Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The great thing about journaling

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

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

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

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

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

Have an enjoying getting your art space organized day. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

Celebrating in COVID times

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

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

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

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

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

Have an especially celebratory day.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Changing perceptions -- COVID love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a loving your life day.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

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


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

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

Happy Father's Day

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

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

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

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

Have a loving your family day.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Sometimes the medium is the message

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

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

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

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

Have a loving the learning of creating day.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Quit competing with yourself

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

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

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

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

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

Have a loving the moment day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Great news from an artist friend

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

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

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

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

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

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!