Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Goodbye September, Hello October

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

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

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

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

Have a doing what you love to do day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A quick one

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

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

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

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

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

Have fun.

Monday, September 28, 2020

A love of still life

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Gratitude and nostalgia

Morning glories on the back fence
photo © Barbara Muir

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

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

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

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

The yellow leaf
Barbara Muir © 2020

Saturday, September 26, 2020

A shining star

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

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

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

The link to the video is here and enjoy it.

Have a loving what your friends do day.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Moving with the times

Acrylic on canvas
14 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

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

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

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

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

Have an enjoying your creative friends day.

Thursday, September 24, 2020


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

First day of fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a really good day. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Before not after

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Early start

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 19, 2020

In pursuit of peaches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 18, 2020


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Still need coffee

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

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

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

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

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

Have a having enough coffee day. 

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Thinking about Patrick

Patrick Betty and Carolee Crooks
his partner 

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

What I'm working on -- and the positive power of distraction

Something pretty
Acrylic ink and acrylic
on cradled birch panel
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
I'm always eager to read articles about ways to improve my
joy in living.  An especially hard challenge in difficult times.
But sometimes it strikes me that not all of the standard answers work.
Take procrastination.  After studying the subject, and teaching
formulas to help students avoid it, I've started to think it's a
good thing.  Saying "I have problems with procrastination,"
feels like admitting to a crime of some sort.

But what if stalling on a project (I don't mean when there is
a looming deadline) helps focus new light on possible
solutions.  I know that happens frequently for me with painting.
Today my garden is helping me procrastinate. It's been virtually
neglected this year, but is still at its best in September, because of
the perennials we planted so that we could see something
wonderful when we got home from the Maritimes, and this year Ottawa.
Yes I have my list.  Plus I teach my once a week class tonight.

But the garden offers a cloud of white Anemones, Geraniums the
colour of brilliant, deep red jewels, and huge Morning Glories
in blue -- closing now in the late day. 
Visiting Ottawa got in the way of finishing the piece I'm working on
(procrastination of a joyous variety).When I pulled it out again yesterday
I was stumped.  In the night the answer came to me.  And tomorrow
when I have time to buy paint, and concentrate I'll see whether
my ideas are right.  Sometimes time and even procrastination
(nasty word) allows a painting to "cook".

So here's a little something I've been working on today. By the way
the best formula for countering procrastination that I ever came
up with was to make a big sign, on 8 1/2 x 11" paper folded horizontally
that said "Today!"  If you carry that around with you, you tend to concentrate
on what you need to get done "Today". That lowers any burden
of guilt you might have for the "not done yet's."

Have an allowing-yourself-to-procrastinate day.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Before the flowers go

Zinnias in the house
Acrylic ink, and acrylic
on cradled Birch
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I was thinking about meditating this morning, and instead I watched
a Bob Burridge video about being creative.  He is so inspiring . I love
everything he does, and have followed him and watched his delightful
videos about painting for years.

 Today he was making collages with tissue paper and paint
 and talking about how important it was to just fool around and enjoy
yourself.  I found out today that I’m teaching tomorrow one night a week.
I’m glad, and it means I have to figure out how to organize my time so I
can do everything I want to do.

I’m trying to walk 10,000 steps a day so I walked to the printer today to
pick up the inspiration for this little painting.  Plus we have the most
gorgeous red zinnias in a vase right now that one of the vendors at
The Brick Works market gave me.  It was the end of the day Saturday, and he
told me to pay him in two weeks when he’s back at the market.  Generosity
always means a lot to me, and it's especially heartwarming now.

A few weeks ago I saw a video of my artist friend Flora Doehler painting
using acrylic ink, and drawing with the ink dropper. Inspired by Bob Burridge
and Flora Doehler,  I got to work on this little painting in honour of the
gorgeous zinnias in my kitchen.

 And I got my 10,000 steps with my sweetheart Steven tonight. I wish you a
 wonderful, creative, and productive day tomorrow .

Sunday, September 13, 2020

A drawing in the works

Untitled (work in progress)
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I started this little drawing a while ago. I love drawing on my old iPad.
But I've noticed that it's a little more complicated on my newer one.

I think everyone else gets it easily, and transitions smoothly, but I find the new
system more difficult to use, unnecessarily complicated. Plus the colours are
not as clear or bright. Still I am determined to learn.  And I’m quite happy
with how this is turning out. 

Nasturtiums in a blue glass jar look particularly fabulous.
They are one of my favourite flowers to draw. I can never achieve
the brilliance, or beauty of the actual flower. That’s one of the
challenges of art -- to try and get close to what nature does so perfectly.

I do love the luminous quality of drawing on the iPad, and I love what it gives
to the blue of the glass -- even perhaps to the flowers -- but I'd like them much

This time with all its restrictions seems so rich in learning. I think that's one
benefit of all of the cut offs from regular activities, from people we love to see.
We have time to, and are actually forced to learn new skills.

Have a loving what you do day.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

A little video

A video from a sweet day 
(September 4th, out in the park,
and in the neighbourhood.)
Taken with my iPhone
Barbara Muir © 2020

If this works I’m going to show you an awkward little video of a recent
lovely day. I saw this on my phone and thought that’s what I want to share
tonight. We had a super day today. We went to the market, saw our
favourite farmers, and bought some delicious food for the coming week.

Plus we went to visit some family members who are going to start
school next week. They are in our bubble now but won’t be when
school begins. 

Parents all over Ontario are nervous about sending their children back to
 school. And the teachers are too. I have teacher friends who are starting
work on Tuesday, and don’t have their assignments yet. People talk about
the "new normal", but in a normal year teachers would know well in advance
which subjects, and who they were teaching.

So talked to some people who are going back, had hugs and lots of fun.
When we see each other again it will be socially distanced, maybe with
masks, and probably outside where it's the safest.

For the sake of all the children and parents out there please wear your
masks when you’re in close contact with people, and keep your social distance. 

Have a safe and healthy day tomorrow and thank you so much for all your
support. It means the world to me.

Friday, September 11, 2020

First session

Untitled: Work in progress
Acrylic on canvas
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

Today was a glorious day, and the beautiful model Fatouma came to sit
for me. I never paint outside, but because of Covid, Fatouma couldn't pose
inside, so I set up my easel on the back porch, Fatouma posed, and we had
a delightful time together. 

I found it hard to focus in the bright light. I felt awkward using my simple
palette. Still she is so funny and understanding, and speaks perfect French
(we both grew up in Ottawa, but she went to French schools, and I didn't). So
we kept breaking the pose by talking, and joking in both languages, and I am so
grateful to my new friend for the good time.

To explain myself today I told Fatouma that when I did portraits on
commission, I said in my contract that it would probably take 12, three hour
sessions. Today was more about experimenting, having fun and reminding
myself about how I do this thing called painting portraits.  

Have a getting back into it day.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Fooling around with paint

Paint and an iPad drawing
on the paint photo
Barbara Muir © 2020
Today I was excited because a model was coming over to pose for me on
 our front or back porch (social distancing). She is a delightful person funny,
insightful and charming. But she got asked to do a favour for a client, and
 that magical event didn’t happen. 

Just the thought of it had me thinking about French painters who had models
visit their studios, and that took me through a lovely imaginative tour of past
artists in my brain.

Instead I took the time to clean out the plastic egg carton I use for a palette when
I go to my art group. The colours came out in hard blobs, and I felt guilty about 
throwing away that acrylic without doing anything with it. It’s been a long time
since I’ve been to class with my art group. 

So I took these sculptural pieces that were formed from the dry paint, arranged
them on a gessoed board, and photographed them. Then I drew on the photograph
on my iPad. The result is a clunky mess, but it was so much fun to do and I’m
sure there are people doing similar things that are absolutely spectacular.

Here’s hoping that the super model comes tomorrow and I can show you
something more impressive.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020


Peaches for lunch
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011

Pleasure sounds like an empty word right now. All of us all over the world need
to do hard work to try and get change to happen. That’s true. Today I decided to
take a break. I didn’t even know that that’s what I'd decided. But aside
from some meetings, and getting ready for work to be done on the house,
I spent the day talking to friends, and catching up on what’s happening in their lives.

I'm on holiday until next week, and have worked very hard all spring and summer,
so I had the right to hang out for a few hours, but it did feel odd. I should be used
to that feeling. I was sitting on my front porch talking to a dear friend. She was
sitting on a chair that I placed 10 feet away from the porch on our lawn. As people
passed in the street -- adults or young children -- most people were wearing masks
something that would’ve been unbelievable, even frightening a year ago.

And best of all thanks to the farmers the delights of the season continue.
We dropped into a small grocery store on Saint Clair, and bought
a basket of delicious peaches. I found this painting in my files, and it
is the perfect image to illustrate pleasure. 

A friend who is working harder than most people I know, drove down to
the lake for a few minutes to call me just so she could see the water, and
feel happy.

We need that feeling -- we need to feel happy ourselves, and to help other people 
spread that feeling. Joy is one of the most significant forces in life.  We all need
the power of brief positive moments of pleasure to renew our spirits so we can carry on
with the hard work.

I recommend having a peach.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The world of inspiration

Clouds from our back porch

Bees loving maple syrup, and leaving us alone
on our porch

Leaves in the park

Some photos of recent inspiring visions
(I am working on a painting that
is  developing slowly.  Meanwhile
when possible I'll post photos.)
Barbara Muir © 2020

What inspires an artist? Or what inspires this artist? I know I’m lucky 
because the answer is almost everything that is beautiful. I believe
that right now it’s more important than ever to try and find inspiration
in our world. Maybe that’s part of our job as artists -- to give people
reasons to hope.

This doesn’t mean at all that we should abandon our fights, struggles,
 and protests for all that matters -- the human rights of every person
on the planet, adequate food supply, fair pay, working on solving
global climate change, and equality all around. 

It does mean that we artists have to turn on our eyes, our ears, our hearts
our feelings every day and try to add something positive if possible
to the planet. We can’t always feel that we have a calling, but we can and
do have a mission.

Thank you to everyone every artist, every writer, every singer, every musician
out there who inspires me, and helps me to carry on. I am immensely grateful.
Let’s keep going.

 Stay healthy, and stay safe.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Enjoying the small things

Before the dance in the blue dress
15 x 22 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2008--2020

Thank you to Ms. Angela White for reminding me that we have to enjoy
everything that we can enjoy in this hard year 2020. She pointed out this
morning in her post on Instagram that we make our own history and that we
 have to determine what we are going to do, and not let this year go to waste.

Angela White is religious, and when I explained that I'm not, but I believe
in love, she was fine with that.

I was inspired by her today, and got up and went for a walk with Steven again
before my second coffee. If you're sick of hearing about my coffee needs, sorry
 but normally I have three before I'm vertical.

When I came home I started working on this portrait from the time when
I was doing the dance series Before the Dance. I found the painting a few
weeks ago, and didn’t have the nerve to fill in the parts that hadn’t been
done. Angela White made me see how silly that was, and I had some fun
working on it today.

I don’t work in watercolour much anymore, and don’t remember 
everything about how it works.  But it started coming back to me, and I
realized how much I love it. Watercolour requires a lot of stopping so that
parts of it can dry, and this could use some more work. 

When I was originally painting this piece I used a resistance product on
parts of it. Not all of it came off. Today I don’t care. For now this is
Before the dance in the blue dress.

Have a living the best possible life day.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Sorrow on a beautiful day

Patrick Betty at a dinner party 
(I have a lovely picture of Patrick and
Carolee, but can't find it at the moment.
When I do I'll post it here.)
It is a simply gorgeous day today and Steven and I went for a walk in 
our nearby park. I'd heard that it's easier to get your 10,000 steps if you
break it up into smaller walks.  So I headed out to meet Steven and our
dog, Sally.

I was drinking my coffee and settling in at home on our back bench, watching
the morning glories that have just come into gorgeous, blue bloom,
and the birds taking showers under the sprinkler when there was a knock
on the front door.

A friend and neighbour — my friend Carolee's Crook's beautiful daughter, Etana,
stood on our front porch. Looking at her face I realized that the news was not good.
She told us that Carolee’s wonderful partner, Patrick, died on Thursday. He had
had cancer for a few years.

Patrick was a darling person, funny, witty, kind, and a delight to be around.
He was an amazing musician, and he made us think we were right to buy the
piano that we rarely use because he played for us sometimes on New Year’s Eve
at our parties, and it was such a joy to hear him. COVID meant that we couldn’t
visit him in his last days, but we would have so loved to tell him in person how
much we cared.

We will always miss you Patrick. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Fresh fruits of happiness

Nectarines on a pressed glass plate
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009 

The people who understand the seasons are the farmers. They see the light
starting to go away earlier, and earlier in the evening, and they know what
that means. They understand that the growing season in our northern climate
is coming to an end. But most of the rest of us are shocked.

How can summer really be over? This year I think this shock is worse than
in summers before the pandemic. There’s no question that this summer
has been so different -- no parties, no concerts, no CNE (Canadian National
Exhibition in Toronto, Canada). Unless you are very lucky, and got to visit 
a cottage, or you have a pool, it’s unlikely that you got to have a swim. 

This photo of nectarines came up in my Facebook memories, and I thought
I’d like to show it to you. Why? One of the great pleasures of this summer
for me has been my midnight snack of low-fat Greek yogurt with nectarines.

Thank you to the farmers for providing the fresh fruits, vegetables, and eggs
that have kept us happy, and enjoying the parts of life that continue to be
wonderful. Now it’s time for me to heat up the delicious quiche that I buy
every week, when I’m in town, from the super farmers who were formally
European chefs. What a treat. Thank you.

Friday, September 4, 2020

The delights of drawing from life


Art Group Sketch
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

One of the things I miss most about my life before Covid was going to paint
with my art group, from a live model on Tuesday nights. The model in this
painting sketch was wonderful. She had a delightfully calm expression,
and held the pose for the entire 25 minutes of the sitting which is hard, and
something few models can achieve.

I painted this during the short three sessions of 25 minute settings at the DVAC
studio. I walk by it every day, as it hangs in my husband's office and I always feel
happy looking at it.

It’s the Labour Day long weekend in Canada, and normal life such as it is now,
begins next week. I’ve had a month off and it has been wonderful, but I’m
looking forward to going back to work both doing my painting, and perhaps
some teaching. And I’ve been asked if I’d like to start doing podcasts.
I might do that too. I’m hoping that you are looking forward to the fall season
as much as I am. Let’s conquer this nasty virus. and get an excellent vaccine. 
Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

 After the nap
Black marker on Moleskine paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015

Sometimes things are so great that you get exhausted.  It’s been a very good 
day in many respects.  One of my favourite moments was sitting out on the
bench beside our pretty garage toasting Steven with champagne for a new
job that starts next week. (In fact I think that's what made me tired -- the tiny
bit of champagne.) 

The sky above us was an amazing blue, and the clouds were floating by a 
gorgeous fluffy white.  Little birds were flying down onto the feeder hanging 
beside us.

Plus I worked on a painting I’ve been having trouble with for months, and felt 
like I was making progress.  We went for two long walks, and had distanced 
conversations with neighbours all along our street.

It is bed time.  I hope you had a lovely day, and are ready to rest too.  My bed
doesn’t look quite this rumpled.  But it did the day I drew this sketch.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

We spent our time in the company of trees

 Absolute Grace
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

We are home now in Toronto, and are so delighted that we had a
wonderful time away from the pressures of work and our life trying 
to navigate a pandemic in Toronto.

It was a very strange vacation — our hotel room turned into our 
momentary home.  As the only food available in the hotel was the 
morning cold breakfast, we came prepared with a cooler full of food, 
and all the supplies to make our own cold food if we needed it.  We 
were very grateful that we had a refrigerator, and a coffee maker in 
the room.  

We didn’t go out to restaurants, but we did get take out meals —quite 
delicious.  But the strangest aspect of the trip wasn’t the food, it was
not meeting people.  One of the reasons we’ve always traveled has
been to meet people in casual settings.  I don’t mean that we plan to
meet people — of course we do at art openings, and I love that.  I mean
that we’ve always enjoyed the occasional encounters at a coffee shop, 
or restaurant.  Those interactions did not happen. People rarely even say
hello as they walk by, or if they are sitting at a socially distanced table. At 
the moment everyone is suspect.  And we’re all behind masks.

What we did do that was lovely was search for green spaces next to water —
the Ottawa River, the Gatineau River and we discovered lovely parks, and 
even wild space overgrown with beautiful flowers at the end of a 4 kilometre
long cul-de-sac. 

This is one of many photos I took of the magnificent trees we saw along the 
way.  We missed the people so much, but we loved the green spaces.  
I'm very grateful to my brother and his wife, for being the people we did
see, and they were a complete treat.

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!