Wednesday, December 29, 2021

2018, and 2019th things I learned in 2021

First stop Paris
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 

2018th thing I learned -- the world is still out there

People complain about having to talk on Zoom, but Zoom has given
me my Monday night evening class, and faces to see without masks.
And connecting to people around the world on the phone, through letters,
and email has given me so much hope.  The world is still out there --
even when we are in lockdown -- fingers crossed that doesn't happen
again any time soon.

And Paris is still out there.  My favourite places are out there and 
I will visit them when the time is right, when everyone does their 
part to help us conquer this plague.  Meanwhile just the thought of
you -- Paris, New York City, Florence -- makes me happy. Stay safe.

2019th thing

Believing leads to change

The heart of all creativity in part is a belief that it can happen. I can
make that drawing, you can write that book, we can solve this hard
scientific, and behavioural problem of the virus.  And we can solve
climate change, if we believe we can change our ways, and take 
action to do it, and follow through. Let's join forces in a kind and
loving way to effect the change that needs to happen.  I believe we

Thank you again for all of your kindness and support.  You
make me happy.

Have a seeing how much you learned this year day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

From 2016 things, to 2017 things -- spreading joy


Golden Sunlight Cherrywood
acrylic on canvas
16 x 20 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

I started to read bell hook's all about love, and she talks about how 
the pervasiveness of cynicism, and lack of belief in love and joy is 
harming us as a society.  So here it is.  It has been my mission for
maybe 20 years to spread joy with my art, my writing and my teaching.

So this year--in a year where it's been hard for all of us to keep our
heads up, and keep going down the rocky road of virus land, I learned
this lesson again. Joy counts.  I need to do whatever I can to help 
others feel happy, and of course to stay happy myself.  That is not
a shallow lesson. Love is a deep commitment -- to the planet, to
family and friends like you, and to myself. 

I'm sending you the image from my holiday card.  I submitted my
teaching grades on December 22, and had two days to get the holiday
together.  That meant I didn't get the card to as many people as 
I would have wished -- in short -- all of you. 

The inside message is:

Warm Wishes for a Happy Holiday

and a Joyous New Year!

Have a spreading joy day!

Monday, December 27, 2021

Catching up

Valiant winter tulips
Marker on Canson
mixed media paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

There are so many people who make my life the best, that I
don't even know where to begin.  But for the next 10 things 
I learned in 2021, I'll repeat the joy of learning from other
artists on line.  Today watching Harry Stooshinoff draw, I
got the urge to draw the tulips sitting in my kitchen.  I'm
organizing my studio, and it's in a state of flux at the moment.
Tomorrow is another day. 

But inspired by Harry's amazing one minute video I began a 
line drawing of the tulips.  This is the second one.  I began in
ballpoint pen, which everyone raves about, but it didn't work
for me, and the pen went dry, so I began again.  If the flowers
last until tomorrow, I'll work on it a bit more.

Line drawing is not the ideal medium for tulips -- they deserve
colour.  But that made it an even more interesting exercise.
I had a lot of fun.

Have an enjoying your life day. 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Holidays at Cedarvale Park in our neighbourhood a few years ago. 

How was Christmas on Cherrywood? Our family rapid tested, and Steven and I have had the
third vaccine.  So we had dinner with Megan, Christopher, Alice and Madeleine
on Christmas Eve, and shared presents on Christmas afternoon. And we had 
dinner with Sam on Christmas night.  We are so grateful to Christopher for the rapid
tests that made it all possible.

Last year we had dinner outside with Sam and Emily on the back porch at minus 4 degrees
Celsius, and shared presents masked with the other family at 6 below.  It was cold, and much
better than nothing, but this year it was wonderful to be inside.

Wishing you a safe and healthy holiday. 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

The next three things I learned in 2021

Toronto December sunset 
Barbara Muir ©️2021

Thank you to the farmers at Marvellous Edibles
This year, like every year for the past 10 years I learned over
and over how much I appreciate the work of the farmers Ayse
and Jens of Marvellous Edible Farm.  We buy our lettuce, quiche,
fresh farm eggs from them every week.  And every week
Ayse sends out a wonderful letter to all of their regular shoppers
about life on the farm.  Thank you so much Ayse and Jens.  Your
baked goods are always delicious, and salads with your greens,
and omelettes with your amazing eggs make us so happy.

The Cherrywood Community
The third thing I relearned was how much I love and miss my
community. Our coffee group has been meeting since our children were 
little and attending the same public school. When we could
meet in person, in a group member's house, the brief meeting
would be a pure delight.  I have missed most of the meetings in
the past year because I have been nervous of group meetings, even
outside, although I joined one in the summer, and it was wonderful.
But I recently attended a couple of our Zoom meetings, and so
enjoyed seeing my friends's faces.  

Wonder is the best
The third thing I've learned over and is the miracle of wonder. 
Steven and I are already talking about how it will be when the light
returns.  Amazing.  But my image today is from the other day, when
I got out of my car to buy a holiday wreath and saw this miraculous
sky. Feeling wonder is a gift to all of us, and to an artist, the life
blood of our lives.  With all of the tragic news lately — we need it more
than ever.

Have a feeling the wonder of the world day

Friday, December 17, 2021

Some of my heroes -- the next three things I learned in 2021

Acrylic on Birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

2021 has been another tough 12 months.  Does that go without saying? Maybe
not.  One thing is for certain -- the people who care about you and help you
while respecting your social distance, wearing masks, getting their shots are
up there on my hero list. So here are three people who have taught me the value
of kindness all over again this year. This means I'm up to 2003 things I learned this year.
18 to go!

Raylea Lambert
A huge, heartfelt thank you goes out to Raylea (pictured above) for trying to make
sure I go for walks.  Raylea is kind beyond measure, and as often as possible
during the week through this strange up and down world of 2021 has 
gone on walks with me and her dog, Ginger.  My own dog has pulled
me and actually helped me get a concussion a couple of times, so
I usually walk with her with Steven. These walks with Raylea have been
a glorious treat for me. Thank you Raylea.

Chris and Steven putting
Breakfast in the Hotel

Petit-déjeuner à l'hôtel
when it was on display at
St. Clair Printing and Graphics 
Acrylic on canvas
6 ft. x 8 ft.
Barbara Muir © 2012

Chris Chan, at St. Clair Printing
Chris is amazing, funny, and a wonderful printer. As an artist, unable
to sit with other artists and draw from the model during this bizarre
time - Chris's wonderful prints of my reference photos have helped
me to keep inspired, and keep on working. I am immensely grateful
to him.  He asked me not to write this, because he doesn't want to be
so famous! 

Sally the dog
Acrylic on canvas
5 x 7 inches 
Barbara Muir © 2014

Siobhan Mulcahy
Speaking of our sweet dog, another huge thank you goes out to Siobhan
Mulcahy, who walks our dog Sally with a pack of other cheerful dogs three
times a week, during the work week. This makes our dog happy, and much
easier to live with, and that is wonderful. 

And to everyone out there who makes our lives happier, thank you
to the maximum, maximum. Have a making peoples' lives happier day.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The next 1000 things

The newest member of our family -- Monet
(a direct descendent -- :-)
She is a Tortiepoint Siamese kitten --
almost 10 weeks old.  Unbeloved
by our very nervous dog, Sally, and
our older Siamese cat, Fiona.
But we just got her on Saturday, so
all of these tense relations improve
day by day. Happy Holidays.
The new kitten gets into everything.
This is the antique water jug we put
flowers in before we have time to
arrange them.
Barbara Muir © 2021

Because we have been so closed in this year— seeing very few friends, drives in the car
and feeding the geese, ducks and swans our main entertainment, family has become our
main focus.  And even then our connection was hampered by Lock downs and restrictions until
July of this year. At the end of July the family came inside for a birthday for the first time in 17 months.

We all looked at one another at one point in quiet wonder that we could be inside together as though nothing had happened, but it certainly had, and everyone but the young children was
double vaccinated, and we could hug! 

That, it turns out, was just a chapter in the long story of COVID-19. And we will all get the booster
when we can, and the next booster as required. 

So my second thousand best things about 2021, which gets me up to 2000 things, is about my
family.  My husband has been a saint, and I guess I fall into that category too.  We have been
so lucky to be with one another.  And even though working at home hasn't been ideal -- we have
enjoyed the breaks with each other. The rest of my Toronto family have been wonderful, kind,
funny, helpful.  We've been together this year for the fall birthdays and Thanksgiving, and I hope
we'll get to do one of those holiday family photos I love so much. 

My family far and wide have kept in constant touch with us -- making us laugh, giving us
hope, sharing their methods of coping with this endless virus. 

Please stay safe, get the booster, be careful, so we can all enjoy our families.

Have a loving your family day.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Starting the countdown on 2021 things I learned in 2021

End of summer bouquet
Acrylic ink and marker on
drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

The first 1,000

 There is always so much to learn:

A few years ago Howard Wolinsky, the Chicago journalist, and fabulous
photographer, who got me noticed by Oprah's people, wanted me to write
about whatever the number of the year was and how many things I'd learned.
So we are almost done 2021, and I'm thinking about it Howard.

This past year being literally in lockdown for so much of the year I sometimes
felt that I'd forgotten everything.  I teach once a week on a Zoom format,
and continue to learn about that.  In some ways teaching has been
my only social life -- and a pure delight. But I felt like I was forgetting
essential skills -- how to be with people in person, how to talk, how to create.

And when I'd worry, or feel lost, or sit at my easel, and not know where
to begin, I'd know that there were way worse problems out in the world,
than any I was experiencing here. 

I hope a major lesson I learned this year was to honour and understand how
lucky I am to be here, alive, thinking and even when I'm not creating,
yearning to be creating.  

To all of the artists, curators, collectors, and art appreciators who read my blog,
comment and support me -- thank you.  You have taught me more like a million
things this year (but let's call it 1,000 for form's sake) -- inspired me, and made
 me happy.  Thank you.   

Have a counting your 2021 lessons day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

10 Reasons to be Happy

Self portrait
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

It seems like the perfect day for 10 Reasons to be Happy.

1.  I started painting again yesterday on a hard work.  Slowly, slowly,
but I made some progress, and understood my next steps. Yay!

2. We are getting a new kitten on the weekend, and I think she will
be wonderful.  She is a Tortiepoint Siamese, like our cat Fiona, who is one
of the kindest, most intelligent, and loving animals we've ever had.

3.  I'm reading a good book -- Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown,
who I see has a new podcast I'd love to listen to. 

4. We put up one of our holiday trees on the back porch in the
freezing cold last night.  

5.  We will probably put up the one for the front porch tonight.
(Ontario's COVID numbers are rising dramatically, so who knows
we may be having Christmas on the porch again this year.)

6. I ordered new Holiday Cards and they should be ready tomorrow!

7. We have been listening to Holiday music, singing, and watching Holiday
movies at night -- which are so cheerful. 

8.  It snowed all day today, light pretty snow, so I put my icers on
for my walk, and it was beautiful.

9. There is supper in the fridge, so I don't have to cook, and it's my night.
(My husband and I make dinner every other night.)

10.  You! You make me happy every single day.  Thank you for your
support and kind comments.  You so rock!

Have a noticing your happiness day.

11. What?  Oh yes.  Break every rule. While I'm at it, why not use this
12 year old portrait of me?  I like the style, and I'll think about that as
I'm working on a portrait now of someone who is not me. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

For me Heart is All

Dream Selfie -- Wonder Water Image #7 Acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Barbara Muir © 2016

Tonight I'm posting a piece I found in my Facebook memories today, because it moved me to read it again. It is true. For me Heart is All. Our hearts all over the world have taken a major hit in the past two years, but if we are here to tell the story, and to continue to live and love, we know we are blessed. Life has been harder for everyone, and also every loving minute has been more precious than ever. Thank you everyone. The rest of this blog is from my former post on Facebook.

"I remember teaching positive psychology for my boss Frank Daley (who I deeply admire, and loved working with) and talking about love. (This portrait is of his beautiful daughter, Regan Daley). Dream Selfie -- Wonder Water Image #7, showed in the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, France in October 2016. One point of the course (and the textbook) was that loving a person is not the same as loving chocolate.

Of course we were trying to help young people understand what true, grown up love with a partner was like. But I always fidgeted with that concept -- got uneasy, felt a psychic error there for me. True there are degrees of love.

It would be hard to match the love I feel for my family and friends. But it is my experience that people who throw that word around, who love people, and paintings, music, humour, ice cream, and flowers, and coffee, and wine, and pretty clothes and their jobs -- also love each other, the environment, the planet, fairness, equality and will fight, not in a shallow way, to take care of the people, the neighbourhood, the city, the country, the planet that they love.

I am all for spreading the love, for loving as much as possible -- for gushing over a book, a movie, a friend, a lover. We are trained to be reticent, and it isn't getting us anywhere. So guess what? I love that you are reading this. And please go out and compliment your family and friends. Love, love, love. My mother's death taught me that it is all over in an instant, and you cannot ever love enough in this lifetime."

Have a loving your life day.❤

Friday, December 3, 2021

Friendship painting = Play

Crazy Ocean view
Acrylic ink on watercolour paper
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

I got to talk to my wonderful friend Flora Doehler, the great artist, last night.
The last time we talked I started a little painting. Sometimes I find it easier to
paint if I’m not concentrating on what I’m doing so the image of an ocean scene
came to me just because of the sound of her voice.

Acrylic ink on watercolour paper
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

One of the highlights of our trip this summer was visiting Flora and her husband
Larry in Bear River. We saw a gallery they're curating in town, and a wonderful
show. And above all I loved seeing Flora’s studio, which is like no other. It is filled
with paintings inspired by the beautiful garden she and Larry grow, and the glorious
light that comes in the studio windows.

I think I can call these InkDecember creations, even though they are not pen
and ink drawings. They’re done with acrylic ink on watercolour paper. So that’s that.

You got me universe
Acrylic ink on watercolour paper
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021

I’ve been thinking about that watercolour pad for a while, and about Bob Burridge who
starts every day doing five or six paintings. Bob I did some, and it felt good.

Having an enjoying what you do day.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Happy December

Prepping for the season
On the weekend we got this beautiful tree 🌲 from Mike Majeski, who is selling
Christmas trees to raise money for the Daily Bread Food bank. Clockwise 
from the left — Steven with the tree which is 4 feet higher than his 6 feet!
I mean!, Clementines — our winter sanity food. (They make you happy),
last year’s tree, the swans who were waiting for us to feed them after the tree
was delivered, the first snow fall in the backyard, and in the center Mike’s truck,
which I’m sure made everyone think we’re selling our house,
with the adorable delivery girl. We aren’t selling at all, but if we ever do Mike
would be the person we’d choose to help us.
Major thanks to Mike, Christopher and Alice. Great team.

Here we are on the first of December already getting a jump on the season thanks
to Mike Majeski. We are very grateful to Mike for his fantastic work for the Daily
Bread Food Bank.  

The tree is huge, the Clementines have become a year round snack during
COVID-19.  They calm us down. The decorated tree is last year's 
effort. We haven't brought the tree into the house yet.  Our excitement was added
to on the day we got the tree, because when we went to a park on the west end
of the city, the swans were back! We were so happy because we were worried
that they'd been harmed, and they were delighted to 
see us. We feed them good
bread, and the Queen's (Queen Elizabeth) swan 
manager says that's a good thing
to do. The first snow came at the end of November -- 
thank you universe.  No one
 here is in a rush to see snow, but it does feel right at this 
time of year. And in the
center is Mike's delivery truck, with his assistant Alice 
pointing to the name on the truck.  

It feels like this strange year has rushed by.  Thank you to everyone who made it
enjoyable despite all of our restrictions, which I gather will continue with this
new variant. Deep breath!  Stay safe.  We can get through this.  Together.
Please get vaccinated if you aren't already.  And Happy Holiday Season.

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!