Sunday, October 24, 2021

Friends who collect your art

Still life collection in
my friend’s kitchen
Acrylic on canvasses
Barbara Muir ©️
They are clockwise from the upper 
left corner:

October Pansies
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

Morning at the artist's table
36 x 12 inches
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2008
(I've learned a lot about 
photographing my work in the
past 13 years!)

Cherry branches in a
crystal jug
Acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2008

I went to see a friend the other day who I think I've only seen once sitting outside
since the beginning of the pandemic. The reasons have been many. We were
in lockdown for the longest time in Toronto. Then because both of us are
conscientious about not being exposed to the virus, we had to wait until Steven
and I were fully vaccinated before I could visit.

But a couple of weeks after we were fully vaccinated we headed out on vacation
to our little school house in Nova Scotia. And then my friend and her husband went
travelling. So it was so lovely to see my friend. I was so happy. We talked and
had coffee, and she showed me her garden. And when I walked around her house
I saw that she and her husband are serious collectors of my work! An added treat.

Life gets so busy, and almost 2 years is so long! I had forgotten how many paintings
they had bought, and commissioned from me over the years. And the work is beautifully

Tonight I’m showing you a little collection of still life paintings that they have on
the kitchen wall. The paintings are across from a large window, which was letting in
brilliant sunlight when I was visiting. I took the shot with my phone because the sight
of these paintings gathered so perfectly made me feel wonderful. I don't have a decent
photo of the long still life.

Thank you to all of my collectors over the years. You’ve made me a very happy artist.
I once had an art director who thought that sales to people who knew you meant nothing.
Not true. In fact when I teach business writing one of the things we emphasize over and
over is the importance of connecting. And friendship is right at the top of the list of how
to connect in life. Right? Thank you so much Susan and David. You two totally rock.

Have a collecting your friends' artwork day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021


My friend Franco 
Inktober drawing
Marker on drawing paper
 5.5 x 8. 5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

One miraculous part of my
life in the last decade has been
taking part in shows around the world.
I met the wonderful artist Franco the Creator
in New York City when he visited
a show in the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery,
and loved my work.  Meeting fabulous 
artists, and being part of international
exhibitions made me so happy.
This is all on hold now because of 
COVID, and I miss it.
This drawing is loosely based on an image
from a video Franco did 
about being so tired of racism.  The
video broke my heart, and I wanted
to draw Franco and honour him.
My story about miracles is separate.
I could never have imagined the
wonderful life I've had when I was a child,
not because I didn't enjoy my life, but
because I had no understanding 
of what was possible.

It's hard for me to imagine the little girl I was sitting in Sunday school -- itching to
 be outside, or home with my dolls, or reading. I couldn’t get the concept of miracles.
The Sunday school teachers would read from the Bible about the loaves and the fishes,
 and it wasn't until I was much older that I understood what the miracle in that story was
supposed to be. As a child I didn't like fish at all, (love fish now), and I remember thinking
 that if everyone got a little bit of this horrible food, they'd still be hungry. Maybe I was meant
 to be a scientist.

Of course I'd keep all of my rebellious thoughts to myself on the ride home with my mother
and father. There was probably more to my unease than just the content of the stories. I didn't
like beards (no men I knew had so much as a mustache,) so I couldn't relate to the art work,
or the proffered God. I hated sitting on the cold chairs in the basement. I could hear the singing
upstairs, and resented memorizing the psalms downstairs.

But it was probably the earnest, didactic nature of the teachers, and the concept of sin that
bothered me the most. Here we were, a collection of entirely innocent, fresh faced, six and
seven-year-olds being told that we were bad. That was a boring, tiring and annoying message.

So how did I, a childhood cynic, start to believe in miracles and wonder?  I have been
so lucky to be released from the idea of guilt for enjoying life, and into the delight of seeing
what's good in the world. This didn't happen overnight, and maybe it's a natural progression.

My mother was big on wonder, and helped me notice nature -- birds and animals. My father
loved his garden and his land on the river, so he taught me love of place. Both of my parents
loved art.  My mother almost got a third degree in it, but opted to audit art history classes
instead.  My father was an excellent photographer, ands self taught painter.

My father quit going to church, because he was expected to spend his time adding up the
donations. My mother stayed part of the church until my parents moved back to Ottawa.
She had been trying to please my father by attending the United Church, but was raised a
Unitarian, and didn’t believe in the United Church credo.

I left the church right after getting baptized at 15.  After church one Sunday I asked my mother
why she didn’t repeat the credo, and she said she didn’t believe it. “Then why do I have to?” I asked.
And she answered, “you don’t.”

My friends taught me all about sharing and humour, and my husband and children taught me about the
sheer joy and poignancy of love. In short, I was saved, but not by the church.

Now I feel like I witness miracles every day. When I first wrote about this subject one miracle was
my yowling cat, who noticed that my son hadn't changed his socks in a couple of days, and 
a pair of clean socks up from the laundry room in the basement, to my son’s bedroom on the second floor
yelling all the way. That was a miracle I could relate to. And most miraculous is the world I
share with you here -- of art, ideas, wonder and love for our family, friends and the planet.

Have a miraculous day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Okay I'll be positive!

Inktober drawing
marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

Being positive takes a lot of work.  I'm blessed to know how to get there.  So
I had a couple of questions from very different sources a few days ago.  One
was, "what would I like to do to affect change in the world?"  Without thinking
I answered, "I'd like to try to be kind in all of my actions." So I will work on that.

Then a sweet Jehovah's Witness woman phoned me as I was drinking my first
of three coffees on the weekend.  She wanted to know if I thought the world was
getting worse or better. Her good work for the day was to call random people and
read from, the bible.

I told her that it didn't matter what direction the world was going in, my job was
to do my best to be kind, to make people happy, to think about the environment,
and take whatever actions I could to improve things.  And I told her I don't
believe in God, and am not religious, but I believe in Love.

Then she read a little piece from the bible to me.  I found out that she was living
in a seniors' home, and I think she was lonely, so I'm glad I put aside my
book, and listened for a few minutes. She told me she was originally from 
Jamaica, and had come here in 1972.  She still had a lovely accent, and we
talked about the fact that so many wonderful changes had happened in the
world since 1972.

As for the title.  My artist's, worker, writer spirit is often rebellious and resistant.
That person would rather do anything than work.  So it more or less says to
the part of me that wants to continue -- Make me!  And I reply Okay I will.  This is
all an internal debate.  And the answer is my list, and crossing things off the
list. See it works.  Writing my blog was on the list.  

Wishing you a wonderful day.  

Friday, October 15, 2021

Favourite from the Inktober collection

Reading in the studio
Ball point pen on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

 I love this drawing of Steven reading to Alice. Everything about the memories of
 getting to spend time with family members was deeply nostalgic for the long period
 of lockdown, and special precautions during this pandemic. There is such a sweetness
 in reading to anyone, but especially to children. It is beautiful to watch how they listen
 and absorb every word. If you read the book a number of times they'll know it off by
 heart, and want to say the words out loud as you read it .

Slowly these special times are coming back to us with more and more people being
fully vaccinated. And during the time when no contact outside of our main household was
possible, we learned so much about how vital the simple human interactions are to our

I am under no illusions that all is well with the world, but I am so incredibly happy
when we get to spend time with a friend, or a relative enjoying a book, talking
about a television show, or sharing a meal together – so amazing.

Have an enjoying the small pleasures in your life day.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Compassion for Health Care Workers

In support of nurses
working overtime to help 
during a pandemic
Inktober drawing
marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

On my walk last night I walked by a lady sitting on her front porch, and in
the window was a beautiful red neon heart. These heart lights are turning up
all over the city, and I asked the woman what they mean. She told me that they
are made by an organization called Our Glowing Hearts, and they are made to
honour the Frontline workers at Michael Garron hospital.

My drawing tonight is of a nurse I saw talking on TikTok about the traumatic
evening she'd had trying to persuade a patient with COVID-19 to go on a
ventilator to try and save the patient's life. She was so tired and sad. The current
situation with COVID-19 is extremely hard on staff in COVID wards. The people
who are coming in are in the main not vaccinated, and they don’t believe that
they have the virus that is in fact killing them. Nurses around the world are suffering
from burnout.

Even worse the nurses who are trying their hardest and working long hours to
try and save lives are being insulted, attacked, mistrusted, and often treated
abysmally by patients and their families. So this nurse got off work and sat in
her car to tell her story to try and persuade people to please get the vaccine.

Her story moved me, and I did this drawing. Thank you to everyone who works
in healthcare facilities all around the world, and to all the frontline workers
for saving lives. My heartfelt  thanks to you. We are all worn out by these
stories, and by the stubborn ongoing resistance to accepting vaccinations.
And to everyone who is double vaccinated -- thank you.

Have a thinking of others, being kind, and doing the responsible thing day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The pleasure of Inktober

For the love of Anemones
Inktober drawing
Marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

I love drawing in ink, and Inktober in October gives me an opportunity to
create, or feature some of my ink drawings. Today’s drawing is of some of my
favourite flowers in the garden – the fall blooming anemones. Ours are stunning.
They fill a huge space with gorgeous tall white flowers floating on the dark green
background of their large leaves.

My husband and I are not gardeners -- ironic as Steven's father was a pro
gardener, and my grandfather was a horticulturalist. But sometimes
just the desire for a garden leads to surprisingly wonderful decisions. Planting
these gorgeous flowers at least a decade ago has ended up giving us so much pleasure
every year.

When the first frost hits, and the flowers lose their blooms, I feel so sad. After the
holiday season my husband puts our holiday tree out in the garden and covers it
 with birdseed. The tree is on top of the anemone patch for at least a month.
Steven loves to see the birds through the basement door window when he’s working
 at his desk in his basement office.

 Each year I worry that the anemones won’t come back, and every year when those
 beauties return, I am so grateful.

Have a loving the beauty in your life day.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving

Flowers from our garden on the
kitchen table
My Happy Thanksgiving wish to you.
Happy Thanksgiving
Barbara Muir © 

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!  Families and friends
from coast to coast have spent the weekend gathering
together to express our gratitude for the bounty of
the harvest, for each other, and for the planet. Things are
still a bit different this year.  Despite vaccinations being
widespread in Toronto, a lot of festivities have taken
place outside on patios and balconies.  And as Steven and
I have taken our evening walk, we've seen joyous 
family parties, and felt so happy.

Today we will have a Thanksgiving dinner at Megan and
Christopher's house with the children, and Sam (we'll be
missing Emily.) Christopher, Megan, and Alice and Madeleine
already visited to sit outside in our garden at the height of its
beauty in the fantastic, warm and sunny day. That was a nice
surprise and tonight's dinner will be another treat.

I love Thanksgiving because it includes everyone, and
is about sharing what we have, and enjoying a special delicious
meal with the people we 
love.  There are no gifts just
food and 
good company.  It is a wonderful holiday.

Best wishes for a very happy day on the last day of this
wonderful long weekend.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada -- what are you thankful for?

You can't keep a good man down
Acrylic ink and acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

This has been a great day both despite, and because of the rain that
was with us in varied forms all day.  I woke up this morning filled
with memories of my mother, who created so many delicious Thanksgiving
dinners for us, her family. I miss her so much. 

Last night thinking about our weekend plans -- dinner with the family
inside on Monday -- all double vaccinated except the young children,
I pulled out a recipe that I must have hand printed at a young
age from a file of hand written and typed recipes.  It's for my mother's
and her mother's pumpkin pie.  Steven (my husband pictured above)
is the pie maker in our family now and loves that recipe. 

So to begin my posts about what I'm thankful for.  Number One is my
darling husband.  He is a champion. And he's making dinner right now
as I write this.  My life has been so wonderful, even during this ongoing
pandemic, because I live with someone who loves me, and who I love.
I know that I'm lucky, and I'm posting this portrait I did of Steven in 2020. 

I was going to call the post "This guy!"  Because at least 
1,000 times a day on our best days I think  -- "Wow how lucky I am
to know this guy."  Like tonight when we walked the 5,000 steps
I still needed to the vegetable store and back in the pouring rain.
In fact in a deluge.  We were soaked through and through -- and I got
my steps -- 10,000.  What's a little water? 

Have a loving 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!