Saturday, April 30, 2022

A break is in order

Let's Have Some Fun!
Black marker on Moleskine paper
8 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches
Barbara Muir © 2015

The one night a week online course is over, and the marks
are going in, the taxes are done, and it's goodbye to this
month. I am grateful to my wonderful students who helped
me enjoy another strange COVID winter.

And I'd have to disagree with T.S. Eliot, who said April
is the cruelest month, because despite its hard problems,
it was the sweetest month for this artist, watching a sea of
blue flowers cover lawns, bright yellow forsythia emerge,
and today magnolias coming into glorious bloom.

I'm showing a portrait from 7 years ago tonight. It never
really looked like me. But I love ink drawings. Wishing
you a joyous May.

Have a loving your life day.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Thinking about food

Studio lemons in a glass bowl 
Acrylic on cradled birch panel
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2017

I've always enjoyed painting what I see in front of me,
or what moves me in my regular life. In recent months
every time I look at the bowl of lemons that regularly
decorates the center of our kitchen table, I think of
Evelyn Oldroyd who has done so many lovely lemon paintings
this year.  So I'm showing a painting of lemons tonight --
this bowl snuck into my studio, and insisted on me painting
its portrait.

I am thinking of joining a virtual food themed art
show, and will be reviewing my files to see which
of my paintings celebrating food -- should try out.

Breakfast is one of my favourite meals to paint,
because in a hotel -- served to you on a rolling
table, with a linen tablecloth, and every delicious
breakfast food -- it seems so symbolic of romance
and the treat of hotel stays.  

Have a loving food day!

Thursday, April 28, 2022

10 things I've learned so far in the month of Fresh Starts

Pansies win the crown
Acrylic ink, watercolour and black marker
on watercolour paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

Today I am overloaded with end of month tasks, and doctor's appointments,

so here is my blog from this day in 2019, which surprisingly to me -- still
resonates. Maybe this date is special in that way. So much has changed since
that year -- which is why I wanted to look back, and see what I was thinking.
We have gorgeous pansies like these on our front porch steps, so perhaps
I will paint more.

What I learned that year, I learn over and over. I'd forgotten that
I called April The Month of Fresh Starts. That seems right. Things
end -- the tax year, my one night a week class, and new life 
begins everywhere.

1. Thank your friends.  New ideas and methods, and
opportunities come flying in from some of the most
wonderful people in the world -- your friends.

2. Make your own rules.  Listen to other people's
thoughts, and suggestions.  But no one else can
do you.

3. Have as much fun as possible.  I get emails from daily -- Notes from the universe -- and I
think he said that's one of the most important things.

4.  In the face of controversy (and there is some!),
try to be loving.  Even when your first impulse is
to hate, hug yourself mentally and muscle on with
your kindness.

5.  Sleep.  Not on someone else's schedule, but

6. Spend time with the people who love you the
most, near and far.  They deserve time with you,
and also make you feel great.

7. Roll with the waves.  Creativity, and all of
life comes in and out like the ocean waves. Let
it if you can.

8. Try going for a walk.  Birdsong, flowers (they
are starting here, and even your friend's dog can
make you feel blissfully happy after 20 minutes.
(Remember that book on raising children that
pointed that out. Write me if you do.)  Raising my
children I used that method, on both my sons and
my husband.

9.  Read a book.  Sometimes even a sentence or
a word can set off a chain of ideas. But books are
lovely for escaping too.

10.  Dance.  A singer with a lovely voice, Sara Bareilles,
was on Saturday Night Live last night, and Steven and I
were so moved, that we looked her up and then
danced to her amazing song.

Have a loving your life day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Inspired by technology

On the 
Northumberland Strait

Acrylic ink on
watercolour paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2022
(This is the beach we visit.
We don't own it.)

The other night my phone selected beautiful photos of Nova
Scotia to show me.  (I know that's intrusive, but it's also
miraculous.) A treat, and so emotional.  It would be wonderful
if the teletransportation inventions my students devised this
term were more than imaginary. Boom -- I'd be there.  Nova Scotia
 -- Paris, Florence, California. Yes. In an instant. The painting
came from my memory of the place in the photo.  The phone
presented different images the next day, but I held the image in
my brain.

When images of Nova Scotia come up, they pull at my
heartstrings, so I did this small painting of our beach. 

Love you Nova Scotia.

Have a dreaming of where you'd like to be day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

First night back at my art group after two years

Art Group Sketch 
16 x 20 inches
Acrylic on canvas
Barbara Muir © 2022

Tonight I went to my art group for one hour.  Steven
dropped me off and picked me up.  I was worried that
people would be unmasked, and when I went in I did
say that we were supposed to be masked to the only
fellow who wasn't, and he put a mask on at the first

We had two breaks, so I guess this painting sketch was done in 40 
minutes, and although it's a long way from done, I like
what I learned from doing it. It was good to watch 
artists at work again -- doing some awesome painting
and drawing, and the model said he liked my colours
because his family were from Ukraine, and these
are the colours. I was glad the colours made him
happy. I suppose that was intuitive.

Have an enjoying your life day.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

The background work

Mystery woman
marker on notebook paper    
5.5 x 8.5
Barbara Muir © 2016

Behind the work of creating art is the background work of
deciding what to create, buying supplies, making the work,
filing the receipts for everything you spend money on, and
so on.  It was a background work weekend.

I really wanted time to draw, but it didn't happen.  And 
sometimes coincidence is magic, because I picked up a
notebook and carried it downstairs, thinking,"I'll
draw tomorrow,"and found this sketch that I like.  I 
think it was prep for a painting. The painting didn't 
happen (yet), the drawing did.

Have an enjoying every part of your work day. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Spring is coming

The tree story
iPad sketch
 8x10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2020

I know officially it was spring on March 20, but that has not 
been our experience here in Toronto. Steven and I follow
the light -- and sunset at 8:09 p.m. today is a strong indicator that
winter is over.  But we did have snow last week. 

I opened my older iPad today, and was struck by this drawing
done on my iPad with my finger of summer on Cherrywood --
the view from our front porch. This is what we have to look forward
 to -- the lush greenery and flowers on our street. It will be wonderful.
Already the magnolia trees in the neighbourhood are coming into bloom.

Have an enjoying your life day. 

Friday, April 22, 2022

To the Clementines

The answer's right here
(work in progress)
Acrylic on cradled birch panel
12 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir 2022

If Earth Day makes you sad. If you're nervous, depressed, upset by
how the world, family, friends are treating you -- turn to the
Clementine. This small sweet, delicious orange can calm you
down, and make you feel happy. Amazing.

Which is why I have painted them over and over.  That and
that they are also pretty, especially the ones with leaves.
When we go to our favourite park by the lake, we
take coffee in a thermos, 4 - 6 clementines, pick up some
wraps -- no plastic, and eat together in the car staring at the 
lake. The clementines both start and end the trip.

They are a delightful sight.  When I started this it was winter
(remember it snowed here on April 18.), now it is almost
finished and spring is definitely coming.

Have an enjoying your world day.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

A wonderful conversation

Images from The Amsterdam
Whitney Gallery.
The portraits are by me
Sent by Ruthie Tucker 

Ruthie Tucker the art director, and owner of the Amsterdam
Whitney Gallery in New York City, where I've shown many
times, is one of the kindest people I know.  She sent such a
sweet Easter message to me, and Steven, and the family. So I
called her today, and we had such a joyous conversation.

I was continuing on with my day afterwards.  There is filing
and paperwork to complete, and it was not the most uplifting
day.  But just as the sun came out, and sent away the clouds
and rain -- this set of images of past shows at the gallery came
to me from Ruthie, in my email, and it made me so happy.

Have a being grateful for your uplifting friends day.


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The pleasure of frustration

(Work in progress)
charcoal on bond paper
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2022

I have a beautiful photo of my friend Georgia, that I've
been meaning to use for reference for a portrait.  I like
the mood, which is both contemplative, and content in
one expression.

So I spent yesterday afternoon trying to finish a portrait I'd
begun based on this photo, and I could not get it right. So far
it's okay as a drawing, it just isn't Georgia. 

There is an exciting time in a portrait painting when you
come into the room to start work again, and say "Hi" to
the person in the painting. This is not happening in this work.

But the positive in not getting right, is that I get to keep
working on it. I call it a work in progress.  And I can 
obsess about this drawing, instead of about the world, and
all of the other things spinning around my head.

Have a working on it day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Two years ago on this day


Marty's Mom
acrylic on canvas
24" x 36"
Barbara Muir © 2004
(Thinking about Marty's Mom, who
was a great woman. Her
grandson Sam is getting married
this weekend, and she would
have been so happy for him.)
When I painted this, I didn't
take a decent photo and it was a 
most enjoyable commission.)

On April 19, 2020, I was one month into teaching online.
That month I wrote about coping, and about the 5 best,
and 5 worst things that had happened because of the virus.
This time I think I'll stick with bests.  The list of worsts is 
too long.

10 Best things that have happened because of the virus:

1. I learned how to teach online through Zoom, and that
has been a gift.

2. We got a kitten, and she has entertained us through this
past winter. 

3. It snowed yesterday -- April 18 -- which even for Canada is
 late, but as flowers are part of what has kept us and me 
happy during the pandemic, I moved the pansies, and when
the snow melted they were fine.

4. My husband and I have spent so much time talking to
one another, (since the pandemic we both work at home)
 that even though we argue sometimes, we are
closer than ever.

5. We have spent a lot of time at our favourite park.

6. Our coffee group started having Zoom meetings once
a week, and we've been able to see one another and share
book ideas, best movies to watch, and enjoy each other's

7. I have made new, wonderful friends through the blog,
and Instagram.

8. We have totally realized how much we loved our life
before the pandemic, and talk about our memories, 
of travel and parties to keep those memories alive. Plus
we have a list of what we'll do when it feels safe to travel.

9. Talking to artist friends and family, on Zoom
and FaceTime, and feeling connected.

10. Getting wonderful work from my students.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

A joyous holiday

The wonder of tulips
iPad drawing
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019

"Stay safe!" has been my constant phrase since the beginning
of this pandemic, and it doesn't go away. I still say it. So
today we had dinner with Sam and his fiancée, Emily to
celebrate the weekend. Steven deserves full kudos for
preparing the whole meal. And everyone loved it.

We rapid tested, sat at opposite ends of the table, and
wore masks when we weren't eating. And despite all of
the precautions, which feel so annoying, we had a great time.
So I hope you had a great weekend, and for some the 
holiday continues.

Have a staying safe and enjoying life day.


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Happy Holiday

Tulips in the students' gorgeous present
Acrylic on bond paper 
(formerly a palette)
14 x 17 inches
Barbara Muir © 2019 

While my kitten eats a reward for letting us cut her nails,
I'll take a minute to wish you a very Happy Holiday 

Oddly enough this is one of my best tulip paintings. I love
tulips, and one day I hope to get to the Netherlands to see the
beautiful tulip fields in person.  Why do I say it's odd?  Because I
did it on top of a piece of palette paper, using the paint that was
there as a background. Thank you to my next door neighbour
for the gorgeous tulips now part of our holiday festive look.

Have a fantastic holiday and good wishes to all of your
friends and family

Friday, April 15, 2022

To Actually Read


Reading the bird book with the cat
Charcoal on bond paper
18 x 24 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

It has been a strange and wonderful day. We got up much earlier than we
normally do on a holiday, and rushed out to see the two youngest in the family,
and share some holiday fun. That was delightful. 

We walked our dog in a howling wind that was tossing small branches here
 and there, and in places cracking pieces of trees that were larger and a bit
scary. So we drove out to our favourite park to watch the waves crashing on
the shore and tossing high arcs of white spray.

A  neighbour left pink tulips on the porch with a cheerful note. And we came
home to read. Nicki Ault said that she's had a hard time reading since the pandemic,
and I’ve felt the same way. So many of my paintings feature people reading.
And I do consider it one of life’s leading pleasures. I have been reading books
on serious subjects, but no novels. So I feel lucky to have found a good book in
free book library on a neighbour's lawn just around the corner. 

Have an enjoying your holiday day.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Happy Bunny Weekend

Harold and the blue eggs
Acrylic on canvas
8 x 8 inches
 Barbara Muir © 2013

More tomorrow.  We are in a get the bunny stuff together for
the bunny rush, so I (one of the chief bunny helpers) must
go to bed. Tired bunny helpers are no fun.

Please enjoy my painting of my own dear rabbit from
years ago -- Harold. She was wonderful.

Have an enjoying your holiday weekend day. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Monet and International pet day

Monet in the onesie 
we made her, in a 
clementine box

Barbara Muir © 2022

We have six more days until the onesie you see in the
photo can come off Monet, when she gets her stitches
out from being spade, and we can have a normal,
very active kitten life.  

She does like clementine boxes, and we push her around
the kitchen floor making train noises, which she loves 
a lot for no reason I can connect to cat life.  We love
her, and despite many difficulties of integrating her
into the animal family, she is for sure family.

Happy pet day to Monet, Fiona the cat and Sally the dog..

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Dreaming ideas

From the dream
Acrylic ink on
watercolour paper
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2022

I notice today that the wonderful artist Simon Davis posted
a sketch on Instagram for an upcoming painting. I absolutely
love Davis's work, and one day I hope to go to England and
to see it in person. There are so many artists whose work
I love in Britain, that I think I would need a long visit.

Tonight I'm showing you a small painting that is like 
a very large painting I dreamt about the other night. I may do
more work on this, and it isn't quite the same as my
dream image, but it's got me thinking, and I like the
shapes.  It is the scene at one of my favourite parks, which
I drove to today, just to see this view, and hoping that
a nearby store would have pansies. It did. And I saw
the lake. Success.

Have a loving what you do day.

Monday, April 11, 2022

This look

After the play
Watercolour and marker
on watercolour paper
9 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2013

I don't remember painting this portrait of my son, Sam,
but I love it. He is giving the look your kid, or family
member gives you either when they're too tired for the
conversation, or they disagree with you heartily.

I feel like giving myself that look tonight when I look
in the mirror because I am tired beyond compare.
It was an exciting night in my once a week evening
class, with the students outdoing themselves, and 
it was wonderful.  But now I would give myself
that look -- because it's time to shut down the 
conversation in my brain and go to bed.

Have a loving your life day. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

A wonderful day

Gather ye pansies while ye can!
Acrylic ink, watercolour and black marker
on watercolour paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2018

Don't get bored with my excitement for the good times. 
Like you I have plenty of days that are not the best, but
today was lovely. We were heading out to the beautiful
park we love under sunny skies, and before we left had
an impromptu visit from the youngest members of the
family. How sweet.

There is a ton of work to do tomorrow, so it was nice to
also take a walk by the lake, get some photos for upcoming
painting reference, and see the swans, geese, seagulls and ducks,
who seem to wait for us to feed them. 

And we did manage to get pansies -- not exactly like
these, but very pretty. A nice change for our neighbours
from the Christmas trees, which have actually not yet
come down off the front and back porches. 

Have a loving your life day.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

A happy Saturday

Positively pansies
Acrylic on birch panel
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2014

I wish you a good weekend, and hope you had a happy Saturday.
We had one of those non-stop days -- market, take-out lunch, 
the park, the flower store, seeing a friend from afar, singing
Happy Birthday, and then home. 

How did your day go? We fed the swans, geese, ducks and seagulls
at the park, and that is one of the pleasures in our life for sure.  Tonight
we watched a French movie with English subtitles -- BigBug -- which
was both funny, and a serious satire on our current increasingly
cyber and robotic world. 

Oh and we saw pansies outside little stores everywhere we went,
so tomorrow I will get some, and you can expect some pansy 
paintings. The one I'm showing you tonight is a favourite.

I hope you have a fabulous Sunday!

Friday, April 8, 2022

Love to all who stay strong in these hard times

Serious talk
watercolour and ink 
on watercolour paper
7 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010

On this day two years ago a sweet member of our 
extended family died, and we are all thinking about
him, and missing him today. And we send love to
his immediate family. He was a wonderful person,
and it was a huge loss. 

It was a strange day.  I went walking with a friend, who
accompanies me on walks both of us masked, and is doing
her best to help me stay active.  It rained very heavily here,
and then the sun came out, and my friend stood at
the end of our walkway ready to go with her sweet
dog. And as we began it rained -- by the top of the street it was
rainy and cold.  We walked through the alleyway,
and turned to take a shorter walk, and it began to hail.  The hail
became quite intense, and I walked my friend home.

I came inside, made a hot chocolate, went to work
on my current painting for a few minutes, and 
the sun came out -- dazzling and brilliant. And that is
spring in Toronto.

The drawing is of my son Christopher when he was in
high school. He was a passionate person then, and 
is a kind, and wonderful husband and father.
When I drew this, I think he had no idea how
rich his life would become.

Have a loving your family day.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Don't blame my parents -- okay do!

Ocean dreaming
Acrylic ink on
watercolour paper
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2022 

In a conversation today with a therapist I know, every
road lead back to people's parents.  I argued vehemently
that sometimes bad teachers are to blame for people's
low self esteem.  But tonight I'm talking about the
love of oceans, and clouds.  I grew up in Windsor,
Ottawa and Toronto.  My exposure to water began with
family summer trips to a cottage owned by one of my uncles.

And as much as I loved that lake -- the ocean won me over.
So Mom and Dad got me hooked on swimming and lakes,
but Steven and I got ourselves hooked on oceans -- in
the Maritimes to be specific, because we bought a little
school house there, for the price of a small used car,
and started spending summers there with our family,
and on an ocean beach 15 minutes away. We never recovered.
We dream of, want to be near, and love the ocean -- which we
replace somewhat here, with constant trips to the lake.  And the
lake is magnificent too. 

Here's a little ocean view from my imagination.

Have a thinking about what you love day. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Crazy obsessions

After Breakfast
Watercolour and marker
on watercolour paper
8 1/2 x 6
Barbara Muir © 2014

Why do we like specific things in our lives more than others?
I have a drawer full of spoons. Every single relative that ever
moved gave us spoons. But when I look in the drawer at night
to pick out a spoon to eat my night snack with, there are only two
that appeal to me.

And why does that change over time? Why do I now like a mug
that two years ago I would not have used for my hot chocolate? And
why do I want one mug in the morning for my coffee, and another
in the afternoon? I think about this frequently. Not all the time of
course, but it occasionally makes me wonder? Also why do I have
a cabinet full of antique china that I rarely use? What am I saving it for?

Perhaps this is the power of still life. I admire the tenderness we feel
for objects that came from people we cared about -- how every time
I put flowers in a beautiful crystal jug a friend gave me, I say her name.

What I love about still life -- my paintings of meals on vacation -- is
the untold stories that try to get your attention. 

Have a loving the treasures in your life day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

The day we worried about happened

Monet in the badly 
designed onesie

Barbara Muir © 2022

How long does it take to fall in love?  My husband and I say it was 
immediate. And how long does it take to fall in love with a pet?
We've had Monet for 16 weeks, and I don't know when love swept in, 
but it certainly is here now, at a high level, and today our little cat
got spade. 

So now the hard part begins -- keeping a very active, wildly energetic,
superbly intelligent animal safe during the two weeks of recovery, and away
from the older cat, and the dog, who of course are horribly curious about
what's going on.  The onesie solution is better than the six inch hard collar,
but not much. Fingers crossed that all goes well.

We are both exhausted -- that's love -- we didn't sleep just because we
knew this was happening.

Have a loving your pets day.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

What a wonderful day!

Acrylic ink on 
watercolour paper
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2022

It's hard to beat Sunday when you get to feel relaxed, get work
done, have time with the one you love, and get to the lake!
Yes that is one of my passions. We went out to our favourite
park today and fed the ducks, geese, seagulls and two swans. The
swans act like we are best friends. But -- bread please. Isn't
that what best friends do in ideal times? Feed each other.

The painting tonight is one I did to capture my feeling of pure
joy at having an ideal day, and how I always feel at the lake.
It is so incredibly beautiful there. We also stopped and took
a walk at another park by the lake, where a lady had set up
a clear tent in the shape of a bubble that she rents out to 
people celebrating their anniversary. She had champagne and
flowers, and food, and all the time the couple can see the lake,
but they're out of the wind. It was quite romantic.

Have a doing what you love day. 

Saturday, April 2, 2022

It's in the line


Tell me about it
marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8.5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2022

I love line drawing. I don't always get it right, but I feel such pleasure
drawing with marker lines. A friend in San Antonio Texas, Susan Carlin
taught me some things about drawing, and measuring years ago
in a video class she taught. 

And I did study at OCAD, and at university with wonderful
teachers. So here's a little drawing for tonight. I'm going to go and
watch a movie now, and spend some time with the family -- Steven,
the two cats and the dog. 

Have an enjoying your creative life day.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Escape to inks

The Clouds!
acrylic ink on
watercolour paper
5 x 7 inches
Barbara Muir © 2022

I will always be grateful to my friend Flora Doehler, the fabulous artist
for introducing me to acrylic ink. She even told me which brand she prefers,
and I am so happy that she did. I know I’ve said this before, but it bears
repeating. If you don’t know Flora's work, check it out. She is magnificent
with flowers – very few artists are as expert at creating the beauty and excitement
flowers bring to us.

I love how the ink moves in water, and that I have no idea where the painting
is going to go. In art most of the time we are trying to achieve control. We’re
trying to get it right. I’m not even certain what right is. But that’s what we try
to do. The delight of acrylic ink is that you have no idea what’s going to happen
with it.  You have some control. You can try and move the ink on the water, but
the water and ink ultimately decide what they’re going to do with each other.
It is their dance. And I usually love the decisions that those two make.

This painting is probably still a work in progress, but I like it already. It
says water to me -- lake or ocean -- I am there. 

Have a loving creating 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!