Friday, January 31, 2020

A tiny joyous discovery -- and art that inspires

Summer exuberance
Watercolour, acrylic ink, black marker
on watercolour paper
4 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
A friend and I met at the Art Gallery of Ontario yesterday --
our large, beautiful, public gallery.  We wandered through a
few shows, marvelling at works we've long admired, and
some we'd never seen.  Things had been moved around since
I visited last, and some of the galleries painted in fresh
new colours.  It made me realize how important background
colour is to how the art impacts me.

But I meant to tell you about something else.  I found a little drawing
today on watercolour paper, that is supposed to be turned into
postcards.  You'd have to be a million times faster at painting than
me to be able to whip off postcard paintings when you were
on holiday, and casually send them to all your friends.  Still
I was captured by the size today when I'm working on a
huge drawing, and had some fun using watercolours and
acrylic ink, to make it more dramatic.

Have a loving what you do day.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

A beauty from last year -- summer celebration

Sky high summer joy
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
I finished this painting last January (2019) when we had  the rare treat
of a "snow day" and my Monday night class was cancelled.  This doesn't 
happen often in Toronto.  Right now we've as close to no snow as possible 
in January, and the month is over tomorrow.  I love this painting for how well it 
expresses my total happiness driving by summer fields on our way to
Nova Scotia in the Maritimes.  

And of course clouds have been my passion for years.  This month I've
been working almost full time on an ink drawing on canvas -- a portrait of 
my best supporter.  I will definitely be able to show you soon, because it 
goes into the Figure Drawing show opening at the Heliconian
Club at 35 Hazelton Avenue on Saturday, February 8 between 1 and 4. 
 I will be there, and would love it if you came out to see this drawing on canvas. 

I've learned a lot working on this.  More on that later.  Meanwhile if you
could use some summer fields plus clouds in your life, contact me.

Have a loving what you see day

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Small works on a brilliantly sunny day

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic ink, acrylic, and ballpoint pen
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020 
Last year I joined the oldest women's art club in Canada
 -- the Heliconian Club -- a wonderful decision.  I've met such
super people, and been in some amazing shows.  I have been
lucky to be able to show my large works in the club's
beautiful space on Hazelton Ave.  I love working large,
and wish I had a studio space (in my home) that would let me go
even bigger.

I also enjoy working smaller.  This little painting was
inspired by a photo of the overwhelming abundance of
flowers in my house at the end of summer.  In fact my kitchen
looks that way now with miraculous white double lilies,
a late blooming amaryllis, gorgeous red tulips, and a cabbage
rose in full bloom.

But in summer, it's all local, from my garden and a wonderful
gardener who sells at the Brickworks market.

Whatever size I'm working in, I'm aware that the creative life
is a gift.

Have a loving what you do day. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

On the easel -- what I'm working on.

Untitled (work in progress)
Literally photographed on the easel
Acrylic pen and paint on canvas
3 x 6 feet
Barbara Muir © 2020
Happy Tuesday.  It was a day of a thousand mess ups,
until I went for a walk with a dear friend who told
me the trick of deciding to end the conversation about
all that was going wrong right then.  When she said that I
looked at the little park we were walking through and as always
trees and even gloomy clouds are comforting.  I went home
to my studio and tackled the part of this piece that's been
driving me mad -- the face.

Before I did I went to the art store and saw the lovely Anna,
who calls me Anna for fun. She helped me get some great supplies
 -- acrylic pens and brush cleaner. Plus she is funny, and that
was something I needed so badly on this complicated day.
I'm drawing this portrait on a 3 ft. x 4 ft. canvas with acrylic
pens. It's the whole figure, and seems to be a long, slow process,
but I'm feeling confident now that it will be ready in time for a
show coming up!  More on that later.  And I think Anna, and
my friend, and the subject of this portrait turned the day around.
It's been a wonderful night, and I'm excited again about my work.

Thank you as always for being out there. I'm trying this because
I said I would.  And I am learning so much!

Have a loving what you do day. 

Monday, January 27, 2020

How process changes -- finding a reference album

Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 2007
(The painting is much lighter
than this.  I photographed a 
photo to get a clearer image
than I had on record in my blog.)

I've talked before about how wonderful it was painting
Sean for a set of three portrait commissions of his two sisters,
Madeline and Elizabeth and him.  The other day going through
shelves of stacks of sketchbooks, and pads of watercolour
paintings, I discovered an album of photos for portraits
and the portraits that resulted from a combination of
sittings and photos.  It was fascinating. All of this information
packed in an 8 x 10 inch photo album.

Today if I take photo reference, I work from large prints
made by a wonderful local printer.  I am working on a large
scale portrait drawing (3 x 4 ft.) right now -- not finished
enough to show you yet.  And the printer made me a bunch of
large scale images to use, that put together would make
one big photo.  I can refer to them as needed, and work from
a smaller image of the whole figure.

The studio in 2007 and Sean the model.
He borrowed the white shirt in each
session from my son.  
Sean was a treat to paint, as were his sisters.
So finding these small photo references made me
realize how quickly technology happens.  I painted
Sean in 2007, the last of three portraits that had
to work individually and together.  Together it
looked like the three children were sitting on a
couch.  The idea was that when they grew
up they could own their individual portraits.  That was
13 years ago, so I think Sean would be 28 now, and I
hope he is having a wonderful life.

Have a loving your life day.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

A very happy day in our family!

In the City
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2016
I'm showing you this painting today because I first shared it with
you four years ago around the time of a major event in our lives.
The painting was going in a show on January 29th, and I was close to
finishing it.  In fact it was done.

My dear friend through Skype, and blogging and the Internet, Howard
Wolinsky, a wonderful writer, and photographer regularly takes
gorgeous photos of one of his favourite parks near his home in
Chicago.  One beautiful shot was the inspiration for this
painting -- which I think was a huge turning point in my attraction
to cloud paintings.  This one took it over the top, because the
inspiration was so fabulous.

The reason this day is special to us as a family, is that this is the day
that Alice Isabel Vincett Muir was born. Our first grandchild.  And today
was her fourth birthday.  It was love at first sight for Steven and me, and
that love has grown exponentially in four years.  She is a wonderful,
darling child, and has filled our lives with joy.

Alice at her birthday party,
with Daddy and Mommy
and baby Madeline in
Mommy's arms.
Happy Birthday Alice!
Last summer another magical day happened, when her sister, Madeline
was born.  And now we are doubly blessed.  After Alice was
born I wrote about how life just gets better and better.  And I do
believe that is true for me.  We have hard times, and deep sorrow,
and illness like everyone else, but we have been so fortunate to
meet and know, and befriend such kind and supportive, talented
and funny people.  Today we celebrate one of them.  And in fact
there are two more.

Have a loving your family day.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

The power of art friends -- Franco the Creator Mbilizi

The quiet violence in light
oil on canvas
18 x 24 inches
Franco the Creator © 2018

Don't ever underestimate the power of art friends for an
artist.  Your art friends (and all of your friends of course)
keep you going, hold you up, push your mind, hear
what you're saying, see what you're doing and get you.
Amazing!  The feeling of bliss when you talk to
someone joyous, funny, an excellent artist, and
deep in the "process of being an artist" can't be

That was my conversation with the wonderful artist
Franco the Creator (Franco Mbilizi) tonight. Franco
loves my work, and sees things in it that I don't
see myself, and might not even have thought of.

Franco's current work deals with, "curiosity around what
it means to live a truly fulfilling intention-lead life, that
exists beyond current socio-political confines of religion,
colour, race, class and sexual orientation to birth a new
self that reaches inward for strength and reconcillialtion."

Franco became friends with me and Steven in New York
City when Franco came to see an art show I was in.  At
the time I was exhibiting a large food still life, and Franco
was intrigued.

We saw one another again at another show in NYC,
and I have been a fan of Franco's work since I saw
the first image.  Born in Malawi Africa, Franco
now lives in Chicago, and paints scenes like no
other artists. It feels like they are about the way
life is going on the planet.  They are both
cataclysmic, and divinely inspiring at the same
time.  I always think -- "yes -- exactly!" when I
look at Franco's work.
oil on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Franco the Creator © 2020
Aside from being a genius artist, with a massive
volume of work, acclaimed in many magazines,
and avidly collected,  Franco is brilliant and funny
and a complete delight to talk to.  So that makes
him the ideal topic for tonight.

Have a loving your life day.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Great artist friend -- Nancy Boynton Hartley

Sky painting
oil on canvas
Nancy B. Hartley © 2019
Today I had the great good fortune to get to talk to my
friend in California, Nancy Boynton Hartley.  I have
loved Nancy's work since I first saw it.  Her use of
colour is spectacular.  I always feel both happy and
motivated when I see her work.

She can express a landscape in beautiful, abstract
form.  I am totally dazzled.  And a couple of years
ago our friendship moved beyond blogs, Facebook
and now Instagram comments, into phone
conversations, which are always too short, and
always wonderful.

Today we talked about Nancy's super new studio,
and all the light she has.  She marvelled that I can
do large work in a tiny space.  And true our house
is a small Toronto semi, but I feel so lucky to
have a studio right next to my kitchen, so coffee
is always on offer.
Nancy in her studio in California

Thank you for all of the inspiration Nancy.  Maybe
this is the year we get to meet in person.  Watch
out people in the vicinity, there could be some
pretty impressive happy laughter.

Have a talking to friends you love day.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Kristal Hart's interviews for the show on now in New York City

A still from the video below.  Kristal Hart interviewed me
at the Amsterdam Whitney December 2019/January 2020 exhibition.  
Left to right: Kristal Hart, Ruthie Tucker, Me and Steven my husband.  
Click the link below to watch.

Hi everyone,

I will have more news from New York in the coming days because
I've been invited to show in another exhibition there for the
month of February, but the details are still being arranged.
Please hit the link above to see Steven and me at the opening
of the show that is on in New York right now at the Amsterdam
Whitney Gallery until February 1.  And if you're in New York City,
please go and check it out. I am the first interview on this video.

My December was so busy with work, social life, family life
and celebrations that I missed this wonderful video interview
with Kristal Hart at my opening at the Amsterdam Whitney
Gallery.  Steven and I watched today with great delight.  It
was nice to see everybody -- Kristal the TV host, Ruthie Tucker,
the gallery owner and director who always goes all out for
exhibition openings -- something her artists love and look
forward to seeing, and all the artists in the exhibition.
Ruthie Tucker praised my work so highly I felt beyond
lucky to be there.


Have a loving what you do day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Happy News -- sold in New York

See what I mean?
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
Exciting news today — my painting See what I mean?
sold in New York City! Yes. Now do you see what I mean?
(Kidding.) We artists tend to be jubilant when our work
sells, and that’s the case with me today. I’m proud of that
painting. It tells the story of a beautiful fall day in a gorgeous park
on Lake Ontario.  The woman is telling the young man
that this is why she brought him here -- to see this incredibly
gorgeous scene.

It's always a treat when someone sees what you mean
with what you're creating.  Apologies for repeating
myself.  To celebrate this plus our month-a-versary Steven
and I had a tiny bit of champagne and toasted ourselves
tonight.  It was a very good day.  Thank you for your support
and inspiration.

Have a doing what you love day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Great model at my art group

Captain Giacomo
(art group sketch)
Acrylic on canvas
11 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
I haven't been to Tuesday night portrait sessions with
my art group for months.  And I missed it so much.
So tonight I was determined, collected all my materials,
grabbed a canvas and went.

The model, Giacamo, was wonderful, and liked what I
was doing.  He said that his thoughtful expression is
exactly the way he'd look if he were near the ocean,
because he loves the sea.

From the minute he sat down to pose, I decided to call
it Captain.  The blue background was already there,
with the ground.  So fun.  Thanks to the DVAC art
group.  Thanks to Sharon By The Way (not her real 
name), who played the best music I've ever listened to there. 
And thanks to my husband for picking me up after an hour.  
We got 'er done.

Have a doing what you love day.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Surprises past and present -- such a delight

Kitchen study
acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

I'd forgotten that I ever did this sketch, and I love it.  That is
one of the many sweet things about blogging.  Your memories
are there, and vivid.  I know this sketch was a preparation for
a portrait I did of a young neighbour who was funny, intelligent,
a superb helper to me, sometimes styling my house (my
studio) as best she could before the TV cameras came in, which
for awhile around the time when I painted this, felt like often.

Tonight I taught my once a week evening class, and one of my
students asked me what I write about if I don't have any ideas.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote on Instagram about her time alone over
the past two weeks, and said she's never alone because there is
always so much going on in her head.  I feel the same way --
not that I'm at all in Gilbert's league, but if I was thinking more 
clearly I would have told my student that ideas are not the problem.  

In the blog post where I found this piece I wrote about the rules
about art and how they irritate me.  Local art university students
here are frequently told that they're not real artists, and 11 years ago, I
said that anyone who draws, paints, sculpts, take photos, and
whatever other art form you want to mention, is an artist.  When
a child picks up a paintbrush and paints for the first time, that
child is an artist.  Snobbery around art makes me annoyed.

Georgia and Me at one
of her shows last year.
The painting is Happiness
and it is mine!  I love Georgia's
work in every capacity.
It's late, I'm tired, it was an exciting and excellent class.  The fabulous 
Georgia Fullerton, associated with Durham College, The Robert McLaughlin
Gallery and an amazing artist, and therapist, dropped in to see
how I teach.  She approved.  Woo Hoo!  A very happy night.

Have a loving what you do day.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Great art friendships -- Flora Doehler

Floral Awakening 
Acrylic on Canvas 
40″ x 30″ 
Flora Doehler ©  2018 
(No one paints flowers
like Flora.  Her flowers
leap off the canvas and feel
like you are right there with them.
The joy and passion she feels
for the natural world is such
a pleasure to see, and her use
of colour is so inspiring to me.) 
Not long after I joined the Don Valley Art Club I
was in a group show with an exciting artist, who
experimented in every way possible it seemed to
me -- her name is Flora Doehler.  The wonderful
thing was that she felt the same way about my work,
and so a friendship happened, as it so often does
in connection with art.

Visiting Flora's house it was clear that she, like me,
loved colour.  The house was brilliantly painted in
gorgeous colours.  And her work was everywhere
and wonderful.  One summer when we were staying
at our school house in Nova Scotia, Flora and her
husband Larry came out to go to a wedding in
Cape Breton, and soon after that most enjoyable
visit, Flora and Larry moved to Bear River to be full
time artists in Nova Scotia. Like us they had fallen
in love with the province, but they decided they had
to live there full time.

In recent years Flora has grown an amazing garden on
her property in Bear River, and is entranced with the
flowers she and Larry nurture.  Plus Flora and Larry
became active in the local art scene, and she sells
her work both in local galleries and directly from her
own studio.

Deep Purple
Acrylic on Canvas 
8 x 8 inches 
 Flora Doehler © 2018  
I was so sad to see Flora and Larry leave Toronto.  We had been
in DVAC shows together, and in smaller group shows in a
public library, and showing with Flora was a treat.
Plus Flora is a force for change, welcoming each new
technology on Social Media as it comes along, and helping
me get on board.

Although my son helped me start my blog, Flora
was urging me to go public a full year before I did, and
ultimately helped as I developed it.  She is fantastic.
And so is Larry, Flora's husband, who is an incredible
artist in jewelry himself.

Have a welcoming your art friends day.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Powerful influences in my art -- Gill Cameron

Through the passage
Gill Cameron ©
When I look through my art resume, I see seven shows with
the wonderful watercolour artist Gill Cameron, but I think the
real number is more like 10 including group shows.

I love Gill's gorgeous landscape paintings.  Her main passion is
for the land near her cottage in Ontario, Canada, and she
has also painted exquisite paintings on her travels in Europe,
Australia, and Africa.  

When we started exhibiting together, I was mainly a portrait
 and still life painter.  I still paint whatever subjects attract
me but lean heavily towards landscape in recent years.

Our work displayed well together because we both enjoy
lively colour and happy themes.  I think the combination of
cherishing Gill's love for the land, wherever she travels,
and my family's deep connection to our life in Nova Scotia
for the past 20 years,  made me want to paint landscapes
We artists have a profound effect on one another. Despite our
very different mediums, and locales, our work shares the love
of nature, water and clouds.

Gill Cameron and me
at one of our two women 
shows at the Barns in Toronto.
The gorgeous watercolours
are Gill's and the
painting in the center
is by me.
I met Gill through our children's local school.  Believe me the
public school our children went to, especially the Alternative
school within Humewood School, (Cherrywood), had a major
impact on the lives of all of the families whose children
attended.  Those relationships continue now that the children
have grown up, are in university, graduate school, or working,
and or married and having children.

I'm extremely grateful to Gill for our two women shows, her
sense of humour, her incredible organization skills, devotion
to her work, and the many people I met through our exhibitions.

Have a thanking your friends day.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Great influences in my art life -- #1 Jennifer Hinrichs

Around the table
Charcoal on paper
Jennifer Hinrichs ©
I had my first art show ever with my friend Jennifer Hinrichs,
a fantastic artist in every painting and drawing medium.
I don't think I'd be an artist today if I hadn't met Jennifer.
Studying at OCAD was fabulous for training, but I needed
more than it had to offer.  After finishing an English
degree, while working at an art magazine, I met Jennifer.
She is not only a fabulous artist, but was an incredible art
director too.

At the time, meeting people at all levels in Canadian art,
I was alienated by what looked like an impossible
profession that created stars for reasons I often couldn't
understand, and left the majority of artists struggling
to make a living.

Jennifer changed my mind, and helped me see how wonderful
an artist's life could be in so many ways. Because of her I joined
the Don Valley Art Club, started meeting other artists,
participated in regular drawing classes, and was in
wonderful group shows.

She is always an awe inspiring artist -- who makes me
feel so excited every time I see her work.  And I want to
thank her.  It has been a pretty joyous ride out here in the
land of art.  People like you -- Jennifer --make it possible to
enjoy the life, learn, grow and continue to have fun.

Have a loving your art friends day.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The hospital -- drawing while waiting

Here are some sketches I made in the
waiting room.  I decided to upload them
like this, but if you know of a good app
for uploading multiple photos 
please let me know. The woman
in these sketches was the kind of 
person patients anticipating surgery
need.  She was warm and connecting
and talked about great recipes and
TV series.  Super relaxing.

A dear family member was having surgery today, so
I was sitting in the waiting room, with other people
going through the same thing. The hospital is very
up-to-date, and comfortable, the staff kind and caring,
and the space quite welcoming.

But still sitting with nothing to do for long periods
can be too much.  So I drew, and here are the few
small sketches I did today.

Wishing you a keep-on-drawing day.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A portrait of Steven

At the dance in the yellow chair
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2008
(My Dance series about people
in the midst of, or anticipating
a happy life featured many 
women, and not enough men. 
As usual, Steven my husband
stepped into the frey and posed. 
What I captured I think is how reluctant 
he is to sit around doing nothing.  He
is always on the move.  I did not
at all adequately capture his 
beauty, or joyous wit.)
I'm going to do a new portrait of Steven my husband.  Today
I began drawing on the canvas in acrylic, from the reference
I'm using, and everything was going well until I stepped back.

You know that rule.  Step back frequently to see what you're
up to, and I was drawing him too small for the canvas.  So
I gessoed over the place where I'd been drawing, then had to
let the gesso dry, which took a couple of hours.  And tonight
I hope to get at it again.

Meanwhile.  Unless I am very happy with what I've done,
I'll talk to you about other works.  I love the portrait of
Steven I'm showing you tonight, painted in 2008.
At our New Year's Eve party this year, a friend stood
in front of the painting in awe -- impressed by it.
I vowed one day to do a large portrait of Steven,
that shows his happy, and contented side, which is of
course my normal view of him.

Setbacks happen in art, and they are in some ways the
font of creativity.  As artists we have to be able to rally,
no matter what.  This painting will be accomplished one
way or another.  Please be patient.  (I say that like you're
waiting, when I know your own creative life is filling
your day with challenges, and you are happily busy
doing your own thing.)

Have a doing your own thing day.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Prepping -- dreaming big

A tense moment in the gesso
process.  And yes those edges will have
to be touched up again.  And how
do you get gesso out of black 
clothing.  Stay tuned for more
mind blowing drama.
An artist's life is not all romance. Romance definitely helps.
I'm glad I have kind and wonderfully helpful husband,
but so much is organizing, getting advice, shopping for
supplies, getting more advice, and of course prepping.

That was today -- and tonight I thought, 'what can I show
on my blog when I've spent the past half day getting
ready to get ready?'  I tried a new method of gessoing,
which took a long time, and I may not be done.

I hope so, because I fervently hope that tomorrow
I have something more exciting to show you.  But this
is exciting to me.  Just this one big canvas waiting for my
 work.  Meanwhile time to put my leg up again.

Have a prepping for something wonderful day.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Teaching is learning

Women talking
red marker on watercolour paper
5.5 x 8.5
Barbara Muir © 2020
(A very rough sketch -- the hands tell all.)
I teach writing one night a week, and it's a real
pleasure. I learn so much from my students and
I hope they learn as much from me.  Tonight
was the first night of a new semester, and the
class is great.

I’m starting a really big portrait. After a lot of
thought and questions to the show curator, I’m
 happy to say that I’ve decided on a subject.
Meanwhile here is a fast sketch I did of two
artists talking during an art opening at the
Heliconian club in Toronto.

If I feel confident as the new work progresses
I’ll post process shots. If not —I'll share pieces on
fellow artists whose work Iove. I do have a deadline
so you will see the finished product in early

Have a planning new projects day.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Ruthis Pak Regis -- Beautiful work at Yorkminster Park Gallery

Acrylic on canvas
Ruthia Pak Regis © 2020

Sunday is our day for hanging out doing nothing. But today
was special! Why? Ruthia Pak Regis is having a solo show
that opened today at Yorkminster Park Gallery, and runs until February
13.  The show is called Round and round we go until we
see a little more. Her work is spectacular.  She focuses on intense
abstracted close ups of the natural world -- what you might see
looking down in a forest.

All but one of her paintings, a large energetic view
of nature at the end of the gallery, are on oval canvasses.
I was told by a friend when I entered the lovely space
that she wanted us to feel like we were looking in a mirror,
looking at each piece.  We need to be one with nature, and
these paintings make that clear -- highlighting the
exquisite beauty we might miss if we don't look closely.

Give yourself a treat if you're in the Yonge
and St. Clair area in Toronto, and go and see her
magnificent work

Have an enjoying artists' work day.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The pleasure of your company

 This was the painting I used for the 
Happy Art Award.
Back when I created this award people were 
giving each other awards on blogs,
so I created my own. I now follow 294
people on Instagram, mostly artists,
so it would be quite a task to name each of
them and describe their work.  Let's make
it more general, and just as important.
All of you get the Happy Art Award because
you make me happy, and here's the link to
the original blog about it.
Breakfast at the Skylight Diner, NYC
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

I'm trying to write my blogs earlier in the day because
I seem to be getting to bed almost when the sun (if we
have any) comes up, and one of the reasons is that
I've been writing my blog at the end of the "day", when
I also have a few domestic chores to finish before
I can go to bed.  So -- it is a grey day here, with
freezing rain projected and I am hoping to work on
some art projects all day.

People who aren't from Canada want to know how we
feel about Meghan and Harry moving to Canada.  I
think -- come on over! I hear they're planning to settle
in Vancouver, and I imagine what appeals to them is
the fact that Canadians will probably leave them alone
to live their lives. I hope that's true.

I want to thank you again.  I can't thank you enough
for reading my blog, and commenting over the years.
It is wonderful to live in a small house in Toronto,
Canada with a sweet husband, a crazy dog, and
two cats, and to connect and have friendships with
people all over the world.  To me that is magic.  The
Happy Art Award was something I thought of five
years ago to honour that magic and clearly the magic
has grown!

Have a loving the magic day. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Moving along -- the joy of working slowly

Black marker on bond paper
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
(I may go farther with this but I think she's done --
I drew this from a 4 x 4 inch photo,
which is not ideal.  Apologies to
Chloé.  You were much more
I start teaching on part time on Monday nights on January 13,
the day I've read when most people abandon their
New Year's resolutions.  That made me laugh although
I'm sure it shouldn't.  Maybe instead of resolutions we should
just allow ourselves to enjoy the present moment.  That
sounds a bit formulaic too sometimes, but I like the idea.

I have really enjoyed working on this drawing, which is
a kind of test for a larger project.  I love the idea of
doing very large detailed marker drawings, but so
far I'm not entirely sure how to manage that concept.  I
can get very large paper, but have no desire to frame
large work.  I moved out of watercolour into acrylic
years ago, because the cost of framing was outrageous,
and I didn't have the time or energy to figure out how
to do my own framing.

Did you, or do you have New Year's Resolutions, and
how do they empower you?  I'd love to know.

Have an enjoying what you do day.

Exploring ideas, and how love lasts in art

Chloé (work in progress)
Black marker on bond paper
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
I am thinking of doing a very big ink drawing and
went to my favourite art store today to consult
with some artists about how to do it.  This is
not settled.  I got a bit overwhelmed with too
much equipment, and I have to keep going back
to putting my leg up, so I just bought the first
stage in equipment, pens.

I got permission from the latest doctor to get
back to work in the studio with frequent
breaks so I worked on a larger drawing, something
like the Inktober drawings today.  Same idea, only bigger.
I had a lot of fun working large from a small
photo of my niece Chloé that stares at me in
the studio every time I'm in there.  We lost
Chloé just over two years ago, and every time
I see this photo I think of her and miss her.

The strange thing about doing a portrait of
someone you love, is that they come alive
in it, even when it isn't exactly right.  This
is a work in progress, but it made me feel like
that beautiful girl was in the room with me, and
 that made me happy.

Have a doing what you love day.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

More than 500,000 hits! -- Yay!

The main colours I used in 2019 on Instagram
according to Year of Colour.
I learned about this via Nicki Ault,
who learned about it from Kim Rempel,
so I tried it out, and this is the
result.  Almost like a painting all by itself! 
Cool.  I like the look of this, although
some of the colours surprise me.
How fun! 
The strange thing is that for all of 2019 I was hoping to get
500,000 hits.  I was obsessed.  I don't even know why.
And then I stopped caring about those numbers at all, and
yesterday I looked and it's happened!  What's amazing
about this is that I've been blogging since 2008, and up
until December 6, 2018 I had 400,000 hits.  So in one
year I got 100,000 hits -- a stunning increase.

Thank you everyone who reads my blog, who supports
artists, who buys work, who curates shows, and manages
galleries.  I am so appreciative of all that you do.

I love being an artist, and writing the blog.  And I love
hearing from you, sharing information with you, and
being part of an online community of artists, here,
on Instagram, and Facebook.  What you share and
show makes my world more spectacular every day.
Thank you.

Have a loving what you do day.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

What can artists do? How do we help the children?

Big brother, little sister
acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(Painting this I loved the
expression on the little girl's
face, and all the small
details that are so characteristic
of what young boys like --
Super Mario T-shirts, camp
necklaces, big, clunky black
watches -- it made me miss
my sons as small boys.)
I watched a some clips of people coming out of
Oprah's 2020 Vision tour, and they talked about
purpose.  I think that my purpose is to create hope,
spread love, joy and when I'm in person with
friends, family, colleagues and students, to
help us all get to laughter.

My purpose is to help us get happy.  But sometimes
this is really hard.  It's hard to see the light with
Australia burning and the threat of a full scale
war in the middle east.  But we have to keep working
on it.  We have to vote for people who care more
about climate change than money for oil, who care
about saving the planet.  And we have to end all war

I mean as an 18 year old I marched for peace.  Let's
get some.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Compliment one another - Praise, praise, praise

Wonder Water Image #6                                   Wonder Water Image #2
Acrylic on canvas                                                 Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches                                                        30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015                                            Barbara Muir © 2014
 SOLD ♥                                                                SOLD 
One of my super best artist friends, and a wonderful artist
Flora Doehler, sent me the sweetest link. She featured a
painting I posted as one of the best figure paintings of 2020.
Hit the link to see her favourites.

The year hasn't had a very long run, just 6 days, but that was
a very kind thing to do, and it made me feel wonderful! It is
not a new painting.  But the thought of painting a big canvas --
the subject of the painting, has been inspiring me for the
past few days.

I spent the day in the hospital again today, so although there's
nothing but good news (my leg is healing), I have not got anything
developed enough to show you.  Instead I'm going to put up two of
my favourite paintings of 2019.  They weren't created in 2019, but sold
in 2019, and I love both the paintings, the subjects and the collector.
 Please check out the link to Flora's top 17! Blushing, and check out
her magnificent work if you don't already know it.

Have a praising your friends day.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Drawing in the big bore — how lucky I am,

Drawing -- a scientist
Graphite on drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

The drawing tonight is of one of
my favourite women in the
world.  She knew about climate change
years ago, and did everything she
could in her practices in her own life, and
through donations, to stop it.
Reading about Australia I feel lucky to have the minor problem
of staying in bed. My constant dream when I'm working,
painting, marking papers, is to get time to lie down and read.
Got that today, and will have it until next Saturday on
doctor's orders.  But it's not the same thing as the dream,
because in the rebellious reality of human nature, all I've
wanted to do after reading my great book for a couple of hours --
is to get up.

The book? Brick Lane by Monica Ali.  I got it from one of the
local free book libraries in the neighbourhood.  Little cupboards
on posts in the shape of houses on people's lawns.  And they're
full of books! This one is very good.

But still I had the urge to get up and move. Steven my husband
kept suggesting places we could drive to.  But I have to keep my
leg up, and I couldn't imagine a long car trip with my leg on the

The news about Australia, which I was reading, gets
worse and worse.  Terrifying.  Jimmy Fallon posted a list of
Fire services that need our money.  Apparently firefighters in
Australia are all volunteers, and the government has not
provided them with adequate supplies.  When a country
almost the size of Canada is ringed by fire, everyone on the
planet needs to get involved to any extent possible.

Have a saving the planet day.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Fair is fair -- did I speak too soon? No. And I still love 2020.

Self portrait -- quick sketch
Brown marker on 
Fabriano notebook paper
6.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

Not fair to do a quick sketch of other people, and 
not of myself! In my ongoing promise to myself to
draw every day, I am continuing. But here’s the thing.
(Favourite expression of one of my favourite bosses!)
I spent part of today in a hospital emergency ward because
of a bad pain in my leg. Essentially I have been ordered to
lie down with that leg up for a week!  A week!  Good news
is that should get rid of the problem.  Sound weird right?
Running, weights, something intensely physical?  Nope.
Lie down!  Argh...

So drawing  — however limited is going to be my best friend.
And I’m sorry because great painting ideas have been floating
 into my mind while I slept since before the holidays. "Slow down
 girl!" is the message. Let my leg heal. Alright!

I am allowed to walk, but can't stand, or sit without that leg high
in the air.  My walking friend was happy about the walking news.
Tried yoga with my hands on the floor, and the leg
high in the air.  But you can only do that for so long. LOL. I usually
stand or sit to paint.  So be content with awkward drawings please.

Happy weekend!


Friday, January 3, 2020

2019 -- a wonderful year

Quick sketch --A friend and her chicken
Acrylic, marker, and ballpoint pen on 
notepad paper
4 x 3 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
(I am working on a larger piece and determined
to try and draw each day.  I saw this photo
and had to try.  This woman is one of the
reasons I stayed happy in 2019.  She is brave,
an excellent artist, and so incredibly kind to
and fond of animals.)
It wasn't that hard things didn't happen in 2019.  It wasn't
that family members didn't get ill, or that I didn't.  I had
pneumonia for 2 1/2 months in 2019.  And I worried about
the planet as much as anyone else.  But it was a great year anyway.
How is that possible?  It's because of all the wonderful people
like you who are in my family, who are my friends, and who I teach.
Plus I was in six art shows, and that made me feel fantastic.

I am without a doubt blessed by having so many brilliant,
funny, creative, talented, generous, delightful people in
my life.  I don't know how that happened.  But I am so glad that it did.

So looking back from the standpoint of being in the third
day of the new year, in perfect health, with wonderful
possibilities out in front of me, I want to thank 2019,
and you for making my world a good one.  Now let's
work on solving climate change.  Let's stop racism,
sexism, ageism, hatred, and figure out a way to help
the countries going through fire, famine, and destruction.

Have a loving your life day.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

My top nine images on Instagram

Here are my top nine images on Instagram for 2019.
I just joined Instagram last year (2019)
and I enjoy it.  Some of these are sold.
But the big Cloud Magic top row,
the book of my FB posts, The flowers
in the blue vase, and the two pansy
paintings are available.
DM me if you are interested.

I kept seeing Instagram users show their top nine images, and
wondered how they did it.  Today I downloaded the App, and
this is what showed up. What fascinates me as an artist, is the
variety of work that attracted people.  As artists we are frequently
told to be consistent.  But this tells a different story, and it makes 
me really happy.

This story is -- do whatever you love to do, and people will like
their favourites. Isn't that comforting if you're one of the many
artists I know doing your superb, and varied work?  Happy New
Year, and thank you to my models, to the people who commission
my work, and the collectors who buy it.

Happiest of New Years to you all.

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!