  We had two small electric heaters going, and we did it!
We had a socially distanced, masks on most of the time, except when eating,
dinner.  It was really fun.  And I am proud of all of us for getting through
that chilly meal in happy holiday spirits.

Thank you to Steven for making most of the meal.  Thank you to Sam and
Emily for joining us.  And thank you to Fiona for showing us what makes 
sense at this point -- sleep.

Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Grateful for today

The stockings hanging by the fireplace last year
Not quite the same this year
Barbara Muir © 2019

True Christmas today was nothing like our past family Christmases with all of
us together opening stockings, opening presents, and laughing.  A few Christmases
ago I remember that we gave our sons toy guitars as presents for their stockings.
They ended up jamming and singing, and it was so much fun.

Today we can't get together, and I am so thankful for the Internet, and for learning
to Zoom. Our whole family got together virtually, and it was so delightful.
Steven and I have been having a great day together, and wish you all a very Merry
Christmas. Happy Holiday whatever you celebrate, and a very very Happy New Year.

Thank you so much for all that you have given me in terms of inspiration, and ideas,
and helping me through this year, and helping me stay positive, and creative.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas Eve

This is our local park a few years ago.
It will look like this again tomorrow
on Christmas Day because the first
snow just fell, and it looks magical.
Happy Whatever Holiday you
Barbara Muir ©

The excitement is still high, though all of our Christmas habits are thwarted.
Shopping online is weird. Shopping in the stores that are open is limited. We
shouldn’t be out at all says the premier, but we’ve had 9 months to find out
where to shop without lineups.

Our inside tree is gorgeous. We have lots of food. We are warm, and beautiful
gifts kept arriving in the mail today. Scones from Nova Scotia, a gorgeous art
journal from one of my favourite artists in California. Wow! Every treat is a
surprise and a delight. 

We will have a great day tomorrow and for the next few days as the outdoor
celebrations continue with family in small groups. Thank you to all of you for
making every day like Christmas! Wishing you the happiest of holidays
whatever you celebrate.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Pleasure Principle

Amaryllises in the kitchen
Holiday beauties
Barbara Muir © 2020

I thought of something else I learned this year. In this time of continuous
gloom and doom, pleasure has never been more astounding. I have always
tried to live in the most positive way possible. But this year I’ve noticed that
all of the things I love that can still happen, seem easily 10 times more amazing.

Today we had a surprise visit from friends. I was heading out the front
door mask on expecting to see my son who was coming to borrow shop tools 
from my husband, and it was a couple of friends -- at the door and standing
on the sidewalk. We stood and talked, laughing and joking, and the whole
time I was aware that they could be getting cold – it is winter. But I had to
go and get Steven to come and say hi, because I knew he would be sad if he
missed their visit.

Are visits from friends we’ve rarely seen since March a big deal? Are you
kidding? So wonderful. And everything positive that happens in this strange
year has a heightened level of excitement to it. Seeing the youngest member
of our family dancing in our garden this afternoon wearing a mask -- easily12
feet away telling me to social distance was so much fun! Delightful.

The flowers in my photo tonight are amaryllises that I bought at the hardware
store. For some reason during the lockdown hardware stores are open and some
carry flowers. I always love amaryllises, but this year this exquisite flower feels
like a gift of the highest order. And that is the Pleasure Principle at work.

Have a noticing the Pleasure Principle day. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Bring your gifts to the world

A view of my studio cleaned up for Artwalk
an art show in my neighbourhood
that allowed people to visit artists
in their homes. 
I don't recognize
my studio at all -- it is so crammed with
art, and paints, and brushes today -- but
the photo works for tonight.
Barbara Muir © 2008

Another thing I learned in 2020 -- everyone needs to use their gifts 

The reason people love the Holiday Season, no matter how they celebrate,
is because it's a a time of heightened appreciation.  We not only get to let
people know that they matter to us, we're encouraged to do so.  But the gift
giving is more than that.  It is a chance to express ourselves, to share our
talents, to give as one of my children said today, "from the heart."

I believe that everyone has important talents or "gifts" to share with the 
world.  Over and over as a teacher I've met people who were following
a dream of some talent they'd developed, and were told that it wasn't
practical, they'd never make money at it, so they quit, and in many ways
their lives lost their lustre.

In art I believe part of my reason for creating work is to bring more beauty 
into the world, or to make people more aware of the beauty that's 
around them.  As a teacher, my mission is to allow my students to
flourish.  Sometimes a teacher in the past, or an unappreciative 
parent, or love interest, can throw a person off their course. I want to
see what students want to do, and be, and help them realize that dream.

This has been a hard year for that, but also a year of people developing,
and using so many talents.  People started out the pandemic making
sour dough bread.  Then they started knitting, and practising yoga,
and dance.  And people started creating concerts online, and starting
new online businesses.  People studied subjects they might otherwise
have never considered. Meaningful alliances were formed, and
so much energy focused on things as basic as getting out the vote
in the U.S.  

Passion, wisdom, influence, caring, dedication -- all of these elements
were heightened to respond to the problems and restrictions of the

We've all had to shift our thinking, and now we need to focus all
of the talents and gifts we have on solving this problem, and making
the world safe and fair for all.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Sending you best wishes


Me with my great friend 
the wonderful artist -- Georgia Fullerton.
I'm holding the painting "Happiness"
which I bought at a show in 2019.

Another thing I learned in 2020 -- friends help make life worth living!

Today is the reason we're celebrating -- trees, lights, song -- friendship --
from a distance.  Cards keep coming through the front door, and we
delight in every one.  I can't wait until it is warm enough to see friends
from a distance, but meanwhile please know how much I care about

For us the holidays are all about the solstice, and the return of the light.  
In these very short days were are so conscious of how wonderful seeing
more daylight will be.  Steven and I are trying to figure out our family
celebrations, with all of Ontario going into lockdown on Christmas Eve. 
(If you're not Canadian, Ontario is a province, like a very big state, if you
compare it to the U.S. It is much larger than Texas, and not as big as

So as a special treat tonight we had a plate of delicious cookies, and then
sat by the tree with Sally the dog, and Fiona the cat.  There is so much to
be thankful for.  We did curb side pick up of beautiful white lilies today.
and gorgeous amaryllises, we bought a week ago at a hardware store, are
showing off huge, iridescent, red blooms.  The kitchen looks like a celebration
of abundance -- with gorgeous antique glass bowls filled one with lemons,
and one with clementines. 

As Holiday cards keep arriving, I know what I've known for quite awhile,
and learned again this year -- friends play a huge part in making life worth living. 

Thank you to all my friends here in Toronto, across the world, on FaceBook,
and Instagram. You make me so happy.  Let's all wear our masks, social
distance, wash our hands, call, write and support each other. And when this is
 over -- Wow! We are going to have so much fun! And thank you for making
me happy, and bringing me so much joy and inspiration this year.

Happy Solstice -- the light is coming. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Seeing the world as new

Holiday Card featuring 56 Cherrywood
Coloured pencil on paper
5 x 8 inches
Evelyne O'Hara © 2020

The 2020th thing I learned in 2020 -- See the world as new

I remember teaching Positive Psychology -- easily my favourite course
ever.  And I remember doing research to find out how often the cells
in our bodies renew themselves, so that when I was discussing
change with a student, and the student said,"that's just how I am,"
I could answer with, "you are always changing.  All the cells
in your body are constantly renewing, so you'll be a a different person
when you leave my office, from the person who came in 15 minutes

In some ways that was an exaggeration, but if you read about
neuroplasticity, we have an enormous ability to adapt to change,
and to change ourselves -- our thinking, our lives. The constant
messages we're getting this year are about how hard life is
in the pandemic, how brutal this disease is, and endless analysis
of politics.  These things are all very real.  So in such times, we
have to take ourselves by the hand, and train ourselves to
think in new ways, to expect the best, to create a positive
reality for ourselves and our families, and friends, to adapt in
intelligent and creative ways.

Life is freaky sometimes.  I'd just written that first paragraph
about seeing the world as new, when there was a knock at the
front door (something that rarely happens these days).  We put
on our masks, answered the door, stood back, and it was our neighbours
across the street, whose house is the painting on our holiday card. 
They gave us a present, and their young daughter Evelyne gave us this
card she had drawn of our house.  

We were blown away.  There was the house (it is the white one with red
shutters, our poor tree, that was chopped in half a couple of years ago,
against our will -- perfectly captured, and gorgeously drawn.  And I'm
pretty sure Evelyne is not 12 yet!

So there it is.  The truth is you have no idea what can happen.
Thank you so much Evelyne.  Your beautiful card is the art for my blog

Have a seeing the world as new day.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Keep going, things will change

YouTube Sketches
following the Zoom effect
black marker on Pentalic paper
5.5 x 8 inches x 3 drawings
Barbara Muir © 2020

The 2019th thing I learned this year

One of the things I’ve learned this year is to keep on going. When the
pandemic began and I was in the middle of teaching a semester of people
who were just wonderful, it was an enormous shock. How could I ever do it?
How could I teach these people so lively and, animated and exciting in the
classroom -- online?

With a lot of help from my bosses, my students, my husband and friends,
I figured out a way. I’ve just finished my fourth semester as an online teacher
once a week. And it was a treat. That was a Huge learning curve for me. And
I’m still learning. I’m not a techie.

It’s the same for art. I was devastated when I realized that there wouldn’t be live
shows, that I wouldn’t be traveling, that there wouldn’t be receptions with my
friends and collectors. But like everyone else, I had to get over it and start to figure
out what to do. That’s taking me longer than I would’ve liked. But now we know.
Keep going. Keep making art, and I’ll be ready when we open up again. Happy
holidays, a whole other learning adventure. Celebrating in the new normal.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Our lives were like a perfect dream


Reading in the studio
Ball point pen on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

The 2018th thing I learned -- normal life was ideal

Think about our lives a year ago.  We took it all for granted.  I don't
mean that we hadn't worked hard to have whatever we had, or that
there had been no hardship, or sorrow.  I mean that our daily lives
from this perspective now -- were perfect.

Steven and I sat with our tree tonight just reminiscing.  And I said
that I thought our former lives were so romantic.  We could
walk out of our front door,  never thinking about masks, social
distancing, hand sanitizer, avoiding people.  

We could hug our friends, shake hands, enjoy triple face kisses with
people in Paris, or Florence.  Exuberance, shouting together, singing
with friends at the top of our voices was so much fun, and totally
safe.  Wow! We were all so lucky, so blessed.  

Snuggling with our youngest relatives who are in school, reading
wonderful books together on a Friday night, hugging my children who
work with the public, that was the life.  And it will come back if
we do everything we've been advised to do.  I cannot wait.
So wear that mask please, stand back, wave from across the street, let's
see each other via Zoom.  Get the vaccine when it's available.  Let's get that
sweet life we had back.  I miss you all.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Take a news break

The swans at our favourite park
These two know us, and
come swimming from the center
of Lake Ontario to see us.
They love Steven, and we
always feel better after we see them.

The 2017th thing I learned this year.
Get away from the news every now and then.  As a mother, wife, artist,
teacher, in this bizarre year, I've felt obliged to know what is going on with
the virus, and with the political events south of us, and in our own

In fact my news research has dominated my life to the point that I 
found it almost impossible to read a book.  And I'm a reader.  Plus
when I did get a chance to go to a book store, and picked a novel the
staff had recommended, it was inevitably about death -- a topic far
too prevalent this year.

So instead of novels I read books that taught me about our world, and
aside from those, read the news.  The Guardian online turned out to be the
most reliable source for news around the world.   But hey -- start the
day with the Guardian, go to sleep reading it on my iPad.  Check it
every time I open my computer. Stop!

Our saving grace has been funny TV shows, and even better trips to
the park to feed the swans, the geese and the ducks.  And according
to the Queen's (Queen Elizabeth's) Swan keeper -- the bread we feed 
these birds is not only good for them, it saves them from starving to

Getting away from the news is a good idea. I don't mean be misinformed,
I just mean take a break to see the beauty in nature.  I don't think I've
ever focused on the news the way I have this year, and it hasn't
always been a good idea.

Have a taking a break day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The tree gets decorated and the 16th (2016th) thing I learned this year


It's a big tree,
and I realize that we probably
have a lot more to out on it.
I love the cardboard and aluminum file
star and the apple juice tin angel.
We have had those since our first born was
a little baby.  And we made

Note:  Sometimes you are so tired that you don't even know it. Of course it's
the 2016th thing today.

Tonight we made an effort to decorate the tree. It’s almost done. The only people who can
come inside and see it are me and Steven. But we count. And it is very pretty.
It snowed last night, and we are inching closer and closer to Christmas, with
no idea exactly how we will celebrate, and no presents purchased as yet.

The 16th thing I learned this year (well 2016th, but who's counting? :-)

I know I was aware of this idea before, probably relied on it. But this year has
made the idea of finding joy in small things more important than ever. So friends
have asked me should we bother putting up a tree, if no relatives are coming? And
I say yes. For one thing the whole idea of the celebration of light is the celebration
of the return to a time when things will grow. The tree is such an obvious symbol of that.

After the holidays our tree will go into the back yard, be scattered with birdseed
and stay up probably until March. What we will do with the other two we bought for
the porches I’m not sure. But they are a treat as well.

The news is sad. A friend in another city is in hospital with COVID. Strange eruptions of
violence are happening all over the world. And people are dying at a very fast rate from
this horrific virus.

So everyone of us who is alive and disease-free is lucky. And we deserve to allow ourselves
to enjoy the small pleasures in our lives. Plus we owe it to people who are suffering and
may never enjoy those pleasures again, to make sure we notice the good things in life.
Thank you for commenting on my blog, sharing your ideas, and supporting me by liking,
and collecting my work. You all are great reasons to be happy. Thank you.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The 2015th thing I learned in 2020

Look at this
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(This painting seems right for a post
about humour.  This is a
Skype painting of two of the funniest
people I know. I like 
 the details of the computer at that
time.  My son Christopher and his
wife (then girlfriend) Megan
were teaching in Korea, and we
talked via Skype.  The impressionistic
image came through because of
sketchy Internet connections.)

I think it was two years ago that my friend Howard Wolinsky, the brilliant
Chicago journalist and photographer challenged me to write about the 2018
things I'd learned in 2018. So now we're coming to the end of 2020, and I'd
like to honour the tradition Howard started for me.

The first 2014 things I learned in 2020, were that we are living in a pandemic. 
That was a double learning. Count a minimum of 2,000 (more like 2 million)
times for the actual awareness that we're living in a pandemic.  And 14 for the
fact that people don't want to know it, and don't want to be careful.

Whew! Now we're at 2015 tonight's number.  And I found a wonderful realization
on a past blog that makes sense to me.

I was talking about leaving New York City last year, and someone who made the
experience bearable. I think we were sitting waiting to get on a plane for three
hours because of some sort of problem. Here's what I said:

"Go ahead and be funny.  The most memorable person I met
today in a sea of people at the airport was a young man who dared
to be funny.   I know life is hard right now all over the world,
which is all the more reason for funny people to get people laughing.
Nothing makes you forget your troubles faster than a good shared

So this is one thing I learned in 2019.  Humour matters.  It
matters in the face of climate change, it matters in the face
of sorrow, or illness, or worry.  It can't solve any of the
world issues, but we can't shut it down because of that.

Thank you to the funny people in my life (my whole family
and most of my friends).  You make life more enjoyable
on a daily basis."

And today in 2020 I'll add thank you to my class, who met on Zoom
for the last time tonight.  Some are dealing with living far away from
family. No one can have the fabulously jolly time over the holiday we
might have planned. Relatives are sick, we have friends who are sick. 
And yet that sweet group of people got each other laughing so
hard tonight. And believe me.  I will miss them.

Have an enjoying what you can enjoy day.

Monday, December 14, 2020

A delightful commission

The Organist
Marker on drawing paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

Last Thursday I completed, and delivered this drawing. The man is an organist
and music director at a church in Mississauga. The drawing is a present to him
from the church in appreciation of his years of service.

I was very happy to work on this, and to be part of the process of letting someone
know how important his work was, and how valued he is by the church community.

It has been a great pleasure closing out the year working for someone who appreciates
my drawing. The man who contacted me about this project was one of the people I
drew via Skype for the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2009.

Thanks for your support and interest in my drawing and painting. Your kindness
means the world to me. Please stay safe and stay healthy.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

The day of the tree

Close up detail featuring
a tree.  I will post the 
complete drawing tomorrow.
Barbara Muir © 2020

 I could post a photo of my family together on Christmas day last year tonight, because my thoughts are 100% about that feeling. But instead I’d like to talk about trees. Today Steven put some lights on the trees outside. We have one on our back porch, and one on the front porch.

And we moved the biggest tree inside.  Somehow that small gesture, albeit a heavy one, (it's a big tree) made us feel much calmer, and more confident that we can celebrate this season no matter how. Of
course the installation of the tree required a dramatic rearrangement of many paintings. This is true
with absolutely every decision we make in our house. Paintings are everywhere. So if you want one just inquire, and I can let you know If it’s available.

We sat very happily with the tree, Steven drinking his tea, and me drinking a hot chocolate. Fiona the cat loves Christmas trees. We had already had a session with her playing our piano in the basement. She absolutely loves playing piano the piano too.  So we didn’t get any decorations on it tonight, and probably won’t. But it feels lovely just to see it. It’s almost too beautiful to decorate. But we will.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Add to the festivity — Holiday Cards

Holiday cards getting ready to be
filled with good wishes, and
delivered to friends near and far.

Image on cards
Cherrywood Snow Scene
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2015

Okay I admit it -- I’ve been slow on the draw (pardon my pun) on this one.
I don’t have a great excuse I’m sorry. I know that you’re all working as hard,
or harder than I am. I just haven’t had a lot of time to think about the holidays
this fall.

Last weekend we bought three trees so we might be able to have some kind of
celebration socially distanced with family, or with friends outside. Maybe that
was a fantasy, but just seeing that greenery already made us feel better.

Today we began writing the cards, which I picked up from my printer yesterday.
In the middle of the decision to start having a Christmas feeling, our washing machine
broke down, actually ripping apart a pair of my husbands pants. So we spent a long
afternoon today looking at washing machines, and trying to figure out if we could
get one delivered right away. This is wash day no matter what else it is. Nope not

To calm myself down and quit worrying about everything started to write my cards.
If you are my friend, and know that I don’t know your address, please send it to me,
and in the best of all possible worlds I will send you a card.

Whether you get a card from me or not, thank you so much for all of the cheer,
inspiration, support, and excitement you’ve shared with me this year. It has been
a strange one, but to be alive, to love family and friends, and to live in this beautiful
country is definitely a formula for happiness.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Friday, December 11, 2020

A year ago today? — New York City!

See what I mean?
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

So much can happen in a year. We all share that realization in 2020.  Last year
at this time I getting ready to attend my opening at the Amsterdam Whitney
Gallery in New York City on December 12. I’d never been to New York in the 
holiday season and the place was magical. There were lights everywhere, on
all the trees on some streets -- huge beautiful trees filled with lights.

This painting sold in New York. The show continued into 2020, and it sold in
January. I love the painting, which is about the feeling at our favourite park
here on the west end of Toronto. And I loved the whole experience exhibiting
in New York, at this time of year. I can’t imagine anywhere in the world
where it would be more festive at Christmas than in New York.

Of course this year is a whole different thing -- but I just heard that the gallery
I show with is planning to move to a larger space. My thanks as always
to Ruthie Tucker, the owner and director of the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery.

Have an enjoying your happy memories, and plans for the future day.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

My brother on a busy day in art land

Talking to Andrew
Marker on drawing paper
8 1/2 x 11 inches
Barbara Muir ©

We are living in interesting times. Today I was looking for material to pack up
a project I just completed, and I found this lovely drawing of my brother, Andrew.

It feels appropriate in a week when I’m thanking the people who help me stay
 happy, positive, and even keep me laughing, to thank my brother.

This portrait was probably done via Skype a few years back. I love how happy
my brother looks, and how easily I got the room, his expression, even the suggestion
of art on the walls in a marker drawing. I was clearly having fun.  And I always
do have fun talking to my brother, even when we argue about nothing.

It’s been a very rewarding, hard-working, week. I appreciate everyone who helped
me enjoy it, and I wish you all a super last day of the work week and wonderful

Stay healthy and stay safe.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Happy People have never been more important


The photo of me and Miranda Brouwers that appeared in the
Dutch newspaper, The Carillon on December 29, 2015.
We are standing in front of the landscapes
Miranda showed at the Florence Biennale in October, 2015.

Tonight I’m going to look back on a wonderful time in my life showing
in the Florence Biennale. That show was up for 10 days and the artists who 
were at the show sat the show all day almost every day.

I met my wonderful friend Miranda Brouwers there. And she and I started
The Happy People group, going around and visiting artists who were at the
show, and asking them to put their arms in the air for two minutes to lower
their Cortisol levels. I’m sharing a quote from the blog I wrote when the article
appeared in December 2015 when Miranda was featured in the Dutch newspaper
The Carillon talking about our experience. Enjoy.

"Miranda Brouwers, a friend I met in Italy,
was the woman who started the Happy People Project
with me at the Florence Biennale in October.  We
encouraged friends we met at the Biennale to put
their hands in the air for 2 minutes to improve
their mood and make them happy.  And it worked.

Since her return from the Biennale, Miranda has
attracted a lot of attention in The Netherlands for the
beautiful landscapes she paints of the area where
she lives in Lage Zwaluwe (which means Low
Swallows).  This December (that was 2015) she was
part of 
the Serious Request Project, a fundraiser
broadcast all day and night in the Netherlands
from December 18 - 23 by top Dutch radio and TV personalities.
Her painting, Aankondiging van de lente (Spring is in
the airwas auctioned off by the Red Cross to raise money
for the Syrian refugees, and was in a special show at the
Royal Talens Experience Center.

Low Swallows with the Bidding Ad for Serious Request
Today (December 29, 2015) Miranda is featured in the Dutch
the Carillon. Miranda spoke about her experience at
the Biennale, how wonderful it was to be with other artists
trying to make the world a more beautiful place.  She
was delighted that she now would have opportunities
to show her work anywhere in the world, China, New York,
and other spots in Europe.

In the interview for the article, Miranda explained
when asked about the best thing she experienced at
the Florence Biennale, the wonderful artists she met --
and she told me over the phone, "You (meaning me) and
the Happy People Project."  She loved the fact that
we helped each other to be happy, and we've continued
to do that now that we are thousands of miles apart.

It was ironic that we were so busy taking photographs
of Biennale artists putting their hands in the air in the
Amy Cuddy, winning and cortisol lowering position -- that
we didn't have a shot of the two of us raising our
arms together.

So here is the photo that will go in the paper,
Very exciting.

Have a making-joyous-friendships day."

Note:  Miranda and I talk on the phone almost every 
Thursday, and we showed together again at the Carousel
du Louvre exhibition in the Louvre in Paris in 2016.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Thank you for keeping me going

The Invitation
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
(the woman in this painting
has been one of my 
sustaining friends during
these long months. I
am grateful to her, and
to all of my friends.  Won't
it be wonderful when we
can send out invitations to
parties and events in real
life again?)

On this busy day it seems important to thank everyone who has helped me stay cheerful,
happy, excited about the future, and strong in the present moment. Thank you to my family
for being there, and caring, even though we mostly have to see one another at a distance.

Thank you to my friends here in my community who have called, visited at a distance,
and helped me in so many ways.

Thank you to my collectors, to the people I teach, to my wonderful college bosses, and to
everyone I’ve seen who has brightened my world over the past nine months. All of you make
my day every day, and I am beyond grateful.

Please stay safe and stay creative.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Love is where it's at


Dream Selfie -- Wonder Water Image #7
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches

Barbara Muir © 2016
This post came up in my Facebook memories today and it seemed perfect
for tonight. I've edited it a bit for the blog.   I'm posting the painting too,
even though you've seen it before. 
I know it's one of my best.  And if there's
a person who works from the heart in this world -- 
Regan Daley, the woman
in the painting, is certainly one of the best.

"For me Heart is All.

I remember teaching positive psychology for my boss
Frank Daley
, (who I deeply admire, and loved working with) and talking about love. (This portrait is of his beautiful daughter,
Regan Daley
), and showed in the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, France in October (2016). One point of the positive psych course (and the textbook) was that loving a person is not the same as loving chocolate. Of course we were trying to help young people understand what true, grown up love with a partner was like. But I always fidgeted with that concept -- got uneasy, felt a psychic error there for me. True there are degrees of love. It would be hard to match the love I feel for my family and friends. But it is my experience that people who throw that word around -- who love people, and paintings, music, humour, ice cream, and flowers, coffee, and wine, pretty clothes, and their jobs -- also love each other, the environment, the planet, fairness, and equality. And they will fight, not in a shallow way, to take care of the people, the neighbourhood, the city, the country, and the planet that they love. I am all for spreading the love, for loving as much as possible -- for gushing over a book, a movie, a friend, a lover. We are trained to be reticent, and it isn't getting us anywhere. So guess what? I love that you are reading this. And please compliment your family and friends. Love, love, love.

My mother's death taught me that it is all over in an instant, and you cannot ever love enough in this lifetime. ❤"

When I found this today, I felt proud. I so agreed with the author (me). Yes. Have we
ever needed to make love a priority more than now. Now back to work, and I love the
drawing I'm working on. And I love your work, and your support, and how vital you
make the world for me.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

2020 symbolism

Kitchen Flowers
Barbara Muir © 2020

I took this picture yesterday as beautiful sunlight streamed into our kitchen, and
lit up the superb amaryllis plants that we bought last week. They are exceptionally
beautiful double amaryllises, and seem like such a treat at this normally grey time
of year.

When I looked at the photo I started to laugh, and realized that because I’m posting
photos while I’m busy doing a big art project, this would be ideal for tonight. It is
delightfully symbolic of this year 2020. There’s a beautiful flower that we bought to cheer ourselves up, and to perhaps paint if I have the time. And beside the flower are the common props of this year. Absolutely essential. Rubbing alcohol 70% (it doesn’t smell as bad as the 99%), and hand sanitizer.
These are the constants. When I get home from the supermarket, I wipe off everything with rubbing alcohol. A friend told me that I could wash my fruits and vegetables in hot water and soap and I do
that for anything that I can.

I watched an episode of CBC Marketplace on T.V. last night, about the cleanliness practices in
the major supermarkets in Toronto. It made me really happy that I am overly hyper about germs
during COVID-19. Let’s just put it this way, I’m going to continue. Plus I wear a mask, and they
suggest that if a store has a long lineup to get through the cash -- don’t shop there. Get out!

Stay safe and stay healthy! 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Enjoy some photos

Santa street in Toronto
(not its proper name)
Barbara Muir © 2020

Barbara Muir © 2020

For the next few days I will probably be posting photos. It's a very busy time for
of both work, and prepping for the holidays in whatever way possible. 

It has been a wonderful day. As I write this I can hear Steven singing in the kitchen while
he makes supper. Today we tried to figure out where we would put the Christmas trees
we bought for our porches. Just the sight of them sitting outside on our porches made
me feel happy. And our Siamese cat, Fiona, absolutely loves the smell of Christmas trees.
She was out in the cold, on a chair on the back porch, rubbing her face against the tree branches. 
I get it. I love the smell of Christmas trees too.

The photo tonight is of a street we go by on the way to the market on Saturday. The whole street
puts up huge Santa Claus figures all along the street every year. There is something so touching, and
delightful about this practice. We talked about how it must have started, when a downtown
Toronto neighbourhood street got together, and decided that they would display Santas at every
house, every year. So sweet.

I hope you had a super day, and wish you a great one tomorrow.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Got the trees

Steven's car loaded with trees. Our house is
the one with the red shutters.
I had
to really up the exposure so you could see
the trees. These are going to be the
highlight of our Holiday season.
Happy Holidays.
Barbara Muir © 2020

Inspired by our neighbour one street over who decided to put the Christmas tree
on the front porch, with the idea that he and his wife might have a party for
Christmas on the front lawn, We got some trees.

Of course now we’re in lockdown, so our friends can’t have that party, but they
still got the tree so that they could have family over social distanced, and have
Christmas with them somehow.

The other night we drove by their house and the tree was on the porch as promised.
 We felt so happy to see it, that we knocked on their door, wearing masks to say,
"Good for you! Merry Christmas."  And the next night they had the lights on it.

When Steven and I talked about what we like about Christmas, I said that one of my
 favourite things is the tree.  So we decided to get a tree inside for us, and one for the
 front porch, and one for the back porch, in case we had guests over social distanced,
especially our family.

We’re not religious at all, but we love the idea of giving. I love Christmas for that reason,
and for the humour because my family is very funny, and just for the treat of getting

So it was a very exciting event to go and get the trees.  Weird because we couldn't go
on the lot, just stare through a fence.  But we’d heard on the news that Christmas trees
in some parts of the country are in short supply. When we went to our very favourite
Christmas tree lot, which we’ve been going to forever, the young woman running the place,
Bobby, said they'd be out of trees tomorrow. We hurried home, had a cup of tea and went
back equipped to take  three trees home on the roof of the car.

Here they are. Happy Holidays. 

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!