Saturday, May 29, 2021

Weekends seem right

Favourite park
Barbara Muir ©️ 2021

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

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

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

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

Perfect. Right? 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Time off, and time to think

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

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

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

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

Have an enjoying your life day.

Friday, May 14, 2021

The park’s the solution

Seagulls in the park

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

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

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

Have a loving nature day.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The joy of art shows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The joy of face to face


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

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

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

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

Have an imagining a happy future day.   

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Your Lockdown strategies

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do to stay sane? 

Have a being as happy as possible day!

Monday, May 10, 2021

Dogs are awesome for art

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

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

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

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

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

Have an enjoying your pets day.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Happy Mother's Day!

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

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

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

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

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

Have a Happy, Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Happy Mother’s Day

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

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

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

Have a loving your mother day.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Fantastic day

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

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

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

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

Have an enjoying every minute day.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Glorious simplicity

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

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

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

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

Have an enjoying glorious simplicity day.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Crazy busy – thank you to the cheery people

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Happy Birthday to two brilliant artists

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 3, 2021

A great day, and the power of our imaginations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a loving your life day.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The fantasy date


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

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

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

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

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

Perfect date. 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The weekend — and May

Breakfast at the Skylight Diner, NYC
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014
(available! Contact me

Ah —The beautiful weekend. I love it so much. We drove today to the tiny local market to
pick up some food, and then took a quick drive through the gorgeous trees. In Toronto in
spring the trees begin with a brilliant light green which is feathery from a distance. I love
trees at any time of year, but this time of year is especially beautiful and moving. It feels
full of possibilities.

So I wish you a beautiful weekend. I am showing you what happened to my understanding
of still life painting. This painting has been my Happy Art Award more than once. By now I
know so many artists who deserve the Happy Art Award that I would probably have to spend
half a year sending out awards if I wanted to give everyone one. So everyone who is reading
this -- you get the award whether you’re an artist or an art appreciator.

Have a loving what’s good 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!