Monday, January 31, 2022

Farewell to January

The backyard celebrates winter
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
Barbara Muir © 2022

Well there it goes people -- the first month of the year.  I felt a bit
sad tonight that it was over.  Despite quite awful news, the month
was packed with small things happening, that had meaning for me,
and Steven, and the friends I have in the city, and in the blog world.

The sunsets were miraculous, and I've photographed enough of
those down by the lake to make a sunset picture book, or
video.  Steven and I are entranced by sunsets, and the return of
the light.  To help this magic along we had between 20 and 30 inches
of snow all of a sudden about two weeks ago.  The day before
it fell we were walking on grass in our favourite park.

What I won't miss about January is that our Siamese Tortie Point
cats -- Fiona 14 years old, and Monet, 15 weeks old,
both stopped eating, and we were afraid they wouldn't make it.
We were heart broken. 

Fabulous vet care has saved both of them -- Fiona with an
antibiotic for her infected teeth, and Monet from gastroenteritis.
We were so happy when Fiona the 14 year old started eating after
stopping completely for 3 days, and when our 15 week old cat started eating
voluntarily after one whole week.  We were hand feeding her with 
a special syringe, and were ecstatic when that was over a day ago,
and she began eating on her own again.

This painting was started 8 years ago, and may not be completely
finished, but I really like it now. I changed what wasn't working for
me, (mostly the colour) and it feels appropriately jubilant. Despite
the incredible cold, and deep snow, on sunny days January was a
beautiful month.

Have a loving what you see day.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

A wonderful day

Black marker on 
Moleskine paper
8 1/2 x 11 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 

It’s been a great weekend. We went out to our favourite park and fed the
ducks and geese on Saturday. Plus we found a spot off the Lakeshore
where we could watch the waves crash against the breakwater. I’ve never
seen such high waves in Lake Ontario. And the spray was arching into the
 air -- up to 20 feet white against the beautiful blue of the lake.

Looking through a sketchbook for a space to draw I found this drawing that
I love – not just because I like the style in it, but because it’s of me and a
childhood friend, and I’m wearing a brooch of palm trees that was given to me
by my aunt Ida. The drawing is based on a photo my father took when he was
the doing what looked like pro photography in his spare time.

But what I loved looking at the drawing was the memory of this wonderful aunt
who ignored all the popular adult provisos of the time about spoiling children
with too many gifts. She used to holiday in Florida every winter (there was no
COVID then).  So my aunt, who lived alone, visited Florida every year and always
brought back presents. What a sweetheart! I don’t think I knew as a child how lucky
I was to have her as part of my family.

Have an enjoying your good memories day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Delight in what happened!

Before the Dance in the red dress
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48 inches
© Barbara Muir 2008

I am working on a portrait today, which is slowly becoming what
I hoped for.  It seems almost magical that three of my favourite 
portraits came up on my Facebook memories -- as if to say,
"Girl you've got this."  At the very beginning of blogging I was
working on a series that lasted for quite a few years called
The Dance Series.

The Promise Acrylic on canvas 36 x 48 inches Barbara Muir © 2009 (available)

There were different parts to the series -- Before the Dance, which
featured young people on the edge of growing up -- about to step
onto the dance floor of life.  If you follow me on Instagram,
you'll know that I frequently feature my favourite dancers' videos
in my story.  I love the joy and exuberance they display.

Before the dance with the cat Acrylic on canvas 36 x 48 inches Barbara Muir © 2009,

But the dance series showed both the beauty, and nervousness
young people have when they are stepping into their futures.
I also did paintings of adults who were part of At the Dance,
or After The Dance. So these three beauties came up for me
today, and I hear their message -- "Keep painting, and 
keep on dancing."

Have a doing what you love day. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Awe and wonder

View from above
Acrylic ink and marker on paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2022

Okay here’s my question for you -- how do we get through a pandemic
going into its third year ? Yes -- critical question.  I taught my one night
a week class last night, and this will be the third year I'm teaching online. 

I know one thing that’s helpful in this continuously crazy time is gratitude.
I feel really lucky to be able to teach through Zoom, get to see my students
and talk to them. Right now, aside from my husband, they are the only people
I get to see on a regular basis.

But as a way of staying sane, and hopeful as an artist, I think awe and wonder
are at the top of the list. Yesterday 18 inches of snow fell in Toronto. Our
street is still not ploughed. Walking is heavy going, although many people
have cleared the sidewalks.   In comes wonder to save the day. Children
were playing outside in the snow, and building snow forts.  The sunset tonight was
wondrous indeed.  I have been working on art all day, with nothing finished to show
you.  The sketch is from a photo sent to me by a dear friend who traveled in
Northern Ontario last summer.  I love it when people think of me and send
me photos of landscapes they think I'd enjoy painting. 

A couple of weeks ago I decided that I will paint or draw every day.  I
am incredibly slow when a project matters, so sketching is freedom --
and painting in acrylic ink is a treat. 

Have a staying happy and safe day. 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Out to the park

Steven feeding the birds
at our favourite park on
Lake Ontario
in very cold weather
Barbara Muir © 2021

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday we went to our favourite park to feed the birds.
One day it was just ducks, and we enjoyed having time with them, because
usually other birds make sure they take priority.  Friday and Saturday the
swans we love came in from the middle of Lake Ontario, and yesterday
it was lucky we had two loaves of good bread.  All of the birds were very
hungry and there were a lot of them.

The queens's swan marker has made it clear that feeding swans and "waterfowl"
bread is fine.  Yesterday the birds were really hungry  It's cold, and there
was a crust of ice on the beach near the shore. With the windchill it was -7 Celsius --
cold.  One of the swans was nipping at my arm, and my coat because
I wasn't getting the bread out of the cloth bag we carry it in fast enough.

What a delight to be by the deep blue of the lake, with the wind creating
dramatic waves, and our bird friends having what amounted to
their dinner.  When they were full the swans lay down on the beach.
As if to say, "there now.  Time for bed." We drove off into a brilliant
sunset, and were as happy as could be.

Have a loving your life day.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Choosing Happy again -- Avoiding the shoulds

Tulips choose happy 
(Work in process)
Acrylic on canvas
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021
(In November 2020, I
thought this painting was
done. For the past few days
I've kept seeing more and more
to change.  I would say 
almost done. Crazy how our 
tastes change isn't it? 

A big focus at this time of year is on all of what you should be doing.
I think it’s ironic. December 31 is one year, and January 1 is a new one.
But actually it is just the next day. So do you need to buy a Peloton? No.
Do you need to start a new exercise routine -- not unless you want to.
Last year an artist I follow, Veronica Funk suggested picking a word for the year. 
I chose happy.  And I'm glad I did.  Because all through the strange ups and downs
of a year with non stop news about the pandemic -- Lockdowns, and street
construction on our street for 4 months, somehow I stayed happy for the
most part. So I choose happy as my word for the year again this year.

Now in addition to trying not to get this nasty virus, I want to focus on
making art.  Because that work makes me so happy.  I loved what the
artist Janet Vanderhoof said about finding that art in every category in
her work last year sold well.  That was encouraging.  I tend to paint 
what attracts me.  Even with commissions, I work on getting the reference
resource (now that we can't meet portrait clients in person) that attracts me, makes
me want to keep going back to the painting or drawing until it is right, and
enjoying every moment of the work. It's a ,great feeling when I finish a work
and love it.  Getting there with this one. Liking it quite a bit now.

Wishing you a healthy and happy 2022.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Day 2 of 2022 -- the inspiring park

January 2,  Sunset 
Barbara Muir © 2022 

Happy New Year to you. I do not have a long list of resolutions
or plans.  My main goal for 2022 is to do things, and be with people
who give me pleasure.  So I am blogging after a lovely day.

We went out to our favourite park, and took a small walk in the cold.
I am always inspired by water and clouds.  And the lake never 
disappoints.  It was beautiful, and suited my main goal. It was
wonderful, and a treat.  Heading out to and home from the park
Steven and I sang in the car, and the light as the sun set was magnificent.

Tonight a breakthrough with our new kitten, Monet - 12 weeks old, and
living with us just over three weeks. Tonight while we were watching
our nightly show, Fiona the older siamese cat in Steven's arms, Monet
in mine, the dog Sally asleep on the floor -- Monet slid into Steven's
arms against Fiona.  And Fiona (who has not been at all happy
about the new kitten) let her stay. It was very sweet to see, so maybe
they will be friends one day.

Happy New Year. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

The 2020th and 2021st things I learned in 2021


Steven and I in 2015 on New Year's Eve
Things will be a bit quieter this
Happy New Year.

2020th -- I don't know

I learned again and again that I don't know.  If COVID-19 has taught me 
anything, it's taught me to realize again for what feels like the millionth time
that I don't know.  In some ways it seems wrong to have so much to learn
when I am a constant reader, and a teacher, and old enough to know better
as the saying goes.  But it has been a great year of learning.  In fact I think
that's one of the most significant things I've done this year -- is to study 
subjects I know way too little about, and to find out over and over that
I have a lot to learn.

2021st -- Happy New Year Means Something

Why does it matter to wish one another a Happy New Year in 2022? Because
we need hope more now than maybe ever before.  Some of the problems 
facing the world are ongoing, but this world wide pandemic and the climate
crisis are hitting new records of reasons to be afraid.  When we wish each
other Happy New Year -- we send the message out to our family, friends
and the world, that there is hope, and we will work together (apart) to 
solve these problems in the new year.

Happy New Year!

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!