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. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The colours of home

Sunset on Highway 6
Barbara Muir © 2021

We are currently staying at our 112 year old school house in Nova Scotia,
and haven't been here for two years because of the world wide pandemic.
Nova Scotia is being very careful, but we are double vaccinated, filled
out the application form, and got in!

Our very simple wooden building was invaded by creatures who made
themselves right at home, and we are extremely grateful to our friends
who stepped in to clean up the mess before our arrival. 

The entire trip has been magnificent and uplifting.  After a year of
feeling like we were locked in a box, just the travel through the
beauty of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia has been
inspiring beyond compare.  It's not a surprise that Steven and I were 
singing most of the way.  Amazing.

I have done a drawing of the flowers my friend left on our kitchen
table.  But there is not enough light to photograph it properly tonight.
Instead I'm showing you the sunset we saw as we went to buy groceries
along Highway 6 this evening.  Spectacular. 

More tomorrow.  Thank you to every one of you.

Have a loving where you are day. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Summer thoughts working through the week


Peach paradise
Acrylic ink on
cradled birch 
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

Monday my watch word when I woke up was puddle. What did I mean by that? I meant that my goal for the day was just to puddle along trying to get things done as the ideas came into my head. You can’t find that as a verb on the Internet. But I looked in the Oxford hardcover dictionary and puddle is a verb meaning more or less to mess around, or do things inexpertly.

How did that process work? Well not that badly. I did a bit of painting. I visited the Art store and bought paint. I worked a little bit on the portrait I’m doing. and spent some time in the garden.

Most surprising of all I actually froze a tray of peaches to put away for the winter. I do love peaches, so maybe I will put a painting from last summer of peaches up again here tonight.

As I moved on through the week – I may put a little video of the sound of the construction on our street today up for your pleasure – my word yesterday was persistence. That was handy as I was stuck in very long traffic jams, so that it took almost two hours to do two small errands. 

And the word for today was organize because we had people coming to the house to do some work that was important. My advice to parents is not to ground your children if their rooms are a mess. You’ll turn them into adults like me who are allergic to that word. Luckily one of my most delightful jobs was teaching positive psychology.  And because it was for college students, organization and time management were crucial add ons to a course designed to build self esteem. 

Teaching that changed my life. And now I can pull it together when I have to.

What was your word of the day? (Polite please!)

*Note.  Haven't been able to upload the video yet.  When I can, it will be here.  Have a great 
rest of the week.

Friday, July 30, 2021

The pleasure of walking away and nasturtiums

Nasturtiums rule
Acrylic ink and marker
on watercolour paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

When I spoke to you last our street was under construction. Now two weeks
later it is still under construction, and there's a deep trench in front of our house
that's been partially filled with water as we had intermittent rain for a couple of days.
I’ve parked my car one street over, and been reluctant to walk on our street,
or to drive in case I lose my precious parking spot. It's worse this week, because there's
now a post and string barrier in front of our house.

But last week I needed some art supplies, and I went to my printer to pick up some
reference photos. So I braved my rocky street and walked to my car noticing
everything along the way. Away from the construction I was delighted by flowers
and the shapes of leaves on vines over people’s  fences. The visual world captivated me.

I'm very aware that we do not have that much summer left -- that's a powerful
feeling at the end of July. So I wanted to capture our beautiful nasturtiums which
have taken over the garden. The combo of strangely hot and often wet weather has
led to fabulous growth in our garden. And our nasturtiums turned out to be aggressive
climbers that are trying to fill the entire garden. They're amazing.

What I’ve always liked about these flowers is that you have to pick them every day.
And there are so many to pick. When you think about winter that's a bit of a miracle.
So the street is a mess, but the garden is a treat. 

Happy weekend. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

The art of construction

Construction on our street
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

The biggest news on Cherrywood is that the street is being in polite terms revamped. How
that plays out is that the street is being torn apart and rebuilt by very kind construction
people. From a sound point of view, it’s not that fun. 

It’s summer and on the better days we might like to spend some time outside. But maybe
not right now. I’ve had to tell our cat who loves lying on a chair on the back porch, that
evening seems to be the best time right now. 

 I thought I’d share some pictures with you to give you a better idea of what it’s like.

Wishing you a constructive day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Spirits in the sky

Goodbye Timbah
Acrylic ink on watercolour paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

A week ago yesterday we lost our dear cat Timbah. I’m not religious, but I do believe
in spirits -- not ghosts, maybe a better word is presences, or influences. My father
sometimes sends me crows to let me know I’m on the right track, or to be careful. 
Both of us loved crows, and I still do. 

And my mother who died in 2013 is an almost constant presence in my life.
I can hear her in my mind. So when Timbah died, I was moved to do
this little painting of his spirit rising up into the sky. No I don’t believe in heaven,
but I do believe in the powerful force of love.

We love you Timbah. And you will continue to be a loving spirit in our lives. 

Have a loving your family day. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

More on Timbah, making it Timbah week

Timbah (left) with Fiona 
in a box train

Barbara Muir © 2008

Our cat Timbah died Monday, and I've been so grateful for all of the
kind words people have sent to us.  I have personally declared this
Timbah week.  

We had so much fun with him. Our other cat Fiona on the right in this picture
misses him terribly, even though his last few months have been hard
for all of us.  One of the things the two of them loved was to be pulled 
around the house in a pretend train. This habit stuck.  Plus they both
loved all boxes, and it was always better to have two boxes, to prevent

Thanks again for all of your kind messages.

Have a loving your animals day. 

Monday, July 5, 2021

Our dear cat Timbah died today

Steven Dancing with the cat
Music by Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing
Didn't it rain,
via my good friend
the wonderful Irish painter
Róisín O'Farrell

Our cat Timbah, who was 16 years old we think, and a beloved member
of our family, 
died today.  I love this video of Steven dancing with Timbah,
it says it all.  He always loved us dancing with him.  He was affectionate,
beautiful, and a sweet, strong, caring cat right to the end.

We are so sad that he's gone, and so are our cat Fiona, and dog, Sally.
This lovely cat has been one of the great influences in our lives, and 
 part of our pets' pack.  Thank you to all of our family and friends who called
today to give their condolences. 
And thank you to everyone who helped
make his life a 
happy one.  Because I know it was.  We will miss
you sweet Timbah.

Have a loving your family day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The great thing about journaling

Happy baby sketch
(subject unknown)
Ballpoint pen on lined journal paper
6 X 4 inches
Barbara Muir © 

As an artist I have been lucky to be a part time teacher. I've
taught writing for the most part, psychology and creativity.
The writing books I love all suggest that writing three pages
by hand in a journal is one of the best ways to improve your

True.  Today when I wasn't painting, I focused on cleaning one
bookcase packed with sketchbooks and journals.  All of my journals
have drawings too.  And if this really becomes a habit for you
 -- journaling three pages a day, and you keep those notebooks --
you will have a lot of them.  I mean a lot.

Today after work I read to my husband from one of my journals about
our life in the first months after our firstborn came into our lives.
His birthday is one day after Canada Day.  We were moved thinking
about those days, and how happy, exhausted, and naive we were. 

I found this drawing of a baby (not sure who) in one of my journals
and I like the quick sketch. 

Have an enjoying getting your art space organized day. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

Celebrating in COVID times

Me and Steven on a super happy
day in Paris.
High on our list of where we'd like to go when
it's safe to travel is Paris. Yes!

Last Thursday, June 24, was our wedding anniversary. Steven took a long weekend
and we had a wonderful time for four days. We couldn’t celebrate with anyone else
because we haven’t had our second shots.  Usually for our anniversary we head to
Ottawa and go out for dinner with my brother and his wife who have their wedding
anniversary two days before ours.

Sorting through my sketchbooks and journals
in a bookcase today I found this drawing.
Roses in a silver vase seem so right
for an anniversary.  

But this year we were both working too hard before the date to face a long drive,
and we didn’t feel like it was safe for my brother and sister-in-law to see us until
we are fully vaccinated. So we went for pretty drives in the country, went for
walks when it wasn’t too hot, picked up takeout meals and ate them at the edge of
parks in our car, and on our front porch looking at the beautiful roses that provide
a privacy screen for us.

We relaxed, watched movies, cut each other‘s hair – talked about how lucky we
are to love one another. For the whole weekend my main feeling was one of incredible
joy that I met this amazing man, and that we share a loving life. We're not perfect – but
I'd say our life together in this tiny semi in Toronto is pretty close to perfect.  Yes!
It's a good day. 

Have an especially celebratory day.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Changing perceptions -- COVID love

Some of the notes for Father's Day
gathered together.
Marker on sticky notes
Not exactly art -- but hey! These
were all over our small house --
not clumped like this. It was a happy day.
Barbara Muir © 2021

At one of my early jobs I worked for a woman who was a sticky note freak.
I sympathize with her now, because I think she was massively overwhelmed
by working life, and thought she had to write every thought she ever
had down on a sticky note (also known as post-it notes) and put them on the
bulletin board.  She had a bulletin board that covered one wall of our small office.

I'd come in in the morning to see 50 new notes about that day's tasks, and
instantly feel nervous, and annoyed. 
We did our jobs, and she quit after a few
months -- but that experience "stuck" with me -- (pardon 
the pun). 

Until now.  (Trumpets playing.) My husband and I are each other's only 
companions in our house since one of the earlier Lockdowns.  We're on way 
different schedules. He's an early riser, I'm a night owl, and I usually teach
my once-
a-week class at night.  So one night I just started writing love notes
on sticky notes 
and put them everywhere I thought Steven might see them
in the morning.

He loved that, and wrote a bunch back to me.  On the milk carton in the
fridge I found 
"You sustain me."  I mean. Aw. So sweet.  

I'm showing you some of the Father's Day notes.  After this second set of
notes I thought maybe I better stop, maybe they're not recyclable, but
from what I've read they are.  Meanwhile this exchange made us happy.
Who knew -- younger self.

I moved from sticky notes to writing things like "You are awesome" on
big sheets of paper, or making cards, and I have even done posters.
Keeping the happy vibe going.  A challenge.  I can't wait until we get
our second vaccines, and break out of our house to join the wide world.
Until then -- as I tell my students -- words are powerful.

Have a loving your life day.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful fathers in the world


Portrait of my father 
black marker on bond paper
7 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

You can't keep a good man down
Acrylic ink and acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
(This is my husband Steven,
the father of my two sons)

Happy Father's Day

The portrait of my father makes me happy because it captures
the wonderful, loving nature of my Dad.  In  the reference photo my
father is smiling at Christopher, my older son, who was a little
boy at the time.  Our son Sam had not been born yet.  I miss my
father every day.  

And my  father is still a huge influence in my life.  He was a wonderful writer,
a business man, a fabulous photographer, and a great painter -- good at all
of his roles. He was a strict father to young children, which is probably
why I don't like rules to this day. I'm sure his time in the navy contributed to that. 
But as I grew up we developed a happy bond over art, and over family, and were
close at the time of his death from lung cancer way too early.

My dad would have been delighted to know our children and to
see how they have grown up into amazing people.

Happy Father's Day to Steven my sweet husband, the man in the
second drawing. and to Christopher my oldest son. He and Megan have two
beautiful daughters -- Alice 5, and Madeleine 22 months. Thank you to
my loving family -- Christopher, Sam, Megan, Emily, Alice and Madeleine
for being the reason Steven is a very happy and proud father.

Have a loving your family day.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Sometimes the medium is the message

Thank you to the pansies
Acrylic ink on mixed media paper
6 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

As I said to the youngest member of my family, paper makes a 
big difference.  This painting with acrylic ink was done on
mixed media paper.  On watercolour paper the ink flows
in exciting ways, making patterns you didn't plan. Super.

On the mixed media paper, the ink doesn't even look the
same.  The colour is not as bright.  That's why paper matters,
but when the urge hits, like it did that day, I'm glad I made a 
painting, and I'd feel that way even if I did it on a paper bag.
 (I didn't, but you know what I mean.). Come to think of it,
maybe that would be cool. 

To you the beautiful pansies in front of my house I say a 
constant and cheerful thank you.  You inspire me
again, and again on any paper.  Have a great weekend.

Have a loving the learning of creating day.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Quit competing with yourself

Happy new pansies
Acrylic ink, and marker on
watercolour paper
7 x 9.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

One of the things I want to quit doing -- something so many encouraging
articles recommend -- is competing with me. You know how the talk goes. You see
a photo of yourself from three years ago, and you flinch. “Oh my god, I looked
so good back then." Really? Or was it the photographer, and the light and your
super happy expression?

The same is true for art. I see one of my favourite paintings hanging on my wall,
and in a down mood may tell myself, “you knew what you were doing then, and
now?” Stop it. Children and teenagers do this too. And when they do, as loving
parents, we step in and say, “That’s not true. I think the work you did today
is wonderful." Then you pick it up, and praise your child some more.

As artists we have to do the same. And we need to focus on enjoying, not being on
some path to glory— a trophy out ahead that we’re missing. If this pandemic has
taught us anything, it's that there’s a lot that’s good about loving being here now.

Speaking of being in the moment -- right now one of my favourite flowers is
thriving in some pots on our front steps.  But with the high heat we've had this
week, and the higher temperatures we know are coming, that can't continue. 
I enjoy these beauties -- pansies -- by painting them.  Here is one of my latest

Have a loving the moment day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Great news from an artist friend

A Place in the Sun
Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas
40 x 72 inches
Georgia Fullerton © 2018

My dear friend, artist Georgia, has work in a virtual exhibition put
on by the Harlem Fine Arts Show (HFAS) out of New York City. She is one of
60 artists and galleries from around the world featured in the show.  In this
especially hard time for artists -- this breathtaking virtual show is an exciting
chance to look at art in a way that feels as close as possible to being there. Georgia's
exhibition is a collection of some of her finest work.  Her exhibition takes a 
couple of minutes to load, but is well worth it.

Check out the virtual The Harlem Fine Arts Show that opened March 15. Make sure to
see and enjoy it before it closes on July 31. The exhibition is free, and available 24/7. There
are over 1,200 works by "the world's preeminent black artists," and Georgia is beyond
happy to be part of such a fantastic exhibition.  The collection of art displayed in the entire
show is valued at more than $100 million dollars. 

The Sister Code
Mixed Media
18 x 24 inches
Georgia Fullerton © 2017

Visit Georgia's exhibit, and enjoy her work.  I encourage you to give yourself
a treat and see this dynamic show. Georgia's art is reasonably priced, and magnificent.
If you are interested in the work shown in her part of the exhibition please let
her know. At a time when we are all craving beauty, Georgia's work is the perfect choice. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Weekends seem right

Favourite park
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

 If you’ve had a great day, and I have, and for once had no work to do on Saturday
—yay— it seems wrong not to share this view from one of my favourite parks. 

What makes a perfect Saturday for you? For me it was sleeping in, spending time
reading (one of my favourite things to do). Talking to good friends on the phone
is wonderful. Then at the end of the day we got to buy some of the plants we’ve
wanted for the garden.

Yesterday it snowed here. Seriously. Huge vertical blobs far apart in a rain storm.
But it melted when it hit the ground. So today was strangely cold for the end of
May. The super people at Fiesta Farms said bring the plants inside tonight. 

Steven was sad that the Leafs lost, but we watched a riotously funny movie, and
before that had delicious Thai food. 

Perfect. Right? 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Time off, and time to think

The Moon's Out Early
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

True, I haven't been here for awhile. I decided to take a little time off
from blogging.  I have been pretty busy with work, and found I was 
writing my blog late at night, and getting to bed excruciatingly late
as a result.  So I decided to stop for awhile and see how I felt.

I probably will be more erratic about posting for the next few months.
I want to enjoy the summer, and let my work simmer -- developing
slowly.  But I miss you, and miss talking to you -- so for me that's the
benefit in blogging, and you can expect me to connect whenever I can.

I'm working on a larger version of this, which is taking its time, and
I am fine with it moving on slowly. I guess that's what my break has
taught me. "Take your time.  All is well." That's the message from
the art gods and goddesses. I hope you are all well and healthy.

Have an enjoying your life day.

Friday, May 14, 2021

The park’s the solution

Seagulls in the park

A beautiful day and a hard day today. I feel so lucky that simply the blue of the sky can make me happy. But some days it’s not quite so easy. On the days when
the state of the world, and Lockdown, and Covid are just too much, the answer is a visit to our favourite park.

To the antibreaders look back on my previous post where I talked about the Queen’s
Swan experts, and Oxford University bird specialists who say feeding  bread to ducks, geese, swans, and seagulls is just fine. So we took the end of a loaf of bread – very good bread with lots of seeds – to our favourite park today and fed the seagulls and
the geese. If I can load the video that I took a few days ago, I will. If not I’ll post a picture. The scene at the park was magnificent. The sunset came through the trees, and shone onto the pond, where the light broken up by the gentle waves caused by the geese and swans swimming was magnificent.

And after such a short time there we were happy again and ready to face whatever was coming our way with cheer and hope.

Have a loving nature day.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The joy of art shows

Cloud Magic
Acrylic on canvas
4 x 6 feet
Barbara Muir © 2018

Three years ago I was in one of the most enjoyable art shows
of my life -- in an unexpected venue -- no not Florence, Paris
or New York City -- but Niagara Falls. The directors of the
Water for Life exhibition -- Angelina Herrera and Antoine Gaber
did a marvellous job, and so did the curators at the Niagara Falls
History Museum, 
in Niagara Falls, Canada.  My painting was
 beautifully with all of the other gorgeous work
in the show. It was a great 
and proud event where I reconnected
with artists I'd shown with 
before in Florence, Italy at the Biennale
like Steffie Wallace
and Wessel Huisman, and met new artist
friends like Gabrielle Fischer Horvath.

The team -- all of the artists and 
organizers in a group shot

Visitors to the gala opening, with
my painting on the far wall.

The main attractions of Niagara Falls are the beautiful waterfalls -- the
Canadian and the American falls are visible from the Canadian side. 
They are impressive -- magnificent, and wonderful symbols of everything
we love about water.   

And what was the inspiration for my work? Before the pandemic we
visited Nova Scotia every year. 
We own a 100+ year old schoolhouse
in that province, and 
when we're there I walk on our favourite beach
by the ocean 
every day.  I am always overcome with joy seeing the
beauty, hearing the sound of the waves, taking in the rich colours -- and
the view. 

We all need water to live, and for people like me being near
water, and seeing it is inspiring, and life affirming.  We so miss
being in our other home province.

Back in Toronto now we go to a gorgeous, huge park on the west end
of the city as often as we can.  It is the closest we can get to 
the ocean
feeling. On the edge of Lake Ontario Steven, my husband, and I feed
the birds. 
 And the geese, ducks, swans and seagulls know the sound
of Steven's voice. They swim and fly in from far out on the lake when
we arrive to see him, and to let him feed them. During the pandemic
these park visits have been 
so vital to helping us stay positive and hopeful.

Have an enjoying your past, envisioning your future, and delighting in your present day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The joy of face to face


At La Rosa
Acrylic on mounted birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

In 2014 one of our family members spent a lot of time at Toronto Western
hospital.  Whoever accompanied them would wander around the
neighbourhood while the examinations, or treatments were taking place.
We often visited La Rosa bakery in Kensington market for a coffee and
delicious sandwiches.

I don't think the bakery is still going.  They would have to do strictly pick
up in Lockdown, and the opportunity to see any staff anywhere
without masks is gone.  That's something I really look forward to -- seeing
people's faces.  Lisa, the woman in the portrait, was so kind and funny.  I
hope she is healthy and happy.

It will be wonderful when this pandemic is under control and we can see
such delightful expressions again.  

Have an imagining a happy future day.   

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Your Lockdown strategies

Subjects for still life everywhere
(Life in Lockdown)
Barbara Muir © 2021

Today we learned that we will be in lockdown again until the middle of June at least.
The numbers have not gone down low enough for the government to open everything up.
So how do you stay happy and sane during lockdown?

When I paint most of the day I feel hopeful.  This week I was finally making a breakthrough
on a painting I’ve had on the easel, on and off for a month. I will be so happy when I
finish that work. The books I’m reading say to say, "I’m happy now and that’s why I
know I can finish that work." See the flip?

That’s one of my simplest strategies – maybe the best one – flip it. I know I’ve told you
about that before. All it means is that you’re thinking that something is really depressing
and awful – like lockdown, and you decide, "This isn't terrible -- it's okay. I’m pretty sure
I can figure out how to be happy during this time." So let’s get started on the next chapter
of Lockdown.

The reality remains the same as it's been since the start of the pandemic -- if you are
safe and healthy, and your family is well, you are doing fine.  

What do you do to stay sane? 

Have a being as happy as possible day!

Monday, May 10, 2021

Dogs are awesome for art

Sally the dog -- my art companion
Barbara Muir © 2021

I just finished reading Neil Pasricha’s book, You Are Awesome. What a wonderful
read. My goal in the blog is to share my work both finished, and in process, and if
at all possible to be positive.

It was a truly lovely weekend with my family letting me know how important I am
as a mother. My family is wonderful. They are funny, generous, kind and loving.
I can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so we can all get together, hug, and celebrate
inside the house.

The photo today is of my dog Sally. If you’re looking for a positive approach to life,
and someone who will be constantly supportive of your art, your writing, whatever you
do – look to your dog. Excuse the worn out floors. This our dog Sally's look of complete
contentment. What’s interesting is that when I am happy, or when Steven and I are happy,
getting along, enjoying life,  Sally does this -- rolls over on her back with her legs up
in the air. 

A dog is a perfect companion in lockdown and in the pandemic, because dogs are pretty
much always happy. What they want is food, affection, games, and walks. That’s it. We
could learn a lot from our dogs.

Have an enjoying your pets day.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Happy Mother's Day!

 Isabel Muir
(My mother)
by my son Christopher Muir
Christopher Muir © 2007
(It took a lot of convincing to
get my mother to pose for
this shot. She did not
like to be photographed, or
to be the center of attention.
My image is a photo of the photo,
which is why there are reflections
on it, from the glass.)

Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful mothers around the

I feel extremely blessed to have two delightful sons, a lovely, sweet, kind
daughter-in-law, my younger's son's lovely, kind girlfriend, and two 
adorable granddaughters in my family.  Mother's Day is wonderful for me
 every day of the year -- although this year it has been minus the hugs and
indoor festivities.

And I feel blessed to have grown up with my own mother who's been
gone now for seven and half years.  I love you and miss you Mommy. 
You are in my thoughts every day, and I frequently hear your voice
praising and advising me.

For all of us mothers worried about this crazy pandemic, many of you
working on the front lines -- my love goes out to you.  And my Mother's
Day wish is for all of us to get double vaccinated so we can enjoy
our family and friends again.

Have a Happy, Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother and Child
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in my life, and all the children young
and old who have loved, and love their mothers. And happy Mother’s Day to
everyone who is a mother in the world, kind, caring supportive whether you
are actually a mother or not.

Wishing you a wonderful day tomorrow on the day that celebrates the best
of mothering in this part of the world. Thank you to my mother, to the friends
who have mothered me, to my mother-in-law, to my son’s mother-in-law for
all you have given me in my life. I am eternally grateful. You make me so happy.

Have a loving your mother day.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Fantastic day

For the bright ones (work in progress)
Acrylic ink and marker
on watercolour paper
7 x 9.5 inches
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

It doesn’t take much anymore to make a fantastic day for me. I'm pleased
by the simplest things.Today was absolutely, shockingly beautiful. Even
more trees have come into bloom and that means that canopies of flowering
trees line so many streets near me. Beautiful clouds of white blossoms, pink
blossoms, and yellow blossoms are everywhere. Plus it was sunny – and a
little cool -- perfect weather.

After a gorgeous walk through the neighbourhood, I went to my favourite
art store, which has curbside pick up. Natasha the fabulous artist/sales
assistant packed my supplies in a beautiful, reusable gift bag
because she was so happy to see me -- masked and all. How amazing.  I
was thrilled.

The pansy painting I’m showing you tonight is almost finished. I’ve had so
much fun painting these pieces capturing the pansies and grape hyacinths
from our garden. And having fun on a fantastically beautiful day is something
I always hope for –  and it's even more delightful now during Lockdown.

Have an enjoying every minute day.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Glorious simplicity

Spring pleasures 
Acrylic ink and marker
on watercolour paper
7 x 9.5 inches
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

What are the benefits of going on a walk late on a spring day? The answer is a
refocus on the bountiful, glorious simplicity of my neighbourhood. Even when
I have to wear a mask, move out into the street if someone’s coming, and stay far
 apart from anyone I see who is a friend, the site of the magnolia trees coming to
 the end of their flowering with huge blooms wide open, and the sidewalk and lawns
 covered with their petals, makes me so happy.

The tulips this year are more beautiful than ever. Is it because we’ve been locked
 inside? Or is it because the blooms are bigger – so big because it’s been quite cold
and raining a lot. I don’t know. But they are spectacular. And every flower and leaf
seems to leap out at me and say," look at this!" I do, and I am in a constant state of
wow. All that from a walk.

Add to that this painting I’ve worked on today to try and capture the pansies and grape
hyacinths before their season is over. What a pleasure! Drawing and painting teaches
me more than almost anything else to try and concentrate and stay in the zone. The zone
 in question is the feeling of being an artist, and just letting it flow. So satisfying.

Have an enjoying glorious simplicity day.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Crazy busy – thank you to the cheery people

Suzanne in Paris
black marker on bond paper
8 1/2 x 11 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009
(My friend Suzanne gave me the photo
 I used as reference for this when she came back
Paris. It's one of my favourite drawings
because I didn't quite capture the look
on her face in the original photo, but she looks
 almost smugly content. I love how her hair
is blowing around in the wind. But the
main thing is that she is always a busy person, and
she looks so relaxed and happy in the drawing.)

 A toast to the cheerful people in my life. What a difference you make in a day in
our lockdown existence. Thank you so much. I realize that most of my portraits are not
wildly cheery. Why? Because people tend to pose with their mouths closed, and if they
pose for any length of time their faces relax, and they look more serious than happy.

So someone could be completely happy and not necessarily convey that they are. I’ve had the
great good fortune to talk to some cheerful, and funny people today. And one of them is
my friend who looks so happy in this drawing. I love how the drawing combines not only
my f friend's total joy about being in Paris, but some of the features of Paris which I miss
almost as though it was my own city, even though I’ve only been there about five times.

I hope you have some cheerful people in your life, even if you are going through hard times.
We need them.

Have a thanking the people who are determined to be happy in your life day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Happy Birthday to two brilliant artists

Look Me in the Eye – 2
Acrylic on Canvas
10″ x 10″
Flora Doehler © 2020

Flora Doehler and Janet Vanderhoof  have birthdays today, and I wish them
superb and wonderful celebrations. They both live where the COVID-19 counts 
are not as high as they are here, so I hope they can celebrate with family and friends.
Flora Doehler is the friend who urged me to start blogging — even before I was
ready, and she was so right. A whole exciting world of connections, TV interviews, international art shows opened up because of my blog.

Valley of Hope 
Cold wax and oil on 
gallery wrapped canvas.
24” x24” 
Janet Vanderhoof © 2019

Janet Vanderhoof and I connected through the blog and Facebook. I have met Janet over
the phone, and we did a meditation practice a few years ago that was fantastic— where
we’d both meditated every day, and emailed one another that we’d done it.  We were supposed
to accept the challenge for a month, but kept going for much longer than that, which was
funny because I was very reluctant at first.  But I quickly learned to love that time, however
short, each day.

Both artists create fabulous work, and both are kind, generous people. If we weren’t in
Lockdown, and I had the money — it would be a treat to fly from Toronto to Nova Scotia,
to sing Happy Birthday to Flora, then hop on a plane and head to California to wish Janet
a Happy Birthday and terrific year.

Have a celebrating your friends (virtually) day. 
(Correction -- apparently Nova Scotia is in Lockdown.)

Monday, May 3, 2021

A great day, and the power of our imaginations

 View from our apartment terrace when
I stayed in Florence the first time
I exhibited at the Florence Biennale in 2009.
There was a church right against
our building, and that's the Duomo
in the distance.
Barbara Muir © 2009

Today is a deliciously rainy day. (Light rain watering our new outdoor plants.)
I did take a walk today, and also picked some of our own 
tulips, which are big, healthy
and beautiful -- nothing like flower store tulips, which I also 

It's been a busy Monday.  I feel like every Monday is busy, because even if you don't
have a specific job to do, you wake up on the first day of the week powered to get something done.  So if you're not working, you probably drive everyone you live
with crazy just 
by doing small tasks. 

What did you do today?  Did it make a difference in your world?  I teach tonight,
and I hope 
that what I teach helps my students.  As for my art -- one day the pretty
painting I'm working on 
may remind some future collector of the beauty of spring
 -- maybe even in the depths of winter.

The power of the imagination intrigues me so much now during COVID-19 -- in
this long 
Lockdown.  How lucky we are as artists to have that power.  

Thank you for sharing your wonderful work, and your great ideas.  

Have a loving your life day.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The fantasy date


Love on the High Line
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2011
(a painting inspired by a New
York City vibe.)

We are in lockdown. How do you get through lockdown? One thing we do is have a fantasy date.
It’s the weekend so the standard question is what would you like to do today? Go out for lunch?
Go to a gallery, and see some art? Go to a movie tonight? Go out for dinner? 

All of that’s impossible. We’re in lockdown and not supposed to go anywhere or do anything.
Oh wait we're allowed to work (preferably from home). So what we do is talk about what
would be wonderful to do. This weekend our fantasy date was New York City. I love visiting
New York, and I love showing my art there. It’s a city I have visited enough times to know
where I’d want to go.

In our fantasy we look out of our very grey but elegant hotel room (grey rugs, grey chairs, white
duvet on the large bed) and see hundreds of yellow taxis jammed into the street below. This means
we’re in New York. The fantasy hotel room is in the Hilton Midtown. We can’t afford to go there anymore, even if it wasn’t Lockdown because the price now is about $1000 a night Canadian.
But because we can’t go anywhere we can be anywhere in our imaginations.  So in our fantasy
date we've already been to both the MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art) and the Met (The
Metropolitan Museum of Art.) So we leave our wonderful hotel room and walk up Avenue of the
Americas to a sweet Italian restaurant where I always order their salmon special.  

After an amazing dinner topped off with Crème Brûlée -- we walk first to Times Square, and
then back to Central Park where we sit on a park bench across from an evening wedding celebration
outside at a music hall at the top of the park.  And there we listen to the band and enjoy the sounds
of the city. (And yes we have experienced the entire date in real life, and can't wait to be there

Perfect date. 

Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at: barbara.muir@sympatico.ca
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!