Saturday, October 31, 2020

Making Halloween happy

The Halloween Production Line
prepping the bags for delivery
Barbara Muir 2020

Happy Halloween everyone! This year it was a toughy. Why? No one was
allowed to go trick-or-treating in Toronto. As someone in our family has a
birthday on Halloween, that made us particularly sad. This coronavirus is
tearing everything apart. And at the same time it challenges us to think in
different ways, and try new things -- always wanting to keep everyone
safe and healthy.

So the picture tonight shows what we did because the kids couldn’t come
to our door.  We love seeing the neighbourhood children and their parents
dressed up in their costumes. There's always such a happy feeling on our street on
Halloween, so we thought we better do something to make the children
happy.  How? We spoke to the parents of the children we know, and asked
if would it be okay to give them bags of candy?

And in every case the parents said yes. We went to work preparing the bags.
I drew pumpkins on them, and we wrote the children’s names and Happy
Halloween.  This afternoon we took them around, and dropped them off.  We
wore our masks and gloves, knocked on the family's doors, and stepped back
social distanced on their sidewalks.

And when our family came to celebrate, we had a small candy hunt. Not the
wild and crazy fun we're used to, but still fun. And so was the party in our
winter coats in the backyard. It was so great to see our family!  What was cool
was that other families in our neighbourhood were having freezing cold 
Halloween parties too, and we could hear the laughter of small family groups. 

 Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2020

The start of a drawing

Untitled (work in progress)
marker on
Maison de Haute
 Couleurs Charvin paper
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I started working on a drawing today that has been too complicated for me
to begin. But today talking to my brother I felt relaxed enough to start.
So that’s where it’s at tonight. I  began to understand the very sharp contrast
that I’m working on from a tiny photo from years ago. 

And this is how far I got. There was so much going on today that I didn’t
have more time to work on it. That happens sometimes. Wishing you a
wonderful weekend, and a very happy, if somewhat constrained Halloween.

Well here in Toronto children are not supposed to go Trick or Treating from house
to house like they always do.  Which is what Halloween is about.

Happy Halloween anyway.  Every house is decorated to the max to make
the children happy. I admire that spirit in my neighbours. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

One of the best jobs in art


black marker on watercolour paper
12 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009 

The drawing I'm showing you today was commissioned by a New York 
firm who asked me to do Skype portrait drawings live for the Consumer
Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  That was both an exciting and daunting project. 
Luckily I had prearranged that I would do one sketch during the show,
and another more formal sketch afterwards. This is the second more
polished version.

When the Skype session with the show began there was one small, but
rather critical problem.  There was no light on the first person I was supposed
to draw!  I'm glad I didn't know at the time that my process was being
shown on a giant screen to everyone there. 

The lighting problem was solved, and I met some wonderful people.  The
drawings could certainly qualify as Inktober drawings so I'll share this
one with you today. Nicole and I instantly got along, which is extremely
helpful when you're trying to capture a portrait.

What I love about being an artist is the constant learning.  Maybe my
work with Skype in its very early stages, prepared me for the Zoom
reality now.  We were working with huge, excellent computer screens, and
sometimes shaky Internet, but we made some art. 

Thank you to everyone involved. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Thank you Inktober

Inktober drawing
Black marker on Canson
Mixed Media Paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

We’ve now been in a state of on and off lockdown because of COVID-19
for almost 8 months. I just realized tonight that it’s been that long. So
I’m grateful to Inktober for getting me drawing. Some days like today when
it was beautiful, sunny, and even warm in the sunny parts of our backyard,
I can almost forget that we are living through this strange, nightmarish time.

But on the grey days, and now very cold, grey days, trying to do a drawing
because it’s Inktober has distracted me in quite a wonderful way. And seeing
other people's amazing drawings on the same theme has inspired me. Today
I finally sat down to draw the sunflowers I’ve been meaning to draw since they
came into the house a few days ago. 

People talk about the therapeutic aspect of being involved in art. Today as I
drew these simple flowers (mine -- not the flowers which are so spectacular)
I actually had that feeling of peace. So I like this drawing, even though I know
it’s far from perfect.

Thank you to everyone out there who inspires me, supports me, cheers me up,
cheers me on, even if you don’t know you’ve done that. You have! We will
get through this and it will be the biggest party ever when it's over. Won’t that be fun!

Have a great Thursday.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

My best Inktober -- wasn’t

You can't keep a good man down
Acrylic ink and acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I learned a lot last year doing the Inktober sketches. In fact when the
Heliconian Club, one of the art clubs I belong to, had a figure drawing exhibition,
I decided to do a very large Inktober drawing

The people at my favourite DeSerres art supplies store helped me to figure out
how to do it, because unlike the Inktober drawings on paper, this one was going
to be huge on canvas and 36 x 48 inches. One challenge was that the canvas
surface is not ideal for drawing with ink. So I learned how to gesso the canvas
until it was even smoother than paper.

I am very happy with the drawing. It's the nicest portrait I’ve ever done of my
husband, who definitely deserves an excellent portrait. 

Have fun creating today. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Today’s drawing

Before the party
Marker on Canson
Mixed Media paper
The 5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I worked today on this drawing of a girl. It’s another Inktober drawing. Pen and
ink isn’t the ideal medium for a child’s portrait -- soft colour is probably
best. But it’s fun to try new things, and during this strange time we live in, we
are trying new things all the time.

Perfection is the enemy of art. I read all the time about people trying to get it right.
And I was trying to get it right in this drawing. But art is often about what didn’t
work, about distortion and interpretation.That doesn’t mean I don’t love perfect art,
I certainly do.

A good friend Laurel Daniels is having an exhibit of what I consider perfect art in
Texas, and if you are nearby and can go to the see the show, I recommend it.
She is amazing.

And for more wonderful art check out the artist Eleanor Lowden's beautiful,
 happy work on display now as part of the One of a Kind online show.

What I like about the portrait of this girl is that she’s happy, and we need all the
 happiness we can get right now. Take care.

Sunday, October 25, 2020


The view from our hotel window 
© Barbara Muir 2015 

Today Steven and I had a super time seeing good friends on their front porch.
We were social distanced, brought our own coffee, and sat in the freezing cold
talking to one another and having a great time.

When we came home we started to look at pictures of our visit to France
five years ago when I was in the Carousel du Louvre in June, and four years
ago at this time of year. That was the most phenomenal October for art ever!
We went to New York City where I was in a show at the Amsterdam Whitney
Gallery, came home to Toronto on October 9th, and were on a plane on the 19th to
go and show in Paris, France at the Carousel du Louvre for the second time.

Classy Halloween Store window for
Teuscher Chocolates near 30 Rock in New York City
Barbara Muir © 2016

So Steven and I spent some time looking at photos, and dreaming of a time when
we can live that way again. When we saw our friends today, we talked about how
travel is the most wonderful thing to do. And it's the best way to learn about other
people's lives.

The skating rink at 30 Rock
So different from Canada 
No one could skate!
Still so fun.
Barbara Muir 2016

The skating rink is in front of this 
gorgeous statue -- the symbol
of 30 Rock

I’ve been so lucky to travel to international art shows that I've been in. It was beyond
thrilling to have my art show in the Carousel du Louvre, which was attended by
so many people. Plus it takes place in the basement of the Louvre Museum, one
of the most important museums in the world.

View from our hotel room in Paris in 2016
Barbara Muir © 2016

So I am grateful to my gallery director in New York, and to the wonderful Gallery
directors at E Editore who organized the shows in Paris. Plus in the October,
2016 show I got to see my friend Miranda Brouwers, the artist who I met at the
Florence Biennale in Italy in 2015. 

Me and Miranda Brouwers in front of
her beautiful painting in
the Carousel du Louvre
Steven van Schaik © 2016

Me with my painting Dream Selfie
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2016
(Photo by Steven van Schaik)

In fact Miranda and I started something at the Florence Biennale in 2015 that we could
really use now, and that was the Happy People Group. In the long days of sitting
the Florence show we helped people become more cheerful by starting this group,
and teaching people to put their hands in the air for two minutes to lower their stress
levels. So hey let’s give it a go now, because aside from not being able to travel at all,
 there are one or two things going on that cause some stress at the moment.

Have some fun dreaming!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Pictures of inspiration

Walking in our favourite
park by Lake Ontario
we met a woman who
lives near the park walking
her cat home, 
by playing with it 
with a stick. 
(She gave me permission to take the
photo, and bonus, she knows
that bread is good for swans.
Her cat loves the lake,
and is not scared of swans.)
Photo: Barbara Muir © 2020

It’s Saturday, and I want a day off. It's been a wonderful day, starting with
the market, and seeing the wonderful farmers who sell us a gorgeous quiche
(they are chefs), organic eggs, and organic lettuce every week. We came home
to watch the finishing process on our front door, which was getting painted to
match the shutters on our white house. Red is a tricky colour, as any artist
would agree, and it had to be the right red to match the red shutters, which
make the house look pretty and happy.

The house
This is a before picture.
You can't tell from this
that the shutters are a
cherry red and all the
same colour.  The door
was more fire engine red.
It now matches -- Thank you Andrew.
Photo: Barbara Muir © 2020

So this afternoon the work got finished beautifully. And for the first time
since the rest of the front of the house was painted two years ago, the door
actually matches the shutters. That might not even seem important to you,
but it’s a major event for us.  

Then the excitement kept on going as I got to play a fabulous game of ball
with my dog in the backyard. This is a rare event because she doesn’t respect
gardens, so luckily we are near the end of garden season, and we concentrated
on the back of the yard, where nothing is growing, for our game.

Produce from some of the plants I 
didn't want the dog to hit in our game.

Random tomato plants from
our compost sprung up 
everywhere this summer.
Photo: Barbara Muir © 2020

Now I’m looking for a movie, and showing you some shots of things I’ve seen
in the past couple of weeks that made me happy. I hope you have a great
weekend, and we will keep on loving what’s great about our lives.

Recent view in our 
colour -- leaving soon :-)
Photo: Barbara Muir © 2020

Happy weekend!

Friday, October 23, 2020

Last day of summer weather – maybe

Happiness experts -- anemones
Inktober drawing
marker on Canson
Mixed Media Paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
It was unusually warm today for October 23. In fact a friend was painting our
front door, and when we went to sit social distanced on the back porch while
the door dried between coats, it was too hot to stay on the porch, and we had
to move into the shade in the yard.

But according to the government alert I got on the radio a few minutes ago all
this will be over soon. It is supposed to drop by 16 degrees tonight, and this is going
to lead to severe storms and possibly tornadoes!

So I was glad to work on this drawing of maybe the last of the fall blooming
anemones. I hope I’m not boring you with them, but they are certainly not boring me.
They are amazing -- just so gorgeous.

We have to enjoy what we have, while we have it, which is what I remembered
talking to our friend, social distanced, and masked, on this glorious day. 
What we have is friendship, nature's beauty, and laughter, and that’s pretty good.

It was a very beautiful day. And the door is going to look amazing. Now as the 
weather people say, it's time to take cover.

Have an enjoying yourself day

Thursday, October 22, 2020

More from the Times Table series

Let's get this party started!
First in the Times Tables series
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

This is the last painting I can show you that is part of the Times Table series.
I’m not saying this series is finished, because I’d love to do more paintings
of families around their kitchen tables. But who knows when we’ll be able
to visit and photograph families, so I don’t know when I will be able to do more.

I love this painting. I love the joyful expressions on the faces. I love the feeling
of love that is so clear between everyone -- mom and dad, and the children.
I was doing these paintings from photos long distance, and it was so wonderful
that Auralee Wallace, (the beautiful mother in the painting) was so cooperative
about helping me. Plus it was more than that. Auralee understood what I meant. 

Every time I described what I needed in a pose, the photos came in abundance
to help me get exactly the look that I was trying to create. It was a delightful
creative collaboration, and I’m so happy that the family has this painting.

Wishing you a joyously creative day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Easy does it -- Inktober

Joyous Anemones
an Inktober drawing
Black marker on
Canson Mixed Media paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I heard a wonderful thought on CBC radio's Tapestry today, recommending that
every now and then we take it easy, and do nothing. For artists trying to
create something every day, wanting to make money, and trying to be productive,
this is good information.

What the host of the show said quoting a poem was that the moon is not full all
the time. Nature -- and we are part of it -- is cyclical, and we can be too. During
this never-ending pandemic, nature in my back yard, and in parks, and on walks,
has been one of the most dependable sources for boosting my mood.

If it’s warm enough we leave our wooden back door open, and look out through
the glass door at the high bank of gorgeous fall blooming anemones -- a cloud of
white against a green, gold and red autumn backdrop.

So I thought I’d feature them again today. I know they can’t last forever, and
I know that I’ll find beauty in whatever nature offers, but oh boy I love these
flowers and I love that they are so resilient they can teach us a lesson. Every
January Steven puts our Christmas tree, filled with bird seed, out in the garden
on what remains of the anemones, and I’m always worried that they won’t come
back, but they do.

And we will too. We'll come back from this pandemic, and live joyous, socially
connected, happy, partying, sharing hugs lives again.

Meanwhile, let’s enjoy what we have, and to my American friends -- please vote.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Who’s your superhero?

Superhero (Inktober drawing)
black marker on 
Canson Mixed Media paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
I worked on this drawing today of one of my superheroes. The portrait is not
accurate, but the feeling of excitement is there and that’s important. Who
are my superheroes? I have way too many to list them all. But I start with my
husband, and my family, then my friends, and all of you out there. And
everyone who’s a front line worker is my hero, and everyone trying
to improve the world in whatever way they can by being loving, by being kind,
 by being enthusiastic and creative.

This is an in Inktober drawing, and I’m happy to give you something along
that theme. I’m teaching tonight and my students are all superheroes -- studying
online – that takes strength, courage, and creativity for sure.

I think what matters the most to me right now, is to try as hard as possible to
be happy and to notice what's good in the world. I also want us to take a stand,
to write politicians, to have our voice for about what isn’t working.

Please stay safe and stay healthy.

Monday, October 19, 2020

From a year ago


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

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

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

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Small changes

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a fun filled, and creative week. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

More from the Times Table series

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 16, 2020

A love of reading

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 15, 2020

This is what I’m working on

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Thank you to a wonderful writer

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

An Inktober drawing done before Inktober

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

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

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

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

Have a loving your past and present day.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

Stay safe, healthy, and happy if possible. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Grateful for my mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Today was our Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 9, 2020

More on a theme

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Thinking about Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Sharpening it up

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Another Inktober drawing

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 5, 2020

Getting there

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Art creates wonderful connections

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have an art changes your life day.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Favourite Inktober post from last year (one of them)

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 2, 2020

The incredible joy of flowers

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Happy Inktober October

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!