Tuesday, March 31, 2020

In the midst of strange -- something lovely


After the Dance
acrylic on canvas
16" x 20"
Barbara Muir © 2008
SOLD 

Hi everyone,

More from the "dance" paintings file.  This one sold at a
show, and then I was asked if I could make a copy.
I explained that no painting would ever look like another.
And according to my blog, that painting happened.

Today we braved the grocery store to pick up enough food so
that we don't have to go out again for awhile.  Most, not all,
 people were observing social distancing, and entrance to the store
 was restricted.  If people came close to me I'm sure I hurried away,
or smiled, and tried to move unobtrusively.  Because we have to
really get that this is serious, and give one  another so much space.

I was almost finished shopping when a fellow started coming closer,
and I said "I'm sorry I'm social distancing."  It turned out
it was my student from another college, and maybe a decade
ago -- Ty.  (at least I think that's how it's spelled because I
didn't ask him.)  He told me that he had really appreciated me
as a teacher, and I think he said that I got him writing.  And there
was something else I did that he appreciated, but it was noisy
in the store at that point and I didn't hear it.  I told him to
look up my blog, and as we were leaving I saw him, and he
held up his phone opened to my blog.  So nice.

What a sweet thing to hear when I'm in the midst of
my one night a week course trying to teach via any method,
but in person (which for me is the whole point.) Thank you Ty.
You were a gift from the universe.  If I wanted to
question what I contribute to the world, there would
be an answer.  Sometimes my teaching makes a
difference.  Yay!  And I'm glad that sometimes my art
does too.

Have a taking it easy day.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The hypnosis anwer - Deeper and deeper into a deep hypnotic sleep


New Day
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(The painting I was finishing
when the Oprah Winfrey Show
producers called, and asked
me if I'd like to draw Oprah via Skype.
My answer? YES! I certainly would1)
I love that this painting is called New Day. I thought about this today
because we are on the edge of a new world.  Every doctor, and
expert is saying that this virus will change how we do everything.

And along with the delightful memories of what this painting
brought me, I thought about the best way I know of calming down.

I learned how to do hypnosis at my sister's request when my young
nephew used to have asthma attacks on the morning when he was
supposed to fly to see his father, who lived in another city.  Once
I knew what to do, my sister would cab me over to her house
just at my nephew's bed time the night before the flight, and I'd
help him go to sleep.

My sister gave me the book and video by the psychiatrist
who started the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis,
Milton Erickson.  I may have told this story before, but when
my husband and I first watched the video of Erickson
teaching hypnosis, like everyone else in the room where he
was teaching it on the video, we went under.  Erickson was
extremely gifted at hypnosis, but we can all do it, and its cousin,
Creative Visualization.

I did learn it, and have sometimes taught Creative Visualization.
So if you are super scared about the current news you can do this.
Close your eyes.  Imagine being at the top of a beautiful hill
in your ideal landscape, and tell yourself that you
are going deeper, and deeper into a deep, relaxing sleep.
Talk in the second person.  Call yourself you.  Count
from 1 to 10, and say you are moving down the hill in
this beautiful landscape, deeper, and deeper into complete
relaxation with each number.

At the bottom of the hill see a gorgeous huge jar with a lid.
Take all of your worries, and put them in the jar.  Close the
lid -- walk over to a blanket on the ground under a beautiful tree
and lie down.  Off in the distance you can hear the ocean waves.
And you can write the rest of the script for yourself.

When you are ready count backward from 10 to 1, and wish
yourself either a wonderful sleep, or a wonderful day.

As the children in my neighbourhood have written on
the sidewalk, "we will get through this."

Wishing you a deep, relaxing sleep, and that you wake up 
feeling happy and healthy and ready for a New Day.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

A series about being on the edge -- of a new life

Before the Dance in the White Dress
Part of the Dance series
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 
(Thank you to my sweet niece Chloé who posed for this one)

I have a painting on the easel and a canvas just primed,
but it will be a few days maybe before I have something
new to show you.  My Dance series including "Before the
dance", "After the dance" and "At the dance" paintings
was dedicated in part to my students, who I could see were
at the beginning (many of them) of the dance of adult
life.  And I wanted to wish them well.

Plus for a portrait artist, what could be more beautiful than
people dressed in party finery?  This painting of my niece
stays high on my list of work I produced in that series.
My niece was so beautiful, funny and intelligent.  She
had everything going for her, and yet it will be her birthday
on Tuesday, and she is no longer alive.  She died suddenly
in October of 2017.

Adult life as it turns out, is not that easy for some people --
it was not for her.  I find the painting and even the idea
of the series especially poignant tonight.  We -- the whole
world, are like young women and men on the edge of
life.  Our future, our very existence at the moment, is
a complete unknown.

We have got to take care of each other, help in whatever
way we can -- by staying healthy, by following whatever
few small pieces of advice we get from health authorities,
by recognizing how lucky we are for every day of our good
health.

Unlike the dance metaphor about good things to come (which
was my hope), the virus hitting the planet now predicts the
very opposite.  People talk about boredom.  But boredom
is a small price to pay to help not just ourselves, but
as many people as possible avoid this tragedy.

Have a taking care of yourself and the people you love day.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

To the farmers -- thank you!

From the market 
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
(available)
(The flowers were from
another wonderful vendor at the
Brickworks Farmer's Market
closed now because of the virus.)
You may not know that I am not a cook.  I used to cook
when my husband and I first met.  I made bread, and
cooked dinner, and looked up recipes, and really
enjoyed that activity.  I don't know when it stopped,
but it did.  My husband is now (and actually always
was) a far superior cook, and even though we alternate
nights to be in charge of dinner, as we have for our whole
married life, I frequently serve reheated leftovers from his
fabulous meal the night before.

Enter the farmers from the farmer's market.
In a former life our favourite farmers -- a husband and
wife team (now helped out by their son too) were chefs
in Europe.  They make a bunch of delicious baked goods,
and sell organic vegetables and eggs, and when the weather
is cool enough they make a delicious quiche.

I have counted on them for two meals a week out of
that quiche for years.  A few years ago I stopped eating
flour and sugar.  So when I serve the quiche I take the
crust off my piece and give it to my husband. This
makes both of us happy.  No I am not allergic to
gluten, I'm just someone who could easily eat 15 cookies
at a time!

Now with this virus upending normal life, the larger
farmer's market is closed.  Today in pouring rain, under
a tented table in a driveway, the farmers sold their pre-ordered
goods with strict social distancing, and naturally I bought
a quiche.  I felt so proud of them.  They were doing everything
right, and carrying on.  Like we all have to do.

I am grateful to them every week, but more so than ever now.

Have an acknowledging the brave people keeping us going day.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Simple pleasures -- and stay safe


Roses make me happy
watercolour, acrylic ink, and black marker
on Canson drawing paper
11 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

A short walk today in the beautiful light felt good.
Sitting on the back porch in the gorgeous day
felt good.

I worked on this drawing from a few years ago, and
started using watercolour and also acrylic ink.  It's
drawing paper, not watercolour paper, so it was not
perfect.  But hey!  It felt good to paint a little.

I may do more on it tomorrow.  I loved the big expansive
roses, but I'm working from my brain, so.  Models
are good, even for still life.

Thank you for being out there and doing art, and
inspiring all of us who are pretty much house
bound.

Have a loving your life day.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Sweet signs of kindness in my neighbourhood


A Magic Day in the Neighbourhood
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24
Barbara Muir © 2016
SOLD 
(The playground here is currently closed --
as are all playgrounds across the GTA --
but it will come back into use again, 
and we'll all be so happy.)
Hi Everyone,

I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to go for walks during
the past couple of weeks.  And today my husband took me out
to a park by the lake (which is still open -- even though most
parks are closed) for my walk (got to try and get a walk in
as often as possible.).

On my route around our own neighbourhood lately, with almost no one
out on the streets, I have run into such lovely things.

Someone put orange posters on the lampposts on streets near
me.  These had bright suggestions to make someone walking
by feel happy -- like, "Count the lampposts between here and
your home", or "Make up a dance and do it four times."

Then yesterday one house in the neighbourhood was giving
out coloured chalk for sidewalk messages.  The children up
my street have decorated the sidewalk with hearts and
messages like, "We're going to be okay!" and "We'll get
through this."

I am so touched by the videos people are sharing of art
exhibitions, concerts, dance parties online, with everyone
uploading videos of themselves dancing to the music while
their staying at home. We will get through this, and thank
you to everyone who is helping us make it through.  Stay
safe, and stay healthy.

Have a being creative and staying healthy day.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Q & D -- supposedly although everything is hyper clean


At home
acrylic ink on notebook paper
6 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
Hi everyone,

How are you doing? I hope you are doing well.  I seem to be
way busier than I was a couple of weeks ago before this hit.
How can that be true?  Well shifting my one evening a week
course over to online, telephone and video has been time
consuming, but I think we've got it.

So I hope you are remaining happy.  It was a beautiful day
today -- too beautiful I guess because everyone got out
in the streets for a little while, being careful, social distancing,
but there must have been way too many people in the parks in Toronto,
and for now they are closed.  Not fun.

I've been speaking to people all over the world in the past few days
and our stories are very similar.  So get a good book, grab a
cup of tea, and settle in.  Stay safe, and stay sane and happy.

Quick and dirty?  This little sketch for you tonight.  Not all
that quick, and not dirty at all.  Come on.  So many surfaces,
so much rubbing alcohol.  So much obsessive hand washing.
And all to the good.  I did this with an acrylic pen that I
revived by soaking it in water.  It works erratically, and
unpredictably -- so when I want a fine line, it goes heavy,
once in awhile it lets go with too much ink, and then suddenly
I can't get a line at all with it.  This seems perfect for right now.
All of life is either too much -- or shortage, going well,
or completely stopped.  Stay healthy please.

Have a happy day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Keeping cheerful is the most important job


Winter Lovers' Sunset
Acrylic on cradled birch panel
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
It's the monthaversary of our wedding day.  We celebrate
every month, and tonight had a sip of champagne on
the back porch sitting in incredibly beautiful, golden, late
afternoon sunlight.

Later I was reading my book, and ended up falling asleep.
I was talking to myself in a dream, saying, "Lighten up!"
So I did.  In my dream first I saw a candle in the dark, then
firecrackers shooting across the sky like they do here on the beach on
Victoria Day, then a sparkler. And I told myself that we might
not have firecrackers this year, or sparklers. Plus they are no
doubt bad for the environment.  But so fantastic.

When I woke up I went to the window. The most incredibly
beautiful sunset filled the western sky! Wow! It was like
the universe said, "see what I mean?"

Okay, we are in a grievous pandemic.  The other night I
found it oddly comforting to realize when I wanted to
grumble about not getting to go to the art store, or my
art group, or to teach, or to be in an art show -- that I had
to get real. This virus is like the bubonic
plague.  It's random, insidious, and horrific.

So every minute that we are well is a bonus -- a reason
to be happy, to celebrate, to say Yay!  Do you do that?
Do you check yourself, and say --"Hey!  Change your
point of view?"  I think I probably do it a million times
a day. Almost as often as I wash my hands.

Although we have no snow today, this painting is of a
similarly gorgeous sunset to the one we enjoyed tonight.

Have a being grateful for being healthy day.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Signs of spring

Pansies with heart
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir ©
Today I went for a walk, each day thinking soon we may not be
permitted this privilege.  It was raining and nobody was out
walking.  My friend I walk with and I walked on opposite
sides of the street. Much more than 6 feet apart.

I thought I would share some happy news with you tonight.
Everywhere spring flowers are courageously coming up. It
snowed today, but it melted quickly. I saw crocuses.  Our tiny
front garden is full of tulip leaves. So soon that pleasure will
here for us.

I found this little pansy painting from when I started my blog.
It seemed to say the right thing.

Share what's enjoyable.  We need it.

Have a loving life day.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Hot liquids, hand washing, clean clothes -- no cafés, staying happy!

Breakfast at the Skylight Diner, NYC
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(available!)

How could one painting sum up so much about where we are at now?  
This was meant to be about love, the love of breakfast with someone
you love.  In this case the place is a wonderful diner in New York
City.  But in Toronto all of our restaurants and cafés are closed 
because of the virus, and we cannot cross the border to the U.S.
and New York City.  And also in Toronto if I go for a walk with
my husband now, I have to walk 6 feet away from him.  

But what is possible is to drink coffee, and if not coffee as many
hot liquids as possible -- new advice arising from studies
on the virus.  Wash our hands every 20 minutes, wipe all surfaces,
especially metal, wear clean clothes, clean your hair when you
come inside (the virus lives on hair, and fabric).  Also we should
gargle with hot lemon (continuing the hot theme) and relatives
in British Columbia recommend garlic. Friends advise wiping down
all of your groceries when you bring them home.  And we will
have to show I.D. to go out and shop.

We should eat fruits, vegetables, and yes soup.  Hot.  Get the theme.

Another survey put online by a friend suggests that to maintain mental
health we need to communicate with people we enjoy every day.
I enjoy you.  Great movies?  TV  shows?  Things are ramping up
in Canada.  If you are both virus free, have a wonderful breakfast
with the one you love.  And if not.  Have a wonderful breakfast
on your own.  

Have a dealing with the facts day.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Playing with paint


Miss you -- palette paper sketch
Acrylic on Bond paper
10 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir 2020
I looked at this piece of palette paper today, and thought
perfect -- I can make a little sketch on that.  I wish I
could paint in a more loose and abstract way all the time,
but when a sketch idea hits me I go.

The image made me think of the ocean, and a piece I'm
planning.  The giant cat is a reference to my brother's
huge cat Tiggy.  And the title is how I feel about all
of the people who I wish I could see, but now we
are supposed to avoid each other like the .... virus.

So every bit of pleasure counts.  It mildly counters the
weight of the worry.  And at the moment that weight
grows day by day.  Stay safe, social distance, and
take whatever pleasure you can get in isolation.

Have a playing for sanity day.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Back to the land (scape)


Untitled Work in progress
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 40 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

Such a weird time.  With some strange and lovely side effects.
I looked out my back door today across the yards.  We had
a fast and furious rainstorm, and then just wind and alternate
sunny, cloudy skies.  I didn't have my glasses on, but at my
neighbour's backyard across the two yards I saw a shape at
the backdoor and waved.  And he waved back.  Just that simple
gesture was so heartening.  It said I see you, and I care.

We are social beings, and social isolation is not our thing.
But one answer that repeats itself is nature -- always
changing, always amazing and there all around us every
day.  My wonder at nature is what sent me in the direction
of landscape painting in the first place.

Today I am working on revising this one of a beloved scene
to try and get anywhere near how gorgeous it actually was (is).
And working on landscape is an escape from the worry
about every one of our human interactions. Land(scape).

Have a staying healthy, and feeling wonder day.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Thinking about visual feasts


Matisse at the MoMA
Watercolour on watercolour paper
with black marker
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
One of the many things I love best when I look back on the past
decade is exhibiting in New York City. It isn't even about
the thrill of being part of one of the most vibrant art
communities in the world.  It's about just being there.
New York is truly a thrill a minute.  And a constant
education.

New Yorkers like to talk, love their city, hate the traffic,
are kind, open, read and LOVE art.  For an artist this is
one idea of paradise.  Of course it's humbling.  Aside from
all of the beyond amazing contemporary work, all of the
greats are housed in Museums like the MoMA and the Met.
Now closed because of this terrible virus..  This is hard on
 the museums, the artists, and the cultural tourists who come
to New York to witness its magnificence in art, theatre, music
 -- and literature.

So as we in Toronto get shut down farther and farther,
into a quiet and strange existence I drink a toast (water)
to you NYC and everyone in the city who has given me
and my dear husband so much pleasure.

Have a dreaming of wonderful experiences day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Okay this is getting serious -- Stay Happy!


Visualizing good health for all
(work in progress)
Acrylic and imitation gold leaf
on raised birch panel
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
I worked on this little painting today.  I hope the
art store is open tomorrow because I'd like to get
some real gold leaf.  I was inspired this morning by the
idea of creating a small painting expressing the wish for
good health all over the world.  So this woman is wishing
peace and good health.  I don't know who she is.  I based her
on a photo of a friend, but instead she looks like my very tense,
but kind high school art teacher.  Thank you Miss H. I never
saw you in a gold coat, but I think it would have suited you.

I do believe in the universe, and in the power of love.  I went
on a short walk with a friend today -- we were 8 feet apart.
And there was almost no one out, but people across the street
would call out, share a laugh, and say, "stay healthy."  Such
kindness, and so important.

Stay healthy, and stay happy.  Our border between the
United States and Canada is closed as of today except
to commerce.  That is a big deal.  Canadians like to escape
to the U.S. for holidays, and vice versa.  Nope.

Have a being healthy and happy day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Stay home and stay safe and happy


Lucky Shamrocks
acrylic on birch,
5 x 5 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2012
SOLD 
Happy St. Patrick's Day.  A quiet one tonight with just Steven and me and
the cats and the dog.  Ontario has declared a state of emergency because
of the Corona virus, with no public gatherings.  So pubs are closed, the parade
is off.  But we drank a little bit of green champagne with our supper and
sang When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.  We listened to two versions, and by
the end of the second one I was crying.  Why?  Our little family has celebrated
this holiday because it was silly, and festive, and fun since the kids were 
little.  And every year we'd call my mother, who lived in Ottawa and make
her sing the song so we could hear something truly Irish.  On my father's side 
it was 100% Scottish.  But my Mother had French, Italian, Irish and English
roots.  

My mother has been dead for 6 years now, and I miss her every day.
My mother's Irish roots, actually came through the Huguenots, who
fled France for Ireland when Catholicism was imposed on the French.
My mother had Italian, French, Irish and English roots.  

I hope if you're celebrating you're staying safe.  It's good to think of
happy events in the midst of these strange times. 

Steven and I dancing with glow sticks at one of
our former kitchen St. Patrick's Day parties


Have a good day.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Three Ws --- Wisdom, Wash, Watch

Deepak visits Pugwash
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(read more about this here)
I love simple formulas in hard times.  If you are on
line with Deepak Chopra through Instagram or
Facebook, he is wonderful.  My painting tonight is
of Deepak.  I did it for myself to have a guru in the
studio -- someone wise and kind, and he exemplifies
wisdom, understanding and kindness.  Incredibly
important qualities -- and especially critical now.
So that's number 1 -- Wisdom.  Also years ago I
saw Deepak in person giving a talk, and he is everything
he seems and more in person.

Wash is what everyone is advising us to do. Wash your
hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.  It sounds
like such a simple request, but you need to think about
it and be conscious of how vital that is to keep
remembering.  And given the terrifying intensity of
the virus coming at us, it feels almost too simple.
But we will keep on doing that because we can.

Watch covers a number of ideas.  Watch the world go
by from your window, balcony or porch.  In Canada
when it's warm enough sit outside and watch the
birds.  I find their love of spring coming heartening.
Watch the distance between you and strangers if you
have to go out, and can.  Many of us are still working
and need to see others in our working day.

And for your joy factor -- watch some TV.  I beg the night
time comedians to come back -- even though they can't have
audiences.  We super need humour right now.   So watch
your favourite movies. Watch videos, get a series you love
on Netflix, or borrow videos from your friends.  In Toronto
libraries, art galleries, cafés, movie theatres -- so many forms
of pleasure and entertainment are closed.    We need to
share ideas on this to keep ourselves, healthy, sane and
inspired.

Have a great day.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

10 reasons to be happy -- it ain't all paint


Tulips for Tucson
Acrylic on watercolour paper
10.6 x 13.8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015
(sending love tonight to a friend and great artist
in Tucson who I miss talking to)

Whenever I feel almost overwhelmed by life's challenges.
I think it's time for Ten Reasons to be Happy.
This COVID 19 has everyone on an alert that matters.
It was a brisk, spring, lovely day out, and
exceptionally beautiful.  As winter recedes,
the spring season catches you every time.
I would love this one to last and last.

So here goes:

10 Reasons to be Happy:

1. My dog is sleeping at my feet as I write this, so happy
that I gave her a piece of my banana.

2.  The sun was transforming the trees into luminous
beautiful coloured wonders at the lake today -- gold then
rosy pink in the sunset.

3. I have two paintings on the go and can see the
possibility of finishing them.

4. The lights flickered for a minute and came back on
again.  Every time that happens, I realize how miraculous that
taken-for-granted resource is.

5. I have tidied the house somewhat.  (That sounds like nothing,
but it always makes me feel good when things look
organized, for the brief time that that continues.)

6. We bought enough flowers that it looks like a garden
in my kitchen as I write this.

7. I went for a walk with Steven and the dog today, and had
so much fun.

8. I talked to my sister in California yesterday.

9. I have a good book to read.

10. So far we are both well and that is wonderful.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Happy Pi Day -- A great reason to have pie

Stand Back for the Pie
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
© Barbara Muir 

It is Pi day, something we always celebrate because my husband
is in love with math, and also makes a mean pie.  We usually
have pie, but today Steven cut a cookie into pie pieces, and I
had a small one.  Last night we had massive ice cream cones
in celebration.

I'm lucky to be married to someone who enjoys science
and math -- just like my mother, the bacteriologist did.
I love science too, but am not always the best at math.

According to the Huffington Post Pi Day is named after the
Greek symbol π which is the ratio of the circumference of
a circle to its diameter. The first three digits in Pi are 3 (this is the 
third month) and 14 (the fourteenth day)= 3.14 or Pi.  What
 better day to eat pie if you get the urge. Or even a cookie 
pretending to be pie if you want to. And any way you slice it 
you will not be alone in your pie indulgence.


To bolster our happiness today we went to our favourite
flower store so I could stock up on some inspiration.  I got
roses, another white flower (I forget the name) and
was looking for double lilies, which last about two weeks.
They were all out.  But just as I was leaving my friend at
the store gave me four bunches because they weren't in
good condition, and she couldn't sell them.  After editing
them at home, I ended up with quite a nice bouquet.

And up on the wall in full view at the store was my "famous" pie
painting that I created to celebrate Pi Day.

If you don't get this on time to eat Pie on the right day, eat
it tomorrow.  Numerically it will be wrong, but who will know?

Have an eating pie day.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Flowers -- joy in a time of hardship


The Pansies series
Each painting is acrylic in and marker on paper
Each painting is 5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
I may add to or edit this blog.  But the reason I'm showing you these
beautiful flowers tonight, is because we need hope, and we need
beauty.  And if you have the chance to get out in nature beauty is
everywhere.  If you know someone who is shut in because of the 
Coronavirus perhaps you could leave some flowers on their doorstep
if you can't have contact.

I loved the video I shared today on Facebook of people in Italy
who are quarantined singing together from their apartment balconies. 
How moving. I tried imagining people on our street all standing on
their front porches singing, and it was a very happy thought.  We need
those.  Our Art Gallery of Ontario, and Royal Ontario Museum
are shut down, the universities and colleges are closed temporarily.
People coming home to Canada from holidays are requested to
self isolate.  

We need to support one another.  If you read this, I'd love to hear
some cheerful ideas for how to muster through this crisis.
One parent whose children will be home from school until
April suggested board games.  My husband and I went to our
favourite park again today just before sunset to feed the geese,
ducks and swans.  It was lovely and we found ourselves 
singing in the park all alone walking along paths with magnificent
gold light making every single wild thing look magical.

Have a working on being positive and staying healthy day.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Take the joy road

Pugwash Flower People
(To me these two exemplify joy)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
SOLD 
Today the entire world (or this part of the world in Toronto)
was tense.  There is a lot to be worried about.  And the late
night TV comedy that usually calms me down was delivered
in some cases without an audience -- a very hard gig.

I'm showing this portrait tonight, because I just read an
older blog of mine about Elizabeth Gilbert's book on
creativity -- Big Magic.  Gilbert recommended an attitude
of "stubborn gladness" for creative people.

This new bug is cutting out basketball, hockey, travel,
broadway, so many pleasures.  So if we are hale and hearty
and being careful -- we have to go on the joy road, and
choose gladness.  To that end Steven and I went out to our
favourite park by the very chilly lake to feed the geese,
ducks and swans.  We were met by a very chatty pair
of Canadian Geese clearly missing the visitors to the
park, who were overjoyed to be given some treats.

The time in the park, with the wind blowing huge breakers
up against the rocks, the clean blue of the lake, and the
endless chatter of all of the geese, ducks, Swans and      
seagulls revived us, and renewed our faith in the possibility
of life returning to normal.  Please stay safe, and wash your
hands!

Have a choosing to be happy day. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

More on the work in progress -- and I saw robins!

Detail -- work in progress
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 38 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
A nice crisp day today.  I went for a short walk with a
friend, which always feels a bit magical. And today amid
conversations about world problems, and then noticing
the gorgeous trees along the way -- I saw two robins
-- definite harbingers of spring and they were in a cluster
of white snowbells.

Plus I worked all day on the painting that these two
faces are part of.  It is still a work in progress for sure,
and I feel happy that I can see the end coming towards
me.  Oh boy. It's like getting to the end of a long novel.
Just 100 pages left.  Wow!  I better get a new book.
The same feeling except I'm creating the story.

Have a loving what you do day

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Patience is more than a virtue

Detail -- Work in progress
acrylic on canvas
4 x 6 feet
Barbara Muir © 2020

A short blog tonight.  This is a detail of a large canvas I'm working on.
Her face still looks unfinished I know.  But it is finally becoming
what I wanted, with a look of both peace and loving beauty.

You can expect more tomorrow I hope, if I just keep working like you
all do.  Thank you for your constant inspiration. Soon it will be finished,
her face in full flower, and I can move on to the two other large paintings 
I want to complete by the end of March. 

It was a beautiful, sunny, turbulent, windy and cloudy day today.
March in Toronto in action.  What do I mean by the title.  Sometimes
patience is the best strategy.  Especially in art.

Have a loving the process day.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Nature's beauty -- the antidote


Robin earns his stripes
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
(available)
Barbara Muir © 
Begun in 2009, finished in 2019
My husband saw his first robins today, and so did the school
crossing guard, around the corner from our house!  Which
means spring is coming.  I saw my first snowdrops in a neighbour's
garden.

The news is grim.  Everyone is conscious of the worry about
the Coronavirus.  Shelves at the grocery stores we normally
visit are getting cleaned out.  But outside the day was so
beautiful that I had my breakfast sitting on our back porch in
the sun!  On March 9! Of course that's too warm for early March,
but people out walking in the brilliant day were so happy.

So as well as washing our hands, not touching our
faces, doing our work, eating properly and getting enough
sleep, I think it's important to get out into nature and enjoy
what this beautiful planet has to offer.

Have a loving your day day.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

International Women's Day -- Thank you to all the women in my life



Me with the painting I entered in
the 100 Years of International Women's Day show
at the Ayr Gallery nine years ago. My painting is about
happiness -- an underlying theme
in all of my work.  
Ready for Joy
24 x 24 inches
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2011
Today is a big day for women around the world.  So many things
are changing for us all the time, but most of us will agree
that we have a long way to go to achieve equality.  For me
this day will always remind me of a wonderful 100 Years of 
International Women's Day show in Ayr Ontario where I
met some women artists and shared space with women artists who
were, and who became friends. These women along with women
friends and artists around the world have changed my life.



Georgia Fullerton with her painting        Left to right: Marcia LabelleTammy HextKim  
 at the Ayr Gallery show(upper image)                           RempelNicki Ault, and Me
Preservation                                                             International Women's Day 2011
24 x 24 inches
Georgia Fullerton © 2011

So I declare this an International Day of Gratitude for all
of the women in my communities here in Toronto, in
the blog world and in the wide artistic community, and
friendship community around the world.  You have constantly
inspired me, supported me and made me feel valued.
You make me happy.  Thank you.

Have a thanking the women in your life day.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

A great friend and an art hero


Portrait head of Lita, clay version
by Marcia Labelle © 2009
My dear friend Marcia, is definitely one of my heroes.
She has been my friend for all of the important parts of my
life -- was at my wedding, our children played together --
her daughter and my sons.  And she is one of the most
superb artists I know (and if you're reading this -- you
are probably another one of the incredibly great artists
I know. I am blessed with knowing so many inspiring
artists).
Marcia and her husband, David Cohen, visit 
 the show On The Bright Side at the
Wychwood Barns in 2010.
Marcia exemplifies everything a wonderful woman and
friend can be, warm and caring in her community, and of her
friends.  She is a loving wife, an incredibly kind mother,
and when her parents were alive she was their delightful
daughter.

Study -- Sunday afternoon, young woman with book
oil on paper, 9 x 12 inches
Marcia Labelle © 2016
I love her drawings -- alive with the talents
of the greats. And her sculptures are powerful, emotional
and evocative -- everything sculpture should be.

Every phone call with her (she doesn't live in Toronto)
makes me feel empowered, and understood.  She is
funny and we laugh at so many things.  Such a pleasure.

Thank you for being in my life Marcia.

Have a loving your friends day.

Friday, March 6, 2020

My women heroes -- #1 my sister

The Blue Sweater
acrylic on canvas
24" x 36"
Barbara Muir © 2005
Thinking about International Women's Day on Sunday, I'd
have to pick my sister Sally as my #1 woman hero.  The list of
what she's taught me in my life is too long to put here.
But in a strict, authoritarian family -- she was my champion --
always looking out for me.

She grew up to be an incredible therapist.  And aside from
the famous people who took advantage of her knowledge,
I benefited from the wisdom and excellent thinking of
her therapy partner.  I'm sure that most of my happy
days -- and I am lucky to have many, go back to what
I learned there.

Here's what I said about her in an earlier blog:
"My sister is an amazing and brave woman -- kind
and generous to a fault, funny beyond what you can
imagine, a wonderful mother, superb therapist, and 
super wife.  And she can really write."

Sally was always a big supporter of my art, and
she has bought quite a few pieces.

She's a feminist, and before our early conversations
on the subject I would not have known what that meant.
Being a feminist has meant, and does still mean the world
 to me.  It is high time that women truly become equal all
over the world.

Have a loving your heroes day.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Channel it -- starting a painting

Sketch study
Black marker on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
Like most women I can multi-task -- connections between
the right and left hemisphere and all.  But when it comes
to painting I move in a very linear pattern.  Concentrating
on one until it's done.

Today I worked away at the big portrait I'm doing.  Snippets
of it came together, and made me happy -- but there is
still so much to do.

So I decided to start a drawing for another big portrait
painting I'm doing, and here is a little sketch for part of
it.  It will be about sleep and dreaming, and I am
excited just looking at this sketch.  That got me back in the
creative and "I can do it!" vibe.

Woo Hoo!

Have a loving how you feel day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Working big -- more work on the small one


End of a perfect day (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
Today I've been working on my big portrait piece for
most of the day.  It is one of those slow, slow paintings.
It won't look that way when it's finished -- all loose and
easy, but it is.  Paint, look, leave the room, come back, change it.
Paint, leave the room, come back, change it -- you know the process.

To give myself a bit of a break I went back to this one,
which is definitely still a work in progress, but I like
the addition of the background clouds.

I hope you had a marvellous day.  It was a real March
day here.  When I was out for a few minutes, I saw a
man wearing shorts and a T-shirt walking his daschund.
The dog looked cold, but it was very warm and sunny.
Seconds later there was a cold wind, and the sky was
overcast.  And later today we had snow -- all gone
now.

Have a loving all the changes day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

10 Reasons to be happy


Jesca 
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
An exercise I used to do when I was teaching School Success,
or Positive Psych, was 10 Reasons to be happy.

I've done it before here.  And of course it's just my reasons.
But in class it was like a regular segment on a TV show. At
the beginning of each class 10 people would come to the front
of the room, and each one would tell us one reason to be happy.
The exercise had a dramatic impact on the students at the front
and on the entire class.  The mood lifted, even when students
were frantic at exam time.

So okay for me.

1. Going through my files I found this portrait of Jesca that I
was asked to do in 2012 for my friend Gill Cameron, to give
to Jesca for her birthday. Jesca  lived in an orphange in Tanzania.  Gill
met Jesca when she was working teaching art at the school the
girl attended and developed lasting friendships with her students.

2.  I may be going to have work in my third show in a row in
New York City this year.

3.  I had a great conversation today with Howard Wolinksy,
the wonderful writer, photographer and videographer
whose interview got me on Oprah 11 years ago.

4. I am working on one of my large paintings for the Liminal
exhibition at the Heliconian Club in April, and it's going well.

5. I had a good time in the morning meeting with the coffee
women in my neighbourhood.

6. I had a great session Sunday with the model for one of my other
paintings for the Liminal show (more to come).

7. My Monday night class did a fantastic job this week.

8. Today I walked with my friend and saw so many signs of spring.
One was that we were walking in warm rain! Yes there is still snow
on the ground -- but hey!

9. Steven made a delicious dinner,  even thought it was my turn.  Bonus!

10. I am delighted to be part of this blog world, and your friendships,
comments and beautiful work make me happy.

What are 10 things that make you happy today? I'd love to hear about
your ideas.

Have a being happy day. 

Monday, March 2, 2020

Happy Birthday -- David Cohen


Silver salad servers at work
Black marker and watercolour
on Fabriano watercolour paper
4 x 5 1/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
On March 1 as I was getting ready to go to bed, thinking
about teaching, and the three large paintings I'm working
on, and at least a dozen other topics I stopped mid-thought,
and said out loud -- "Tomorrow is David Cohen's
birthday -- March 2!"

That might not seem remarkable to you, but I don't remember
anybody's birthday.  Okay my own close family.  And maybe
that's how David ranks -- because I've been friends with his
beautiful, talented wife pretty much all my life.  I could
easily call her and David family.  David is a brilliant writer,
a passionate activist for every cause that matters, and a
wonderful, kind and loving person.

So Steven and I and our dog Sally (who David loves) sang
Happy Birthday to David over the phone, and we all enjoyed
it.

A few years ago I put this painting of a salad on the blog for
David. It seemed appropriately festive.  Steven makes a
magnificent salad on his night to make dinner
(we alternate nights, although he does more than his share).
I usually serve what remains of his salad on my nights, because
I hastily heat something up for dinner, and don't enjoy cooking.

Tonight was my teaching night, and although I did paint
today, the work is at a very early stage.  So enjoy the salad.

Have an enjoying your salad days day.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

March -- the month of exuberance and expectation


Detail -- The Stars that Shine
3 x 4 feet
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2020
Tonight I'm showing you a small detail of one of the paintings
I'm working on this month.  These are peaches on peach trees.
The painting is a large portrait of a mother and baby I started
about six years ago.  I don't know why I didn't finish it,
but suddenly I want to, and I know I can.  Ideas of what to
do keep flooding into my mind, and what seemed much too hard
now seems like no big deal.

Strange in art isn't it, how that can happen?  Sometimes a
word changes everything.  I came up with the title for the
peace -- The Stars that Shine, and I knew exactly what to do.
So you will see more.

I wish you a wonderful and healthy March. I may condense
this title to the Month of Change.  But you know what I mean.
And speaking of peaches, my wonderful husband put up
a bunch of jars of peaches last fall, and I am enjoying them
as often as possible.  Yum.

Have a loving your life day.

Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at: barbara.muir@sympatico.ca
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!