Monday, October 19, 2020

From a year ago


Let's talk
black marker on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

I worked on an Inktober drawing of a baby today, and it didn't turn 
out.  I'll work on it again and get it.  I might just have been tired
from close marking all weekend. I'm thinking of doing a series of
paintings of babies -- which will be a challenge, because even though
they look like rosebuds -- brand new, beautiful and perfect -- that
perfection is not simple to 

Why do I want to do paintings or drawings of babies?  One reason is
that some people I know and love, including one of my former models,
and someone who used to work helping me in the studio -- have had
adorable babies. 
Plus these babies are a relief from the news -- the hard times we're living
through, and the brutality people are wreaking on one another.  They
are innocent, and everything is possible with them.  I love that innocence,
and have loved babies since I was able to walk. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Small changes

A gift of anemones
watercolour and acrylic on 
watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
(I'm going to photograph it again
tomorrow, because it's hard
to get the colour right. It is so

It always helps a painting, no matter what the size, if you go away for a day,
or two, and then come back and look at it. I made a few small changes to this
painting and I’m happy with it. I may still do more, but for now it feels done.

The fall blooming anemones in our garden are still amazing. Today was a very cold
day, and there they were -- a cloud of white, beautiful flowers. I am so grateful for them.

One tip that I learned from another watercolour artist, that will make a difference
in how you see this painting, is to iron it when you’re done.  Thick watercolour
paper tends to curl as you work on it.  So the table across the bottom of the painting
looked round when I showed it to you the last time.

Wishing you a fun filled, and creative week. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

More from the Times Table series

Tea Alone
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

This is another painting that captures an image of family life.
In this 2013 series I was focussing on the different family activities
that happen around a table. Parents all know the feeling of the peace
and happiness that comes from finally being alone together when the
children have gone to bed.

This painting shows the couple looking over some work together while
they have a cup of tea. At the time I painted it I loved the look of distortion
that happens from photos, and Skype images. And so the teapot is much
bigger than it would be. 

Have a lovely weekend together. If you are parents with children at home,
I hope you have a lot of fun. And I hope you do get time to have tea alone.

Friday, October 16, 2020

A love of reading

Reading before the dance
(Part of the dance series)
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2008

I was looking at my images on Google under my blog name Barbara Muir Paints,
and I came across the link to this wonderful piece about my work in a blog
called Reading and Art.

I remember this post, and my excitement at finding it in 2014. And I thought
I’d post this image that wasn’t included tonight. It's one of my favourite paintings
 -- a commission.

The timing was interesting too, because I was just settling down to mark a 
bunch of papers. Good reading skills really help my writing students succeed.
I love reading, and I’m so glad that I created these paintings, and that they were
discovered by Bas van Houwelingen in the Netherlands. And I hope that seeing
this makes you want to get yourself a really great book, and have a wonderful

Thursday, October 15, 2020

This is what I’m working on

Untitled (Work in progress)
Watercolour and Acrylic ink and
ballpoint pen on watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

Today I’m trying to finish a small watercolour acrylic flower painting
I started a few days ago . It’s a bit complicated and it’s been a busy few days.
I’m also gessoing out a large painting that didn’t work. As other artists have
been saying on social media in the past few weeks, there’s a lot more to the art
business then just creating the work, although that's the most important part. 

Trying to capture the flowers at the end of the season is a delightful,
 and nostalgic painting job. No painting can ever replicate the gorgeous,
huge bank of late blooming anemones that are thriving in our garden right now.
I wake up every morning hoping that they are still there, because the sight of
them fills me with joy. In fact a few flowers are thriving right now that didn't
enjoy the very high heat we had this summer. The yellow begonias in the blue
pot in front of the garage are blooming with big beautiful blooms that we never
saw in the summer. The nasturtiums are happy, climbing up the garage, and the
fence blooming in yellow, orange and red, saying, "hey we are still here!", and
I’m so happy to see them.

So I've almost got this done today, but if there's a bit more to do, I'll do
it tomorrow. That too is the artist’s life -- the knowledge that if something doesn’t
come together one day, it will the next. Wishing you a glorious day whatever you’re
doing and I look forward to seeing what you create. Your work makes me so happy,
and that's a great wonder in these hard times.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Thank you to a wonderful writer

The Writer's Life
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

I’m posting this painting tonight, although I sometimes show it for
Mother’s Day. The painting has extra resonance this year when all
of us are working at home, including many mothers of young children,
and babies. But tonight the reason I am showing it is to thank Auralee
Wallace, the beautiful writer in the picture. 

My mother died seven years ago today in 2013, on Canadian
Thanksgiving Day that year.  The week before my mother died
I was in an art show with three works called The Times Table Series,
featuring Auralee Wallace and her family. Auralee knew that I was going
through a very hard time, and helped me by sending so many lovely
photos of her family. The series focused on things that happen
in a family's life around a table. Auralee and I both taught English at
Seneca College, which was where we met.  Now Auralee is a prolific author,
and if you click on her name at the beginning of this sentence, you can check
out some of her novels.

People talk about the healing power of art. I know that painting this
series certainly helped me to have hope for the future at a very sad time.
I'm remembering that time now with gratitude for Auralee's kindness.
And the picture is even more evocative because, so many of us are trying
to balance home and family life, plus work, in one space. 

What I learned from my mother's death is that love is the answer,
and in a whole lifetime we will never have enough time to be with the
ones we love. So let's enjoy it now, and spread love in the world.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

An Inktober drawing done before Inktober

In the kitchen researching for the doctorate
Black marker on bond paper
12 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

The drawing I'm posting tonight seems perfect, because I was 
teaching tonight online, and my students were writing a test. 
The young woman in the drawing was taking every chance
between posing to look at a book she was studying for her doctorate. 
This was drawn 10 years ago, and since then, Julia, the subject, has
married, and has children. 

Her sweetness comes through in this drawing.  She is a friend's
daughter, and when she lived in our neighbourhood she helped
me with all kinds of work in my office and studio.  

I was creating Inktober work before I'd ever heard of the term.
Which makes sense because Inktober is about drawings in ink.
This was drawn in April 10 years ago.  What I also like 
about the drawing is that I am working on a painting right now
of flowers in the same crystal jug. Synchronicity -- there's  
something so appealing about it. I haven't seen Julia in 
years, and I hope she is well.

Have a loving your past and present day.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving

Flowers from our garden on the
kitchen table
My Happy Thanksgiving wish to you.

Thank you to my friends and family who keep my spirits up during these hard
times. It was wonderful to see my son Christopher, Megan, Alice
and Madeline today social distanced, when we dropped off a pie that Steven 
made. Steven‘s pumpkin pie is legendary in our family and today he decorated
it with a heart and the family’s first name initials.

Today I’m posting the Thanksgiving greeting I created a couple of years ago.
It seems perfect still. In Canada we are ending this summer season and going
deep into fall. Every flower and plant that comes from the garden has a nostalgic
edge to it. This year our garden -- largely uncared for -- produced quite a few
tomato plants, that we never planted. The seeds were in our compost from last
year.  As the nights get colder we go out into the garden to check the tomatoes.
They are small -- both round and oval, and when you get to taste a ripe one,
they are incredibly delicious.

I can’t remember a time in my life when it was more important to be grateful for
all that we have -- for the love of family, loving friends in our own city, and around
the world, and for our wonderful life. There were people lost to us this year, and
friends who are grieving. That makes acknowledging the love in our lives all the
more important. Thank you for your kindness, and support. It means the world to me.

Stay safe, healthy, and happy if possible. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Grateful for my mother

Cutting a pattern
Black marker on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
(This doesn't do my mother
justice.  She was beautiful.)

I can’t help but think about my mother on Thanksgiving weekend. She was
the kind of person who was quintessentially perfect for Thanksgiving.
She made wonderful pumpkin pies, sometimes she even made the ice cream.
My mom could probably cook and stuff a turkey for any size crowd in her sleep. 
That doesn't mean she wouldn't be nervous about every aspect to the meal,
but she could do it. She loved good china, and a table set with pretty dishes
and flowers.

But another reason that I think of her now is that she died on Thanksgiving
day seven years ago. And it feels like she’s been gone a for very long time. 

I think of her on a gorgeous day like today. If she'd been visiting we would
have taken her out to our favourite park, and she would’ve loved the high
waves crashing against the shore. She would also have loved how the geese
and swans absolutely love Steven.  We had so much fun feeding the birds
This is an Inktober drawing I did last year of my mother sewing a dress with
beautiful Florentine cloth that she bought on a visit to Italy with my father. My
mother was good at anything that she tried. 

She was a brilliant woman with a masters in Bacteriology. She would have been
upset with what’s going on in the world with COVID-19. And it would have
driven her crazy that some people refuse to wear masks, and want to pretend
that this worldwide growing pandemic is not real.

If your Mom is alive, and it's safe to be with her on Thanksgiving -- give her
a hug. And have a wonderful day.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Today was our Thanksgiving

Still want to party
Watercolour and marker
on Arches watercolour paper
5 7/8 x 9.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

We had Thanksgiving dinner today on the back porch, social distanced,
with my son Sam, and his girlfriend, Emily. We were so focused before the
meal on what was different this year, that we couldn’t have imagined how
delightful and enjoyable it would be.

But as we prepared, we decided to string some lights around our back porch.
We experimented with chair heaters that were not successful, and placed a
long antique table in the middle of the porch covered in a white table cloth,
with tea lights in glass jam jars, so that we could serve the food and be far
enough away from each other. We wore masks when we moved around, 
but not when were were seated and eating.

Everything was so different! We were outside in the cold, and guess what
so was half the neighbourhood -- celebrating outside so they could be with
family safely.  We could hear the laughter and happy conversations as we had
our dinner. The meal was delicious -- roast turkey, stuffing, broccoli, wonderful
roasted potatoes, gravy, homemade cranberry jelly. We finished it with delicious
pie from the wonderful people at Marvellous Edibles at the Brickworks market,
and ice cream. Of course we had wine, and for our pescatarian -- salmon.

We had so much fun. I loved it. It did get colder as the night wore on, and we all
added layers of clothing. We thought about Christmas, and winter, and what will
we do if the current level of Corona Virus continues? But we don’t have to know
that today. All we know is that we had a wonderful dinner, and that we love our family
and we wish that we could all have been together. Love you family.

And thank you everyone who reads my blog for being so wonderful with your
comments and support. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

More on a theme

The Pumpkin Farmhouse
Maison De Haute Couleur 
Charvin, Paris Watercolour
on Fabriano paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017

Not too surprisingly, 2020 is the most nostalgic year of my entire life. This
painting is of a farmhouse we used to visit heading north on Dufferin Street, in King
City. It had a big pumpkin patch. When the boys were little we used to go there,
and walk through the fields selecting the best pumpkins for our Thanksgiving.

We used them for decoration, and also Steven makes the best pumpkin pie in
in the world. Usually we made another trip to get the pumpkins for Halloween,
because Thanksgiving is almost three weeks before Halloween and the squirrels
would’ve devoured the ones decorating our front steps by then.

I don’t know where we'd go now to find a pumpkin patch. That corner in King
City has been built up with malls, and gas stations and all kinds of modern
conveniences. And the farm is gone. So I’m so glad that we got to be there while
it was still in operation. The whole idea of getting pumpkins to decorate for
Thanksgiving seemed even more precious then, because we picked them where
they were growing, and Thanksgiving is all about being grateful for the harvest.

I do think in 2020 it’s more important than ever to be grateful for everything
that we enjoy when so many are not able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life
anymore. Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend whether you’re
Canadian and celebrating, or anywhere else in the world and hearing about it. 

 I've never been more grateful for my family and friends, including you wherever
 you are. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Thinking about Thanksgiving

I’m a firm believer in gratitude — being grateful for the people in my life,
and for what life has given me. That’s why I love Canadian Thanksgiving,
a celebration that happens this weekend. 

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

Looking for a piece of art to show you tonight from a past Thanksgiving blog
post I found this jubilant flower painting -- the first joyful piece of art I created
the year that my mother died. She died on Canadian Thanksgiving.  

The day she died was a very dramatic and painfully sad day.  But also like
most of our family gatherings, the meal we had after we said goodbye to
my mother, was both happy and sad – filled with memories
of how wonderful my mother was, and how much we loved her.

This year on Thanksgiving our whole family can’t get together because
some people are not well enough to come to dinner.  So we will have a small,
but festive dinner outside with the traditional turkey dinner. And we will be
grateful for our wonderful family and friends who we love, and for the beauty
around us.

We wish everyone who is not feeling well on this holiday weekend a speedy
recovery. Meanwhile a toast to you my friends.  I am so grateful for you.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Sharpening it up

Anemones in the student's present
watercolour and acrylic on 
watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

It was a good and peculiar day today. A friend came by to talk about
20 feet away standing on my lawn in full sunshine.  And it was raining
on me. She suggested that we cross the street.  We did and stayed far
apart.There was no rain on that side of the street.  Bizarre.  

I worked on a bunch of different drawings and paintings, and this
is one of them. I think it’s finished. After you start working with
acrylic ink, it’s hard to go back to pure watercolour again. This
is a combination of watercolour and acrylic ink. And the ink gives
it its punch. 

I’m going to make it short today. I promise to have more to say
tomorrow, and more to show you.

Take care and stay safe and stay healthy. Please wear a mask and protect

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Another Inktober drawing

Come on!  He said what?
Fine marker on
drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I tried a few Inktober subjects today before I followed through with this one.
It’s from a photo of me taken at a wedding  a few years ago. I am probably
asking my husband not to take the shot, but it seems perfect as a reaction today
to some of the news we're getting that is so over-the-top disturbing.

On a positive note I was inspired to get this drawing done by my friend Liza Hirst who
said that she had drawn her magnificent drawing today of balls of wool because
of me. Thank you Lisa. Your constant support for my work really helps me keep going.

As artists we need this right now. We need our friends to notice our work and help
us keep producing, even when there are so few occasions to show our work publicly,
to see one another, to work together. So much of what we love about being an artist
is not possible right now. That means we have to continue to hold onto the big picture,
staying healthy, and staying safe for the future. One day all of it will happen again.

Until that day, let's meet here in cyberspace, and cheer one another on!

Monday, October 5, 2020

Getting there

Untitled (work in progress)
watercolour and acrylic ink
on Canson paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I started this flower painting a few days ago to celebrate the lovely fall
anemones still going strong in our garden. The painting is going fairly
slowly, but I think I’m almost there.

The American news right now has been dominating our lives. And that
along with marking for the one night course I teach has distracted me
somewhat. How about you?

I like how the painting's developing. I like the light So more to come. Despite the
very bad examples some world leaders are giving on how to behave with Corona,
please don’t follow their lead. Please wear a mask, please social distance, and stay

We are trying to figure out how we will do our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner this
weekend.  I said to Steven, "we’ve handled far worse things than this in our time
together, so I think we can figure something out." If you're Canadian and living in
a zone where COVID-19 cases are spiking, what have you figured out about family
get togethers?

Have a lovely week.  And enjoy the flowers where you are. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Art creates wonderful connections

Catherine in the coat and hat
Inktober drawing 
Black marker on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

I posted this Inktober drawing last October. It was based on another super
photo by my father. The baby was a little girl named Catherine, who was one
of a family of four children who I babysat starting at the age of seven.

It’s fair to say that I’ve loved babies for my whole life, and I was so lucky
to become friends with this family when I was a little girl growing up in
Ottawa. I spent most of the time when I wasn't in school outside as a child. 
That's how I met Catherine's mother,  as I was staring at her baby boy
 (Catherine's older brother) with my dog, Rags. Catherine's Mom invited us
 inside, and I started visiting as often as I could to "help."

My father captured the tenderness I felt for this family with some great black
and white photos. 

When I posted the drawing last year as part of Inktober, I looked up Catherine's
mother, and was sorry to see that she had died.  Then I looked up the family
on social media, and contacted Catherine.  She and her husband came to Toronto
for a visit.  Before I found her again I hadn't seen Catherine since my family
moved to Toronto when I was thirteen. We sat at our kitchen table and reconnected
after so many years. And we had a great time talking about her life, and her family.
It was such a sweet visit. 

Like me, Catherine is a teacher. I feel so lucky that we met again. Although
we don’t live in the same town we keep in touch, and it's always a great
pleasure to talk to her.

Have an art changes your life day.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Favourite Inktober post from last year (one of them)

Bibby's new dress
Black marker on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

It’s Saturday night and I’m going to watch a movie with Steven. We went
to Sam Smith park by the lake today, and I took so many photos -- possible photo
reference for beautiful paintings in the coming months. It was a grey sky cloudy
day, but that seemed to make the vibrant coloured trees stand out even more.
It was so gorgeous, and I had to stop about 100 times on our walk to try
 and grab a photo of another amazing scene. 

This drawing like the one I showed you a few days ago was based on a beautiful
black-and-white photo by my father. I was really happy with the result. And I
love how it captures that total joy we sometimes feel as children.

So I’m showing it to you tonight because it stands out in my mind as one of the
drawings I’ve done that I really enjoyed both making, and then afterwords
looking at going "wow!" Do you do that? Do you talk to yourself, and when
 you’ve made something you really like do you go "hey kid not bad!"

I feel lucky to be an artist, and I thank you so much for your support
and kindness. You really do make my day.

Friday, October 2, 2020

The incredible joy of flowers

Working on a painting
Barbara Muir © 2020
I was thinking today as I sat on my back porch staring at the magnificent mass
of white fall blooming anemones, about what a blessing flowers are, especially
in the hard time that we are living through.

So I picked a small bouquet of anemones, brought them in and started a painting.
The photo tonight shows where I got to. The painting isn’t done, but already it’s
served part of its purpose -- as it made me very happy to work on it.
I’m sure I’m not the only person in Toronto who went out and talked to the garden
today, said, "please hang on", then looked up at the sky and said, "hey could you
please keep it warm for at least another couple of weeks."

The morning glories that we planted by seed at the end of May, flowered in one part
of the garden, and not on an eight foot strip along the fence. I have been urging
those huge heart shaped beauties (the leaves) to produce flowers all summer and
they are just getting ready to bloom. So please universe let it stay warm enough that
they get to show me what they can do. They are covered with the tiny beginnings
of blooms, but I know they need at least a week to create them.

Meanwhile I’m working on a painting of the anemones -- a late summer flower.
They just flowered a couple of weeks ago, so I hope they are more hardy. And
I’m hoping we can stay hardy too at a time when the news is constantly threatening
that more and more of us are going to get sick.

Please wear a mask. Stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy every minute of the beauty
nature has to offer right now. That inspiration is so important to us.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Happy Inktober October

In my Full Fine Art T-shirt
(An Inktober drawing)
Black marker on Canson paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

My friend Daniel Anaka has started an Instagram group for people who are
going to do Inktober (ink drawings every day in October). I would love to
join the group, but I know that I won’t do an ink drawing every single day
this month. If I do it will be a miracle.

I did have fun today working on this self portrait of me wearing my friend
Georgia Fullerton’s Full Fine Art T-shirt. It isn’t a perfect portrait by any
means, but it was a treat to work on.

I’m inspired by my artist friends who do so many things to promote their
work, and by artists in general -- who are so much fun to be around, and so
inspiring to their artist friends. 

Georgia Fullerton is such an active voice in the arts community, and so is
 Daniel Anaka. He has so many ideas, and has curated wonderful shows
that I’ve participated in.  So that’s it for today -- a drawing and welcome
October. I’m looking forward to this month in our family. It’s full of birthdays, 
and will be full of art. (Isn't the word full perfect on this T-shirt.  That's what
we want -- a full life.  I wish you one.

Stay safe, and stay healthy, and if you’re an artist who enjoys doing ink
drawings join Daniel and check out his Instagram group take care.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Goodbye September, Hello October

Carolanne McFarlane
Black marker on paper 
Inktober drawing
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

An artist friend is thinking about making a group for artists to post
their Inktober drawings on social media together. I really enjoyed
creating Inktober drawings last year, and think I might do more of
the same this October.  Inktober drawings are ink or marker drawings.

Tonight I'm posting one of the drawings I showed you last year.
I feel so fortunate that my father was an almost pro photographer,
who kept hundreds of 8 1/2 x 11 top quality black and white photo
prints that he printed himself. This drawing is based on one of them. 

But I know I won't have time to draw an Inktober piece every day,
though I'd certainly love to do as many as I can. They made the month
of October special for me last year.  This year with all that's going on
in the world, we need inspiration more than ever.

Have a doing what you love to do day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A quick one

Winter dreams
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I’m showing you a quick drawing I did tonight on my iPad after I read the
news that we would be teaching online again next semester -- so all winter.
I teach a writing and presentation class one night a week at a wonderful
community college. And I'm now teaching my fourth semester online.

I’m not alone -- most teachers in Toronto at the college and university level are teaching
online. But there was a rumour a few weeks ago that we might be going back into
the classroom again in January. Wouldn't that be wonderful? The problem is that
people are so anxious for this virus to be over that some are getting together without
social distancing. That's not most people, but it's enough that the numbers are going up,
and colleges and universities can’t take the risk of adding to that rise in the virus.

So I started to imagine how it’s going to look in the middle of winter when we have to
put our masks on to go into the stores, or into crowded areas, and this is what I came
up with. I had a lot of fun drawing it, and I’m sure I’ll have a lot of fun teaching online.
I am this term. And I hope that all the other teachers who love teaching in the classroom,
and can't right now, have the best possible time in their online classes. 

Check out the fashion magazines for new styles in masks for cold, and warmer 
weather -- the heat adjustable mask. (Did you ever think you would see that?  But
you will.) The possibilities are endless.

Have fun.

Monday, September 28, 2020

A love of still life

Spring Table
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2007
Today I’m showing you a still life I painted in 2007. I love painting still
 life featuring food, china, flowers, candles and all the things that are on the
 table when we get together. They seem particularly evocative now at a time
 when celebrating together is not an easy situation.

Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up and Steven and I are trying to figure out
how we can celebrate with our family. A fashion magazine that came with the
newspaper today says that we should get ourselves good down coats so we can
stay warm while we socially distance with family this winter. One of the coats it
shows costs $6500. I think we’re going to have to improvise.

So what will still life paintings of meals look like in the new normal? Will
everybody be holding thermoses of their own coffee? Will we take the
Thanksgiving turkey in a cooler to a field, get it out, and put it on a
china platter, then sit around social distanced and enjoy our meal. If it’s warm
enough I can think of worse things than sitting outside eating together
with my family. We'd have fun.

Meanwhile I’m just going to enjoy this painting and the thought of making
more of them soon.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Gratitude and nostalgia

Morning glories on the back fence
photo © Barbara Muir

I was sitting on the bench that we have at the back of our yard. This is a place
that feels private even though neighbours in nearby houses can see us if we’re
sitting there. But so many things are changing so quickly because of how we've
adapted to COVID. Our next-door neighbours on the other side of our semi detached
wall, who we've enjoyed living beside for 14 years, have decided to move to the country.

One of the things we appreciated about them was that they didn’t mind the low
chain-link fence between our properties. They knew that every summer we grew
 morning glories all along that fence, and it almost looked like a flowering green

I sat on our favourite bench this morning looking at the morning glories, as yellow
leaves fell all around me against the blue sky, and one leaf landed in my lap. Our
worry is that the new neighbours will put up one of the high wood fences popular
in our neighbourhood at the moment. In our narrow yard that would be sad indeed.
So I drank in the beauty of the morning glories today. Their blue flowers are one
of my favourites -- like a pure, gorgeous symbol of summer.

And when the yellow leaf fell in my lap like a small, golden heart. I decided to think
that whatever happens there will still be morning glories, and all will be well. 

The yellow leaf
Barbara Muir © 2020

Saturday, September 26, 2020

A shining star

Georgia Fullerton speaking
live today for African Women
(see link below)
Blue Staedtler marker on
Fabriano notebook paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2020

Today I tuned in to watch my friend Georgia Fullerton‘s live video for
African Women  She was magnificent. She talked about the
power of art and healing. She talked about how important it is to get outside,
and be in nature during this hard time, and gave all kinds of useful advice,

While she spoke I thought, 'I have to draw her now. She looks amazing.'
She has a compelling  presence on camera, and it felt wonderful to try
and get some of that energy down on paper. I grabbed the nearest notebook. 
and the nearest pen which was blue, and gave it a whirl.

The link to the video is here and enjoy it.

Have a loving what your friends do day.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Moving with the times

Acrylic on canvas
14 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

The painting tonight is of Guinevere, a beautiful model who I discovered on the first
 night I went to paint in the Forest Hill Art Club's studio. The Don Valley Art Club
enjoyed a beautiful studio in The Brickworks that was actually designed for them.
But when the environmental group took over The Brickworks, they raised the rent
to the extent that the DVAC could no longer afford to rent the space.

We were very lucky to be taken in by the Forest Hill Art Club, and ever since have
shared their studio space with them. This painting is from the first night that I saw
that space. Looking back I feel no regrets about the move. For one thing the Forest Hill
studio is much closer to my house, and I can get there quickly. That means I can
go and paint for an hour, or an hour and a half, and come home with a painting

I enjoyed the people from the Forest Hill Art Club that very first night. After that
I was never sure who was from which club, because when we’re together
all that matters is the model, and that we're artists working side-by-side. I like the
serious expression on the model's face in this painting, and I love the thick paint. 

We are lucky as creative people if we get to work with other artists, and learn from
them. I learn so much from the people in the Don Valley Art Club, and the Forest
Hill Art Club on the Tuesday drawing night. Now with COVID, they’ve just opened
up again with a limited number of spaces, and protocols. But I can’t go because I teach
online on Tuesday evenings this term. This makes looking at work that I did in that
setting even more of a pleasure.

Have an enjoying your creative friends day.

Thursday, September 24, 2020


Flowers for you
acrylic on canvas
12 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

Today I visited my favourite florists for some flowers to give
to a friend. Our current situation makes celebrating someone’s
birthday difficult, and a good friend is having a birthday in a couple
of days. 

We thought we would sit out in her backyard, social distance from
one another and talk for a while, but when it was time to bring her
the flowers it started raining, and thundering, so that idea was out.  

She stood on her front porch holding the flowers, then put them
away and we talked for a few minutes. Now even getting to talk to
someone in that awkward way -- 10 feet away, my friend on her porch,
and me standing on her walk in my raincoat -- is 100 times better than
what happened when the virus began, when we didn’t get to talk to
anyone we didn't live with, in person at all.

I guess we are learning in all areas of life how to behave with this strange
set up. It seems vividly important to me that we continue to celebrate.
Here’s a bouquet I painted 10 years ago in February when I took in a present
bouquet delivered to my next door neighbour who wasn't home, so the flowers
would be protected from the winter weather.

In the few hours before my neighbour knocked on my door I painted the
arrangement.  Now it’s a source of celebration every time I see this image.

Wishing you a happy day, and your own unique way of celebrating. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


Peach paradise
Acrylic ink on
cradled birch 
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
(finished I think ;-)

This word came flying into my brain today as we walked through the 
last light of an extremely beautiful day, on this second day of fall. 
My computer dictionary defines it as "   (revel in) gain great pleasure from"
Everywhere we turned we saw visual treats.  The trees in their summer
fullness some turning magnificent reds, were amazing.  Flowers looked
especially happy about the warmer weather.  

I worked on a drawing sitting outside in the gorgeous day. And
before I called it a night, I worked on finishing up this peach
painting -- which I love already.  The peaches are ready to quit
posing so they can be eaten before they are way too far past their prime.

Have a revelling in the incredible bounty of the end of summer/start
of fall.  So miraculous!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

First day of fall

Friday night with Flora
Charcoal on bond paper
10 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(This drawing was done in late November. My friend
Flora Doehler visited my kitchen, (boy would I enjoy that
and we drew each other. I love the look
of concentration on her face, because that is her.
She is a fabulous artist and when she's making
art she is focused.)

A serious talk
Skype drawing
charcoal on bond paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(The wonderful artist 
Tamara van den Berg, who
I met at the Florence Biennale in
2009.  A charcoal drawing via

Skype Sketch of Sam
charcoal pencil on bond paper
6 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

(To cheer myself up today I taught
my fantastic class, and looked for some 
charcoal drawings.  That made me
realize how much my process
has changed in 10 years.  I love 
charcoal for drawing, but now
there are so many new ways
to draw a work on canvas.)

What are you doing today to cheer yourself up on the first day of fall?
A lot of us feel like we got ripped off this summer, because we didn’t get
to go where we normally go, or see the people that we'd love to see.
I know we need to allow ourselves to feel the disappointment we feel
from time to time, we also have to encourage ourselves to notice every good
thing that happens.

Two days ago I cracked a molar biting into an almond, and lost most
of the tooth.  Last night I visited the emergency dental clinic where I
met my own  dentist a few years ago. Just visiting the dentist is scary right now. 
We don’t want anyone near our faces in COVID. But I was so lucky! 
To my surprise my own dentist was working there last night! He is fast,
exceptionally good, kind, honest and funny.  In no time all was well.

As Dr. Fauci said on Trevor Noah’s show last night COVID-19 is a reality
we have to face. Dealing with it has nothing to do with politics, and everything
to do with protecting our health, and the health of others.

I think that it's never been more true that each day that we are alive and
well is a gift. Your support for my work, my blog, and your
comments on Facebook, and Instagram are also a gift. Tonight I’ll probably
put up more photos of drawings from the past because I teach tonight.
And I feel so fortunate to have a connection with my students online. 

Let’s enjoy what we have, and let go of what we don’t have. We are going
to get through this and will look back in amazement at how brave we were,
and how positive we were to stay cheerful in very stressful conditions.

Have a really good day. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Before not after

Yaisha and Katiana New York Wait staff
(quick sketch)
Charcoal on bond paper
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir 2010

 Sam sleeping, or Sleeping Sam
black marker on long writing paper
8 x 16 inches
Barbara Muir ©
(This looks like baby Sam, our 
youngest son might have fallen asleep
on the couch with his pet Kangaroo -- Kanga.
He must have been very new because he
was a big baby). No doubt his mother was 
trying to write something while she watched him!

Drawing of a man
black marker on watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(Stephen Colbert drawn from live video)

Here is a new twist to the whole blog idea. After that first sentence the blog
got a bit confusing, but I think the title meant looking at the day from before
(or in the morning), versus after, (or in the very late evening -- my usual time
for writing this).  If you like stream of consciousness keep reading.

I was telling a student yesterday that I don’t like the idea of a bucket list.
My reasoning was that 1000 things happen every day that are amazing
sometimes miraculous -- so a list of what you dream of accomplishing
during your lifetime is at best inadequate, and also meaningless.

I was taught by a great boss of mine to make a to do list every day (a
completely different level of order) and that practice is really helpful.
One of the reasons that it works for me is that my mind is always in 20
directions at once and seeing the notes on my list helps me concentrate
and on one action at a time. It isn't foolproof.  I still get lost in ten tasks,
instead of one.

It is my plan this morning on the last day of summer to show you some
drawings I’ve done in the past. It’s a beautiful day and I have many errands to do,
and obligations to fulfill. On my 10,000 step walk yesterday I had the thought that
artists are so lucky because the visual rewards in every day are miraculous. (Talk
about distraction!)

Yesterday it was trees turning magnificent oranges and reds against a piercingly
 beautiful blue sky, children squealing along on their bicycles, and scooters in
the liberation of a free day -- no school.Whee! And so many other delightful
things to see. 

Happy start of the week. Stay safe and stay well.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Early start

Peach paradise (work in progress)
Acrylic ink on a cradled birch panel
6 x 6inches
Barbara Muir © 2020 

I think I’m one of the luckiest people alive because in the morning my
sweet husband brings me coffee while I read in bed. The first coffee is in
a cup, and he knows which cup is my favourite. At exactly the right time
he comes back upstairs with the coffee pot, and a little cream jug of milk
and pours me that second cup. How perfect!

I have a feeling today will be about drawing, and then I will put a couple
of sketches here. Normally one of the last things I do in my day is write
my blog. Today I want to switch it up so hello to you here. I just watched
a video of one of my former students skydiving for his 25th birthday.
His girlfriend did it too, and they were both so incredibly happy that they'd
crossed that off their to do list.

That was so inspiring. I thought, 'what are the brave things I have to do today?'
And in comparison -- nothing. Sometimes it feels brave to make art. Especially
now when not a lot is going on in the art world. But today I am going to dive in.
Thank you Jerome (my student).

I did do a drawing, but I also started this painting in acrylic ink, which I'll
show you tonight. It is not quite finished, but I had so much fun painting it.
I did draw it first -- with acrylic ink, and then worked on it all afternoon.
I was painting in thin, transparent layers, to try and recreate the luminosity
of the peaches sitting in front of me.  So I kept letting the layers dry. 

Wishing you an amazing Monday, and energetic and fabulous week. 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

In pursuit of peaches

After the market
Watercolour and marker on
drawing paper
10.6 x 13.8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Today was about peaches plain and simple. We bought a small quart basket
of lovely peaches from a small vegetable store on Saint Clair. And this got
Steven, my husband, longing for enough peaches to preserve so that we'd have
peaches all winter long.

For the past few years Steven has been dedicated to putting up bottles of
peaches.  He doesn't add sugar and the peaches taste exactly like the fruit
when it’s in season. He delights in giving people jars of peaches. In fact
one fellow at a restaurant where we pick up takeout calls Steven "Peaches"
because he doesn’t remember his name, but remembers the jar of glorious
peaches Steven gave him last year.

Today alas -- we thought we’ve missed the season entirely. Steven started
calling farm stores in the orchard area around Beamsville. Only one farm said that
 they had some quart baskets of peaches. 

This was not going to be good enough. I mustered my most positive self
and imagined that we'd find peaches against the odds! The farm store that
was supposed to have them, actually had almost none.  But hurray -- on
the same country road at another farm, Steven bought enough peaches to
literally fill the trunk of the car with that delicious fruit!

So all is well. Here is a painting of peaches. We are so much like the squirrels
I see hiding nuts in every one of our flower planters. It has been unusually cold
for the past few days, which makes it clear we have to get ready for winter.

Wishing you success in finding whatever treasures you need to get you through
the winter.

Friday, September 18, 2020


A great teacher (sketch) 
black marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

Sometimes when I’m working on something that takes a long time
sketches help me relax. I am so inspired by drawings by Evelyn Oldroyd,
Simon Davis, and a host of other artists. So I did some sketches today. 
Two are okay.

This morning I just started drawing what I saw at my window, and
the coffee cup on my bedside table before I was fully awake.  I
started in blue marker, and switched to black. The landscape sketch
might develop, and I'll show it to you if it does another day.

Coffee cups (sketch)
black and blue marker on
drawing paper
5.5 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

As the evening progressed I decided to draw a wonderful teacher I met
online years ago.  That seemed appropriate as we're all teaching online
now.  It doesn't look anything like him, but I'm glad I tried. 

Have a great weekend, and thank you for your constant inspiration
and support.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Still need coffee

One more cup of coffee please
Self portrait
Watercolour and black marker on
Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

When this photo popped up in my Facebook memories I thought 'OK
perfect that’s what I’m going to talk about tonight.' I love the title of the
piece which I’d forgotten -- all about my desperate need for coffee. And
today was one of those days.

It was actually a great day. Friends dropped by, and we had a social distance
visit on the front porch. That was wonderful -- it's so amazing to see people
we haven't seen since (maybe February?)! 

I did some work with my students and thought about what I want to do
with my big painting. I worked for while on a little painting -- and that
needs work.  Plus I prepared cradled birch boards for future paintings.
And I was tired all day

I'm grateful to my dog Sally who pushed me to do my 10,000 steps. Thank you
Sally. I read some articles and talked to good friends about subjects both serious
and lighthearted. Even though I think I had a really good sleep -- I was tired all
day, and needed that extra coffee. So here is a portrait from 2012 of me in
the same frame of mind. I don’t find it a very complementary portrait, but I do
 appreciate the sentiment.

Have a having enough coffee day. 

(If you are an anti-coffee person -- please know that any information you want
 to tell me will be kindly acknowledged and ignored. I am a dedicated coffee fan.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Thinking about Patrick

Patrick Betty and Carolee Crooks
his partner 

Today was Patrick Betty’s funeral at the New Haven funeral home. I
missed the viewing because I started teaching a new course yesterday.
And today the funeral was just for family so I watched it on my computer.
Patrick was such a wonderful man, and that came through everyone
who spoke about him.

It was heartbreaking to listen to his children, to Carolee’s daughter Solana,
and to everyone who spoke who missed him so much.  This is an especially
hard time for people coming through the loss of a loved one because
everything is so different. People can’t hug and comfort the grieving the
way that they normally would. But even though those are the facts of funerals
under COVID-19, Patrick’s funeral was filled with his energy, his love of life,
his determination to be positive, his powerful caring intelligence, and his
determination to discuss what was going on in the world. 

My husband Steven and I loved how direct Patrick was, and his funeral service
made it clear that everyone in his life appreciated that about him. I loved the
video of him singing. He was so talented. We will miss him so much. We wish
him peace person, but we know he won't rest.  Instead he will live on in everyone
who knew him, and inspire us all to live our best lives. Thank you for yours

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!