Thursday, April 30, 2020

Roses to all the frontline workers

Roses in a crystal jug
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012
Today I got my old iPad going, because I thought I might
be able to use the drawing program on that version. My
new iPad won't support my former drawing system.

So I opened the old one and found this drawing of
roses, which seems suitable for today.  I wish I could
give roses (or proper PPE) to every front line worker,
in hospitals and in every business keeping us going
in this hard, hard time.

More than 60,000 people have died in the United States
since this began.  If I have the numbers right there have
been 227,638 deaths worldwide.  In Toronto and in
Canada we are social distancing, staying home, and
staying safe, working from home, avoiding crowds
and trying to keep the numbers down.

Small businesses are suffering.  No one likes the
life we need to live to stay healthy and safe, but
we see that that's what's needed.

And we owe our health and the health of patients
with COVID-19 to the nurses and doctors
working hard to save lives.  So thank you front
line workers. Stay safe and stay healthy.

Have a staying safe and healthy day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Thinking about New Year's Eve

New Year on my kitchen counter
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches

Barbara Muir © 2013
It's been a very busy day today, and I'm still not finished
my long list.  Marking is part of the picture.  I'm trying to
get the one evening a week course I teach finished, so I
can start a new one next week.

I've been thinking a lot today about New Year's Eve
and New Year's Day 2020.  We had so much fun at
our annual party -- so much laughter, and music and
singing.  Wonderful food, lots of champagne, everyone
hugging.  Wow.  And we were all so hopeful.  Sometimes
now I can pull a memory out and savour it like
a visual, audio treat -- nothing like a Zoom call,
or video.  Real people who I love being around in
my life in real time.  Live from Toronto -- our life.

Here's what I wrote on New Year's Eve.  It still
holds true:

"For 2020 let's try to be happy! And if you can't be happy,
hugs, and the hope that you will be happy soon.  We have so many
big jobs ahead of us this year.  We need to try and
save the planet (job 1). I hope you have today to
relax and enjoy yourself, your family and friends.
Life is great, surprising and rewarding.  You make
my day every day with your posts, your art, your
thoughts, and your constant support and encouragement."

Have a loving the upside memories day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tired? Make that excited, happy, exhilirated

Clouds at play
iPad drawing
8 x 10
Barbara Muir © 2017
Okay.  I taught this stuff --  positive psych.  How you feel,
and perceive the world is heavily influenced by how you
talk to yourself.  What messages you say internally, over,
and over, either give you energy, or knock you flat on your
back, or leave you in limbo somewhere between the two.

Okay I pick feeling happy.  I pick feeling up, and excited
about the future.  Now there's a mental and emotional
challenge for this worldwide pandemic! On it. I was super
tired before I sat down to write to you.  My one evening
a week course, that ran all winter, ended yesterday.  And
there is a natural fatigue that sets in partially from the
recognition that that project is over, and partially from
a feeling of wanting a tiny break.

But there is so much to do!  A new term starts Monday.
So!  Let's opt for happy, empowered, blissful, hopeful,
joyful, even ecstatic.  Yes!  This drawing is an iPad
drawing I lost with 250 others when I upgraded my iPad.
(No wonder I am nervous about upgrades.)  I am not
a techie.  So I was so glad to find it survived through
my blog.  And it shows the classic kind of Nova Scotia
scene I love.

Have a picking the positive view day.

Monday, April 27, 2020

The best things about today

It's been a long day, and a busy one, so I am just putting
this nice band of paintings up and writing a list.

The Five best things about today:

1. Christopher (my son) and Megan (my daughter-in-law)
 came to visit with Alice and Madeline.  They sat far away
 from us in our yard in the brilliant sunlight and it was
 a beautiful visit.

2. It was the last day of my Monday night class and all
  of my students sent in their video presentations.  What
  a treat!  Bitter sweet because we had to finish the
  last half of the semester online, but wonderful to see.

3.  Our favourite restaurant opened again for take out and
we had delicious Thai food for dinner after my class finished
at 9:30.

4. The tulips in the kitchen look amazing.

5. We are well and it was a gorgeous day.

Have a loving the best things in your life day.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Dreaming of paradise

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
Do you remember paradise with all of its problems?
I used to think of paradise as Paris, New York City,
Florence, L.A.  Now I think of paradise as streets
without people wearing masks. What else?

* Being able to hug my children.  That would be
top of the list.  My children don't live with me, and
hugging them is not considered safe.

* Going to the grocery store and enjoying it.  Talking
to the staff, joking around -- having fun.

* Being able to meet a friend for coffee.  Sitting
down in a café, or restaurant and having a coffee together.

* Being able to invite friends over for coffee, or dinner.

* Going to our local neighbourhood coffee group on
Tuesday morning.

* Teaching live in the classroom.

* Going to art shows, and exhibiting in art shows.

* Freedom from worry about possibly getting sick
from someone without symptoms who is carrying the

* Freedom to go anywhere we wanted to and to know
it was safe.

The list is endless, and none of it matters compared to
the freedom of staying healthy, and not getting, or
spreading the virus.

We have been social distancing, and mostly staying home,
and I've been working from home for seven weeks now.
We have got the coping strategies we think we need
in place. I would not say it's the new normal, but it
is not as hard as it was at first in some ways.  Still
boy do I miss the "old" normal, and I miss all of you.

Have a remembering paradise day.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Meditate -- any way you can

Wonder Water Image Lilou Mace 
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
I woke up this morning and saw on my Instagram that Deepak
Chopra had posted a live meditation with a wonderful British
guide, whose name I didn't get, and it's disappeared as things
do on Instagram. I haven't been meditating lately, and it's
such a good idea, because it sets your mind and body into
a different space, and puts you at ease.

So from the moment I got out of bed it was a wonderful day.
That's the power of being guided to tap into positive thought.
I used to do this every day for a couple of years after my
good artist friend in California, Janet Vanderhoof asked me
to join a challenge.  We were supposed to meditate once
a day, and email each other to say we had.  But after a
month we kept on going. Today I remembered what a difference
that made to the day.  And in these anxious times it makes even
more sense.

The painting tonight is of Lilou Mace, who graciously allowed
me to paint her in 2014 as part of my ocean series.  One of
her meditations was one of the earliest examples I found in
meditation videos that made me feel great.  Lilou lives
in France, and does many, many things now. At the
time video meditations was one of them.  I think the
painting shows her luminous approach to life, and I am
grateful to her, and to all the guides I've accessed through
meditation videos over the years.

Have a teaching yourself to relax day.

Friday, April 24, 2020

The animal family getting us through

A combination of images of my favourite three
animals in the world -- Timbah the cat, an iPad
drawing, Fiona the cat, acrylic portrait, on
cradled birch panel, Sally the dog,  acrylic 
portrait, on cradled birch panel
Barbara Muir © 2017
It's late and I was just getting together the animals' night
snack.  Our dog Sally was watching me, while our cat
Timbah (14) wailed on the other side of the basement door.
(I realize I didn't explain this well enough first go round. A couple
of years ago our cat Timbah walked under my feet and I
tripped and broke my wrist.  Since then I put him in the
basement if I'm preparing food.)

Sally watches like she knows every step of my routine.
First make sure the dishes are loaded, turn on the
dishwasher,  then open the can of tuna, and make sure
the cat food can is open. Then the treats get divided, I grab
a cookie for Sally. By now the cats are both wailing at the door.
Fiona, the siamese, has joined the chorus, and then a rush
down the stairs. The cats eat in the downstairs bathroom
with the door closed so that Sally can't steal their food.
(All of the animals sleep in the basement where they
have very comfy beds so that we get our sleep.)

Then I let the cats out, and we all watch a bit of TV,
I say goodnight.  They all go to their beds and go to
sleep.  They are wonderful.

Our animals are loving, observant, playful, affectionate
and definitely cheer us up during the time of social

To all of the animals in families across the world who
are making their families happy -- thank you.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

More Earth Day -- and Happy Birthday Hugo

Candlelight for Earth Hour
charcoal on bond paper
10 x 14 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
(I grabbed this quick sketch just as Steven was
getting ready to get up from the table
after our delicious Earth Hour meal.
He graciously sat for another couple of
First Happy Birthday to Hugo Leemeijer in the Netherlands. Hugo
is the younger son of my friends - the fabulous artist Miranda Brouwers
and Rolf Leemeijer.

As for Earth Day Of course I could go on for the rest of the year.
This is a fast Earth Hour sketch from years ago. That is held
on a different day, but the focus is the same. Actually this
sketch looks more like our good friend David Cohen than
Steven.  But I like the sentiment.  We do want to try
and help the planet.

We have candles on the table every night.  And are romantic
at our best. I feel extremely lucky right now that we
have each other, when so many are self isolating alone.
I hope you had a good day. We did.

Wishing you a safe social distancing and self isolating

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Happy Earth Day

Bluebird (family Musicapidae) on a coffee cup
Bird Study #1
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
The painting tonight is a bluebird on a coffee cup.  Symbolically I
guess it represents how intertwined we really are with the earth
and its inhabitants.  Last night on Stephen Colbert, Michael
Moore said that the Coronavirus-19 pandemic is just a wake
up call, and nothing compared to what's coming at us if we
don't take care of the environment.

Maybe we can use this day to unite in our determination to love
and take care of this planet.  I hope that when we are out of
quarantine we will listen to the voices of the people who
want us to change our ways, and that we focus on this precious
home -- planet earth.

Have a taking care of your planet day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

My second home is in mourning

Across the Highway
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2016
(one of the views from
our school house in
Nova Scotia)
My family and I have been visiting Nova Scotia for more
than 20 years.  We have strong friendships with kind
people, and communities. And we have a deep affinity for
the land, and the sea surrounding the province.  When we
cross the border on the way in we sing "Hello to Nova Scotia,"
and on the way out "Farewell to Nova Scotia" (the proper
words to the song we love.) And we always feel brokenhearted
to be leaving.

The current news which I spoke about yesterday is devastating
and just gets worse.  We can't ignore the deep sense of
loss the province is experiencing with so many lives taken

Nova Scotia our hearts are with you.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Our hearts are with Nova Scotia

First sighting -- coming home
Acrylic on watercolour paper
10.6 x 13.8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015

My thoughts tonight are all with the beautiful province
of Nova Scotia which is reeling from the news of an appalling
 mass murder. 

And this province of warm, kind people cannot even grieve
together, or give one another hugs, because the province is 
practicing social isolation to try and slow the progress of the 
COVID 19 virus.

I send all of my love to my friends in the province, and my
sorrow and deepest sympathy to the families of the victims. 

All My Love Nova Scotia.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Drawing can make the difference

Ballpoint pen on note paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
(I actually did the drawing in
red ballpoint pen, but
it's very hard to see.  It's
meant to be an underpainting
type of drawing.  I'll show
it to you below.  But it is
clearly not finished because
she only has eyelashes on one eye.)
I do love line.  Line drawings make me happy, and doing
them is a treat.  I started this drawing of an Instagram
friend a month or so ago.  It seemed like the perfect image for
what we were all going through.  I was looking for something
to post tonight and this seemed right.  The notebook it's
in has seen a lot of writing work in the past 6 weeks,
and that has affected the page.

The original colour
Ballpoint pen on note paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
But of course it's virus time so this how far it's gone so far.  I
loved the expression on the woman's face.  It seemed to
sum up the loneliness and sadness we all felt when we
first heard that this monster disease was out there, and
what it was going to mean to our lives.

I think this is still how we feel on days that get us down.
Music is one of the answers, so it looks like she's listening
to music.  I love that.

Have a drawing whatever you see day.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The artist's brain

Part of my answer to the current lockdown
is remembering all of the wonderful things
that have happened.  Like this shot of
Steven (my husband) in my son Christopher's studio
 in 2015 waiting while Christopher photographed my
art for the Paris Carrousel du Louvre show.
The painting is Breakfast at the Skylight Diner NYC
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
That painting went to Paris for my first show
in the Louvre, and what an amazing
experience that was!

I sure hope you got to watch the two hour special
One World Together At Home.  It was amazing and
moving, and was put together by Lady Gaga in
support of the World Health Organization and
health workers, and first line workers all over
the world.

I've been thinking about the artist's brain--mine.
I've had trouble getting down to making art.  In
part that was because the one evening course I
was teaching went online, and that has been a major learning
job for me.  I'm still learning every day, and I see
a tidal wave of learning coming at me for
future courses -- which will all be online for the
next few months at least.

But I've also been stalled by the worry about the COVID-19 virus,
the massive, total changes in how we run our lives, the
disruption in all of our routines, and the pleasures that
punctuate our weeks.

Tonight listening to pieces of this amazing concert,
I started working on a painting that's been stumping
me for awhile.  I listened to the uplifting, heartwarming
music, and gorgeous voices, and I could paint!
It was like the reality was expressed for me, so I
could express mine.

Maybe that's what we artists need.  Beautiful
music.  Go for it.  And thank you for painting.

Have a listening to beautiful music day.

Friday, April 17, 2020

The cheer leaders -- Yes!

Inevitable Potential
Oil on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Amy Hillenbrand ©

What I love about the Internet and the blog/Facebook/Instagram
world are the connections we artists have with one
another.  Even if all we ever do is like, or heart each other,
we are a community, and it's worldwide.  And when we
comment on each other's work, friendships are born.

It's been a hard day, and a good day in our household.  The
same feeling that everyone else is having about this virus
lasting forever hit us here, and we got the blues.
Thinking about how to feel happier, the art of Amy Hillenbrand 
came to mind right away.  Watching Amy share photos of her
brilliant flower paintings taking shape always inspires,
and comforts me.

In our house we're lucky that we're good at getting back to
happy, and lucky that we have a house to live in, a backyard,
and good neighbours who wave and say hi.  And today we got
to see our son, his darling wife, and the little ones from about
20 feet away for a short visit.  Basically just "Hi" and "Bye",
but so nice.

I know that we're also lucky that as predominantly
upbeat people, we can figure out how to recover when we go
down.  In the coming weeks I would like to occasionally
feature the art of some artists who make me feel happy every
time I see their work. That's why today's artist is Amy Hillenbrand.
Her amazing flowers just take my breath away.  And they'll lift your
spirits too.

Have a working on cheering up day. 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Grateful for so many wonderful experiences

Me with art appreciator and new friend Judith Newfield
in front of
The happiest view 
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 60 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
(to see the painting photographed 
at a normal angle click here.)

Tonight my Internet went off for a few hours just when
I wanted to write my blog.  It's on now, but it's very
late, so I won't say much tonight.  I feel incredibly lucky
when I think about so many great moments in my life.

One I will show here above -- at a great art opening at
the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in 2017 in New York City.
I talked to the gallery owner, Ruthie Tucker, yesterday.
She has been so kind to me for the past decade and
helped me get into a second show in New York this
year with another gallery.

Ruthie Tucker lives in an apartment near the Met, and
is so missing her time in the gallery -- which is her
passion.  She asked me what were some of my favourite
memories of showing in New York last December,
and I had so many.  I mean almost every moment in
New York is magical.  But the lights at Christmas were
magnificent, and we shared that memory.  A happy
thought in a hard time.

Have a loving the people who love your art day

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

How are you doing? Write me back with the best and worst things that have happened during the virus.

For David Lobenberg
Self portrait
acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(I did this portrait for David Lobenberg's
June Paint Off in 2009
You can read about it here
Sadly David Lobenberg was 
coming to teach in Oakville
in the fall, this year and I don't
 think that will happen. I was so
looking forward to actually
meeting my blogger friend.)

Here's an idea for today.  What are the five best, and
five worst things that have happened to you recently
because of COVID 19?  My list is just an attempt to
talk about the subject.  I'm sure yours is better.

Before I start I went to a local small grocery store
today to pick up avocados and tulips.  And the same man
was behind me as was behind me last week (the
last time I went shopping) when we went out for some
Easter goodies at a drug store quite a ways north of our
neighbourhood.  That time the man told me that my mask 
was useless. This time before I recognized him
I asked him to please social distance.  Then I said, 
"I know you!"  And he recognized me and laughed.
"And I'm still wearing the same useless mask," I said.
And he laughed again.  This man had trained in
hazardous protective gear in the British Army and knew
what he was talking about.  So I said, "but now we're
Besties."  And that is a happy COVID story. 

Bests: (not in order)

1. Realizing how lucky we are to live in Canada where
health care is universal.

2. Talking to family members on the phone.

3. Seeing friends from far away when on a walk.

4. Talking to artist friends on Skype, and 
feeling joyous (so needed).

5 . Getting wonderful work from my students.

Worsts:  (not in order)

1. Dealing with people who are so stressed out
by the isolation that they are uncharacteristically nasty.

2.  Not seeing any of the people I usually see in my
life -- family, friends, my printer, art store people.

3. Hearing about the hardship of friends and family
working on the frontline, or living in the worst
areas of the virus.

4. Cancelled art shows, school classes, parties, 
almost everything.

5. The daily worry and uncertainty.

Now you.  How is it going?  Please stay safe and
stay healthy.

Have a living your best life day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

This daily ritual

The wonder of tulips
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

We listened to an interesting Ideas show on CBC radio
featuring author Brian Greene talking about his book
Until The End Of Time.  He said that all of our existence
was due to moving particles.  In the case of human beings
the moving particles in the brain control our thoughts and feelings.

In which case I am grateful to those particles today,
and to the particles in the brain of some other artists
I talked to today for making my particles express
the feeling of happiness.  I am so lucky I realize that
my particular set of particles do that quite often.

Steven and I had a great Skype talk today with Nova
Scotia artist Norene Smiley, and her husband Greg
Smiley.  The two of them are an absolute delight.
And the virus is interfering in their daily lives too.
They are funny, talented kind, wonderful and we
hope that this worldwide scourge slows down its
progress so that we can get to Nova Scotia this

But what a treat it was to see them.  Norene talked
about how artists are having trouble settling down
to work.  Maybe what we all need is to be able
to "see" one another virtually.  I started a small
painting of pansies after our conversation.  Not
finished yet, but going well.

Have a loving your life day.

Monday, April 13, 2020

The flowers of the mind

Tulips rule
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
I was so busy today with prepping for my Monday night class
that I didn't even get a chance to think about what to say to
you tonight.  Sometimes I look back at what I wrote around
the same time in past years.  And this year that feels like
an adventure.  Every trip out didn't have to be planned. We
could see people.  I didn't have to communicate 100% of
the time with people outside of my house via machine.
We could meet for coffee, hug, shake hands.

Talking to one of my children the other day I said that in
my normal life I probably see 60 - or 70 people in a week.
True.  At least.  The people in my art group, the people in
the women's art club I belong to, my students, the women in
my neighbourhood who meet for coffee, the people I see if
I walk my dog, the people at the grocery store, the printer
who prints my reference photos for painting, and maybe
one or both of my sons and my son's family, and son's girlfriend.
That's a lot of people.  And now -- it is my husband. Period,
except if we go for a walk.

So creativity is more important than ever, even if there's no
time to do the work.  Thinking about the work is gratifying.
Thinking about a time when this is over is almost like flying
to some amazing destination -- New York, or Paris, or
Florence Italy.  That pleasure is free.

These tulips were drawn on my iPad from Tulip memory
2 years ago at this time of year.  They are the bright escape
I need each day right now.  Please stay well, stay safe, and
stay happy.

Have a letting the flowers in your mind grow day.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Keep your promises for a joyous holiday

Pip the Lionhead rabbit delivers eggs
8 x 8 inchs
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2015
We did not have the Easter feast.   We did have a far away visit
from one sweet person on the other side of our fifteen foot porch,
and that was delightful.  Very, very cold.  But delightful.

My promise to myself this year has been to write my blog
every day -- no exceptions.  So far I've passed the 100
mark, and it's been mostly smooth sailing because of you.
I feel you out there helping me, commenting sometimes,
posting your beautiful work and thoughts.

Whatever your holiday this weekend, I hope it was wonderful
despite this pandemic, and all that that entails.  Please
keep your promises to stay safe, and social distance.
We need to end this, and the experts say that's the
only way.  That and a vaccine, which will take a
minimum of a year to develop.

On the streets now in our quiet neighbourhood it looks
like something out of a scary movie, with everyone
walking around either masked, or side stepping other
people by a country mile.  Hard, hard times.  Stay
safe, stay happy and promise to see this through
with me.  I will see it through with you.

Have a loving your life day.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Laughing -- the power of joy -- Happy Easter

Harold and the blue eggs
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2013
If you are lucky enough to have family with you,
I hope they are well, and that you can share some
laughter about how weird this whole situation is.

For many of us the best thing about Easter is being
together with family, having an Easter egg hunt, and
eating a great meal, with lots of love and laughter.

That can't happen this year, and that is hard for every
family deprived of the pleasure.  The video call
doesn't come close, but it is still the gift of family.

However you celebrate -- have a great one.
And to the front line workers all over the world,
our deepest thanks for holding it together.

Have a Happy Whatever Your Holiday.

Friday, April 10, 2020

The delight of the visual -- loving what you see

Positively pansies
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(Plus we managed to 
get some pansies today!)
In Toronto we are still allowed to walk our dogs. So this
morning I rushed out to meet my husband and our dog
Sally on their walk, and we managed to avoid other
people almost entirely.  It was a perfectly beautiful, cool
day.  The colder temperature is probably the reason that
fewer people than normal were out walking.

The clouds were gorgeous fluffy beauties moving across
a vivid blue sky.  Wow!  I was dazzled.  And I realized
that going for a walk, if you are able to, is such a treat.
Every shadow on the sidewalk, every blooming daffodil
in people's gardens, the buds slowly coming out on the
trees -- all of it cheered me up.  And I had been feeling a bit
overwhelmed.  So nature, as always, is magic.

Have a looking at nature day. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

My love to all the families this weekend

Flowers for the family
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018
(Last year I accidentally hit
upgrade on my
iPad. and lost all of my iPad
drawings.  It made me so
happy to find this one saved
in my photos.)

We are all part of a family, whether we live together,
or not -- whether they are living or dead, we are
all family.  I am thinking of you all today, and wishing
you the best of whatever celebrations you would
usually have this weekend.

We are for the chocolate rabbit and eggs, and for
decorating real eggs. But this year we can't be together.
We won't have the egg hunt, or enjoy the excitement
of the youngest family members, or the sweetness of the whole
gang over a bunch of chocolate, and a great meal.

The good news? I did get the drawing for a new painting on
the canvas today. And we are well.

Have a very Happy Weekend.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Please hang in -- Love from this artist

 Serious talk
watercolour and ink on watercolour paper
7 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
Some of the news today from family and friends is
hard and sad.  We have to keep going and love
each other.  I have a lot of work to do tonight
to try and catch up with my wonderful students
and their work, so my blog will be short.

I send out love from my world to yours.
We artists have a significant part to play during
this pandemic.  We can provide images of
happy times, or the parts of life that are good --
like my sweet cat lying content beside me right
now. He's so happy just to be with me.  Sorry I
don't have a picture of that right now.

Have a taking care of each other day.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The build to the bunny -- The Easter bunny is declared essential

Cutie the bunny goes shopping
Black marker on Fabriano note paper
6 1/4 x 8 1/2
Barbara Muir © 2013

We are a celebratory family.  My husband and I love
family gatherings.  For Easter Steven usually cooks
an amazing turkey, makes some kind of delicious
pie.  Our sons bring potatoes and vegetables, and
we all get together with my older son's wife and
two little girls, and my younger son's girlfriend and
-- have an egg hunt, and a meal. I love it.  It's so fun.

This year because of the virus we are separated
from the family, and will not get together.  Meanwhile
both our provincial premier, and the Mayor of Toronto
have said that the Easter Bunny is an essential service,
and people are allowed to have Easter egg hunts in their
own homes.

We are not church goers -- I feel for people who are --
because in Canada at least churches are all closed
down to fight the virus.  But we love the eggs,
the hunt, and the dinner together.  And the bunnies.
Chocolate, toy bunnies, you name it.  Tonight's
little sketch is of a bunny we encountered in Ikea --
a strange place for a live bunny.  This was seven
years ago -- it would not be happening today.
In fact Ikea is closed, like all major businesses
other than grocery stories and drugstores.

Have a celebrating in isolation day

Monday, April 6, 2020

10 Reasons to be happy -- practicing appreciation

Paris Anemones
black marker on Moleskine paper
8 x 11 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017
(I remember these beautiful flowers
so well.  They were a brilliant red.
The thought of returning to Paris
someday when all of this is over is another 
reason to be happy.)
The numbers today are staggering, and as these mount up
each day -- every bit of happiness matters more than ever.

1.  I am trying to teach remotely, and my students have done
an excellent job today creating professional presentations
on YouTube.

2. We are well.  And our family and friends are well. That is the
 main reason to be happy.

3.  I finished reading my excellent, but horrifically
sad book A Good Neighbourhood.  It is very well written,
but so disturbing that it has taken me almost a month to
read it.  Not normal for me. Next up a happy novel, online
no matter what.

4. Parts of the garden are starting to grow.  We may have
tulips next week.

5. A friend sent a list of reasons to be happy.

6.  A friend sent a virtual tour of Venice.

7. I get to share my thoughts with you.  (This is not number
seven -- it is a number 1, but this goes in the order that I
think of it, and my brain is going in quite a few directions
at once.)

8.  A friend and I talked about meeting for tea at the Art
Gallery of Ontario in Toronto when this is over, and that
thought brought back such vivid (and recent) memories
of sitting in the Member's Lounge having a delicious
lunch, and then walking through the gallery seeing one
magnificent painting after another!

9.  I am learning new skills that will help me with all
of my future work, like how to make voice recordings
that I can share via email.

10.  I am alive and happy.  Being happy is the best reason
to be happy.  Thank you to everyone out there who was
having a bad day and called me to cheer up, and cheered
me up in the process.  And thank you again to everyone
working to put an end to this, and discover vaccine.

Have a making someone happy day.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Taking nothing for granted -- each pleasurable moment is a gift

Portrait of Tia before the dance
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 
( I love this portrait.
Tia was a neighbour and an amazing
model for several of my dance
series paintings.  Then she grew up and 
moved away.  Thank you Tia for your 
wonderful work for me.)

For the health workers trying to help save COVID-19 patients, and
the families living with horrific fear and tragedy this is an
impossible situation, but even so they carry on.

For the rest of us who are healthy and living in social isolation,
each free moment, every single minute of good health and wellbeing
is a miracle. Getting to write this blog every day is a miracle. Getting
to think about art every day is wonderful.

People are saying that we will never go back to taking the good
things in our lives for granted.  I don't know if that's true, because
we are creatures of habit, and these new habits will recede in our
memories when we can stop using them.

Now, right now today what matters is being vigilant, not just
with all the measures to protect our health, but with our
capability for delight, which will save our sanity.  Sanity is
going to matter more, and more every single day that this
"new normal" continues.  We have to help each other with

My simple formula for this minute is to be grateful to my
husband for the delicious coffee, and to look outside.

Have a loving what works day.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A moving day -- and the power of kindness

Ken's flowers
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir 2009
(The vase in the painting was given to
me by a lovely neighbour down the road
in Wallace Bridge, who is gone now.)

Tonight we went for short drive in the neighbourhood, and at 7:30 heard 
church bells ringing, and people making whatever kind of noise they could
banging on pots and pans and cheering in support of the front line
health workers.  That moved me so much.  

When I got home and thought about what to say I felt like it was time for
 flowers.  This painting was inspired by a gorgeous arrangement of
flowers from our friend Ken Lander.  We have known Ken Lander of
Sunrise Greenhouses outside of Pugwash, Nova Scotia almost since
we first started going to our school house in Nova Scotia more than 20
years ago.  When we found Ken and his beautiful gardens, and greenhouses
it was like a miracle, because we love flowers, I paint them quite often, and
we couldn't find any to buy.  

Ken is always so gracious, and enthusiastic. We'd walk with him
as he'd moved through his gardens picking flowers to create a beautiful
bouquet.  All the while the ocean was in view just beyond the highway.
Ken and Maxine his partner are total sweethearts. It makes me happy
every time I see them.

And like Ken bringing beauty into the world, the health care workers,
and Toronto people cheering them on are trying to make the world
a better place.  Right now it is so heartwarming to see these demonstrations
of kindness.  We are all here for each other, and we'll come through this.

Have a staying safe and healthy day

Friday, April 3, 2020

Ontario is taking this virus seriously -- that helped me paint

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24  inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
I spent some time today working on this landscape -- about
one of the most beautiful parks on the western edge of Toronto.
The whole time I was listening to CBC Radio, our provincial
premier, Doug Ford, and health officials in Ontario talking about how 
our province in Canada is dealing with this incredible virus coming
at us.  

What most of us are doing -- like people who understand how 
serious this is all over the world -- is staying home, except to get groceries.
And doing that combined with social distancing of two
meters (six feet, seven inches) is working so far, and we have to

My painting is certainly a work in progress, but the exciting
thing for me is that I'm back looking at it.  And I'm coming in and 
out of the studio, thinking about what to change, painting, then
thinking about what needs to happen next? For an artist that is a vital
process. And knowing that our government cares about this virus as
much as we do, made me very happy.

Have a taking care of yourself day

Thursday, April 2, 2020

We need our heroes -- thank you to people like Wing

Water Image # 4 Wing on the beach
Acrylic on canvas
20 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

I am so proud of Wing Lee who is a cutter for major TV shows and
movies.  Meaning he cuts the designs that will become the
clothing you see in the shows. The other day he cut and
sewed 72 face masks in his home studio, to help the healthcare
workers who are running short of masks.  And his masks look
beautiful.  Plus he said that he might make 28 more the next day.

I admire Wing's resilient spirit in this hard time.  Normally
he goes to some exciting place for his birthday, like
New York City, but this year was at home alone with his

I love this portrait of Wing, because he's set against another
place he loves to be, and we share that delight. The love of
the ocean.

I haven't seen Wing in person for a couple of years, he
travels a lot, and was in Europe for two months around
Christmas working on a series.  But I feel like we keep
in touch through Social Media.

So thank you so much Wing for putting your talents to
work to help people who need your talent so much right
now -- the front line health workers.

Having a staying home and staying safe day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Closed, closed, closed, closed -- open

In a park by the lake -- happiness
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

We took a short drive today to see the lake --
so beautiful.  The hard part was that it was
Wednesday afternoon, and we drove by so many
stores that are closed now.  We must have passed
hundreds in our travels, and the dead stillness of these
normally thriving stores, and neighbourhoods is
so upsetting.

Here is what's open.  First of all we can all open our
hearts to each other, and make sure even though
we are scared, lonely, and frightened that we give
our best to everyone.

Plus every artist I know is eager to sell their work.
That includes the one writing this to you. Me.  If
you have an overwhelming need to cheer
yourself up with some art -- that can be done.
Contact me, or any artist whose work
attracts you, and find out what I (they)
would charge for the piece you love.  Shipping
is usually extra.  But hey.  Something
beautiful. That's like flowers right? -- essential.
And artists can ship from their own homes without
going out in public.

Keep safe, and practice social distancing.

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!