Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The blog provides

The night of the tulips
Watercolour and marker
on watercolour paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

What could be better on April 21 than a joyous painting of tulips, after a day that began with thick snow on the flowering trees, and in the the tulip and daffodil gardens?

Once again thank you to Facebook for bringing this painting up in my memories. I love
tulips, and I’ve just bought a few bunches with plans to paint them. I've been painting and drawing all day, but what I’m working on is a bit complex, and didn’t get finished.

All of my reading at the moment -- a wonderful book on happiness, the Instagram thoughts
of some of the artists I love, and friend's emails -- advises us to start, and keep going. I read a great quote today in Neil Pasricha's The Happiness Equation,"Motivation doesn't cause 
action. Action causes motivation." It seemed perfect.  Meanwhile enjoy these beautiful flowers.

Have a loving any kind of weather day. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Building an image

Building an image
An iPad drawing in process
8 x 10 inches ( x 4)
Barbara Muir ©️ 2018

 I like the image of this iPad drawing as a work in process I found in my Facebook memories from April 20, 2018. What a different world that was. This is been a good day in some ways.  Thankfully there was justice in the case of the George Floyd murder. Sadly that doesn’t bring him back for his family.

And in Korea students shaved their heads in protest against the release of nuclear waste from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan into the Pacific ocean.  That action threatens all ocean life, and will continue to do so. 

There are some things we do have to address, and working on those is urgent. We need to eliminate racial injustice, police brutality, and fight for equity for all people. We need to get rid of guns in private ownership altogether. And nuclear energy simply isn’t safe. These forces are massively destructive.

In a pandemic we have to give ourselves every possible chance at some source of joy, which is why I’m posting these drawings. Seeing them helped give me the hope I need to carry on. 

Have a working to change the world day.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Model from just before

 The model on the bridge
in a summer dress in winter
Barbara Muir ©️ 2020 (March 7)

At the beginning of March 2020, just before my one night a week class got sent online, just before we really knew how serious COVID-19 was, on a very cold day, I walked my dog across the bridge that crosses a beautiful park near me, and came upon this woman modelling for a photographer. She had her winter coat placed over the railing on the side of the bridge, and was posing in a beautiful cotton summer dress.  I asked if I could take a photo too because
I'm an artist, and she let me. If she sees this by some fluke -- thank you.

It’s the last day of my once a week evening class this term, and I just came upon this photo looking for an art reference image to add to a painting I’m working on. I don’t think I will use this woman, whose name I never got, for this painting. But I was so happy to see the image. One day -- not in the middle of winter -- we will get back to wearing beautiful clothes, and partying! Music, live bands, dressing up, talking, laughing, being together.  It will be great!

Have an enjoying your memories day.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The love of places

Me and the schoolhouse
Steven van Schaik © 2014

Today with my morning coffee my husband, Steven, brought his computer up to show me a Google Maps image of our school house in Nova Scotia. In August it will be two years since we’ve been there. Kind friends in the local area have checked up on it for us, but the worry of how it is faring without us continues. And we would so love to be there right now -- where COVID worries are low. (Not possible, and we can't wait until it will be possible. But we will -- wait.)

People in Toronto are going crazy with the latest lockdown. Some people marched in the streets in Ontario yesterday, unmasked, protesting against the lockdown. Aside from the stupidity of that, it’s sad that they can’t absorb how incredibly hard things are in the hospitals with the numbers rising. Plus the new variants are hitting young people. And of course as we’ve seen all over the world, every time people gather unmasked the new case numbers go through the roof.

As for what’s getting me through this time. My husband has been amazing. He’s given me surprises like a cluster of chocolate Easter eggs in my bedside table. How lovely. I couldn’t eat them all of course, so I had two of them, and then re-surprised him by putting them in his sock drawer!

We have been very lucky during this whole thirteen months to have each other, and wonderful family who stay in touch however they possibly can, and amazing friends here on social media, and on the phone and on Zoom. Stay safe and stay healthy.

Have a noticing what’s good in your life day.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

The saints of Saturday

Are you ready?
Artists' Group Sketch
acrylic on canvas
14 x 18 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

It’s Saturday night, and we are in lockdown. This painting came up in my memories on Facebook from this date in 2019. How incredibly lucky we were then. I painted this sketch very quickly with my art group on a Tuesday night. That was back in the days when we could meet together and paint from a model. I usually stayed about one hour, and it blows me away that I could get this done in that time.

The model must have been especially inspiring. I’m not religious, but I do love the look of the haloes that are on many of the beautiful paintings in the Uffizi gallery in Florence, Italy. And I wanted to put a halo on every drawing when I got back to Canada was so inspired.

In this case when I got home from my art group I kept working on the portrait for a little while, and added the halo and the rays of divine light. Looking back it was divine painting from a live model with other artists. I loved every bit of it: the enforced silence while we painted, which often lead to giggles from we grownups, the wonderful conversations in the model's breaks, and what resulted – this is it.

We need to behave in as saintly a manner as possible in these hard times.  As much of a drag as it is for us going into another lockdown that’s even more stringent, we have to think of the people working in the hospitals trying to save the lives of people who have contracted the virus. They deserve our intense respect, and our total cooperation with the new protocols.

Have a taking care of yourself day. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Another sad day in Ontario

Pansies for hope
Watercolour, acrylic ink,
and black marker on
watercolour paper
Barbara Muir © 2019

At midnight tonight Ontario, and Toronto go into an even deeper Lockdown.
Once again the shelves in the supermarket today were empty in places like
they were a year ago. 

I got a notice yesterday on Facebook about a post I wrote on April 15, 2019 when
there was a fire in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Reading that post hit me with
nostalgia in so many directions — the beauty of Paris. and the thrill of showing there
in the Carousel du Louvre show in the Louvre museum — the neighbourhood on the Seine
we thought of as ours -- across the Pont des arts from the Louvre, and looking in the opposite
direction Notre Dame.

When I wrote the post I had no idea what was coming to the whole world. I could not
have imagined this pandemic, not being able to travel, no live art shows. And now
we can't even take comfort in having our children come over , social distanced, because
we can't have gatherings with anyone who doesn't live in our households -- even outside.  

I still feel devastated about Notre Dame, an icon of Paris life, and I hope it gets 
fully restored.  That process is ongoing.  And so is our recovery from this
pandemic.  I hope this new stricter Lockdown does the trick.  The numbers
are rising, and people are stressed to the maximum.  But we must take heart,
and be conscious that if we are alive and well and able to complain, it means
we need to be grateful.  I am grateful for that and for you.

Have a taking care of yourself day.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Taking action


The tulip connection 
Acrylic ink and pencil
on watercolour paper
7 x 9.5 inches
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

If you don’t know the work of Daniel Bordi you’re missing a truly joyous experience.
LatelyDaniel has been posting wonderful, inspirational posts of ideas that he has about
art and life. Today his thing was was to get rid of the "what if’s", and instead take action.
(His Instagram posts are written in Portuguese and I read the translations.)

I’m very grateful to Daniel, because I also read a bit in The Happiness Equation book
which said that we need deadlines. The combo of these two messages helped me to
paint this painting today, while continuing to work on putting my year end finances in

We need inspirational people like Daniel. I’ve probably talked about him before, and
will again. We met at the Florence Biennale in 2015. And I’m so glad that I got to see
his beautiful art firsthand.

Have a loving what you do day.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

My current inspiration

Our favourite park
(That's Lake Ontario)
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

I was hoping to post a video.  But decided that if I couldn't I’d show you a picture instead.
Lately it seems difficult to get videos to load onto the blog.

It’s been a very busy. and wonderful day. I am at the filing, and sorting for the business
end of art right now, which means that these beautiful days are photographic inspiration
for artwork to come.

I hope you enjoy these beautiful days, and that you too have a favourite park. Please be
kind to one another -- all of us are still going through a very hard time with this pandemic.

Thank you to all of you for keeping me going. I am so grateful for your work, for your
comments, for your suggestions, and your amazing ideas about art and life.

Having an enjoying what’s available day.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Dreaming of live portrait commission days

Pam in New York 
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

What do you look forward to when the pandemic is over?
I can't wait until I can do portrait commissions again, and 
to have clients sit for me in my studio on the good chair I bought
a few years ago to replace the one in this picture.

I remember this commission very well.  My client, Pam, certainly
belongs in New York.  She is an amazing dancer, and massage
therapist. And she would be right at home anywhere in the world.
In fact she lives near my brother and his wife, in a quiet country setting
outside Chelsea, Quebec.

Thank you Pam for the pleasure I had painting you and creating this
piece 11 summers ago!

Have a planning what you will do day.

Monday, April 12, 2021

This is serious my friends


It all begins 
Acrylic ink on watercolour paper
7 x 9.5 inches
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

Please take care everyone. Wear your masks, social distance, wash your hands,
leave your faces alone.  Sad news today that a dear friend's family member died, and
another friend's young daughter has contracted this horrible virus. 

Staying positive is important, plus we have to be careful, and we have to grieve
for everyone who's lost their lives, lost family members and friends during this
hard time.

The image tonight is one of my simple abstracts made by printing a monoprint
using glass and acrylic ink on watercolour paper. Making them has given me
so much pleasure.  I guess it's the element of surprise -- which is really there in
all art, but in this method it's like opening a surprise gift.

Have a helping each other day.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

A ridiculous amount of fun

 Dusk on the hills by the ocean 
Acrylic ink on watercolour paper
7 x 9.5 inches
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

For the past couple of days I’ve been playing around with making prints using
acrylic ink on watercolour paper. I’ve actually been trying to make specific
images, which is pretty funny.  In fact I don’t have either the equipment, or the
knowledge to make the images I’m thinking of.

What’s been great about that is the absolute lack of control. Get to know an artist
who tries to make images that are somewhat like reality. Control matters. But this
particular method – if you could call it that -- affords almost zero control.

So that’s been fun. Amazingly fun. I start. I make a plan, I put my colours on,
I put the paper on top of the glass for the monoprint, roll it, and wow. When I
take the paper off the glass I have no idea how I got the image I've got. Art!
That’s what I've got.

Have a doing something fun day.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Following the sun

 Sunset April 6  7:51 p.m.
From the sunset series
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

In the past couple of months Steven and I have become addicted to following the last
rays of the sun, and seeing the sunset. When Steven is finished work we head out,
going west -- watching as the light changes, the colours become bright and radiant.

This pursuit would be fine except that the sun is setting later and later in the day.
Of course we love that, but it means that if we are eating dinner after we get home
from watching the sun go down in our favourite park, we're eating between nine
 and 10 at night.

As a freelance artist, and a night teacher once a week, I can accommodate that
schedule -- but it’s a bit hard on Steven, who needs to get up early in the morning
and go to bed not long after we’ve had dinner. Has it been worth it? I’d have to say
 "yes." The thrill has not gone away, and it has kept us cheerful in a very difficult time.

Today I’m posting a photo of the sunset from Tuesday. I know I’m not a painter of
sunsets, still I sometimes wish I was.

Having an enjoying the beauty around you day.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Spring imprint


Spring print
Acrylic ink on watercolour paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

The moral of the story? Never let an artist fool around with new materials in a new way.
I could get hooked. Working like this is such a departure from my normal painting style,
and I’m enjoying it a lot.

I’m trying to get the feeling of spring, whether in abstract, or literal form. I’m working
on a spring scene, which I hope works out, of flowering pink trees and people gathering to
take photos. It may end up being just one couple, but we’ll see.

I hope you are enjoying the spring weather. I’ve been inside working so hard today that
the biggest excitement has been going to the back door and seeing my neighbour's bright
yellow forsythia -- luminous in the sunlight. You have got to feel lucky even in this 
lockdown because it’s spring in Canada -- one of the most beautiful seasons.

Wishing you an amazing weekend. Please stay safe.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Blue prints

Blue Print 
Acrylic ink on
watercolour paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches 
Barbara Muir ©️2021

I had a super day today.  My dear friend in the Netherlands, the artist Miranda 
Brouwers, and I had our Thursday morning conversation. She is trying so many
new things with her art. It was exciting talking to her.

I had a walk with a great friend in the neighbourhood, under the bluest
skies.  It was strange to be having such a happy time when the city, and
the province is going into what feels like its most serious Lockdown yet.
Today schools are closed, and only grocery stores 
and drugstores are open. 
The virus apparently is ramping up again.

I have been trying to clean up my studio.  I worked on a painting today,
and then noticed many small pieces of glass from frames stacked on one 
shelf.  I've never been interested in print making, but all of a sudden got
and printed a couple of pieces using acrylic ink.  I can see that if I
went in that direction, there is a lot to learn.  It's unlikely, so relax, but
I'll show you what happened.  

Have a letting your friends inspire you day.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A total inspiration

English Prof
Pencil on drawing paper
12 x 18 inches
Barbara Muir ©️

I have been busy marking today. I was on a break looking for drawing paper, and noticed a large sketchbook, stuck between some paintings.

Inside I found this drawing and another simple sketch of one of my most excellent teachers at University. And I made the link. It seemed almost magical that on a day when I was immersed in thinking about my students, I would discover a drawing of the  person who is probably the reason I did so well in school, and ended up doing this unique teaching job once a week.

His name was Sandy. He had his doctorate from Oxford at a very young age (24), and came to Canada to teach briefly. He didn’t really fit into the atmosphere of universities here. It didn’t compare to the fun he’d had at Oxford, and the intense relationships professors had with their students at that university. So he went back to England.

I am extremely grateful to him for helping me realize that I was intelligent, and could study, and research extremely hard, and write. Thank you Sandy. 

Have a realizing how much you mean to people day.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

A landscape sketch

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic and acrylic ink on
watercolour paper
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

Here is a small landscape sketch I worked on today. It's a view of the highway somewhere in Nova Scotia. When I am there I’m so captivated as we drive along, that I’m always stopping to take pictures.

It’s definitely a work in progress, so I may change a few things tomorrow. But for now the large trees, the curving highway, and blue sky are making me homesick for my second home – Nova Scotia.

We went out to the lake today again at sunset, to hear the sound of the waves crashing against large rocks on the shore. What a pleasure.

Have a loving what you do day.

Monday, April 5, 2021

The joyous colours of spring

Crocuses in spring
Barbara Muir 2021

Tonight was my once a week class. What a treat it is to be with the people I'm teaching
 on Zoom. This is going to be a short post tonight, because although I was working, my
 husband has been on holiday, and now I’m going to spend some time with him watching TV.

I saw these crocuses the other day on my walk, I would love to paint them. But nothing can
 really compete with the vivacity of the photo in this case. 

I would love to paint flowers again. My son and his girlfriend gave us beautiful tulips
and ranunculus flowers this weekend. Wow they're stunning! But I have a
number of paintings on the go, following the recommendation of my fellow artist,
and good friend Flora Doehler. So I have to get that work done first.

Have a doing what you love day.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Happy Easter

Harold and the blue eggs
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2013

The part of Easter that’s about bunnies and eggs is about fertility, and the beginning of spring.  It is a funny combination bunnies and eggs, but a happy one.  We were very lucky to see family today, including our youngest members -- and all were celebrating the bunnies and eggs.  In fact in many ways the day seems to be about the celebration of chocolate -- something I can
totally get behind.

Of course we saw one another socially distanced, masked and across backyards.  It was a truly beautiful spring day -- buds coming out on the trees, and birds singing their hearts out.  To everyone who celebrates Easter -- Happy Easter, and to everyone who doesn't -- Happy Spring. 

I thought I'd add this piece from a former blog.  It's a story about my pet rabbit in
university -- Harold.  She was a girl.

(I put Harold, the bunny rabbit on my blog every year since I painted her (yes a she), and think
happily of the time a university boyfriend, not
knowing how innocent I was, gave me
a marijuana plant for a present.
While I was out at class, Harold, my rabbit, ate the plant, plus a massive chunk of the sheets and blanket in my rental room!  The young married
couple I was renting from were not impressed.
Neither was I.  I had to pay for new sheets and
a blanket. But the whole story makes me laugh
every year when I think of Harold).

Have an enjoying celebrating day.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

April -- the month of growth

All the stars that shine
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

  2020 was a weird year for art. As the pandemic became more and more prevalent in our news and in our lives, opportunities to show our work in live  settings disappeared. 

But hey -- this painting, which I'd been trying to complete for six years -- got done, and I'm happy with it.  Plus I completed it for the Liminal show at the Heliconian Club in Yorkville, in Toronto, which was on for August and September, 2020. 

I first started the painting because I loved how a mother holding her baby in the star blanket looked at the Art Gallery of Ontario. She let me photograph her, and the baby, and her whole family came to the house to pose, but I didn't get a photo that was good enough to use.  So six years later, I got shots of a baby, and then of another mother, and finished it. And that gave me the feeling of both growth, and exuberance.  

The spring, which we’re enjoying now also fills me with delight and expectation.  Today it was cloudy, with the occasional bit of sun. We went to the lake and were feeding the seagulls when it started to rain. But on the path above the beach it was dry. Then on the way home it snowed for a minute. Bizarre but exhilarating!  Happy Easter if you celebrate.   

Have a feeling renewed exuberance day

Friday, April 2, 2021

Happy weekend!

Zoom sisters

IPad Drawing 

8 x 10 inches 

Barbara Muir ©️ 2020

I found this drawing today on my iPad from last July. At that point I think I’d taught three courses in a row, once a week online. The transition from live classroom to online was awkward for sure. But by July and the end of the last summer course I was teaching on Zoom, it was almost normal.

This drawing is about the reality of  Zoom – people talking on opposite sides of the world, getting to see one another, but only seeing part of the picture. I did the drawing on my iPad with my finger, and that makes me quite proud. I seem to be always learning about technology, a complete necessity  in the current world.

All things  considered I am so grateful for the technology that is keeping us connected.

Have a loving your weekend day.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Thank you everyone—650,000 +

Blackbird on a coffee cup

Acrylic on canvas 

8 x 8 inches 

Barbara Muir ©️ 2009

 Thank you so much for your support during this hard time. Only  the first quarter of the year is gone as we step into April in great anticipation. Yet thanks to you I already have what would’ve taken me half a year of hits last year. So I really appreciate it. I wrote this blog for you and for me, and it makes me happy if I can give you some pleasure, or happiness in the hard times we’re living through.

I’m posting my picture of the red wing blackbird on a coffee cup tonight because it perfectly symbolizes how spring returns here. This year the robins were the first to return. But then one morning only a week or so ago, we stepped out onto the back porch to hear, and see a red wing blackbird. And we knew that spring is really here.

I’ve been working on gessoing canvasses, picking up reference images, taking photos, and painting out the part of that painting I talked to you about earlier in the week that I’ve forgiven myself for realizing it won’t be finished the way I had planned. Now all that’s left is the sky and the clouds, but that gives me the freedom to create something completely different.

This is a long weekend in Canada, and I hope if you’re having a long weekend when you enjoy yourself as much as possible. We are in lockdown again, so we have to navigate a holiday weekend around the rules. I hope you get your vaccination, and then I get mine someday, and that we can all have something that resembles normalcy soon.

 Having an enjoying a long weekend day.

Another sketch from the past

Portrait with the cat

Pastel on bond paper

11 x 14 inches 

Barbara Muir ©️

 I’ve had a running around day. Yes it’s all part of the artist’s life. I needed reference for a painting I’m about to start. I needed  to talk to my printer about a booklet he’s helping me create.

And there were other errands  — all art related. Luckily in my sorting efforts today I found this drawing, a self portrait with my cat that I did years ago. What I love about it is that I can see some of the techniques I learned at OCAD. Like starting the drawing with a yellow pastel.I never did have such a long face but that’s OK the rest of it is great.

I wonder if you learn to from your past art? Often when I’m starting a painting and I don’t know where to begin, I take a former painting down from the wall and set it up beside me to get some hints. We really are always changing. The good thing about that is that our past selves can teach our present sells things that we may have forgotten.

Have an enjoying your skills day.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The love of drawing

Cheerful baby 

Marker on notebook paper 

8 x 10 1/4 inches 

Barbara Muir ©️

 It has been the kind of beautiful day that plein air landscape painters dream of. And artists have many tasks to do in order to keep the art part of their life functioning. That was today.

But I’ve been going through old journals. I’m working on a drawing that I hoped to show you tonight, that isn’t done. I’m cleaning up a bookshelf, and I’m going through my journals. Today I’ve been reading a journal that I wrote when my oldest was a baby. All I could think of then was when was I going to get a good night’s sleep.There are endless journal entries about being woken up at four in the morning. I was happy to find this because I know so many people going through the same struggle with a new baby, and sleepless nights.

I was also happy because there’s a kind of triumph at the end of the journal, when our baby is about 13 months old. He is walking, and running, and the happy  drawing at the top of the page is the baby who sleeps through the night.

Have an enjoying a good sleep night.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Wonderful time with my class

 The happy artist

Acrylic on  canvas

36 x 36 inches 

Barbara Muir ©️ 2009

(Shown in her place on the 

Studio wall.)

My Monday night class just finished, and I realize I’ll be sad when this class is over at the end of the term. The students are enthusiastic, funny, and intelligent, and a treat to work with on Zoom.

 We talked a bit tonight about self-esteem, and what it means to be confident. I’m reading a book about happiness, and this is an important topic in the book – to value yourself, and to realize that you’ve already got it all.

So I’m showing you a painting of me as an enthusiastic artist. I keep this painting in my studio, to remind myself of the joy I feel in doing my work. On the down days my former self’s cheery face reminds me that the happiness of creation is available to me whenever I want it.

 Have an enjoying your own worth day.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

The decision to stop

At the cottage (detail)

Acrylic on canvas 

24 x 24 inches 

Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

I’ve been wrestling with a painting that started as a memory from a picture of the cottage that I went to as a child. With the progress of 2020, it became harder and harder to finish the painting. For one thing we were, and are under the constant threat of a pandemic. So at first the escape to a former time seemed sweet.

But over time the past seemed so disconnected from the present that I found it increasingly difficult to continue. So I put the painting away, and worked on other things. Last week I got it out again, introduced more elements into it, worked on it a bit every day, and last night got released.

  Released? Yes! I am not going to finish the painting. Tomorrow I will paint it out, and start again. But I will show you the part I do like which is the clouds and the horizon. And so it goes. Sometimes the long debate, the restless nights, and endless attempts to finish something, end in the recognition that this isn’t going to work. If that happens to you, do yourself a favor, and let it go.

You aren’t the first, and you won’t be the last. And something wonderful will come from giving yourself a break. 

Have an giving yourself a break day.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A quick drawing

Sad Zoom Face
Marker on watercolour paper 
9 x 12 inches 
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

It’s Saturday night, and I want to watch a movie. So this will be a fast blog. My heart goes out to all of the friends who are going through hard times in one way or another. I hope you can take some joy from the beautiful day like the one we had today. And I actually saw a tree in bloom with pink flowers – the start of the exquisite time of spring.

Here’s a drawing I did that is starting to look like part of a series. The inspiration, oddly enough comes from Botticelli.  I am entranced by the way he paints hair. So the hair in these drawings is a combo of inspiration from him, and my own brain. That’s art isn’t it? And I know this looks nothing like the work of  Botticelli. 

I hope you enjoy everything that you can.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Things I learned in the past year


Better bring the laundry in Bob

Acrylic on cradled birch panel

8 x 10 inches

Barbara Muir ©️ 2017

I was reading Janet Vanderhoof’s latest blog called 7 Questions, and it made me think about what I’ve learned living through the pandemic so far. Like Janet I am blessed to live with my husband who I love. He is funny and a great cook. 

I think we learned to be as nice and supportive as we can be because on many days, we are the only people we see. 

But I also relearned how vitally important other people are, and how critical it is to be able to trust people. During this time I think people who work in supermarkets should be given $1,000 a week more. There they are wearing masks all day, cleaning off surfaces, and being kind to their customers.

I learned that although I always knew that I liked my life before the virus, I now realize that I love everything about my life before this pandemic. I would love that life back. 

Right now I’m tired, but another thing I relearned over and over is that my family, friends, and the blog, Instagram, and Facebook world have meant so much to me.

Stay safe, and stay healthy! 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

A toast to swans



Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

It’s been the kind of day when if I weren’t basically cheery person, I might have decided to just go back to bed and stay there for a week or two. But there were highlights, and we live for those. The best thing about today – actually there were two best things – were the wonderful walk I had with my friend, and a visit to the park to feed the swans. 

I had a nice video to show you of the swans swimming towards us across the pond to get the delicious bread we feed them, but it failed to load. And in the process of trying to get that to work, the entire blog got deleted. So here is an abbreviated version, and a photo of the wonderful swans we love so much.

Have a being determined to be happy day. OK

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A great day in art

Zoom face 

Marker on watercolour paper

9 x 12 inches 

Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

 I’m showing you a drawing tonight that I did after I talked to my friend Flora Doehler the artist in Nova Scotia. She’s always so inspiring and full of ideas. I also worked on two paintings today, and may have solved one that has been worrying me for a year. 

It’s amazing how enjoyable it is to immerse myself in art. Even when a painting isn’t working completely the way I want it to, I am learning, and ideas about what to do come to me as I paint. 

Wishing you a wonderfully creative day! 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Me in green

Portrait in green

Pastel on bond paper 

11 x14 inches 

Barbara Muir ©️

 It’s been a busy couple of days. In a super large sketchbook I found this old self portrait. It’s in a section called “Me” where I did drawings of myself  in different styles. I seem to have been a sad girl then, although very creative. It was before I met my husband, and I know I was worried that I’d never find love.

How wrong I was! And how lucky I’ve been. I am so grateful that I found love, and have a loving family. 

And I’m so glad that I studied art, and have had such an amazing time in my artistic life,

Thank you for your support, inspiration and encouragement. Wishing you a day filled with love. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Spring wonders

Crocuses in my friend’s garden 


Barbara Muir ©️2021

If you don’t live in a city that experiences winter, you can’t imagine how incredibly exciting the sight of the first flowers in a friend‘s garden is!  

Something happened when I was posting my blog tonight, and the whole thing disappeared. That seems fabulously symbolic, and if I believed in horoscopes, or the evil eye, or anything like that I would say that in some ways this has been a day for that. There have been some very strange things going on, including  my car not going into reverse on a hill.

I am very grateful to my husband and his incredible knowledge of cars for him coming and saving me. And the strange little challenges have been going on all day. But in the midst of all that, I am so excited about the delight I feel going on a walk through the beginning of spring with a friend.

The joy I feel experiencing the beauty of the visual world and  of this new spring coming up in peoples’ gardens as we walk by, far outweighs some difficulties I‘ve  experienced today. My husband, my son, and my friends have certainly helped me enjoy this day. And thank you to my students to who were amazing tonight.

Have a loving your life day.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The joy of flowers

 Flower Frenzy 

iPad Drawing 

8 x 10 inches 

Barbara Muir ©️ 2018

This was a magnificent day. I’m glad it was because trying to do my blog on my iPad and my phone is challenging indeed. I may have accidentally figured out how to single space but I’m not sure. At the moment my phone will only allow me to center the type, so forgive me.

The weather in Toronto today was superb. It was like the city desperately needed a break from this grim virus that has been driving us crazy for a year. So it was warm, leaves of flowers are coming up in gardens, and people were out in parks all over the city. It’s my hope that even though there were crowds in every green space, that people were keeping their distance

  We went down to the lake again. Colour of the blue of the lake was astounding and a gorgeous blue sky. We fed clouds of seagulls, screeching in exuberance above our heads as we threw them pieces of good bread. And one Swan came to be fed, swimming as we called it from a long way off. What a treat! We are so looking forward to the time when all of us are vaccinated across the country, and we can walk in the park, and not worry about trying to stay away from everyone.

This drawing seems to sum up the feeling of joy I had today in being in the park after finishing the work I’ve been doing this weekend. 

Have an enjoying the start of spring day.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Happy Spring

Steven and me at our favourite 

park today. Those are the

swans that we love in the lake. 


Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

 I have a friend who is very concerned about whether or not people speak properly on the radio. For that friend I know that spring is not supposed to be capitalized. But maybe the rules are slightly different in the title. And they are different today because it’s the first day of spring!

We treated ourselves to a trip to the park to see the geese, ducks, and swans who we love. It was wonderful. The buds are coming out on the trees, the grass is shooting up through the old grass. And the animals and waterfowl are crazy. It’s spring man! 

Someone left a big mirror up against a tree. It was on the beach, and we turned around and saw it, and thought “hey maybe we should take a photo of the occasion.” If you look carefully you can see the swans that we just finished feeding behind us in the water.

Wishing you a joyous first weekend of spring.

Please forgive all formatting errors. My computer is broken, and my iPad is trying its best!

Friday, March 19, 2021


Portrait of Brenda

Sepia ink and red pen on notebook paper

The 8 1/2 x 11

 Barbara Muir ©️ Date unknown

(I found this drawing in an old sketchbook,

and it made me happy to discover it.)

 I’m reading a book about happiness called The Happiness Equation, by Neil Pasricha

Author of of 1000 Awesome Things. I realize that probably I am lucky in that genetically 

I have more of a predisposition for happiness than sorrow. But I do remember in my late

teens and early 20s being  brokenhearted over something like a break up with a boyfriend.

What I like about the book is that the authors’s theories are backed up by lots of research.

And it turns out that people who are happy, no matter what their circumstances, tend to 

live as much as 10 years longer than people who aren’t. And of course the author makes the 

point that they live a happy life right until the end.

We are still in a challenging time here. Some of my friends have got the vaccine which is 

wonderful. And it will be great when we all do. Canada isn’t doing as well as the United States.

 But hey we did better in keeping the virus down. And we believed that it was serious right 

from the start. So we will catch up and that will be great. I’ve just had a wonderful walk 

with a friend and her daughter. And one of the things that the author says keeps you happy

 is a minimum of three walks a week. So I should be ecstatic because I’ve already had six 

walks this week!

Have a loving your life day.

Please forgive the formatting of the blog at the moment. I dropped my computer, and am 

forging ahead on my iPad. Not quite the same. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Keep going


Self Portrait 
Working on being happy
Marker on drawing paper
5.5 x8.5 inches
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

Apparently the determination to continue to do some thing even though you are 
facing difficulties, is a sign that that activity matters. Is this true?

If the blog looks a little different tonight, it could be because the computer 
that I normally type it on fell on the floor with a hard crunch. Not good. This 
means that at some point soon I will have to take the computer to be looked at —
fingers crossed it can be repaired. As world events go, especially now, this 
isn’t a big one. But some of the main functions of my working life happen on that 
piece of equipment.

I don’t want to say that I’m addicted to blogging. But it is perhaps one of the simple 
pleasures I have in my day. So if I can, even without my computer being repaired, I 
will try and continue. I’ll also try to respond to your comments, which make me very happy.

Wishing you a worry free and creative day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Steven and Sally the dog
in their St. Patrick's Day finery

Barbara Muir © 2014

I hope you had a Happy St. Patrick's Day.  In non-pandemic times we always 
have a family party -- lots of green.  Green loot bags, candy wrapped in green,
a great meal with something green.  This year Steven and I were on our own
with the animals.  And here's the funny thing.  Even though this photo was 
taken seven years ago, this is what Steven wore, minus the hat and bow tie,
and Sally wore the same hat. Briefly.

We decorated the kitchen, and the Christmas trees still on the porches for
St. Patrick's Day, had a toast with green champagne, and a great dinner.
One of my friends called us celebrants -- well we do like to have special
times.  Neither of us is Irish -- but hey!  On my mother's side a few
generations back there were French Huguenots who left France for Ireland,
and then Ireland for Canada. 

Have a celebrating whatever you can day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Give it a try

Spring Equinox
Acrylic ink and acrylic
on Clairefontaine watercolour paper
7 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir 2021

In March, the month of exuberance, I am working on convincing myself that
I can do whatever I work on doing. It has been a hard year for everyone, and
that includes artists. Still I am so inspired by my friends and artists I see on
Instagram, Facebook, and the blog world, so I want to try new things.

Today I gave abstract art a whirl. I greatly admire the work of Georgia Fullerton,
and Janet Vanderhoof. So I thought why not? The results are nothing stupendous,
but I’m so happy I tried. And it was so much fun playing with colour and a new
way of thinking.

Wishing you a day when you feel brave, confident, happy, and well. Please stay
safe, get the vaccine if you can, and enjoy whatever you do.

Have an enjoying whatever you do day.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Deepak visits Pugwash
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(read more about this here)

Last year at this time we were at the very beginning of this long journey we are on.
I looked back on my post from this day last year, and what is poignant in a way is that
all the same ideas matter.  I called that post Wisdom, Wash, Watch.  And that formula 
still works.  The image is of Deepak Chopra, who I saw speak in Toronto with my
sister years ago.  He is the perfect symbol of wisdom, and a warm, caring and kind
human being.  I did this portrait for myself for my studio to remind me of his 
great ideas.  And he is visiting Pugwash in the painting, because he did once
visit me there as a guide when I asked for a guide in a meditation.  If you click
the link above you'll read that an impressive crew visited me as guides in that

As far as I know Deepak has never been to Pugwash, Nova Scotia, but he would
love it there. It is beautiful -- red sand, blue skies, and blue ocean, plus astounding

So the Wisdom part of the formula was simple.  Be smart, be cautious, social
distance and follow protocols.  Wear a mask, and wear it over your nose!
(What is with wearing a mask and leaving your nose out?  It's your breathing
 that is potentially dangerous to others if you are asymptomatic and have
COVID-19, and your mask over your nose protects you from others.) 
Wash is simple.  Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.  We
wash surfaces, have endless bottles of hand sanitizer for the car, and the house.
We wash all of our groceries -- the hard surfaces with rubbing alcohol, the
fruits and vegetables with soap and water.  Not everyone does that, but
I watched a CBC TV Marketplace episode about the cleanliness of our major
supermarkets in Toronto (not very clean), and I continue to be a bit fanatical. 

And Watch. 
That's where the pleasure that's essential for the emotional survival
of this nasty pandemic 
comes in.  There is a lot to watch on TV that is a delight. 
Now that spring is coming 
looking out the window, sitting outside, or walking
will fill your eyes, ears, heart and mind 
with pleasure.  Yes the world is still turning. 
And yes we are still learning.  We have 
learned so much.  I am so sorry for all of
the people who have lost someone to this 
cruel disease.  And it's for them, and for
the wonderful people we lost, that we must 
carry on the three W's, and maybe by
next year on this day we will all be vaccinated, 
and this story will slip into history
as life rises up and blooms again in full flower.

Have a loving your life day.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Happy Pi day and working on the time change

Stand Back for the Pie
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

On this day I always celebrate Pi Day by showing you my painting
Stand back for the pie. I know that Pi day is about the numbers.
Today was all about numbers in every respect. Our clocks jumped
ahead by one hour at 2 in the morning, leaving us feeling unbalanced 

We actually forgot about Pi day, but somehow knew instinctively that
pie must be consumed.  So we had delicious pizza last night, and the
remainder today.  Steven quite often bakes a pie on Pi Day, but
instead we indulged in takeout pizza leftovers.

Here's what I wrote about Pi Day last year:

"I'm lucky to be married to someone who enjoys science
and math -- just like my mother, the bacteriologist did.
I love science too, but am not always the best at math.

According to the Huffington Post Pi Day is named after the
Greek symbol π which is the ratio of the circumference of
a circle to its diameter. The first three digits in Pi are 3 (this is the 
third month) and 14 (the fourteenth day) = 3.14 or Pi.  What
 better day to eat pie if you get the urge. Or even a cookie 
pretending to be pie if you want to. And any way you slice it 
you will not be alone in your pie indulgence."

I went to bed early last night trying to work with the new time, so I wouldn’t
be so tired today. But I think it takes our bodies more than a day to adjust.
Our cats, and our dog will know in one day that it is 6 o’clock in time for
supper exactly on time. So maybe it takes us one day too.

This painting is living in our favourite flower shop on Avenue Road. We
just came out of Lockdown on Monday, so we haven’t had a chance to
visit yet, but I’m sure my painting is still happy there. I hope you had
some pie to celebrate Pi day. And I hope you make the time change
adjustment easily.

Have an adjusting to the new time by eating pie day.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

When life gives you lemons -- what? Say thank you

 Studio lemons in a glass bowl 
Acrylic on cradled birch panel
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017

This is the bowl that sits full of lemons in my kitchen almost
every day.  My son Christopher taught me years ago, that a
bowl of citrus fruit was a nice alternative to flowers, and
except for special occasions we've had this decorative 
arrangement sitting between two silver candlesticks with
white tapered candles for years.

In summer we make lemonade from the lemons, and in winter
they're good for hot lemon drinks.  I love painting and drawing
these beauties, and always feel happy when I see them.

It was another gorgeous March day today.  We went to the park
we love 
to feed the geese, swans and ducks.  Yes that's our happy
place.  The park was not busy, and there are so many paths
that we could be alone most of the time.  Ideal in this
environment.  I took reference photos.  The colours were

Have a loving the time change day!

Friday, March 12, 2021

What makes you happy?


Sunset St. Clair, Toronto
Barbara Muir © 2020
(The sunset last night was spectacular,
turning all the buildings on the south
side of St. Clair gold.  Magic. 
Wishing you a brilliant

10 Reasons to be happy

It seems like a good day for the simple post 10 reasons to be happy.
What are yours?

1. The sun is slicing into my room and leaving bands of brilliant
light on the yellow walls.  Beyond beautiful.

2.  The sky is filled with the kinds of clouds I love, puffy and white
racing across the blue, powered by a strong wind.

3.  I went for a walk with a good friend and her dog, and the sights
were lovely.  Sun everywhere, and people masked and distant 
looking cheery.

4. I am working on a painting of clouds, and will keep working on
it today.

5. I talked to my sister in California, and she is well.

6. I am going to my favourite art store today, and can go inside
and look around. Masked and social distanced of course.

7.  I am buying real gold leaf in case I feel like painting a 
Klimt. LOL. Yes.  Not a copy -- a Klimt inspired peace.

8.  I listened to a wonderful meditation on Happiness by 
the woman from Positive Magazine.  I love her voice, and
felt elated and motivated afterwards.

9. Your work online on the blogs, Facebook, and Instagram
inspires me, and makes me so happy.

10.  Right now I am going to go and work on my painting (No pressure).
My message to myself for today is No Pressure.  

Have a thinking about why you are happy day.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Hearing the call

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

There are so many theories of what makes a piece of art successful.
I'm sure it's different for every artist.  I love working on larger work,
and finally got the nerve to get back to solving one of my bigger pieces. 
I should say the nerve to start working on it again. 

I'm showing you a piece I love that is also based on the magnificent
clouds you get near, and over the ocean in Nova Scotia, our second
home.  This painting is one of my favourites, and still available
if you'd love a dramatic landscape behind you as you make your
Zoom calls.  

The new painting is another large work 36 x 48 inches -- and I
just got started on the clouds today.  Then right before supper --
the power went out. We quickly found candles, and used our
phones as flashlights (handy eh?).  For about 10 minutes we
sat wondering what we'd eat for supper, and were just going to
head out to pick up take out food, when the power came back on.

I made dinner because Steven was tired, and my painting kept
calling me.  I was trying to figure out if I could work on it for 
a few minutes while the dinner cooked.  I couldn't.  I had to make
a salad, and set the table.  But I was so happy to know that
the painting was beckoning me.  I could be wrong,  but I think maybe
that's one thing that happens with paintings that work.  They make
you want to work on them.  

Have a hearing the call day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Scheduling happiness

The cat's flowers (detail)
Sketch in progress
marker and coloured pencil
on drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021
(The benefit of the blog.  I
Just noticed that the cat has
no whiskers on one side of
its face.  Hmm.  That's
what sketches are for. Hmmm.)

 I read somewhere that the happiest couples follow routines. That made
 me feel a good about our very scheduled life. We eat every night by
candle light, and take turns making dinner. What routines matter to you in
 your day-to-day existence? Today I look forward to my walk with a friend.
 I can hear her dog's collar clinking as she walks up the street, so I know that
 will happen soon.

Later:  I had a great walk, worked on a big painting, and this little sketch. 
I'll show you part of it.  In coloured pencil, it goes very slowly.

There was a mood of unbridled exuberance today as the weather was 16 degrees
Celsius (60.8 Fahrenheit) with sun, and people could feel spring coming.  People 
were jogging in shorts! I wore my spring coat and it was too hot!

After his workday was over Steven and I had a walk in the dusk by the lake,
and climbed down onto a stoney beach to see and listen to the waves. A 
glorious sound, and it was still warm enough that we didn't have to freeze
to hear it.

Have a welcoming your day day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

One year since my last classroom class

Concentration -- 3 quick sketches
Acrylic ink on notebook paper
Barbara Muir © 2020

As I started to think about writing this tonight the Barenaked Ladies song
One Week came into my mind. I could sing this blog to that tune, but I
won't. But it’s been one year since my last college class in the classroom.
 That’s quite the anniversary.  When I told a friend this she asked, "What
 are you going to do to celebrate that you've succeeded in teaching your
 once a week class online for a whole year?" I'm actually teaching my fifth
 online class.

I love her kind of thinking -- flipping it completely from the sadness of not being
in a live classroom with my students to, "Hey you did it!" And it has been
wonderful teaching on Zoom, and getting to see people without masks. My students
are funny, and smart and I've learned so much from them.  I hope they've learned
what they need from me. 

YouTube Sketches
Black marker on Pentalic paper
Each one is 5.5 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

Steven and I are going to drink a champagne toast for our success in making it
through this year. It will be a while before we can count on getting a vaccination,
so all of the protocol practices continue – the masks, the social distancing, hand
washing, and hand sanitizing, and – teaching online. 

Thank you so much to my students for helping me in every way possible. I’m not
a techie, and I do love teaching.

Have a celebrating 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!