Wednesday, December 29, 2021

2018, and 2019th things I learned in 2021

First stop Paris
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 

2018th thing I learned -- the world is still out there

People complain about having to talk on Zoom, but Zoom has given
me my Monday night evening class, and faces to see without masks.
And connecting to people around the world on the phone, through letters,
and email has given me so much hope.  The world is still out there --
even when we are in lockdown -- fingers crossed that doesn't happen
again any time soon.

And Paris is still out there.  My favourite places are out there and 
I will visit them when the time is right, when everyone does their 
part to help us conquer this plague.  Meanwhile just the thought of
you -- Paris, New York City, Florence -- makes me happy. Stay safe.

2019th thing

Believing leads to change

The heart of all creativity in part is a belief that it can happen. I can
make that drawing, you can write that book, we can solve this hard
scientific, and behavioural problem of the virus.  And we can solve
climate change, if we believe we can change our ways, and take 
action to do it, and follow through. Let's join forces in a kind and
loving way to effect the change that needs to happen.  I believe we

Thank you again for all of your kindness and support.  You
make me happy.

Have a seeing how much you learned this year day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

From 2016 things, to 2017 things -- spreading joy


Golden Sunlight Cherrywood
acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

I started to read bell hook's all about love, and she talks about how 
the pervasiveness of cynicism, and lack of belief in love and joy is 
harming us as a society.  So here it is.  It has been my mission for
maybe 20 years to spread joy with my art, my writing and my teaching.

So this year--in a year where it's been hard for all of us to keep our
heads up, and keep going down the rocky road of virus land, I learned
this lesson again. Joy counts.  I need to do whatever I can to help 
others feel happy, and of course to stay happy myself.  That is not
a shallow lesson. Love is a deep commitment -- to the planet, to
family and friends like you, and to myself. 

I'm sending you the image from my holiday card.  I submitted my
teaching grades on December 22, and had two days to get the holiday
together.  That meant I didn't get the card to as many people as 
I would have wished -- in short -- all of you. 

The inside message is:

Warm Wishes for a Happy Holiday

and a Joyous New Year!

Have a spreading joy day!

Monday, December 27, 2021

Catching up

Valiant winter tulips
Marker on Canson
mixed media paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

There are so many people who make my life the best, that I
don't even know where to begin.  But for the next 10 things 
I learned in 2021, I'll repeat the joy of learning from other
artists on line.  Today watching Harry Stooshinoff draw, I
got the urge to draw the tulips sitting in my kitchen.  I'm
organizing my studio, and it's in a state of flux at the moment.
Tomorrow is another day. 

But inspired by Harry's amazing one minute video I began a 
line drawing of the tulips.  This is the second one.  I began in
ballpoint pen, which everyone raves about, but it didn't work
for me, and the pen went dry, so I began again.  If the flowers
last until tomorrow, I'll work on it a bit more.

Line drawing is not the ideal medium for tulips -- they deserve
colour.  But that made it an even more interesting exercise.
I had a lot of fun.

Have an enjoying your life day. 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Holidays at Cedarvale Park in our neighbourhood a few years ago. 

How was Christmas on Cherrywood? Our family rapid tested, and Steven and I have had the
third vaccine.  So we had dinner with Megan, Christopher, Alice and Madeleine
on Christmas Eve, and shared presents on Christmas afternoon. And we had 
dinner with Sam on Christmas night.  We are so grateful to Christopher for the rapid
tests that made it all possible.

Last year we had dinner outside with Sam and Emily on the back porch at minus 4 degrees
Celsius, and shared presents masked with the other family at 6 below.  It was cold, and much
better than nothing, but this year it was wonderful to be inside.

Wishing you a safe and healthy holiday. 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

The next three things I learned in 2021

Toronto December sunset 
Barbara Muir ©️2021

Thank you to the farmers at Marvellous Edibles
This year, like every year for the past 10 years I learned over
and over how much I appreciate the work of the farmers Ayse
and Jens of Marvellous Edible Farm.  We buy our lettuce, quiche,
fresh farm eggs from them every week.  And every week
Ayse sends out a wonderful letter to all of their regular shoppers
about life on the farm.  Thank you so much Ayse and Jens.  Your
baked goods are always delicious, and salads with your greens,
and omelettes with your amazing eggs make us so happy.

The Cherrywood Community
The third thing I relearned was how much I love and miss my
community. Our coffee group has been meeting since our children were 
little and attending the same public school. When we could
meet in person, in a group member's house, the brief meeting
would be a pure delight.  I have missed most of the meetings in
the past year because I have been nervous of group meetings, even
outside, although I joined one in the summer, and it was wonderful.
But I recently attended a couple of our Zoom meetings, and so
enjoyed seeing my friends's faces.  

Wonder is the best
The third thing I've learned over and is the miracle of wonder. 
Steven and I are already talking about how it will be when the light
returns.  Amazing.  But my image today is from the other day, when
I got out of my car to buy a holiday wreath and saw this miraculous
sky. Feeling wonder is a gift to all of us, and to an artist, the life
blood of our lives.  With all of the tragic news lately — we need it more
than ever.

Have a feeling the wonder of the world day

Friday, December 17, 2021

Some of my heroes -- the next three things I learned in 2021

Acrylic on Birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

2021 has been another tough 12 months.  Does that go without saying? Maybe
not.  One thing is for certain -- the people who care about you and help you
while respecting your social distance, wearing masks, getting their shots are
up there on my hero list. So here are three people who have taught me the value
of kindness all over again this year. This means I'm up to 2003 things I learned this year.
18 to go!

Raylea Lambert
A huge, heartfelt thank you goes out to Raylea (pictured above) for trying to make
sure I go for walks.  Raylea is kind beyond measure, and as often as possible
during the week through this strange up and down world of 2021 has 
gone on walks with me and her dog, Ginger.  My own dog has pulled
me and actually helped me get a concussion a couple of times, so
I usually walk with her with Steven. These walks with Raylea have been
a glorious treat for me. Thank you Raylea.

Chris and Steven putting
Breakfast in the Hotel

Petit-déjeuner à l'hôtel
when it was on display at
St. Clair Printing and Graphics 
Acrylic on canvas
6 ft. x 8 ft.
Barbara Muir © 2012

Chris Chan, at St. Clair Printing
Chris is amazing, funny, and a wonderful printer. As an artist, unable
to sit with other artists and draw from the model during this bizarre
time - Chris's wonderful prints of my reference photos have helped
me to keep inspired, and keep on working. I am immensely grateful
to him.  He asked me not to write this, because he doesn't want to be
so famous! 

Sally the dog
Acrylic on canvas
5 x 7 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2014

Siobhan Mulcahy
Speaking of our sweet dog, another huge thank you goes out to Siobhan
Mulcahy, who walks our dog Sally with a pack of other cheerful dogs three
times a week, during the work week. This makes our dog happy, and much
easier to live with, and that is wonderful. 

And to everyone out there who makes our lives happier, thank you
to the maximum, maximum. Have a making peoples' lives happier day.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The next 1000 things

The newest member of our family -- Monet
(a direct descendent -- :-)
She is a Tortiepoint Siamese kitten --
almost 10 weeks old.  Unbeloved
by our very nervous dog, Sally, and
our older Siamese cat, Fiona.
But we just got her on Saturday, so
all of these tense relations improve
day by day. Happy Holidays.
The new kitten gets into everything.
This is the antique water jug we put
flowers in before we have time to
arrange them.
Barbara Muir © 2021

Because we have been so closed in this year— seeing very few friends, drives in the car
and feeding the geese, ducks and swans our main entertainment, family has become our
main focus.  And even then our connection was hampered by Lock downs and restrictions until
July of this year. At the end of July the family came inside for a birthday for the first time in 17 months.

We all looked at one another at one point in quiet wonder that we could be inside together as though nothing had happened, but it certainly had, and everyone but the young children was
double vaccinated, and we could hug! 

That, it turns out, was just a chapter in the long story of COVID-19. And we will all get the booster
when we can, and the next booster as required. 

So my second thousand best things about 2021, which gets me up to 2000 things, is about my
family.  My husband has been a saint, and I guess I fall into that category too.  We have been
so lucky to be with one another.  And even though working at home hasn't been ideal -- we have
enjoyed the breaks with each other. The rest of my Toronto family have been wonderful, kind,
funny, helpful.  We've been together this year for the fall birthdays and Thanksgiving, and I hope
we'll get to do one of those holiday family photos I love so much. 

My family far and wide have kept in constant touch with us -- making us laugh, giving us
hope, sharing their methods of coping with this endless virus. 

Please stay safe, get the booster, be careful, so we can all enjoy our families.

Have a loving your family day.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Starting the countdown on 2021 things I learned in 2021

End of summer bouquet
Acrylic ink and marker on
drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

The first 1,000

 There is always so much to learn:

A few years ago Howard Wolinsky, the Chicago journalist, and fabulous
photographer, who got me noticed by Oprah's people, wanted me to write
about whatever the number of the year was and how many things I'd learned.
So we are almost done 2021, and I'm thinking about it Howard.

This past year being literally in lockdown for so much of the year I sometimes
felt that I'd forgotten everything.  I teach once a week on a Zoom format,
and continue to learn about that.  In some ways teaching has been
my only social life -- and a pure delight. But I felt like I was forgetting
essential skills -- how to be with people in person, how to talk, how to create.

And when I'd worry, or feel lost, or sit at my easel, and not know where
to begin, I'd know that there were way worse problems out in the world,
than any I was experiencing here. 

I hope a major lesson I learned this year was to honour and understand how
lucky I am to be here, alive, thinking and even when I'm not creating,
yearning to be creating.  

To all of the artists, curators, collectors, and art appreciators who read my blog,
comment and support me -- thank you.  You have taught me more like a million
things this year (but let's call it 1,000 for form's sake) -- inspired me, and made
 me happy.  Thank you.   

Have a counting your 2021 lessons day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

10 Reasons to be Happy

Self portrait
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

It seems like the perfect day for 10 Reasons to be Happy.

1.  I started painting again yesterday on a hard work.  Slowly, slowly,
but I made some progress, and understood my next steps. Yay!

2. We are getting a new kitten on the weekend, and I think she will
be wonderful.  She is a Tortiepoint Siamese, like our cat Fiona, who is one
of the kindest, most intelligent, and loving animals we've ever had.

3.  I'm reading a good book -- Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown,
who I see has a new podcast I'd love to listen to. 

4. We put up one of our holiday trees on the back porch in the
freezing cold last night.  

5.  We will probably put up the one for the front porch tonight.
(Ontario's COVID numbers are rising dramatically, so who knows
we may be having Christmas on the porch again this year.)

6. I ordered new Holiday Cards and they should be ready tomorrow!

7. We have been listening to Holiday music, singing, and watching Holiday
movies at night -- which are so cheerful. 

8.  It snowed all day today, light pretty snow, so I put my icers on
for my walk, and it was beautiful.

9. There is supper in the fridge, so I don't have to cook, and it's my night.
(My husband and I make dinner every other night.)

10.  You! You make me happy every single day.  Thank you for your
support and kind comments.  You so rock!

Have a noticing your happiness day.

11. What?  Oh yes.  Break every rule. While I'm at it, why not use this
12 year old portrait of me?  I like the style, and I'll think about that as
I'm working on a portrait now of someone who is not me. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

For me Heart is All

Dream Selfie -- Wonder Water Image #7 Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2016

Tonight I'm posting a piece I found in my Facebook memories today, because it moved me to read it again. It is true. For me Heart is All. Our hearts all over the world have taken a major hit in the past two years, but if we are here to tell the story, and to continue to live and love, we know we are blessed. Life has been harder for everyone, and also every loving minute has been more precious than ever. Thank you everyone. The rest of this blog is from my former post on Facebook.

"I remember teaching positive psychology for my boss Frank Daley (who I deeply admire, and loved working with) and talking about love. (This portrait is of his beautiful daughter, Regan Daley). Dream Selfie -- Wonder Water Image #7, showed in the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, France in October 2016. One point of the course (and the textbook) was that loving a person is not the same as loving chocolate.

Of course we were trying to help young people understand what true, grown up love with a partner was like. But I always fidgeted with that concept -- got uneasy, felt a psychic error there for me. True there are degrees of love.

It would be hard to match the love I feel for my family and friends. But it is my experience that people who throw that word around, who love people, and paintings, music, humour, ice cream, and flowers, and coffee, and wine, and pretty clothes and their jobs -- also love each other, the environment, the planet, fairness, equality and will fight, not in a shallow way, to take care of the people, the neighbourhood, the city, the country, the planet that they love.

I am all for spreading the love, for loving as much as possible -- for gushing over a book, a movie, a friend, a lover. We are trained to be reticent, and it isn't getting us anywhere. So guess what? I love that you are reading this. And please go out and compliment your family and friends. Love, love, love. My mother's death taught me that it is all over in an instant, and you cannot ever love enough in this lifetime."

Have a loving your life day.❤

Friday, December 3, 2021

Friendship painting = Play

Crazy Ocean view
Acrylic ink on watercolour paper
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

I got to talk to my wonderful friend Flora Doehler, the great artist, last night.
The last time we talked I started a little painting. Sometimes I find it easier to
paint if I’m not concentrating on what I’m doing so the image of an ocean scene
came to me just because of the sound of her voice.

Acrylic ink on watercolour paper
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

One of the highlights of our trip this summer was visiting Flora and her husband
Larry in Bear River. We saw a gallery they're curating in town, and a wonderful
show. And above all I loved seeing Flora’s studio, which is like no other. It is filled
with paintings inspired by the beautiful garden she and Larry grow, and the glorious
light that comes in the studio windows.

I think I can call these InkDecember creations, even though they are not pen
and ink drawings. They’re done with acrylic ink on watercolour paper. So that’s that.

You got me universe
Acrylic ink on watercolour paper
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

I’ve been thinking about that watercolour pad for a while, and about Bob Burridge who
starts every day doing five or six paintings. Bob I did some, and it felt good.

Having an enjoying what you do day.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Happy December

Prepping for the season
On the weekend we got this beautiful tree 🌲 from Mike Majeski, who is selling
Christmas trees to raise money for the Daily Bread Food bank. Clockwise 
from the left — Steven with the tree which is 4 feet higher than his 6 feet!
I mean!, Clementines — our winter sanity food. (They make you happy),
last year’s tree, the swans who were waiting for us to feed them after the tree
was delivered, the first snow fall in the backyard, and in the center Mike’s truck,
which I’m sure made everyone think we’re selling our house,
with the adorable delivery girl. We aren’t selling at all, but if we ever do Mike
would be the person we’d choose to help us.
Major thanks to Mike, Christopher and Alice. Great team.

Here we are on the first of December already getting a jump on the season thanks
to Mike Majeski. We are very grateful to Mike for his fantastic work for the Daily
Bread Food Bank.  

The tree is huge, the Clementines have become a year round snack during
COVID-19.  They calm us down. The decorated tree is last year's 
effort. We haven't brought the tree into the house yet.  Our excitement was added
to on the day we got the tree, because when we went to a park on the west end
of the city, the swans were back! We were so happy because we were worried
that they'd been harmed, and they were delighted to 
see us. We feed them good
bread, and the Queen's (Queen Elizabeth) swan 
manager says that's a good thing
to do. The first snow came at the end of November -- 
thank you universe.  No one
 here is in a rush to see snow, but it does feel right at this 
time of year. And in the
center is Mike's delivery truck, with his assistant Alice 
pointing to the name on the truck.  

It feels like this strange year has rushed by.  Thank you to everyone who made it
enjoyable despite all of our restrictions, which I gather will continue with this
new variant. Deep breath!  Stay safe.  We can get through this.  Together.
Please get vaccinated if you aren't already.  And Happy Holiday Season.

Have a loving your life day. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Hi There Happy American Thanksgiving weekend

The Helpful Printout of my
Ink drawings.
Thank you Chris at
St. Clair Printing.
Barbara Muir © 2021

Happy American Thanksgiving to my American family and friends, and
Congratulations to my nephew Jonathan who married his partner Kathryn
2 days ago.There are big celebrations going on in California, even though they
married on their own, and went home to take their daughters out for lunch.

I know I haven't been here for awhile, and I'm sorry.  This fall has been busy
with family celebrations, and work.  I am slowly working at getting the
beautiful website my son designed added to.  

I've been writing captions, which meant searching through my blog
to find out the names and sizes for each of my works.  I want to thank my printer
Chris at St. Clair Printing and Graphics for making printed images of each page of
my website, so I could caption the images, and see the order easily.

Not complicated, but very helpful. 

I'm showing you a photo of his printout of the line drawings.  I want to add more
and I will.  For now I just want to get what's there detailed.

Thank you for your support.  I am very grateful for every one of you. 

Have a loving your life weekend. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Hey! Exciting announcement

Some images -- not all on the
website -- but I wanted to 
put a celebratory piece up for you.
I am trying to stop myself 
from going and shouting this
from the rooftop.  I've wanted
a website for 10 years! It's here.

Hi everyone I've got a website. Yes. My thanks go out to my son Christopher
for designing it for me.  Yes I still have to link it to my blog.  But here's
the link to My website

I'm so thrilled that my film director son put in the work to get this
done.  Yay!

Please share it if you want to! It's a very happy day in this artist's life.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Friends who collect your art

Still life collection in
my friend’s kitchen
Acrylic on canvasses
Barbara Muir ©️
They are clockwise from the upper 
left corner:

October Pansies
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

Morning at the artist's table
36 x 12 inches
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2008
(I've learned a lot about 
photographing my work in the
past 13 years!)

Cherry branches in a
crystal jug
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2008

I went to see a friend the other day who I think I've only seen once sitting outside
since the beginning of the pandemic. The reasons have been many. We were
in lockdown for the longest time in Toronto. Then because both of us are
conscientious about not being exposed to the virus, we had to wait until Steven
and I were fully vaccinated before I could visit.

But a couple of weeks after we were fully vaccinated we headed out on vacation
to our little school house in Nova Scotia. And then my friend and her husband went
travelling. So it was so lovely to see my friend. I was so happy. We talked and
had coffee, and she showed me her garden. And when I walked around her house
I saw that she and her husband are serious collectors of my work! An added treat.

Life gets so busy, and almost 2 years is so long! I had forgotten how many paintings
they had bought, and commissioned from me over the years. And the work is beautifully

Tonight I’m showing you a little collection of still life paintings that they have on
the kitchen wall. The paintings are across from a large window, which was letting in
brilliant sunlight when I was visiting. I took the shot with my phone because the sight
of these paintings gathered so perfectly made me feel wonderful. I don't have a decent
photo of the long still life.

Thank you to all of my collectors over the years. You’ve made me a very happy artist.
I once had an art director who thought that sales to people who knew you meant nothing.
Not true. In fact when I teach business writing one of the things we emphasize over and
over is the importance of connecting. And friendship is right at the top of the list of how
to connect in life. Right? Thank you so much Susan and David. You two totally rock.

Have a collecting your friends' artwork day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021


My friend Franco 
Inktober drawing
Marker on drawing paper
 5.5 x 8. 5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

One miraculous part of my
life in the last decade has been
taking part in shows around the world.
I met the wonderful artist Franco the Creator
in New York City when he visited
a show in the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery,
and loved my work.  Meeting fabulous 
artists, and being part of international
exhibitions made me so happy.
This is all on hold now because of 
COVID, and I miss it.
This drawing is loosely based on an image
from a video Franco did 
about being so tired of racism.  The
video broke my heart, and I wanted
to draw Franco and honour him.
My story about miracles is separate.
I could never have imagined the
wonderful life I've had when I was a child,
not because I didn't enjoy my life, but
because I had no understanding 
of what was possible.

It's hard for me to imagine the little girl I was sitting in Sunday school -- itching to
 be outside, or home with my dolls, or reading. I couldn’t get the concept of miracles.
The Sunday school teachers would read from the Bible about the loaves and the fishes,
 and it wasn't until I was much older that I understood what the miracle in that story was
supposed to be. As a child I didn't like fish at all, (love fish now), and I remember thinking
 that if everyone got a little bit of this horrible food, they'd still be hungry. Maybe I was meant
 to be a scientist.

Of course I'd keep all of my rebellious thoughts to myself on the ride home with my mother
and father. There was probably more to my unease than just the content of the stories. I didn't
like beards (no men I knew had so much as a mustache,) so I couldn't relate to the art work,
or the proffered God. I hated sitting on the cold chairs in the basement. I could hear the singing
upstairs, and resented memorizing the psalms downstairs.

But it was probably the earnest, didactic nature of the teachers, and the concept of sin that
bothered me the most. Here we were, a collection of entirely innocent, fresh faced, six and
seven-year-olds being told that we were bad. That was a boring, tiring and annoying message.

So how did I, a childhood cynic, start to believe in miracles and wonder?  I have been
so lucky to be released from the idea of guilt for enjoying life, and into the delight of seeing
what's good in the world. This didn't happen overnight, and maybe it's a natural progression.

My mother was big on wonder, and helped me notice nature -- birds and animals. My father
loved his garden and his land on the river, so he taught me love of place. Both of my parents
loved art.  My mother almost got a third degree in it, but opted to audit art history classes
instead.  My father was an excellent photographer, ands self taught painter.

My father quit going to church, because he was expected to spend his time adding up the
donations. My mother stayed part of the church until my parents moved back to Ottawa.
She had been trying to please my father by attending the United Church, but was raised a
Unitarian, and didn’t believe in the United Church credo.

I left the church right after getting baptized at 15.  After church one Sunday I asked my mother
why she didn’t repeat the credo, and she said she didn’t believe it. “Then why do I have to?” I asked.
And she answered, “you don’t.”

My friends taught me all about sharing and humour, and my husband and children taught me about the
sheer joy and poignancy of love. In short, I was saved, but not by the church.

Now I feel like I witness miracles every day. When I first wrote about this subject one miracle was
my yowling cat, who noticed that my son hadn't changed his socks in a couple of days, and 
a pair of clean socks up from the laundry room in the basement, to my son’s bedroom on the second floor
yelling all the way. That was a miracle I could relate to. And most miraculous is the world I
share with you here -- of art, ideas, wonder and love for our family, friends and the planet.

Have a miraculous day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Okay I'll be positive!

Inktober drawing
marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

Being positive takes a lot of work.  I'm blessed to know how to get there.  So
I had a couple of questions from very different sources a few days ago.  One
was, "what would I like to do to affect change in the world?"  Without thinking
I answered, "I'd like to try to be kind in all of my actions." So I will work on that.

Then a sweet Jehovah's Witness woman phoned me as I was drinking my first
of three coffees on the weekend.  She wanted to know if I thought the world was
getting worse or better. Her good work for the day was to call random people and
read from, the bible.

I told her that it didn't matter what direction the world was going in, my job was
to do my best to be kind, to make people happy, to think about the environment,
and take whatever actions I could to improve things.  And I told her I don't
believe in God, and am not religious, but I believe in Love.

Then she read a little piece from the bible to me.  I found out that she was living
in a seniors' home, and I think she was lonely, so I'm glad I put aside my
book, and listened for a few minutes. She told me she was originally from 
Jamaica, and had come here in 1972.  She still had a lovely accent, and we
talked about the fact that so many wonderful changes had happened in the
world since 1972.

As for the title.  My artist's, worker, writer spirit is often rebellious and resistant.
That person would rather do anything than work.  So it more or less says to
the part of me that wants to continue -- Make me!  And I reply Okay I will.  This is
all an internal debate.  And the answer is my list, and crossing things off the
list. See it works.  Writing my blog was on the list.  

Wishing you a wonderful day.  

Friday, October 15, 2021

Favourite from the Inktober collection

Reading in the studio
Ball point pen on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

 I love this drawing of Steven reading to Alice. Everything about the memories of
 getting to spend time with family members was deeply nostalgic for the long period
 of lockdown, and special precautions during this pandemic. There is such a sweetness
 in reading to anyone, but especially to children. It is beautiful to watch how they listen
 and absorb every word. If you read the book a number of times they'll know it off by
 heart, and want to say the words out loud as you read it .

Slowly these special times are coming back to us with more and more people being
fully vaccinated. And during the time when no contact outside of our main household was
possible, we learned so much about how vital the simple human interactions are to our

I am under no illusions that all is well with the world, but I am so incredibly happy
when we get to spend time with a friend, or a relative enjoying a book, talking
about a television show, or sharing a meal together – so amazing.

Have an enjoying the small pleasures in your life day.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Compassion for Health Care Workers

In support of nurses
working overtime to help 
during a pandemic
Inktober drawing
marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

On my walk last night I walked by a lady sitting on her front porch, and in
the window was a beautiful red neon heart. These heart lights are turning up
all over the city, and I asked the woman what they mean. She told me that they
are made by an organization called Our Glowing Hearts, and they are made to
honour the Frontline workers at Michael Garron hospital.

My drawing tonight is of a nurse I saw talking on TikTok about the traumatic
evening she'd had trying to persuade a patient with COVID-19 to go on a
ventilator to try and save the patient's life. She was so tired and sad. The current
situation with COVID-19 is extremely hard on staff in COVID wards. The people
who are coming in are in the main not vaccinated, and they don’t believe that
they have the virus that is in fact killing them. Nurses around the world are suffering
from burnout.

Even worse the nurses who are trying their hardest and working long hours to
try and save lives are being insulted, attacked, mistrusted, and often treated
abysmally by patients and their families. So this nurse got off work and sat in
her car to tell her story to try and persuade people to please get the vaccine.

Her story moved me, and I did this drawing. Thank you to everyone who works
in healthcare facilities all around the world, and to all the frontline workers
for saving lives. My heartfelt  thanks to you. We are all worn out by these
stories, and by the stubborn ongoing resistance to accepting vaccinations.
And to everyone who is double vaccinated -- thank you.

Have a thinking of others, being kind, and doing the responsible thing day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The pleasure of Inktober

For the love of Anemones
Inktober drawing
Marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

I love drawing in ink, and Inktober in October gives me an opportunity to
create, or feature some of my ink drawings. Today’s drawing is of some of my
favourite flowers in the garden – the fall blooming anemones. Ours are stunning.
They fill a huge space with gorgeous tall white flowers floating on the dark green
background of their large leaves.

My husband and I are not gardeners -- ironic as Steven's father was a pro
gardener, and my grandfather was a horticulturalist. But sometimes
just the desire for a garden leads to surprisingly wonderful decisions. Planting
these gorgeous flowers at least a decade ago has ended up giving us so much pleasure
every year.

When the first frost hits, and the flowers lose their blooms, I feel so sad. After the
holiday season my husband puts our holiday tree out in the garden and covers it
 with birdseed. The tree is on top of the anemone patch for at least a month.
Steven loves to see the birds through the basement door window when he’s working
 at his desk in his basement office.

 Each year I worry that the anemones won’t come back, and every year when those
 beauties return, I am so grateful.

Have a loving the beauty in your life day.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving

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

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!  Families and friends
from coast to coast have spent the weekend gathering
together to express our gratitude for the bounty of
the harvest, for each other, and for the planet. Things are
still a bit different this year.  Despite vaccinations being
widespread in Toronto, a lot of festivities have taken
place outside on patios and balconies.  And as Steven and
I have taken our evening walk, we've seen joyous 
family parties, and felt so happy.

Today we will have a Thanksgiving dinner at Megan and
Christopher's house with the children, and Sam (we'll be
missing Emily.) Christopher, Megan, and Alice and Madeleine
already visited to sit outside in our garden at the height of its
beauty in the fantastic, warm and sunny day. That was a nice
surprise and tonight's dinner will be another treat.

I love Thanksgiving because it includes everyone, and
is about sharing what we have, and enjoying a special delicious
meal with the people we 
love.  There are no gifts just
food and 
good company.  It is a wonderful holiday.

Best wishes for a very happy day on the last day of this
wonderful long weekend.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada -- what are you thankful for?

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

This has been a great day both despite, and because of the rain that
was with us in varied forms all day.  I woke up this morning filled
with memories of my mother, who created so many delicious Thanksgiving
dinners for us, her family. I miss her so much. 

Last night thinking about our weekend plans -- dinner with the family
inside on Monday -- all double vaccinated except the young children,
I pulled out a recipe that I must have hand printed at a young
age from a file of hand written and typed recipes.  It's for my mother's
and her mother's pumpkin pie.  Steven (my husband pictured above)
is the pie maker in our family now and loves that recipe. 

So to begin my posts about what I'm thankful for.  Number One is my
darling husband.  He is a champion. And he's making dinner right now
as I write this.  My life has been so wonderful, even during this ongoing
pandemic, because I live with someone who loves me, and who I love.
I know that I'm lucky, and I'm posting this portrait I did of Steven in 2020. 

I was going to call the post "This guy!"  Because at least 
1,000 times a day on our best days I think  -- "Wow how lucky I am
to know this guy."  Like tonight when we walked the 5,000 steps
I still needed to the vegetable store and back in the pouring rain.
In fact in a deluge.  We were soaked through and through -- and I got
my steps -- 10,000.  What's a little water? 

Have a loving your life day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

More from the iPad

Portrait of a man
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

Say you’re stuck somewhere without a sketchbook, or even a pen, or pencil.
But you have your iPad! I drew this portrait for the most part one rainy afternoon
on my two week vacation. There really is no vacation from art. 

In fact the whole holiday was research for upcoming paintings. The beautiful
landscapes and seascapes I saw along the way will inspire me this fall and winter.

Happy first day of fall. Today we have the same dramatic rain that we had for
a lot of our vacation out to the Maritimes. It’s quite beautiful. The garden is lush
with green and flowers.  And our back porch is covered in sparrows trying to
escape the rain. Inside the kitchen door our cat, Fiona, watches the birds' every

This is a not great likeness of our current Prime Minister -- somewhat prescient in
a way. His face appeared on my stories and I drew it. What I like about
drawing on the iPad is both how advanced, and how primitive it is. I enjoy
drawing with my finger, and the whole image was done that way. It could use
more work, but I can get back into my studio now that the people working downstairs
have left. Back to more significant ventures.

To answer your question – yes I have an iPad pencil, but I much prefer
using my finger.

Have a drawing however you can day. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Lessons from the process

Sunset on the cove
iPad drawing
(drawn with my finger)
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

Sometimes when you create something you don't think is perfect,
you should leave it. I don't want to have that as my watchword. But.
I'm glad some of you like the image of the Fundy cove I shared the
other night.  Because I tried to make the horizon straight, and used
a painter's tape that was way too strong.  And it ripped the painting
quite seriously.

So I went at it again.  Same size watercolour paper.  A different kind
of masking tape to make a straight horizon line, and all kinds of strange,
non-complimentary results.  I'm also working on improving a painting
from years ago of our beautiful Pugwash shore, that I never got right.
That is actually improving -- slowly.

But man.  That beautiful sunset still haunted me (in a good way -- I'm
an artist).  And I drew this image of it.  Also not perfect, but the colour 
is right on.  This is an iPad drawing.  That is what the water and sky looked
like -- so gorgeous.

The moral is either -- let it really dry.  Or don't mess with it. Or "Hey--
you're an artist.  Learning and having fun is what it's all about!"

Have a loving the world day.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Acquiring bravery

 Sunset on the Cove
(colour sketch
Acrylic ink on watercolour paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

It may sound strange, but sometimes I love it when messages come flying into my head that
make sense. I realized when I was travelling to the east coast and back for 15 days that I
want to enjoy making art. This trip gave me the inspiration I needed so badly.

About bravery -- all of us who have lived through this continuously surging virus have had
to acquire bravery. Some of us more than others. To my friends who have lost loved ones to
this nasty pandemic I extend my profound sympathy. 

And to the rest of us -- thank you for taking care of yourself and your family. Thank you for
listening to the health experts, and getting your vaccines. I am eternally grateful to you. Just
spending the afternoon today with the youngest artists in our family, I'm fervently wishing 
that they will continue to be safe.

I hope some of the many ideas that came to me on my brief holiday will stick and turn into
something more. It was exciting to be away even under the strange conditions of current travel
 – eating takeout the whole time – still masked. And it’s exciting to be home and to think about
putting my new ideas into action.

Wishing you an absolutely fabulous day.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The wonders of travel

Coffee on the patio
Marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

We’re on our way home now, and I’m looking forward and looking back. I feel like my life has been given incredible gifts in the past two weeks.We got to go to our little school house in Nova Scotia. In the middle of a pandemic this has been huge. 

I’ve seen the work of two of my favourite artists in person, and been so inspired. My brain is on fire with possible ideas.  Artistically I know my creative energy has been affected by the pandemic, but this trip has renewed my urge to create. And seeing paintings by Flora Doehler, and Norene Smiley has been so wonderful. 

There couldn’t be a better place to go at the moment than Nova Scotia, where you have to apply and provide proof that you’re double vaccinated just to be allowed into the province. 

And the countryside and small town views are some of my favourite in the world. Especially at this time of year—summer in its final days —lush green, flowers everywhere, the bluest sky, and gorgeous clouds. I’ve taken endless reference shots. 

I drew this young woman from a casual photo I took through a window in Ottawa at a café where we were getting coffees to go. I loved her serious look as she talked to her friend. 

Have a getting recharged day!

Monday, September 6, 2021

Apples across the brilliant lawn

Apples in a bowl
Marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

Today in heavy rain somehow the grass around our school house was glistening
in the soft light, water shining off the green.  And across the would be field,
(now nicely cut) dotted here and there with wild purple flowers, there are some
apple trees along the edge of the property.  They are looking especially lovely
now.  My friends Flora Doehler and Larry Knox in Bear River have 
some of the most beautiful apple trees I've ever seen, and are picking 
their apples, and making applesauce.

I know I won't have time to harvest our apples -- most are just on
the verge of ripening.  But I did a quick sketch of some small
apples tonight.  It was a lot of fun just fooling around with line.

Have a loving what you see day.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The pleasure of drawing

Drawing on the road
Marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021
My husband Steven and I had a brief window for a vacation, before
his work gets heavy again, and I begin to teach my class one night a
week. So we jumped at it.  Now we are out in Nova Scotia -- one of the
most beautiful places in the world. People are very careful here about
COVID-19, which is why the province is keeping levels very low.

As I photograph everything in hopeful anticipation of references for
future paintings, my top priority is Steven.  We are staying at a motel
In Smiths Cove tonight, that has a small deck looking out onto the
Bay of Fundy.  Spectacular views of the sunset, and the Big
Dipper over the water tonight.  In the distance a concert is wafting
over the water.  So we danced together under the stars for a few minutes

With my focus on our time together, I am drawing when I get a chance.  
Here is a sketch of a beautiful woman. It is super close up, and could of 
course use more work.

Have a drawing whenever you can day.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Summer sketch

While the oatmeal cooks
Marker on mixed media paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

Yesterday as I worked on this rain was coming down hard on the tin roof of our school house.
Today blue skies and sunlight seem miraculous.  I knew when we were planning our
 vacation, which came about very quickly – we had two days to get ready -- that I probably
 wouldn't have time to paint while we were on holiday.

So I decided to simplify my life, and my packing, and bring a sketchbook instead.
I was planning to draw with plain black markers. But in a Winners store in Ottawa
I discovered a package of beautiful coloured markers by Staedtler. 

We arrived in the evening at our school house in Wallace, Nova Scotia, and
were greeted by a lovely bouquet of wildflowers on the table. These were from
my dear friend Paula.

I started drawing them the next morning while my oatmeal was cooking. I loved how
the details of the flowers kept revealing themselves. I think I’m finished. I’ve been
using fine markers, and have rarely drawn with this type of pen in colour before,
and enjoyed them so much.

Have a staying dry and loving your life day. 

Portrait Artist

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