Sunday, January 31, 2021



What so often cheers me up --
time in our favourite park.

It was very cold, and windy today.
I didn't last long -- I needed a warmer
coat -- but it was wonderful.
Barbara Muir © 2021

Most mornings I wake up a little tired, but look at my list and get on
with the day. Good advice for me today when I am feeling blue about
COVID-19. Reading The Guardian Global Edition about a young man
who lost his grandmother to COVID-19 made me sad.

One of my former students from a few years ago told me today that he
and his girlfriend had just recovered from COVID. We can’t avoid sadness
about this virus. But we can overcome our sadness by taking care of ourselves,
forgiving ourselves for the odd attack of the blues, and making a list of what
is good in our lives.

This incredible space ,where I get to talk to you, hear from you, share ideas
on art with you, and read about your ideas and successes, is definitely one of
the things that keeps me positive and happy most of the time.

I woke up thinking about my mother, who is gone. If ever there was a brave
and positive woman that was her. And so I will carry on with the strength she
gave to me, do my work and enjoy the day.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Creative ecstacy -- when do you feel it?

Wonder Water Image paintings 
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2014 
Water Image paintings 
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2010 
Each painting is 30 x 30 inches

When an idea comes into my head, and I have the energy, time,
equipment, and space to follow through on it, I feel happy.  I have had
more than one series that really felt wonderful coming together in
the process, and when the paintings were finished.  

One series that just kept going was the Wonder Water Series.  I am
never happier than when I am on the shore of a lake, or the ocean.
That's why my husband drove me to our favourite park today to
feed the ducks, and geese.  Just the sight of water makes me so 

This series was about the places in the world, next to water where
the people I painted wanted to be.  I wish I had videoed my subjects
talking about those places.  That didn't occur to me at the time.
But the paintings show that these places are deeply meaningful to
each person.  It was my dream to fill a large gallery space with them,
on all the walls, ike David Hockney with his portraits.  Maybe

What work makes you feel that special excitement of creativity

Friday, January 29, 2021

Looking forward -- looking back


Late January Sky
Barbara Muir © 2021

We are so in the habit of this COVID-19 world now.  But I found a short blog
about the beginning, and thought I'd share those thoughts tonight.

The photo is of the sky as I looked out from our back porch today.  It is
super cold, and was snowing gently, but the sky always makes me happy.
It was a good day.  We worked hard, and then got to talk to friends,
on the phone and on Zoom.  So much fun

I've been marking today, and on Friday night Steven and I watch TV
together.  I love our time sitting on the couch, with the two cats
and the dog sound asleep knowing we are happy and together.

This was what I wrote on April 8, 2020.  It sounds so innocent now:

"We went to the grocery store tonight.  Together.  It was late
in the current hours -- 7 p.m., and because of the virus the
store closes at 8 p.m.  And I was thinking about what it was
like shopping a month ago.  On March 3 -- okay a month
and 4 days ago we had no idea what was coming at us.
I was blithely talking about an art show I was preparing
for.  I had coffee with the women I know in the neighbourhood
who meet on a Tuesday morning if they're not working.

Life was more or less normal.  Today in the grocery store almost
everyone wore face masks, and if not had their scarves
tied around their faces.  There are markers on the floor
telling you how far apart you have to stand waiting for
the cash (2 meters or 6 ft, 7 inches).  You are permitted to
cash out when a man overseeing the cash registers lets
you through.  Some people still don't get social
distancing, but they are rare.

So we had to remember oranges because someone in
our family eats fruit so she won't eat chocolate bars
and non-stop candy.  Yes it's me. And we did get all of
our regular groceries, and came home, had dinner, and
I had a banana for dessert.

Every detail matters.That is life right now.  Enjoy it.

Have a loving your life day."

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay happy.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Snow in January— so beautiful!

Snowy day in Toronto
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

 It snowed the other day -- the first significant snowfall in Toronto this
 month. As Canadians living in a northern climate we know this isn’t
normal. It’s been wonderful being able to walk around without worrying
 about slipping on ice. But the snow matters, and it looks magical.

Tonight I’m showing pictures from other winters. I’m well aware
that we have two months left of winter, and could easily be hit with heavy
snowstorms between now and April. Still I love the way snow lights up the
day, and makes the night brighter.

On a sunny day like today the light is glorious. I stood outside on our sun
filled back porch, and stared at the clouds, ringed in brilliant light for a minute.
It's very cold -- so I couldn't stay longer.  Wow -- it is beautiful.

Snow, snow and more snow
The winter of 2008
That's me on the snowbank in
front of our house.  The house is
much prettier now (white with red
shutters and a red front door), and
I don't know what happened
to that pretty coat.

Happy creating. Stay healthy and stay safe.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Third time's a charm

January Irises (work in progress)
Acrylic ink on
watercolour paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

This is my third try at a blog today.  The first two just didn't
hit it for me. Then I realized that I needed to create something,
and did this painting to try and capture some of the joy I feel
each time I see the Irises I bought the other day.

In the gorgeous sunlight today, the flowers looked like birds
taking wing. I was dazzled.  Now I feel glad that I spent
some time with the beauties.  

I hope that you had a glorious, and creative day.  Mine was 
especially good because I talked to a former student, who
now lives in Halifax, and it was so nice to think about our
other home province. My former student loves Nova Scotia,
and hopes to bring his wife over from India to live there.  That
made me very happy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

A day to celebrate

The Maharani's Great Granddaughter with 
her Great Granddaughter
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2016
(This is one of my favourite, and
one of my best portraits.)

It is the second youngest in our family’s birthday today. We saw her on
FaceTime because she is in the country away from the city where COVID-19
 is so dangerous. So happy birthday to you Alice!

We all remember the exciting day when you were born, and can’t believe that
that day was five years ago. It feels like yesterday. Except for this year. This past
year feels like an extra five years got tacked onto it.

Wishing you the most wonderful year and we were happy to see that you had a
very happy birthday. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Start the week happy

My Happy Face (work in progress)
marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

On a very busy Monday it seems important to remember to be happy. Is it that
easy? Yes.  Being happy can be a decision. I told myself that this morning.
I used to teach positive psychology, and I learned some ways to be happy.
The answer is yes being happy can be a decision if there is no current terrible
loss, or sadness in your life.

Happiness is the point of this drawing. It is the second one in a happiness series.
Why not? I found her a total delight to draw, and started the week on the
right foot. I may do more work on this tomorrow. But her expression says
happy, and that was my goal.

What can you do to make yourself happy today? For me art is at the top of
 the list. Art and talking to you, and going for a walk in the sunlight, or just
going for a walk.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay happy.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

What we miss

Me with my son Sam on the shore of 
Lake Ontario on Family Day 2012.
Steven van Schaik © 2012

I'm posting this sweet photo of my son Sam with me tonight because I feel
like talking about what we are missing.  I see the question over and over,
"Do we really want to go back to normal life?"  My answer is yes -- with
improvements.  No I don't want the environmental destruction we've
thought of as normal.  Yes I want people to accept their differences and
work on getting along -- work on enjoying one another.

But I want my life back.  I want to be able to hug my sweet sons, my
daughter-in-law, their children, my son's girlfriend.  Yes I want that life
back.  Big time.  I have not been able to hug my son Sam, shown in this
photo, since March, 2020.  We have seen each other regularly, socially 
distanced, but he works in a store in a mall, and it's been considered

There is no way, after enduring a year of virtual isolation, no family
inside at Christmas -- no family dinners, no gallery openings and receptions,
no coffee with friends -- that I want to jeopardize my health, or my 
husband's health.  I have been working hard on staying safe for ten 
months now, and we will continue until this thing is finally solved.
But I miss my family and friends.

For all of us please wear a mask, social distance, stay safe, stay healthy,
and stay happy.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The world of babies

The Happiest Girl
Acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

It seems that in the world of the friends I know there are suddenly a lot
of babies. How wonderful! It’s a scary time to be having a baby, and yet
so many people I know – friends' children, former students, people
I know in my neighbourhood are having children. What a delight!

I came upon the picture of this baby who I finished painting just over a
year ago when I was going through my files.  I really love the painting.
I love everything about it – the colour the design, the confidence of the
baby, and her little friend. 

When you work on a commission, you don’t always see it clearly right
away when it's completed. Much as I love doing commissions, and I do,
there’s a different level of pressure in creating something for someone else,
especially when it’s a portrait of a family member. And a baby is vitally
significant in the family as the newest person – always a miracle.

I'm delighted that the client who commissioned the portrait was very 
happy with it.  She has a large family, and I have painted quite a few of
their babies.  

Wishing you a wonderful safe, and healthy rest of the weekend.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Flowers equal happiness

Happiness Tulips (work in progress)
Acrylic Ink, acrylic and ball point pen
on watercolour paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

I’m working on a painting of tulips today. I showed you the beginning and I
hope to get it completed soon. The original tulips that were my models are gone.
So the new ones inspiring as they are, are not the same shape or design. But
still just their presence makes me happy.

I like to paint so many different subjects. I was talking to a friend who’s an artist
in the Netherlands today, and we laughed about how many images go through
our minds in 24 hours. Flowers were my starting subject when I began selling my
art. It’s a beautiful, but cold winter day here in Toronto, and the gorgeous red tulips
I am working with seem to say, "spring will come, the virus will be conquered. All
will be well."

For me that is one of the delights of a few simple bunches of tulips – the incredible joy
I get from just looking at them. In a cold, landscape these bright beacons of the coming
season give me hope. 

Wishing you a happy, and creative weekend.  Stay safe, and stay healthy.  We will
all be together again.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

COVID dreams

Masks at play
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

This odd little image came to me in a dream the other night. I woke up the next
morning, and tried to get it down. It’s about the effects of COVID-19. In my dream
the wall behind the children in the playground was so magnificent! It was very
complicated, and covered with flowers, birds, trees -- far too many images for a quick
sketch (using my finger on my iPad.)

It’s supposed to be about what happens to someone who isn't wearing a mask. I don’t
think my dream was just about children. In the drawing, of necessity, the children playing
together are much too close to one another, even with masks on. But the child without a
mask can’t play with anyone.

Here’s hoping in the coming months, as we get closer to getting vaccinations for everyone,
that people become patient about having to wear masks, and just do it. It will be amazing
when this is all over, when children can go back to school, and when no one needs to wear
a mask anymore. That will be so fantastic! Meanwhile clearly I'm obsessed enough
about the virus to dream about it.  We are in lockdown, and it is a strange time.

Stay safe and stay healthy. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A Happy Day


The Light of My Life 
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
(This seems like the right image for
today.  It is a joyous painting
of the pond at a park in Toronto
that we visit often.  Plus the
painting is sitting in New York
City, waiting until the pandemic
is solved, and the gallery it is
supposed to show in, can open
up again.  So the painting
cares a great deal about the
Inauguration, and the hope for
a better future -- soon.)

This is a happy day! I haven’t heard my husband singing in the kitchen as he
makes dinner for quite a while, but today Yep. He is. It’s a happy day because
that narcissistic, racist, anti-environmental, horrible, criminal leader to the south
of us is finally gone.

I’m a fan of solutions, and I’m hoping that we are now going to see some. If
the new American government can stop the spread of COVID-19, and reverse
some of the harm done by #45, that will be wonderful. Not everyone in our
country is going to be happy about the immediate effects of the laws, and changes
that are being brought in today. But if those changes help the environment I’m
in full support.

Congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris! Wishing you all the best!  

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Gold eh?


Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic and acrylic ink
and Italian imitation gold leaf
on cradled birch panel
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021
(I titled the blog Gold eh?  Because eh is
how Canadians ask questions especially
in comedy.  Gold leaf, and in particular the
imitation kind, is not easy to work with.
I got the idea to try it from the artist
Bob Burridge, and I think if you want
to use gold as a background, I'd try the
paint he suggested next time, because
it would create a smoother surface to work on.
That's why I'm saying "Gold eh?")

I started the the gold underpainting for this during a long political conversation
with someone on the phone. When I got tired of presenting my side of
the argument, I stopped talking, and started working while I listened. Maybe
that’s the best approach – just let the person talk, and meanwhile get some
work done.

The portrait I’m painting is based on the drawing I showed you on January 5.
At the moment she looks a little cartoony, but I’ve just begun. I glazed over the
Italian imitation gold leaf, but in places the acrylic paint, and acrylic ink I’m
using for the portrait are lifting off. If most of the paint doesn’t come
off I don’t mind the random, somewhat brilliant abstraction of the gold insisting
on itself.

There’s no question about it -- the process is fun. And whatever happens with the
final result, I know I’m learning something and having a good time. And that is a
miracle in these times.

Monday, January 18, 2021

A quick one

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic ink and ball point pen
on watercolour paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

I teach tonight, so this is going to be a short blog. Actually I hope I can publish it,
because when I went to publish my blog yesterday I got a notice that I had too
much on the Cloud and I might not be able to do it. But if so – Yay!

Last night I was staring at the beautiful tulips sitting in an antique coffee pot, and
thought I have to draw these right away. I decided to use a red ball point
pen, because if I got around to adding colour the drawing would recede. Then I started
painting with acrylic ink. The ink is such a pleasure to work with and I had so much fun.

I’m not sure if I’ll get another layer on today or not. The colour looks so strong when
you first apply it, then when it dries you know need more.

Wishing you a week filled with creativity. Stay safe and stay healthy.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Free as a bird

Bluebird (family Musicapidae)
on a coffee cup

Bird Study #1
acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

Hi everyone. I just finished working this morning, and I’m taking a break.
When I was talking to myself a minute ago (yes I do talk to myself,) I said,
"soon you will be free as a bird." 

Right now the birds are fluttering around the bird feeders my husband hangs
off our garage. It's such a treat to watch them. We see Cardinals, Blue Jays,
Robins, Chickadees, Hawks, Blackbirds, Grackles, and of course Sparrows on a regular basis.

Robin earns his stripes
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 
Begun in 2009, finished in 2019

So I thought I’d show you some bird art today. There was a time when I included
Cardinals, and other birds in my portraits. I’ve never owned a bird as a pet, but I
know people who have. As a child I was very fond of the neighbourhood kid's crow.

I hope you’re having a good day, and if you have work to do I hope you get it done
in time to enjoy the rest of this weekend, and feel free as a bird.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

What hangs over your head? I don’t mean art!


Good news Clementines with Lemon friends
Acrylic on cradled birch panel
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019
(You can expect a new painting
like this soon, because I bought the clementines
with leaves today.  They always remind
me of Florence, Italy, because that's where
I first saw them.  I do love and miss Florence.

In an incredibly nervous making, highly tense time, I’m trying to figure out what
worries me, or hangs over my head, and I’m trying figure out how to get those
issues handled. I know I’ve told you about the Six Things list I learned to make
when I was teaching positive psychology.

That short list, (which often goes to 10, or 12 things) helps, but it also helps to
figure out what should be done first. If I write my blog earlier in the day, I feel
happier. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy writing the blog, of course that’s why
I do it. 

And even though this year I didn't promise myself I’d write a blog every day,
I’m in the habit, and I'm happy to have some positive habits in this hard year. 

If I can write the blog earlier, sometimes not knowing whether there will be
new art, or not, I can take some of the stress out of my life. It’s a beautiful day
today. I think we’re allowed to go to the park we love because exercise is allowed
in the severe lockdown we’re experiencing in Ontario. So that’s where I’m going.

My once a week class has started and I have marking to do, so that has to be done,
and will be. What hangs over your head? Is there something that must be done?
If you can do it, I hope you get it done, so that you can enjoy this beautiful day. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Keep in touch

Black marker on paper
5.5  x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

One of the things that’s happening as a result of this ongoing pandemic
is that people are feeling isolated, and that's making them depressed.
These feelings are natural when we can’t get together. So what can we do?

I find that the comments from friends on the blog, on Facebook, and on
Instagram are heartwarming indeed. These messages let you know that
people out in the wide, wide world care about you, and that when this nasty
disease is finally over to the point that we can get together, we will be there
for each other.

Those who study psychology and stress suggest that we call one another,
write one another, and let each other know that we care. Consider this message
from me a support message. I am here in blog land. If you are my friend, or
someone I know through the blog, Facebook or Instagram you can contact me.
I may not respond right away. But if I can I will.

Meanwhile if you have any tips on how to stay cheerful during this long, long slog
of trying to stay safe from a horrific virus, please share them.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Experimenting and catching inspiration

Untitled (work in progress)
Imitation gold leaf on
cradled birch panel
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

My  thanks to Janet Vanderhoof today. She posted a piece about taking smaller
work and blowing it up into a large size. I read about that just as I was wondering
what to do on this piece of birch panel that I gilded with Italian imitation gold leaf
a couple of days ago.

I went upstairs from the studio to read for a few minutes, and all day I’d been
wondering what to paint over the gold. I knew that I wanted to show a person, 
but I didn’t know what image to use. I went on my oldest computer looking for
faces and found nothing that was right. Then after reading for a few minutes I
thought, "what am I thinking?"

Right then I knew I wanted to use the woman in the drawing I showed you on January
5. So I have started. Let’s see where it goes. It’s really just playing. I got the idea
for the gold background from Bob Burridge.  I'd watched his video on using gold,
discovered some imitation gold leaf in my studioand went for it. Have a great day.
Enjoy playing, creating and having fun  .

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Small daily pleasures

Coffee with milk in a cup
and saucer.
8 x 8 inches
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2009
(Steven says they only serve coffee
this way in England, 
but actually
 Starbucks uses cups 
and saucers too
sometimes. I don't take 
sugar, but I
 put some on the side in the painting.
Toronto now you can only get coffee
as take out, so 
no real china cups are
being used.) 
This painting seems perfect
for today.  And 
I like that it went to live in
with the artist Susan Carlin.

What's good in your life right now?  In some ways there's never been
a more important time to think of and enjoy 10 reasons to be happy.

1. When I wake up in the morning, there is hot coffee in the pot in the
kitchen waiting for me.  My husband makes it every morning, and on
the weekend brings it to me in bed. I am very happy to be in a loving

2. Yesterday the sun set at 5:03 p.m. That means we are moving closer,
and closer to longer days of light.  That's a very happy thought.

3.  I have a good and funny book on my iPad, Reasons to be Cheerful
by Nina Stibbe. It's about a girl working as a dental assistant. When I
was a teenager I got a job as a dental assistant part time for our dentist
I did that after school, and in the first two summers when I was in university.
My favourite part of the job was going out to get coffee for the staff because
I got to wear my uniform on the street, and I was very proud of it! 

4. I started teaching my Monday night class this week, and the 
students are wonderful.

5. We have still got our Christmas tree up -- it goes into the
backyard this weekend -- and we've been just sitting and talking
on the couch beside it at night after dinner.  That's been creating
a happy mental space for us.

6. My family are all well, and staying happy during this current
lockdown. Staying well is our primary goal right now, and that is good.

7. I am happy that I get to think about making art, and have lots of
ideas for what I want to do.

8. You and your beautiful and amazing work are a blessing in my
current world.  Tomorrow in our lockdown we are not allowed to
go out at all unless it's to get groceries, or go to the drugstore, or 

9. We have two sweet cats and a dog who are completely oblivious
to this virus problem.  They demand cuddles, games and food, and
time together, and I'm sure help keep us happy.

10. I am so lucky to have this blog, to have Instagram and Facebook.
My blog is a record of where I've been, and what I've been creating,
and thinking about.  And social media gives me an entire world to
see, think about, witness, and learn about.  Thank you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Talking to friends

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic ink and ballpoint pen
on watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021
(I'll try and get a better photo of
this tomorrow.  The pinks are more

Talking to my artist friend Flora Doehler today reminded me of why
I miss being around artists so much. She asked me what inspired me to
use red in my backgrounds, and that made me remember the wonderful
art experiences I used to enjoy with my Seneca College English classes, when
we'd visit the Art Gallery of Ontario. The students would pick a painting
to study, and write an essay about that artist’s life, and how it related to the
essay we were studying.

I got the idea of using a coloured background like red, or my more
frequent rust background in my art at that time, from staring at the work
of the Group of Seven. I don’t know which artist in particular used to use
burgundy behind his forests, but even though I’m not a fan of the colour,
I was excited to see how it made the foreground painting pop.

This painting is coming along. Not quite finished. I can see things I would
change if I did it again, but the excitement of this piece was painting from
live flowers, and they may have one day left.

It was a good day in art, I worked at more than one project all day, thoroughly
engrossed in the process, and happy as can be. Given the news, Ontario going
into a state of emergency because of COVID-19, and very sad problems with
our neighbour to the south (America), you could say that was a miracle, and
I am grateful. Thank you to my friends for the inspiring conversations. Stay
healthy, stay safe, and stay creative.

Monday, January 11, 2021

The Painting spirit

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic ink and ballpoint pen
on watercolour paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

Sometimes the painting spirit eludes me, and I find it hard to start a painting.
Today I was listening to Deepak Chopra, someone whose wisdom I love.
He said that if you choose joy you will always be in the present moment,
and you will always be happy.

So I started this painting of tulips because I could tell that they won’t last
much longer, and they are absolutely beautiful. Tulips are not always easy to
paint. Looking at them I realized that if I drew them, and then painted them
with acrylic ink, I might have more success than I could with other mediums. 

I haven't had time to get more done before I publish this, so we’ll call it a work
in progress. I was so happy that the mood struck me, and of course working from
life is best. My thanks to Deepak Chopra and to everyone who helps provide positive
thoughts to keep us going, and creating in these difficult times.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Fixing or starting over?

All the stars that shine
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020
(This painting took six years to
complete to my satisfaction.  Last 
year I finally made it work in
time for a show at the Heliconian
Club in Toronto.)

Last year I finished two paintings that had been bothering me for 
awhile. The inspiration, as it almost always is, was a show I needed
the paintings for, so I worked and worked on them, and ultimately
I was happy with them. The painting above is one of them.

Like most artists, I imagine, I have work that sits in a stack and might not
ever become complete.  And there are paintings I start, then put away.
When I get them out again, I can't believe that I created that image.

Untitled (work in progress)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 36 inches
Barbara Muir © 

One painting sitting in my studio all week is like this.  The image is very
nostalgic for me.  My son Sam, my husband Steven, and our dog Zoey 
(who died in 2013) are down at the shore in Pugwash, Nova Scotia.  As
imperfect as the painting is, looking at it, Steven and I started talking
about how different the beach is now.  In the summer if we could visit
we'd walk carefully down a narrow path between high bushes and poison
ivy.  That wide open access is gone.  I'll think about it while I sleep,
and I might paint it over tomorrow. 

Or... I might work on it, solve the sky, the ocean, the proportions, the 

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay creative. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

To the shore

Time to go
Barbara Muir © 2021
(The hungry swans have had
their fill.  Everyone else
wants more.)

Another amazingly sunny day -- what a gift. I could sit out on the back
porch without a coat on in the early afternoon. Then we went to the
lake to feed the geese and swans. Amazing. The colour of that lake blue
lifts my spirits in such a positive way.

I feel like we are in a new year when we follow our old habits -- going to
the park and feeding the swans, geese and ducks.  They were more than
happy to see us.  Happy New Year to all! 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Studio visits

Gabrielle Fischer Horvath visits
me in my studio in

Steven van Schaik © 2019

The picture today is of a delightful time when the sculptor, Gabrielle
Fischer Horvath came to visit my studio. Gabrielle was picking up work to take
to her gallery in Niagara Falls. That was a truly special time. I have rarely seen
a space as beautiful, welcoming, and tasteful as her wonderful gallery. I was
beyond thrilled to exhibit there.

Gabrielle is a fantastic sculptor. I love her work. And she was a magnificent gallery
director. As soon as our current lockdown permits she will be holding her
courses again in life casting. It’s her birthday today and I’ve been thinking of
her all day. She is a shining example of fantastic creativity, and resilience
in the art world.

COVID-19's effects -- the restrictions on holding receptions, classes and other
events in the gallery made it impossible to keep her brand new space open.
Everyone who ever entered the gallery misses it. So of course we are wishing
that one day she will open another beautiful space.  Happy Birthday Gabrielle.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The vitality of light

Breakfast Quebec City style
Watercolour and black marker
on Arches watercolour paper
6 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2012

Today was magnificent. Nothing of great importance happened in my small
world. But the whole day felt like a miracle because after what seemed like a
couple of weeks of dark, gloomy days, the sun came out and gave the whole
world the benefit of its beautiful light.

We had some work going on in the house so I went for a short drive alone.
I parked in a parking lot at the edge of a beautiful trail. I sat staring at the
brilliant blue of the sky, a deep, gorgeous colour that no painting can really
reproduce properly, but I intend to try for as long as I am a painter. I watched
the light hit the top of the very tall trees, turning their branches gold against
the blue.  The trees were reaching for the light.

I looked around my studio for paintings that would symbolize the excitement
of sunlight, and thought maybe my breakfast paintings sometimes
capture the magic feeling when the sun comes into a room in the morning.

That made me miss traveling, staying in the hotels we stay in on our way to
Nova Scotia. And breakfast room service is so wonderful after a long drive late
 into the night. I miss that. There's that first shock in the morning when you
 draw back the curtains in your hotel room. The sun floods in, and there’s a
 knock at the door – the waiters bringing in the food. None of that can happen
now -- not the travel, not the hotels, and if you do travel for any reason here
 in Ontario or Quebec -- no room service. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

This special world

Another nine happy images
You can expect more in 
this format!
Photos and paintings
gathered from the files of
Barbara Muir © 2021
Upper right corner Florence
from our apartment,
Lower left corner, my main colours
on Instagram in 2020
The rest are obvious.

The world of blogs, and social media in general, is often derided as a huge
waste of our time. That strikes me as so wrong. Not that I don’t often
spend too long looking at Instagram, Facebook, and the world of blogs,
 but there is something vitally important about this world, which is
keeping us going at the moment when we can’t go out into the real world. 
We can't hug our friends, see our families, go to restaurants, or stand in crowds
clapping at spontaneous music that happens in a park. But we can still
connect -- and the deep support, the inspiration, the kindness in those
connections are powering us through this hard time.

Thank you to everyone on social media, in the blog world, Facebook,
and Instagram for the beautiful posts you share, which make
me feel so happy, and that not only is life worth living, but that so much
awaits us when this nasty virus is finally over.

I am so grateful to all of you -- my friends, and supporters in this virtual
world. Thank you 1 million. Here’s to a helpful, hopeful, and happy year
to come. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The concept of happiness

Yes I'm happy
marker on Canson 
watercolour paper
9 x12
Barbara Muir © 2020

The image I’m sharing with you is all about the word Happy. On different days,
and even from moment to moment, the word means different things. Today it
seems to be about order. It’s been a very strange day. Perhaps this is the day when
the whole idea of a new year hits in a concrete fashion.  The piles of paper on my
dresser, and bedside table strike me as more than a little annoying. As for the table
in my studio with all of my supplies scattered on it – suddenly the look of it seemed

Maybe that’s the point of the whole new year idea. Even though as they said on the
James Corden show last night we aren’t in a new year really, we're in lockdown again
which is exactly like the 2020 we are so eager to leave behind. But maybe the point is
fresh vision –The ability to see things in ourselves and to change what we don’t like.

This is something we're used to in art. We put a painting away for the day, and get it
out the next day and think,"oh no I’ve got to change this!"And sometimes that goes on
until the work is done. Sometimes even for years! This drawing my not be completely
finished, but I do like the mood it conveys.

Have a very Happy and Creative Day!

Monday, January 4, 2021

For the love of drawing

Deep in thought
marker on Canson paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

In the past week I've had a strong urge to draw -- such a pleasure. I think
in reality I started painting before I started drawing. My parents did not like
children to make messes, and art is definitely messy. So I was four years old
and in kindergarten before my art experience began. And painting was our
kindergarten art activity. I loved the feeling of paint on paper, the lush colours
 – it was like a miracle, and still is.

But drawing started later, and became a strong focus after I went to art school. I
started drawing on the edges of textbooks. In high school that’s probably why I wasn’t
good at chemistry, or math. My textbooks were filled with drawings of people at
the beach, or doing anything besides studying.

So I’m back to drawing -- the perfect activity when I’m thinking about what comes

Drawing Before Coffee
Inspired by Liza Hirst's one line portrait
Marker on Canson paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

Wishing you a confidently creative day.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Word of the Year -- Happy

Steven and Me laughing
I know that I'm lucky I married
a man who loves to laugh. 
This photo was taken at Christmas in 
2007, but laughter is a
lovely part of our family life.
Chris Muir © 2007

Happiness has taken a beating as a goal in recent years.  But that's
too bad.  I've witnessed the transformation that happens in my
students, and friends when they discover ways to increase their

The artist Veronica Funk posted a piece on Instagram about choosing
a word of the year, to motivate herself, and keep her on course.
I read the link in her bio to the article about that idea, and thought,
"Why not?"  

As someone who teaches writing, the concept of just one word
guiding a whole year, seemed at first like an enormous burden on
the chosen word.  But hey!  Happy seems like the ideal word for
me.  It is a state I am often in, and frequently redirecting myself
toward.  And it's not, as some people think, a selfish idea -- because
how I feel affects the people around me, and if I can be happy,
I can help others to be happy.

So thank you Veronica. You have made me HAPPY, and I hope I
can spread joy in 2021. 

Have a choosing your driving force word day.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

A Resilient 2021

Toasting the New Year
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I finished this iPad drawing today that I started on New Year’s Eve, so I could
wish everyone a Happy New Year, and continue the reality of our need to
wear masks.

What I like about the iPad drawings is that I draw with my finger. which
reminds me of my first attempts at art back in kindergarten when everything
 seemed so delightfully fresh, and always possible. Thank you Mrs. Jordan,
you were a great teacher, and you're probably why I am an artist today.

After the overwhelming sad feelings of 2020, any return to creativity feels
wonderful. I also worked on a more finished drawing today, which I may
show to you soon Meanwhile it is still time for celebration and Happy,
Happy New Year!Thank you so much for everything you’ve posted in the past
year on your blogs, Facebook, and Instagram. You lifted my spirits, educated me,
made me understand more, made me laugh, and inspired beyond compare. Plus
you made me feel like yes we really are going to make it to the end of this
pandemic into a new future. Thank you

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year's Day


Me with Steven, my sweetheart
This is us on New Year's Eve 
five years ago.
Barbara Muir © 2015

I've been thinking about things that we consider miracles. Sometimes
in my head, I am silently listing things.  I do love lists.  So I think,
"What were five things that were great about 2020?" or "What are
some things you think of as miracles in your life?"

This man is the number one miracle in my life.  He is kind, honest,
loving, a great cook, a smart person in any type of work he takes on,
whether at work or around the house.  He is fun, funny, and perhaps
luckiest of all for me, loves me.  That is a miracle.

We have had so much fun together in our lives with each other, that
during this hard time of the pandemic we can entertain each other
with stories of the wonderful people we know, the superb places
we've been, great food, fantastic art shows.  We sing together (me
badly), him very well, and love our family, our home, our
animals.  That is a miracle.

Have an enjoying the miracles in 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!