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.

Portrait Artist

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